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Skinner Sale: ‘Hot’ Southern Art Leaves Estimates in the Cold

A pair of waterside paintings led the sale of American and European paintings and prints at Skinner auctioneers, Boston, on Sept. 15. The Plaza Basin, St. Augustine, Florida, 1890, by Frank Henry Shapleigh (1842-1906), flew past its high estimate of $9,000 to bring $160,000; and Fishing in the Everglades, by Hermann Herzog (1832-1932), fetched $226,000,

NEW YORK—A pair of waterside paintings led the sale of American and European paintings and prints at Skinner auctioneers, Boston, on Sept. 15. The Plaza Basin, St. Augustine, Florida, 1890, by Frank Henry Shapleigh (1842-1906), flew past its high estimate of $9,000 to bring $160,000; and Fishing in the Everglades, by Hermann Herzog (1832-1932), fetched $226,000, more than six times the $35,000 high estimate.

Both pictures were purchased by dealers and are likely to end up in collections in the Southeast, says Colleen Fesko, director of Skinner’s department of American and European art. The higher-than-anticipated sale prices reflect “just how hot American Southern art really is,” Fesko told ARTnewsletter.

The auction, which had a total presale estimate of $1.7/2.6 million and earned $2 million, was larger than usual for Skinner, with a total of 878 lots; of these 72 percent found buyers. The size of the sale reflected the consignment of some large collections, most notably nearly 40 works from the Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, Mass., which has been deaccessioning several hundred paintings and prints through sales at Skinner.

Bidders, on the floor, phone and online, showed considerable discernment, picking among different offerings by the same artists. Of the four paintings by American Aldro Thompson Hibbard (1886-1972), two were purchased within estimates: West River at East Jamaica, Vermont (estimate: $8,000/12,000) brought $8,813; and South Woods in Rockport (estimate: $10,000/15,000) earned $12,925. Hibbard’s February, Vermont nearly doubled its high estimate of $25,000 when it fetched $47,000, but his Rocky Shore, Cape Ann (estimate:$12,000/18,000) was bought in.

Similarly, three paintings by British artistArthur Rackham (1867-1939), each estimated at $8,000/12,000, brought mixed results: King Arthur “A Maying” fell within estimate at $9,988, Underwater Scene with Nobleman and Mermaids exceeded the estimate at $14,100, and Clerk Colvill and the Mermaid for British Ballads doubled the high estimate at $24,675.

Bidders also proved cautious around the work of George Loftus Noyes (1864-1954), paying $3,819 for View of the Ponte Vecchio (estimate: $4,000-6,000) and $11,750 for Still Life with Roses and Silver Tankard (estimate: $15,000-25,000).

A circa 1920 Beach Scene with Flowers, by Mabel May Woodward (1877-1945)—one of the pieces consigned by the Fuller Museum of Art—carried a $2,000/4,000 estimate but earned $36,425; and The Hunt, a 1928 bronze statue by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980), more than tripled the high estimate of $15,000 when it took $49,938.

A Whistler More Than Quadruples Estimate

An etching, The Traghetto, No. 2, by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), brought $16,450—again far outstripping the high estimate of $3,500. Several higher-priced pieces failed to find buyers however, including: Study of a Male Nude, a drawing in chalk on blue paper by John Constable (1776-1837), which had been estimated at $8,000/12,000; Setting Decoys, a painting by Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969), which carried a $30,000/50,000 estimate; and Chat maitre d’hotel, a bronze by Diego Giacometti (1902-85), which had been expected to bring in $60,000/80,000.

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