Antiques And Collectibles: July Auctions

With most of our partner auction houses taking a much needed hiatus from their busy antiques-and-collectibles auction schedules, it’s a time for reflection and to review some of the auctions that have been highlighted in past columns. Let’ focus on the sales results from Freeman’s June 22 fine-art auction where several items were featured.

Lot 1 Italianate landscape with figures, attributed to the followers or school of Marco Ricci. This particular painting, which I found interesting because of its attribution and its subject matter, sold with a hammer price of $7,000, going in with an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. We can speculate from this vantage point and query the point and do the “what ifs.” If the painting is, as promoted, an attribution, then the selling price was very good. I would have speculated that it would have stayed within the estimate of 4K to 6K. We do not know if the painting, prior to the sale, was subjected to various tests that would have confirmed beyond a doubt that it was a period piece. That being said, we can then speculate that the buyer might have suspected that it was, in fact, painted by Marco Ricci based on critical analysis of style and execution, and that he was potentially getting an excellent investment at 7K, which if all the “what ifs” paid off, he was sitting on a small gold mine should he decide to sell.

Lots 53, 54 and 55, the collection of Sir William Orpen’s works, which included “Study of an Irish Girl,” “Portrait of Lady Orpen” and “Studies of a Male Nude,” respectively, had some surprises with Lot 53 going well beyond its estimate of 8K and selling for 20K. Lots 54 and 55 sold at or slightly above their estimates. It’s good, as demonstrated by these sales results, to see Orpen getting some much-deserved attention.

What was not a surprise, however, were the sales results of Lot 155, the “Untitled,” strongly linear abstract/Impressionism painting by Washington, D.C., artist, Alma Woodsey Thomas. The painting, which firmly places Thomas in the top-ranking world of the Modernist, went in with a reserve of 20K to 30K and sold for 35K. I predict that her paintings, which are infrequent at auction, will only continue to rise. Another American painter, John Fulton Folinsbee, Lot 130, titled “The Shad Landing,” exceeded Thomas’ sale with a hammer price of 60K. Only goes to show that the old slogan still has validity, “Buy American.”

July 31-Aug. 2: Mebane Auction

by Christopher Kent
Director of Evaluations, WorthPoint
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