Rachel Davis Fine Arts, Cleveland, Ohio
Photo courtesy Rachel Davis Fine Arts
Fine art featuring works of the Cleveland School of Art or pieces with a Cleveland connection have become Rachel Davis Fine Arts’ go-to setup. And why not? Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Rachel Davis knows the history of the area and the artists who worked there.
This circa 1911 oil on canvas, The Marketplace, by Glenn C. Henshaw (1880-1946) measures 36" x 48", and it sold for $5142.50 (est. $4000/6000). “The marketplace depicted is Les Halles in Paris,” Davis stated. Victor Baltard designed the famous glass and iron buildings, Les Halles, in the 1850s. “This Henshaw was consigned by a Cleveland collector, and it was the first time the work was on the market. All the Henshaws offered sold to a collector in Florida,” stated Davis.
Glassblower, this 11" x 15¼" pen and ink on paper image by Diego Rivera (Mexican/American, 1886-1957), sold for $7260 (est. $8000/12,000). This lot came from a local collector who had a large collection of works by this Mexican artist that she and her husband bought on their many trips to Mexico. Davis pointed out, “The price was a little soft, I think, because we did not have her original receipts, and people are leery of the amount of fakes on the artist, although we did guarantee the work.” It sold to a collector in Westlake, Ohio.
This 13½" x 23" egg tempera and oil on masonite by Roger Medearis (1920-2001), Getting Ready for Dinner, is signed “Roger Medearis ’41” at lower left and signed, titled, and dated on the reverse, and it sold for $5445 (est. $6000/9000). There are several areas where paint is starting to lift, and there is a scratch to the surface on the male figure’s left shoe. “This was a great work representing the medium of egg tempera,” Davis stated. “I think what held the price down were the condition issues. A dealer bought the work, so he is taking into account the costs to properly restore it.”
But her knowledge of what collectors desire does not stop at the North Coast Harbor district. Davis has spent her career watching many a fine piece of art, sculpture, pottery, and the like sell through her gallery, and collectors know that when a Rachel Davis Fine Arts event is posted, fantastic finds will make an appearance.
The gallery’s October 21, 2017, event was no different. One of the finds was Star, a gouache on paper, the work of Robert Cottingham (b. 1935), estimated at $30,000/50,000, which sold for $54,450 (includes buyer’s premium).
“This was consigned by a Columbus, Ohio, man who bought the work from Brenda Kroos Gallery in Cleveland in 1983,” Rachel Davis stated. “And it sold to a private collector in northern Ohio.”
This 36" x 28" Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) oil on masonite composition is signed “47 / RM” lower center. It sold for $31,460 (est. $15,000/25,000).
Hoodlums, an oil on masonite by Clyde Singer (1909-1998), is signed “C. Singer 48” at lower right and measures 18" x 20". It sold for $5142.50 (est. $4000/6000) to a collector in Columbus, Ohio. This work had been exhibited at the Canton Art Institute’s third annual fall regional exhibition in 1950 in Canton, Ohio.
The oil on canvasboard by Aldro Hibbard (1886-1972), Bondville, VT, sold for $10,285 (est. $7000/10,000). The 18" x 24" work had been purchased directly from the artist and had descended through the consignor’s family.
Cottingham, as did other artists of his era, successfully assimilated photography into his work. Often called photorealism, this style developed during the 1960s but came to the forefront via Documenta 5in 1972 in Kassel, Germany, an international exhibit that is one of the most important in the world. Names associated with photorealism include Malcolm Morely, Robert Bechtle, John Clemente Clark, and Robert Cottingham. The majority of the artists are American.
As defined by David Platzker, curator of drawings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, “Over 40 years later, Documenta 5, the exhibition that was criticized in 1972 as being ‘bizarre…vulgar…sadistic’ by art critic and essayist Hilton Kramer and ‘monstrous… overtly deranged’ by art historian and art critic Barbara Rose, resonates today as one of the most important exhibitions in history. Both hailed and derided by artists and critics, the exhibition was the largest, most expensive, and most diverse of any exhibition anywhere, and foreshadowed all large-scale, collaboratively curated, comprehensive mega-shows to come.”
Early Morning, Gloucester Harbor, this oil on canvas by Emile Gruppé (1896-1978), signed “Emile A. Gruppé” at lower right, measures 25" x 30", and it sold for $11,495 (est. $8000/12,000). It was purchased directly from the artist, and it sold to a collector in Massachusetts.
