Purchase Story

Folk Portraits Fly in Boston

Grogan & Company, Boston, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Grogan & Company

The spring sale at Grogan & Company, held on May 2 in the Boston gallery, was as colorful as a spring sale should be. It began at 11 a.m. and was still going strong at something after 9 p.m., by which time staff was spelling one another after every 50 lots. The result? Four million dollars. Michael B. Grogan, president and chief auctioneer, told M.A.D. some days after the sale that from an auction of 487 lots, 380 invoices were sent, pointing to greater and greater participation on the part of retail buyers.

This platinum, Kashmir sapphire, and diamond ring was a highlight of the day when it sold for $287,500 (est. $75,000/100,000). Dating from around 1900, the ring centers a 4.31-carat sapphire flanked by two trillion-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 1.80 carats, and it has other diamonds on the mount and shoulders. The ring had descended in the du Pont family of Wilmington, Delaware, and went to the trade.

This platinum, Kashmir sapphire, and diamond ring was a highlight of the day when it sold for $287,500 (est. $75,000/100,000). Dating from around 1900, the ring centers a 4.31-carat sapphire flanked by two trillion-cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 1.80 carats, and it has other diamonds on the mount and shoulders. The ring had descended in the du Pont family of Wilmington, Delaware, and went to the trade.

This house-form brooch, circa 1960, by Raymond C. Yard (1885-1996), with platinum, 18k gold, enamel set with diamonds, an onyx door, carved emerald foliage, a ruby chimney, and a tree of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, sold for $40,625 (est. $15,000/25,000). Yard began making house brooches in 1932, and by the 1960s they were a must-have. Many families commissioned such images of their homes. The brooch had descended in the du Pont family.

This house-form brooch, circa 1960, by Raymond C. Yard (1885-1996), with platinum, 18k gold, enamel set with diamonds, an onyx door, carved emerald foliage, a ruby chimney, and a tree of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, sold for $40,625 (est. $15,000/25,000). Yard began making house brooches in 1932, and by the 1960s they were a must-have. Many families commissioned such images of their homes. The brooch had descended in the du Pont family.

Paintings began with a vibrant work in mixed media on paper, Doll with Easel by Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), which sold for $8125 (includes buyer’s premium). The first nine lots were all by women artists, a theme that prevailed throughout the sale. Jewelry was equally colorful, with a rainbow array of sapphires in orange, purple, and blue. The blue was a Kashmir sapphire that was a highlight of the day when it sold for $287,500. Another gem of note was a house-shaped brooch of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies by Raymond C. Yard that sold for $40,625.

This splendid pair of 1825-30 Philadelphia portraits swept past the $50,000/100,000 estimate to a resounding $406,250. The Lady: Lace and Frills is a 28½

This splendid pair of 1825-30 Philadelphia portraits swept past the $50,000/100,000 estimate to a resounding $406,250. The Lady: Lace and Frills is a 28½" x 25¼" oil on canvas, and The Gentleman: Man with White Stock in Interior is a 28" x 23½" oil on canvas. The crisp blue hues and white of the woman’s dress are seen in the background of the man’s portrait. The woman’s portrait was illustrated in The Flowering of American Folk Art: 1776-1876 by Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester (1974). Both portraits were exhibited at the Downtown Gallery in 1962; at ACA Gallery in the 1965 Survey of American Art; at Terry Dintenfass’s 1972 Edith Gregor Halpert Folk Art Collection (a copy of that catalog accompanied the lot); and at the 1973 Kennedy Galleries’ show American Folk Art. New York City dealer Edith Gregor Halpert of the Downtown Gallery had discovered the portraits in Philadelphia in 1959. They were sold in 1997 by Woodbury, Connecticut, dealer David A. Schorsch into the Boston collection from which they were consigned to this sale. The portraits are headed to a Connecticut collection. Schorsch was the underbidder.

The top lot of the sale was a pair of Philadelphia portraits that sold for $406,250. The 1825-30 portraits were discovered in 1959 by Edith Gregor Halpert of the Downtown Gallery, New York City.

For more information, visit the website (www.groganco.com) or call (617) 720-2020.

Over the River to Grandma’s House on Thanksgiving Day, this snowy scene by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses (1860-1961), delivered $150,000 (est. $70,000/100,000). Moses turned to painting at age 78 when arthritis made it impossible for her to continue embroidering needlework pictures and quilted objects depicting farm life. The 1944 oil on pressed wood, 17

Over the River to Grandma’s House on Thanksgiving Day, this snowy scene by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses (1860-1961), delivered $150,000 (est. $70,000/100,000). Moses turned to painting at age 78 when arthritis made it impossible for her to continue embroidering needlework pictures and quilted objects depicting farm life. The 1944 oil on pressed wood, 17" x 26" (sight size), retains glitter on the roofs and a tree in the foreground. On the reverse, it bears a label with the artist’s inventory number 525, a label for the Galerie St. Etienne, and a stamp for Hammer Galleries. The artwork came most recently from a Boston collection. Two other paintings by Moses (not shown) from 1944 sold; both were executed in oil on pressed wood and came from a Boston collection. February, a scene of skaters on a river with a logging wagon approaching a covered bridge, 13" x 15", realized $31,250 (est. $15,000/30,000), and A May Morning, with the same estimate, also realized $31,250.

This 1969 acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) realized $106,250 (est. $50,000/80,000). The 11

This 1969 acrylic on canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) realized $106,250 (est. $50,000/80,000). The 11" x 8" painting was a gift from the artist to friends and is inscribed on the reverse “for Claude and Augie / with love, / Helen, / 22 Sept. ’69.” It had descended in their family. It was exhibited in Helen Frankenthaler: A Selection of Small Scale Paintings 1949-1977, a 1978-79 traveling exhibit organized by the United States Information Agency. A copy of the exhibition catalog accompanied the painting, which sold to an area collector.

Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) painted Cochiti Ensemble between 1942 and 1947 and dated it 1947. The oil on board, 32

Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) painted Cochiti Ensemble between 1942 and 1947 and dated it 1947. The oil on board, 32" x 36" (sight size), in a carved silver-gilt pentagonal frame brought $50,000 (est. $40,000/60,000). The painting is a marked divergence from Baumann’s woodblock prints of the Southwest, but catalog notes reveal that the artist found it easier to paint in oils as his arthritis advanced. The painting, which came from a Boston collection, was in the 29th annual exhibition of painters and sculptors of the Southwest at the Museum of New Mexico in 1942.

La flûte enchantée, a 1967 lithograph by French engraver Charles Sorlier (1921-1990) after Marc Chagall (1887-1985), sheet size 39¾

La flûte enchantée, a 1967 lithograph by French engraver Charles Sorlier (1921-1990) after Marc Chagall (1887-1985), sheet size 39¾" x 26¼", is labeled “D’APRÈS MARC CHAGALL – CH. SORLIER GRAV” and numbered “38 / 200” lower left and is signed by Marc Chagall in the body of the image. Estimated at $10,000/20,000, the print drew $37,500. Chagall and Sorlier were so close that Sorlier had the artist’s permission to engrave interpretive lithographs after his original paintings. The print had descended in a Massachusetts family, and it was sold to benefit Indian Hill Music.

Racing off the Isle of Wight, this 30

Racing off the Isle of Wight, this 30" x 60" oil on canvas by British artist John Steven Dews (b. 1949), sold for $50,000 (est. $10,000/15,000). Three J-boats compete in the foreground, with the Prince of Wales’s racing yacht H.M.S. Britannia in the lead, while the spectator fleet observes the action. H.M.S. Britannia won 231 races and took an additional 129 flags.

This group of six 18th- and 19th-century portrait miniatures from the Putnam family of Massachusetts, ranging in size from 3½

This group of six 18th- and 19th-century portrait miniatures from the Putnam family of Massachusetts, ranging in size from 3½" x 23/8" to 1½" x 1¼", sold for $43,750 (est. $2000/4000). The portrait of the gray-haired man at the bottom, identified as Boston merchant Jesse Putnam, is signed “Ledoux.” The portrait of the man in uniform (center, second from the top) is by English artist John Smart (1741-1811) and is signed “JS” over the date “1790,” according to Elle Shushan, specialist dealer in portrait miniatures.

Anne Packard (b. 1933) depicts a gathering storm across a marsh in her 2012 oil on canvas Battle of the Elements, which sold for $50,000 (est. $15,000/25,000). The 40

Anne Packard (b. 1933) depicts a gathering storm across a marsh in her 2012 oil on canvas Battle of the Elements, which sold for $50,000 (est. $15,000/25,000). The 40" x 72" (sight size) painting is signed, dated, and titled on the back. It came from a Boston collection and was one of 14 paintings by Packard from various collections.

View of the Seine, with Notre Dame in the distance, this 28¾

View of the Seine, with Notre Dame in the distance, this 28¾" x 36½" (sight size) oil on canvas by Lucien de Maleville (1881-1964), sold for $28,125 against the $1000/1500 estimate. An old label reveals that the picture was painted from the roof of the Louvre. The price at the time was $500. Speaking days after the auction, Michael B. Grogan confirmed that the painting is part of the artist’s catalogue raisonné.

Summer Garden by German artist Fritz Winter (1905-1976), a 1955 oil on canvas, realized $43,750 (est. $10,000/15,000). The 17¾

Summer Garden by German artist Fritz Winter (1905-1976), a 1955 oil on canvas, realized $43,750 (est. $10,000/15,000). The 17¾" x 22" (sight size) painting retains a label from Kleemann Galleries, New York City, and had been on view in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. It came from the estate of a Harvard University professor with a lifelong interest in German-American relations.

This pointillist floral still-life oil on canvas, 24

This pointillist floral still-life oil on canvas, 24" x 20", by Russian artist Marevna (1892-1984) sold for $12,500 (est. $8000/12,000). Marevna was the name used by the artist Maria Bronislavovna Vorobyeva-Stebelska, who left Russia for Italy and then went to Paris and finally England.

