NEW YORK—An oil painting by American Impressionist Philip Leslie Hale (1865-1931), A Walk Through the Fields, 1895, drew the highest bids at Skinner’s March 7 sale of American and European paintings and prints, earning $177,750, more than triple the $50,000 high estimate.
Overall the auction was strong, with several significant prices earned by artists of major and, in some instances, relatively minor, standing. The total of $2.5 million fell in the middle of Skinner’s $1.9/2.97 million presale estimate.
Italian painter Rubens Santoro’s oil Mending the Nets/An Italian Coastal View, 1888,earned $112,575, generously surpassing the $30,000/50,000 estimate; an oil on canvasboard by Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956), Taos Pueblo Indian, brought $94,800 (estimate: $75,000/125,000); and a snowy cityscape by Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883-1962), New York Winter, took $71,100 (estimate: $60,000/80,000).
“There was quite a lot of bidding for the Santoro,” reports Robin Starr, a paintings and prints specialist at Skinner. “All the phones were busy, and most of the callers were from overseas.” The painting was bought by an Italian dealer.
More surprising was a 1959 untitled abstract painting by Chinese-American artist Walasse Ting (b. 1929); estimated at $3,000/5,000, it made $42,660. Similarly, an abstract oil, Cosmos, by Tetsuo Ochikubo (1923-75), realized $34,365, leaving its $1,500 high estimate in the dust.
A shoreline painting, Gathering at the Shore, attributed only to the “Italian school, 18th century” and given a $7,000/9,000 estimate, brought $59,250; a marine image, Across the Western Ocean, by Frank Vining Smith (1879-1967), drew $20,145 (estimate: $3,000/5,000); and a work by Fernand Harvey Lungren (1859-1932), Gates at St. Augustine, produced $24,885, nearly five times the $5,000 high estimate.
Two etchings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) that came with modest expectations—Nocturne: Palaces (estimate: $4,000/6,000) and The Tall Bridge, 1878 (estimate: $1,500/2,000)—performed well, earning $20,145 and $10,073, respectively.
A set of two small bronze statues of American Indians—Indian Maid in a Canoe and Brave in a Canoe—by the single-named, 19th-century French artist Duchoiselle, fetched $39,105 (estimate: $20,000/30,000). And the oil Gloucester Harbor, by Anthony Thieme (1888-1954), was picked up for $38,513 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).
Less happily, British artist John Frederick Herring Sr.’s Farm in Winter, 1858, which bore the sale’s highest estimate—$150,000/250,000— failed to land a buyer.