NEW YORK—Skinner auction house in Boston had high hopes for German artist Carl Spitzweg’s painting Der Briefträger, ca. 1870, estimating it at $70,000/90,000, but the work far exceeded that estimate when it sold for $248,000, including premium, at the sale of American and European art on May 20. The work sold to a private collector in Germany, auction house officials said.
“It was a very strong sale,” said Robin Starr, director of the American and European department of Skinner’s. Total earnings were $2.5 million, just above the estimate of $1.65 million/2.4 million; 493, or 85 percent, of the 584 lots found buyers.
The sale was replete with many lots that, like the Spitzweg work, handily swept past expectations, including an abstract oil on canvas Deep Blue Coast, 1961, by British artist Peter Lanyon, estimated at $3,000/5,000, which sold for $201,450 to a British dealer. “There was intense phone bidding,” for this piece, noted Starr.
Also handily surpassing their estimates were an aluminum collage by Conrad Marca-Relli (see related story, right column), Untitled (M-4-63) that was estimated at $2,000/3,000, which sold for $53,325 to an Italian dealer; a 17th-century “Italian School” Biblical-scene painting depicting the sacrifice of Isaac, estimated at $1,500/2,000, which sold for $13,035; an undated oil by Orlando Rouland titled On Fifth Avenue, also estimated at $1,500/2,000, which brought $17,775; William Henry Johnson’s oil Coastal Surf, ca.1932, which sold for $82,950 (estimate: $5,000/7,000); and Rene Magritte’s etching Aube à l’antipode, 1966, which sold for $42,660 (estimate: $800/1,200).
And there were many more winning prices: James McNeill Whistler’s etching Clock-Tower, Amboise, n.d., sold for $23,700, against an estimate of $3,000/4,000; William Mason Brown’s oil Sunset Over the Marsh Lands, n.d., took $28,440, compared with an estimate of $5,000/7,000; and Marion Huse’s oil Saturday Morning, sold for $15,045, against an estimate of $1,000/1,500.
Numerous other artworks sold at strong prices, albeit more in line with estimates, including Robert Spear Dunning’s Still Life with Root Vegetables, 1858, which took $88,875 (estimate: $70,000/90,000); Barbara Hepworth’s Rock Forms, 1961, which sold for $59,250 (estimate: $20,000/30,000); Cyrus Edwin Dallin’s bronze The Scout, 1910, which sold for $31,995 (estimate: $8,000/10,000); and Asher Durand’s New England Hills, 1859, which sold for $28,440 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).
Two bronze sculptures by Charles Russell met with lively interest. These included An Enemy That Warns, modeled in 1921 and cast ca. 1922–28, which sold for $27,255 against an estimate of $20,000/25,000, and Weapons of the Weak, also modeled in 1921 and cast ca. 1922, which sold for $24,885, on an estimate of $20,000/25,000. Gregory Gluckmann’s undated oil Nude Woman, sold for $27,255, clearing its estimate of $20,000/25,000, and Alexandra Exter’s gouache on paper Costume Design for Aeschylus’ Tragedy ‘Seven Against Thebes,’ sold for $26,080, above the estimate of $8,000/12,000.
However, A Blanket of Snow, 1945, by Anna Robertson “Grandma” Moses, sold for $27,255, missing the estimate $30,000/50,000).