NEW YORK—Despite some strong individual prices, in general the April 30 sale of American and European art held by Connecticut auctioneer Shannon’s reflected the continuing effects of the economy on the art market. The sale contained 278 lots, of which 105, or 38 percent, were bought in, and the total was just under $2million, missing the estimate of $2.5million /3.5million, according to owner Gene Shannon. “It’s a polarized market,” Shannon told ARTnewsletter. “Either people wanted it and were willing to pay for it, or they didn’t want it at all.”
The top price of the sale was $132,000, paid for Martin Johnson Heade’s Roses Lying on Gold Velvet, circa 1883–1900. The oil on canvas, consigned by a Greenwich collector, carried an estimate of $100,000/150,000. “We started at $70,000, and there were four bidders,” Shannon said.
Demand was also strong for work by Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837–1908), whose paintings accounted for several of the top prices: Oyster Boats on the Creek, Patchogue, Long Island, circa 1885, was sold for $120,000 on an estimate of $100,000/150,000; Boating in the Afternoon, Newburyport, Massachusetts, circa 1884, sold for $84,000 on an estimate of $70,000/100,000; and Evening After a Stormy Day, 1889, garnered $48,000 on an estimate of $30,000/50,000.
Other paintings that found buyers included Albert Bierstadt’s In the Alban Hills, circa 1856–57, which brought in $43,200 (estimate: $40,000/60,000); Hermann Herzog’s Elk Overlooking a River, which sold for $40,800, at the bottom end of the $40,000/60,000 estimate with premium; William Louis Sonntag Jr.’s St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, circa 1890, which brought in $36,000 (estimate: $30,000/50,000); and Konstantin Korovin’s Still Life, which sold for $36,000 on an estimate of $30,000/50,000.
Almost all of the lots that sold did so within estimates, but there were a few surprises. John Frederick Peto’s Still Life with Pipe brought $22,800, well above the $8,000/12,000 estimate, and Charles Henry Gifford’s Morning on the Hudson, 1860s?, was sold for $38,400, above its $15,000/25,000 estimate. The Puppet Show, by Belgian artist Albert Roosenboom (1845–75), brought in $16,800, more than doubling its $5,000/7,000 estimate, with bidding on the phone from European buyers, according to Shannon.
There were several disappointments in the mix, including the failures of such works as Francis Coates Jones’s A Gift of Flowers, estimated at $70,000/100,000, and Keith Vaughan’s Nude Washing at a Tap, 1953, which carried an estimate of $70,000/100,000.