Purchase Story

Fine Art, Pottery, and Jewelry Headline Arts of the American West

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Denver, Colorado

Photos courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Provenance packs a punch, especially when discussing artwork being offered up by an institution. Not only do collectors know the items in question were probably handled and cared for properly, said artwork has a documented past.

These attributes added to the appeal of numerous lots sold out of the Denver salesroom of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers during the two-day arts of the American West auction, November 5 and 6, 2017. Because of expansion, a museum in the Midwest was selling, and collectors wanting to gain access to these artworks that had been out of circulation bid aggressively.

The top lot of the auction was The Roper, this oil on canvas by William Robinson Leigh (1866-1955). Signed “W.R. Leigh W.Y. 1913” at lower right, the 28" x 22" work sold for $281,000 (est. $100,000/150,000).

The Roper by William Robinson Leigh (1866-1955) exemplifies this. Purchased in the late 1930s by J.W. Dixon of Oklahoma, the oil on canvas had descended in the family until it was sold at Sotheby’s in New York City in December 1988 to Gerald J. Cooper. It was then acquired directly from Cooper by the Peter M. Wege collection in 2006 and was gifted to the museum, which then offered it at this sale. Dated 1913, The Ropercame to auction with a $100,000/150,000 estimate and sold to a private collector for $281,000 (includes buyer’s premium).

“The work of William Robinson Leigh is very on trend right now,” said Maron Hindman, managing director of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ Denver offices. “The Roper was a perfect choice for the sale’s catalog cover, and we were so excited about how well it did—how the whole auction went.”

Work by Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) is always popular with collectors. This 20" x 27" watercolor on paper, Pointing Out the Trail, circa 1889, signed “CM Russell” along with a buffalo skull (lower left), sold for $125,000 (est. $100,000/150,000).

Pointing Out the Trail, a circa 1889 watercolor on paper by Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), sold for $125,000 (est. $100,000/150,000), and the oil on canvas Sacred Rain Bowlby Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) also did well for the museum, selling for $86,000 (est. $100,000/150,000). The catalog notes say, “This painting will be included in the ongoing catalogue raisonné project for the artist’s work, which continues today through the Couse Foundation in Taos and Virginia Couse Leavitt.”

Saddled by Sunrise by Gerald Harvey Jones came out of a private Denver collection. Signed and dated “G. Harvey 1972 at lower right, this oil on canvas sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000/30,000).

Sacred Rain Bowl by Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) sold for $86,000 (est. $100,000/150,000). The oil on canvas is signed “E-I Couse-N.A.” at lower left.

Many others consigned art for this Leslie Hindman sale. Two oil on canvas works by Gerald Harvey Jones (b. 1933) rose above their estimates. Oil Rigs sold for $30,000 (est. $8000/12,000), and Saddled by Sunrise, done in 1972, sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000/30,000). Both were signed by the artist.

Sculpture also had a strong showing. I Will Wait for Youby Allan Houser (Apache, 1914-1994) brought $17,500 (est. $8000/12,000). Made of soapstone, the figure stands 38" high and was signed by the artist.

“Works by Houser are always popular,” Hindman said, “and this sculpture’s larger size—definitely not a tabletop piece—was also an attraction.”

Again selling from a museum in the Midwest, a bronze by Charles Henry Humphriss (1867-1924), Appeal to the Great Spirit, sold for $16,250 (est. $15,000/25,000). Inscribed “CH Humphriss / Gorham Co. Founder, 1906” to the base, this sculpture stands 31" high. The bronze White Eagleby Charles Schreyvogel (1861-1912) sold above its $6000/8000 estimate to make $10,625. The 20" high work was inscribed “Charles Schreyvogel copyright 1899.”

Interest in furniture made by Thomas C. Molesworth (1890-1977) continues to build, and several items sold at this auction will benefit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. A loveseat with reversible cushions of leather and Chimayo weaving, flanked on both sides by leather-upholstered shelving units, sold for $5250 (est. $6000/8000), and a dining room set of a dining table (wood top, green and brown upholstery base with brass tacks and horseshoes) and four leather benches of a matching design sold for $15,000 (est. $12,000/18,000). Three wood and leather end tables by Molesworth, each with burgundy leather tops and brass tacks, sold for $5250 (est. $2000/4000).

The work of Charles Loloma, this Hopi 14k yellow gold and multi-gem inlaid ring with turquoise, coral, and lapis lazuli of varying color, height, and shape is stamped “Loloma 14k” and sold for $6875 (est. $2500/3500).