Selling out of a Columbus, Ohio, collection to a Cleveland collector was Normandy Village (Les Andelys), this oil on canvas by Abel George Warshawsky (1883-1962). The 25½" x 32" painting sold for $10,285 (est. $10,000/15,000).
Boys Bathing in the Seine, a 25" x 31" oil on canvas by Frank N. Wilcox (1887-1964), sold to a Cleveland-area dealer for $15,730 (est. $6000/9000).
Selling to a New York buyer was an oil on masonite composition by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) that included a bright yellow geometric shape next to a dark shape with a red star made with lines at upper right. This work sold for $31,460 (est. $15,000/25,000). It was signed and dated “47 / RM” at lower center.
“This lot has an interesting story,” Davis explained. “The consignor bought a storage locker at one of the storage locker auctions, so we went out to look at what was inside. There was a fair amount of decent art and one sealed crate. We opened the crate and discovered this early Motherwell oil. I feel the condition of the work held the price back, as it needed work, and I was not sure how well it would clean up. It was also dark when compared to other works of his from this time,” Davis added.
Downsizing brings many pieces of art to auction. This is why Dock by Wolf Kahn (b. 1927) made an appearance at Rachel Davis Fine Arts’ October event. The 1983 oil on canvas was bought by the consignor’s mother in 1984 from Lillian Kornbluth, an established art dealer in the New York City metropolitan area. Kornbluth represented many artists, including Kahn, Milton Avery, Helen Frankenthaler, and Pablo Picasso, among numerous others. Dockwas in excellent condition, and it sold to a Cleveland collector for $25,410 (est. $25,000/40,000).
Another downsizing venture by a Chagrin Falls, Ohio, couple brought several works onto the market for the very first time since their initial sale. Two works had been acquired by the consignor’s parents, who frequently visited Rockport, Massachusetts, and purchased directly from artists Emile Gruppé and Aldro Hibbard. Early Morning, Gloucester Harbor, oil on canvas, signed “Emile A. Gruppé” (1896-1978), sold to a collector in Massachusetts for $11,495 (est. $8000/12,000). Bondville, VT, an oil on canvasboard by Aldro Hibbard (1886-1972), sold to a collector in Maryland for $10,285 (est. $7000/10,000).
William Sommer (1867-1949) created Three Horses in Alarm, this watercolor on paper, in 1934. The 12" x 16½" work had been exhibited at the William Sommer Memorial Exhibition, 1950, at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, and it descended in the family of Henry S. Francis, who was the curator of prints and paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It sold to a New York dealer for $5142.50 (est. $4000/7000).
Originally bought in Mexico, this Francisco Corzas (Mexican, 1936-1983) oil on canvas, Portrait of a Woman, 27¾" x 21½", dated 1966, sold for $9075 (est. $6000/9000) and is returning to Mexico.
Dock, by Wolf Kahn (b. 1927), oil on canvas, 1983, signed “W. Kahn” lower right, dated on reverse, 24" x 30", sold for $25,410 (est. $25,000/40,000).
Boys Bathing in the Seinewas the top Cleveland School of Art lot to sell at the sale. The oil on canvas by Frank N. Wilcox (1887-1964) had been exhibited at the 122nd annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1927 and at the Cleveland Society of Artists exhibition of fine arts in 1930. The work sold for $15,730 (est. $6000/9000). Davis stated, “This came from a Bethesda, Maryland, collector who felt the work should be sold in Cleveland, and it did sell to a local dealer. The painting had a nice exhibition record and was, I felt, reminiscent of some of Bellows’s oils.”
Other lots with a Cleveland connection that sold well included Three Horses in Alarm, a watercolor on paper by William Sommer (1867-1949), exhibited at the William Sommer Memorial Exhibition, 1950, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. This 1934 work sold for $5142.50 (est. $4000/7000).
Rip Van Winkle, a slip cast ceramic by Elmer W. Brown (1901-1971), incised “Elmer W. Brown / #1 Special” and annotated “Federal Art Project / Cleve O,” sold for $1815 (est. $600/900). “Pieces by Elmer Brown, an African American artist who worked for the WPA in Cleveland, are hard to find,” Davis stated. “And this is the first time in thirty years I’ve seen a piece of his ceramics.”
“I was very pleased with the auction, which grossed $425,000,” Davis stated. “We had about sixty people in the room and active Internet bidding through three sites.”
For more information, go to (www.racheldavisfinearts.com).
Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest