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Cubist Carlos Merida Shines at Skinner Sale

Offering a larger-than-usual number of lots, Skinner, Inc., Boston, managed a highly productive sale of American and European paintings and prints, selling 86 percent of the 812 works on offer in two sessions on Sept. 16. The entire sale realized $1.87 million, just below the high mark of the presale $1.3/1.9 million estimate.

NEW YORK—Offering a larger-than-usual number of lots, Skinner, Inc., Boston, managed a highly productive sale of American and European paintings and prints, selling 86 percent of the 812 works on offer in two sessions on Sept. 16. The entire sale realized $1.87 million, just below the high mark of the presale $1.3/1.9 million estimate.

There were reasonably priced prints by renowned modernists—among them Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Robert Motherwell and Pablo Picasso—most of which sold in or around Skinner’s estimates. For instance, Chagall’s 1964 lithograph Le bouquet de l’artiste fetched $14,100 (estimate: $15,000/25,000); and Motherwell’s 1981-82 lithograph Lament for Lorca brought in $12,925 (estimate: $8,000/12,000)—but the top-selling pieces were for works by artists of more regional or specialized interest.

Two woodcut prints by the German-born American artist Gustave Baumann (1881-1971), Grandma Battins Garden (Hoosier Garden), 1916, and Cholla and Sahuaro, 1924—each estimated at $3,000/5,000—went for $14,100 and $18,800, respectively.

Exceeding their estimates by an even bigger jump were The Retriever, by American Impressionist Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951), which took $8,813 (estimate: $1,200/1,800); and an etching, The Waltz, by Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920), which earned $11,163 (estimate $1,500/2,500).

The highest price achieved at the auction, $58,750, went for the 1936 oil-on-canvas Cancion de cuna (Song of the Cradle), by a Guatemalan-born Cubist, Carlos Merida (1891-1984). A featured work of this sale, it had been estimated at $35,000/55,000.

Another 1936 work by Merida, Tema con variaciones (A Portfolio), made $29,375 (estimate: $20,000/30,000). A small oil on board, March, 1944, by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses, 1860-1961), drew $42,300 (estimate: $18,000/22,000); a pen-and-ink and collage on paper entitled . . . Airmail, by Saul Steinberg (1914-99), also earned $42,300 (estimate: $8,000/12,000); and Marine Scene (possibly off Bailey’s Island, Maine), by Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908), brought $39,950 (estimate: $40,000/60,000).

Beach Crowd, an oil on canvas board by Charles Herbert Woodbury (1864-1940), earned $31,725 (estimate $20,000/30,000). Perhaps more surprising, a 1913 painting by American artist Gabrielle de Veaux Clements (1858-1948), Garden Path Lined with Iris, sold for $12,925 (estimate: $800/1,200).

A 1908 oil on canvas, View from Ironbound Island to Frenchman Bay, by Dwight Blaney (1865-1944), gained $12,925 (estimate: $5,000/7,000); an oil painting by Robert R. Bliss (1925-81), Boy with Oar, 1983, won $12,925 (estimate: $2,000/4,000); a wintertime picture of New York’s Central Park, Looking Toward 5th and 59th, by Danish-born American Johann Berthelsen (1883-1969), earned $19,975 (estimate: $6,000/8,000); and a 1911 bronze Tolstoy on Horseback, by Russian-born American artist Paul Troubetzkoy (1866-1938), went for $24,675 (estimate: $4,000/6,000).

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