Interested in lovely jewelry with a Western theme? This auction offered a plethora of beautiful jewelry from which to choose. A Hopi two-piece set, a cuff bracelet and a pair of earrings by Charles Loloma (Hopi, 1921-1991), sold separately, with each piece making a statement. Each was composed of 14k yellow gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral. The bracelet sold for $25,000 (est. $20,000/25,000), and the earrings sold for $5250 (est. $1500/2500). The money raised by the selling of these pieces will benefit Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

This pair of Hopi 14k yellow gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral earrings, the work of Charles Loloma, sold for $5250 (est. $1500/2500).

A Hopi ring of 14k yellow gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral by Charles Loloma that matched the bracelet and earrings sold for $6875 (est. $2500/3500).

A Hopi tufa-cast cuff bracelet, again by Charles Loloma, sold for $23,750 (est. $20,000/30,000). The 14k yellow gold, lapis lazuli, and turquoise wide tufa-cast, textured bracelet featured a keyhole cutout, while the interior was lined with a mosaic of inlaid lapis lazuli and turquoise plaques.

The talent of potter Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara, 1904-2001) is reflected by her blackware olla “Corn Blossom,” which features incised Avanyu decoration. An olla is a ceramic jar, often unglazed, used for cooking stews or soups, for the storage of water or dry foods, or for other purposes. Ollas typically have a short, wide neck and a wider belly, resembling bean pots. Signed “Margaret” to the base, this olla stands 12" high and is 11½" in diameter. It sold for $6000 (est. $2000/3000).

Charles Loloma (Hopi, 1921-1991) is known for his jewelry, but he also created this multicolor stained-glass window in 1980—a special commission piece done for the office of a Phoenix collector. The window is 50" in diameter and sold for $12,500 (est. $10,000/20,000).

Furniture by Thomas C. Molesworth (1890-1977) is currently very popular. This loveseat features reversible cushions of leather and Chimayo weaving, flanked by two leather-upholstered shelving units with tack decoration on the border. It sold for $5250 (est. $6000/8000). The Molesworth items in this auction were property being sold to benefit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. This loveseat had been acquired directly from Thomas Molesworth around 1948 by the Brinkerhoff family of Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming.

Speaking of Charles Loloma, collectors were excited for the opportunity to vie for an unusual item from this artist—a stained-glass window, commissioned for the office of a Phoenix collector in 1980. Hindman stated, “Each piece of vibrantly colored glass was hand selected by Loloma himself.” It is said that after it was installed the artist was so pleased with his work that he would often bring friends to the office to see the window. The window was uninstalled in 1987 when the building was sold and had not been publicly displayed since. Measuring 50" in diameter, this special window sold for $12,500 (est. $10,000/20,000).

Collectors were excited to bid on numerous pieces of American Indian art from the collection of Ruth and Robert Vogele of Burr Ridge, Illinois. The couple spent a great deal of time establishing relationships with many distinctive pueblo pottery artists, resulting in a fantastic personal collection. Many of these found new homes via Leslie Hindman. “Corn Blossom,” a blackware olla with incised Avanyu decoration by artist Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara, 1904-2001), sold for $6000 (est. $2000/3000). By LuAnn Tafoya (Santa Clara, b. 1938), an incised blackware jar also having an incised Avanyu design sold for $5750 (est. $3000/5000).

Several factors excited Maron Hindman about this November auction. “While we saw a number of people during the auction preview, just as many attended the auction and bid to own. We still had plenty of bidding taking place via the phones and online, but it is always so exciting when buyers are actively bidding in house.

“The auction had a broad cross section of buyers, from younger, new buyers to established collectors, and I think it helped that the auction also had a broad cross section of price points,” she said before mentioning the sell-through rate.

“The auction enjoyed a ninety percent sell-through rate,” Hindman noted with a smile. “To have that kind of sell-through rate is simply wonderful.”

For more information, see (www.lesliehindman.com) or call the Denver office at (303) 825-1855.

Rocky Steeps by Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939) sold for $27,500 (est. $40,000/60,000). The oil on canvas is signed “F. Tenney Johnson” (lower left) and measures 20" x 14".

Appeal to the Great Spirit, a 31" tall bronze by Charles Henry Humphriss (1867-1924), inscribed “CH Humphriss / Gorham Co. Founder, 1906” to the base, sold for $16,250 (est. $15,000/25,000).

This Allan Houser (Apache, 1914-1994) soapstone sculpture, I Will Wait for You, is 38" tall and signed “Allan Houser.” It sold for $17,500 (est. 8000/12,000).

Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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