Fine Art Dominates Grogan & Company’s Two-Day Auction

DEDHAM, MASS. — Pictures told the story at the October 13–14 auction at Grogan & Company. The sale dispersed some 934 lots over the two-day period.

The sale highlight was the Seventeenth Century Dutch picture, an oil on panel attributed to the highly prolific artist Jan van Goyen and depicting the Cunera tower in Rhenen, Netherlands. Estimated at $3/5,000, it sold on the phone for $96,000. The picture was inscribed to John Newington Hughes, a prominent Nineteenth Century English collector of Dutch Old Master paintings, and is headed back to Europe.

Three Twentieth Century gouache on paper works by Alexander Calder also attracted significant interest. A 1949 untitled gouache was signed and dated and realized $87,000 from a woman in the gallery bidding as she spoke on the phone. A second example, “Eastham,” realized $72,000, and a third, “Five Figures,” Calder’s black gouache on paper, sold online for $7,380. The untitled work and “Five Figures” came from the Connecticut collection of Mr and Mrs William Chess; “Eastham” was inscribed to “Vicky Chess.”

Three drypoint images by the Australian-born American artist Martin Lewis exceeded their estimates. “Down to the Sea at Night,” a nocturnal view of bathers headed into the surf by the lights of an automobile, made $15,600. “Glow of the City,” an evocative view of a woman against a nocturnal city sky, brought $14,400, and “Morning on the River” fetched $11,400. All three sold on the phone.

“Vermont Snow Scene,” an oil on board view from about 1930 by Aldro Thompson Hibbard, retained a Vose Galleries label and sold online for $20,910, while his oil on board “West River Vermont” brought $4,200 from a 10-year-old neighbor of the Grogan family bidding for his father.

“Summer Landscape” by California Impressionist Maurice Braun, who was born in Hungary, brought $14,400 from a phone bidder.

Bernard Buffet’s 1955 signed and dated oil on canvas “Petites Fleurs Crocus” went to the phone for $19,800. The painting descended from a New York collector and it retained a label from London gallery Arthur Tooth & Sons, which published several catalogs of the artist’s work in the 1950s.

One lot of three Italian Old Master drawings, dated only as “pre Eighteenth Century,” stirred great interest and brought $20,400 against the estimated $400/600. The lot included a two-sided work with a study for a hand with the initials “PG” on one side, and a study of two faces on the other; and a red chalk drawing of a kneeling man and a seated man with two women. It went to a dealer in the gallery who paid $2,280 for two other Italian Old Master drawings, also “pre Eighteenth Century,” one depicting a man with the infant Christ and putti and another two-sided example in brown ink representing religious figures.

An ink drawing in the manner of Sixteenth Century Roman artist and architect Giulio Romano depicting soldiers in battle also attracted significant interest and sold for $7,200.

“Sun on Bass Rocks” the 1922 oil on canvas by Rockport artist William Lester Stevens, was claimed by a phone bidder for $14,400. Bidding on the cover lot, the pastel “Small Bowl of Zinnias” by Boston artist Laura Coombs Hills, opened at $4,000 and sped along to $13,200 from a phone buyer.

Five oil and canvas panels with gilt highlights depicting Christ and the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company dominated an entire wall in the gallery. The images were created in 1898 for the 1842 Mount Vernon Church’s new quarters that opened in 1892 in Boston’s Back Bay and which burned in 1977. The lot came from an area minister and sold to a collector for $10,800.

Chinese American artist John Way John Way (Wei Letang) was born in Shanghai and trained as a calligrapher. He emigrated to the United States in 1956 and lived and worked in Boston for more than 50 years. Eight of his paintings came from a local collection, the highlights of which were a 1969 abstract calligraphic oil on canvas, untitled #1, that sold for $7,800 and the abstract untitled #2 that was $6,200 to the same Chinese dealer on the phone who paid $6,000 for Way’s “Zig Zag.”

The highlight of sculpture across the block was the bronze “Cathedral Hands” that was inscribed “A. Rodin” and copyrighted by the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. It realized $15,900 online.

Lucy Grogan, daughter of Nancy and Michael Grogan, now heads up the jewelry department at the auction house. She assembled a group that represented some $500,000 in sales. Among the highlights was a platinum, emerald, onyx and diamond ring, thought to be by Cartier, that sold for $36,000. She also heads up fine art, which results were also impressive.

Silver of interest included a rare Georg Jensen bonbonniere designed by Johan Rohde that garnered much presale attention and sold for $9,600. With a swan finial top, it bore the Jensen mark for 1915–1927, Rohde’s mark, the Copenhagen three towers mark and the CFH assay mark for Christian Frederick Heises. The piece came from a local collection.

Two pieces of silver by Nineteenth Century markers Garner & Winchester of Lexington, Ky., well exceeded their estimates. A large (10 inches) repoussé coin silver covered sugar sold for $7,200 against the estimated $1,5/2,500, while a large creamer made $5,700.

The silver highlight was a silver and lapis presentation box by Cartier with a lacquer rondelle inlaid with mother of pearl that realized for $30,000. The box was presented at the Westchester Biltmore Steeplechase Association autumn meeting in 1929 and was stamped “Cartier, Paris, Londres, New York, Made in France.”

A late Nineteenth Century Continental enameled silver music box with an enameled singing bird and a scenic decoration, along with a patinated metal singing bird box, was estimated at $500–$1,000 and finished at $20,400. The silver and enamel box needed some adjustments and while the bird rose, flapped its wings and opened and closed its beak, no sound emanated.

The sale brought to market a wide selection of Chinese Export porcelain, the highlight of which was a pair of early Nineteenth Century large famille verte porcelain vases with foo lion handles and applied serpents that sold to the Chinese trade for $36,000. A Chinese Export or colonial Indian gilt silver equestrian figure made between 1790 and 1810 garnered $6,000. The piece was thought originally to have been made in Canton but was subsequently thought to be Indian in origin.

A Chinese Export silver presentation standing cup given to James Murray Forbes by Oliver Hazard Perry II, American counsel at Canton in the mid-Nineteenth Century, on the occasion of Perry’s departure from Canton, brought $4,313. The cup, made by the Leeching shop in Canton, Hong Kong and Shanghai, descended in the Forbes family and is cited in Forbes, Kernan Wilkins’ Chinese Export Silver 1785–1885.

Other Chinese objects of interest included a lot of six Peking glass snuff bottles, including a yellow example decorated with a crane and a red and white Peking glass box that inspired eager bidding and finished $13,200, 13 times the high estimate. Another lot included ten Chinese porcelain snuff bottles that sold for $7,800. A Qianlong gilt and polychromed figure of the deity Amyrtaeus, from about 1735–1795, brought $13,530, and an Eighteenth Century Chinese scroll painting with birds perching on a branch with blossoms and calligraphy went out at $10,800.

A set of Baccarat crystal stemware in the Harcourt Empire pattern comprised 96 glasses along with a complementary pitcher and decanter went to the trade for $12,000. A Nineteenth or Twentieth Century pair of Sevres covered urns with ormolu mounts and oval medallions decorated with a maiden and putti and a landscape on a cobalt ground went for $8,610.

Two Aaron Willard tall clocks sold. One, an example with a painted iron dial with a revolving moon phase decoration and a Nantucket family history on the interior, brought $19,200. The clock descended from Nantucket whaleman Prince William Ewer, whose portrait, attributed to James S. Hathaway, brought $3,600. The other clock, an 85-inch example with a Roxbury-style mahogany case with a painted moon phase dial and floral spandrels, sold for $18,000.

All prices quoted reflect the buyer’s premium. For information, www.groganco.com or 781-461-9500.

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