Grogan & Company, Boston, Massachusetts
Photos courtesy Grogan & Company
What does it mean when an auction house’s first online sale in its 33 years is its best ever? That’s what happened at Grogan & Company when the June 14 auction in the Boston gallery brought an impressive total of close to $3 million, with 48% of the lots selling above their estimates.
This 1909 portrait by English artist John William Godward (1861-1922) was estimated at $30,000/50,000 and garnered $109,375. The 20" x 16" (sight size) oil on canvas is signed and dated and came from an area estate. It had been restored, likely by Finlayson Brothers, restorers of the John Singer Sargent murals at the Boston Public Library in 1953. The subject, a Classical beauty, is likely the wife of London art dealer Paul Eugene Cremetti and is the subject of two other Godward portraits. The painting went to a Godward collector in Louisiana.
While bidders at live auctions have often viewed Internet bidding dimly as online bidding often slows the pace, pandemic conditions have instead widened the bidding audience. Collectors and dealers can become aware of a favored artist, jeweler, or piece of furniture for sale. And, for the most part, they are far more trusting these days of the Internet and the auction house. Michael Grogan observed that at work in this auction as new buyers emerged from across the globe, pointing to the successful bidder on a 1909 portrait of a woman by British artist John William Godward. The purchaser, a Louisiana collector of paintings, paid $109,375 (including buyer’s premium) for the portrait. Grogan told M.A.D. that some 2300 bidders had signed on to the Grogan bidding platform.
Grogan sales begin usually with fine art, and this event was no exception. Bidders seemed heedless of estimates; many pictures sold well in excess of them. Jewelry was also an area of interest, also beating the estimates. The same held for furniture and decorative accessories. Grogan’s next auction will be held November 15. It is not yet determined whether the auction will be live or online.
For more information, visit the website (www.groganco.com) or call (617) 720-2020.
Blue was the color of the day at Grogan when this platinum, Kashmir sapphire, and diamond ring sold for $237,500 (est. $80,000/120,000). The ring, which dates from around 1930, is signed “Marcus”; the cushion-cut sapphire weighs 4.81 carats and is flanked by diamonds weighing 2.44 carats. It had belonged to Nannette Eleanor Hoover Campanella Dietrich and had been presented as an engagement ring by her second husband, Dr. Lawrence B. Dietrich Jr., a former Jesuit missionary in India. Her first husband was Joe Campanella, a former football player and founder of the restaurants Gino’s and Rustler Steak House. The ring came to Grogan through a college classmate of Lucy Grogan Edwards, vice president and jewelry director.
A platinum, 18k gold, Colombian emerald, and diamond ring from the family of Nannette Eleanor Hoover Campanella Dietrich realized $38,750 (est. $20,000/30,000). The 3.82-carat emerald-cut emerald is flanked by trillion-cut diamonds weighing 1.25 total carats.
Zinnias Looking at You by Clementine Reuben Hunter (1887-1987) sold for $12,500 (est. $3000/5000). The 23½" x 15½" oil on board is monogrammed “CH.” At age eight Hunter began working as a field hand on various plantations of the Cane River valley in Louisiana. She ultimately settled at Melrose Plantation, where she was a housekeeper and later a cook. Self-taught, she began painting in the 1940s. She is among the most celebrated folk artists of the 20th century, and her work is included in the collections of major museums. Zinnias Looking at You was acquired from the Bindery at Melrose Plantation in 1980 and came to this sale from a New York City collection.
In 1964 Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019) painted Gerta, this oil on canvas portrait of her cousin and friend Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Conner. The portrait, 30" x 30" (sight size), in a frame by House of Heydenryk, sold to an area collector for $53,125 (est. $2000/4000), underbid by family members. The artist and the sitter, two women of the same age, were the granddaughters of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The picture was exhibited in 1966 at Hammer Galleries in New York City and was accompanied by the exhibition catalog.
This color woodcut, Grand Canyon by Gustave Baumann (1881-1971), plate 12½" x 12½", is titled, signed, and marked “I 35 125” with the artist’s chop. Estimated at $5000/7000, it brought $23,750. Not shown, Baumann’s woodcut Mountain Lake,9⅜" x 11½", fetched $12,500 (est. $2000/4000).
The auction offered two untitled images by Mose Ernest Tolliver (1924-2006) bearing his distinctive signature, “MOSET” with a reversed “s.” This one, 5⅞" x 7⅞", oil on masonite, depicts a duck. Not shown, the other, 17½" x 12¾", was an oil on panel. They came from a New York City collection and sold for $5625 (est. $800/1200).