This platinum, sapphire, and diamond ring with a mixed-cut 19.10-carat orange sapphire flanked by two bullet-shaped diamonds sold for $125,000 against the $30,000/50,000 estimate. It was accompanied by a February 2021 report from the American Gemological Laboratories affirming that the stone is a natural Ceylon orange sapphire with no evidence of heat. The ring had descended in the du Pont family and sold into a Pennsylvania collection.

This platinum, sapphire, and diamond ring with a mixed-cut 19.10-carat orange sapphire flanked by two bullet-shaped diamonds sold for $125,000 against the $30,000/50,000 estimate. It was accompanied by a February 2021 report from the American Gemological Laboratories affirming that the stone is a natural Ceylon orange sapphire with no evidence of heat. The ring had descended in the du Pont family and sold into a Pennsylvania collection.

This French perching bird-form brooch, circa 1950, with a baroque pearl body, a coral head and tail, emerald eyes, and diamonds, is signed and numbered “Cartier Paris 13162.” With French assay marks and estimated at $2000/3000, the brooch brought $21,250.

This French perching bird-form brooch, circa 1950, with a baroque pearl body, a coral head and tail, emerald eyes, and diamonds, is signed and numbered “Cartier Paris 13162.” With French assay marks and estimated at $2000/3000, the brooch brought $21,250.

The Fabergé nephrite picture frame by Finnish artist Henrik Emanuel Wigstr?m (1862-1923), decorated with 14k gold, diamonds, and a ruby, realized $20,000 (est. $3000/4000). Workmasters Wigstr?m and Mikhail Perkhin were responsible for most of the Imperial Easter eggs.

The Fabergé nephrite picture frame by Finnish artist Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923), decorated with 14k gold, diamonds, and a ruby, realized $20,000 (est. $3000/4000). Workmasters Wigström and Mikhail Perkhin were responsible for most of the Imperial Easter eggs.

The colorful 2¾

The colorful 2¾" long enameled brooch in the form of a leaping jester in a harlequin leotard, 18k gold and diamond, 12.31 dwt., realized $31,250 (est. $800/1000).

This parrot-form brooch, circa 1930, of platinum, sapphires, diamonds, onyx, and rubies realized $37,500 (est. $12,000/18,000). The brooch has signatures for Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels and had descended in the du Pont family.

This parrot-form brooch, circa 1930, of platinum, sapphires, diamonds, onyx, and rubies realized $37,500 (est. $12,000/18,000). The brooch has signatures for Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels and had descended in the du Pont family.

The 7½

The 7½" high Chinese blanc de chine gu-form vase with underglaze blue marks retains two collector’s labels, one marked “211 / Kang / Hsi” and the other indicating the Howard Back collection. With an estimate of $3000/5000, the vase realized $25,000. A 3½" diameter Chinese porcelain coupe (not shown) with an incised reign mark and a collector’s sticker reading “90 / Chien / Lung” sold for $12,500 (est. $1500/2500). Both objects had been in the collection of businessman, horticulturalist, and collector Franklin B. Mead (1875-1933) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and had descended to the consignor.

This pair of Tiffany & Co. silver spurs had belonged to Major General James Harrison Wilson. The spurs have an inscription to Wilson dated 1862. Sold along with the bottom of a silver flask (not shown) inscribed “James Harrison Wilson,” the spurs realized $21,250 (est. $800/1200). The group came from a Maine collection and is headed to the Tiffany archives.

This pair of Tiffany & Co. silver spurs had belonged to Major General James Harrison Wilson. The spurs have an inscription to Wilson dated 1862. Sold along with the bottom of a silver flask (not shown) inscribed “James Harrison Wilson,” the spurs realized $21,250 (est. $800/1200). The group came from a Maine collection and is headed to the Tiffany archives.

Two 18k gold cigarette cases, each marked “EB,” had descended from Nahum Goldmann to his son Guido Goldman of Concord, Massachusetts. Estimated at $3000/5000, the cases brought $12,500. Two 14k gold cigarette cases (not shown), also from the Goldman collection, sold for $8750 (est. $3000/5000).

Two 18k gold cigarette cases, each marked “EB,” had descended from Nahum Goldmann to his son Guido Goldman of Concord, Massachusetts. Estimated at $3000/5000, the cases brought $12,500. Two 14k gold cigarette cases (not shown), also from the Goldman collection, sold for $8750 (est. $3000/5000).

The paint-decorated Parcheesi board from a Boston collection realized $10,625 (est. $2000/3000).

The paint-decorated Parcheesi board from a Boston collection realized $10,625 (est. $2000/3000).

The 19th-century oil on canvas Grand Canal View, 24

The 19th-century oil on canvas Grand Canal View, 24" x 36",by English artist Jane Vivian, who was active from 1869 to 1887, sold for $5937 (est. $1500/2500). Little is known of the artist other than that she was the daughter of artist James Vivian de Fleury and was based in London, also lived in Birmingham, and lived and worked in Venice in the 1880s.

This 18th-century maple oval tavern table with some black paint came from a Boston collection and sold for $11,250 (est. $2000/3000).

This 18th-century maple oval tavern table with some black paint came from a Boston collection and sold for $11,250 (est. $2000/3000).


Originally published in the August 2021 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2021 Maine Antique Digest

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