This pencil sketch by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) of Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, is a preliminary sketch for his oil portrait of the marchioness, completed three months before his death. That oil on canvas portrait is at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. The sketch, 10¾" x 8¼", is inscribed “J.S. 149” and sold for $31,250 (est. $10,000/15,000). It has been examined by the Sargent catalogue raisonné committee and accepted as genuine. After Sargent’s death one-third of the materials in his London studio were sent to Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City. This sketch was purchased there in 1959 and had remained in the same family until consigned to this sale.
The etching and aquatint by Japanese/French artist Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Chaton dormant pres d’une balle, sheet size 14" x 16¾", from his 1929 series “Les Chats,” sold for $17,500 (est. $5000/10,000). The image is signed in pencil and numbered 4/100.
A sterling silver tea caddy with a foo lion head on the lid and four panels decorated variously with calligraphy, floral elements, and a frog with a serving tray realized $7500 (est. $2000/3000). The circa 1880 caddy was made by Roger Williams Silver Co., Providence, Rhode Island, and retailed by A. Stowell & Co., Boston.
Since moving Grogan & Company from Dedham, Massachusetts, to Boston’s Beacon Hill, Michael Grogan has relieved himself of heavy lifting. But sometimes something very special comes to his attention and he lifts. This attraction was a pair of Classical carved and giltwood benches made in Roxbury around 1830 that sold for $15,000 (est. $2000/4000). A similar bench is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
A drawing in black ink titled modestly Landscape #31 by Maine artist Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) left its estimates in the dust when it sold for $13,750 (est. $1500/2500). The 11⅞" x 8⅞" image was once part of the collection of Alfred Stieglitz, an early mentor, who exhibited Hartley’s work at his 291 gallery in 1909. It came most recently from a Massachusetts collection that was the source of other Hartley works that also exceeded their estimates.
Stepping Stones by Boston artist Philip Shelton Sears (1867-1953), a 44" high bronze with green patina, sold for $21,250 (est. $10,000/15,000). It is inscribed “P.S. Sears” with an indistinct date in the 1920s and bears the Gorham Co. Founders stamp. Made in 1923 for a Hamilton, Massachusetts, garden, it had descended in the family. It is considered one of Sears’s finest works. The Gorham company included an image of it in Famous Small Bronzes: A Representative Exhibit Selected from the Works of Noted Contemporary Sculptors, which was published in 1928.
Beautification, this 1942 oil on canvas by Polish/American artist Max Weber (1881-1961), sold for $43,750 (est. $10,000/15,000). The 36" x 28" painting retains labels from the Forum Gallery, the Gerald Peters Gallery, and the Bernard Danenberg Galleries, all in New York City, and from the collection of Philip and Suzanne Schiller of Highland Park, Illinois. It is illustrated in Max Weber by Alfred Werner, published in New York City in 1975. It sold to a midwestern collector of Weber’s work.
Oudegracht Smeebrug, Utrecht, a 1926 oil on canvas by Cornelis Vreedenburgh (Dutch, 1880-1946), is signed and dated and sold for $16,250 (est. $3000/5000). The 20" x 25¾" view of the old canal and the Smeebrug bridge in Utrecht is unframed.
Shown is one page of the three-volume folio edition History of the Indian Tribes of North America by Thomas L. McKenney (1785-1859) and James Hall (1793-1868), published between 1838 and 1844. Volume one was published by Edward C. Biddle in Philadelphia, and volumes two and three by Daniel Rice and James G. Clark. The set of three books realized $46,875 (est. $15,000/30,000). The same New England collection was the source of an 1837 autograph letter (not shown) from John James Audubon to Col. John James Abert that realized $17,500 (est. $3000/5000).
A 90" mahogany tall-case clock, circa 1810, by Stephen Taber of Roxbury and New Bedford, Massachusetts, with a moon-phase dial sold for $21,250 (est. $10,000/20,000).
The oil on canvas portrait of the American frigateU.S.S. Constitution by British artist Charles Henry Seaforth (1801-1872) sold for $17,500 (est. $2000/4000). The 24" x 28½" painting depicts two other ghostly ships in the fog. A typewritten note tacked to the reverse reads in part “American Frigate Constitution / Bearing up and making sale [sic] on discovering an English three-decker through the fog....” The painting had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835.
Two similar 20th-century German silver and gilt silver jousting knights with inset colored glass stones, 11½" and 12" high, brought $8750 (est. $5000/7000). One is marked “Sterling German 925”; the other, “A835.”
Originally published in the October 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest