Skinner Breaks Record for Sale of Folk Art Portrait; American Antiques Auction Nets $2.9M

BOSTON, Mass. – November 9, 2011 – Skinner, Inc. today announced the results of its American Furniture and Decorative Arts auction, which was held in Boston on November 5th. The highly successful sale brought $2.9 million including buyer’s premium, nearly one million dollars more than the pre-auction estimate high, and saw a record established for an American folk art portrait.

The rare 18th century portrait of Abigail Rose, of North Branford, Connecticut, sold for $1,271,000. The portrait broke the previous record for American folk art portraiture, set in January of 2007, and is one of three folk art portraits to have passed the million dollar mark at auction. The painting, from 1786, depicts a fourteen-year-old Abigail seated in a Queen Anne chair next to a table on which rests a group of books and a Battersea patchbox. The asymmetrical composition is unique for the time period. Well-preserved, in original condition, and not seen publicly since the 1930s, the portrait descended through the family of the sitter.

According to Stephen Fletcher, Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Skinner, “I knew the portrait of Abigail Rose had potential, as it is the finest early American folk portrait offered here at Skinner in forty years. There were a couple of quiet predictions in the trade that the picture might well bring a million dollars, and we were delighted that it brought a record-setting price.” Fletcher continued, “Apart from the success of the portrait, this sale showed strong results across the board and demonstrated that the market for rare and distinctive American antiques and art remains healthy.”

The landmark Rod MacKenzie Collection of Early Photography did especially well. The 150 lots of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes realized over $220,000. As a collector, MacKenzie has a sophisticated taste for images that speak to the viewer emotionally, historically, and artistically. Rare portraits of a class of school children and an architect at work each sold for $15,405, and a daguerreotype of two hunters with their dog brought $18,960. The picture was very carefully composed in a painterly manner–truly the work of a daguerreian artist. Portraits of military officers, soldiers, men at their occupations, young couples and families, and children at school showed strong results.

American furniture also did well: a Queen Anne cherry scroll-top high chest of drawers sold for $33,180, and a pair of Federal mahogany carved and flame birch inlaid card tables, attributed to the cabinetmakers Joshua Cumston and David Buckminster, with excellent provenance, sold for $28,440. A Rare Chippendale carved cahogany reverse serpentine bureau made in the Boston area sold for $94,800.

Drawn in by her alluring history, bidders drove the price of a carved and painted Indian princess tobacconist figure, attributed to Samuel Robb of New York, c. 1880, well past the high estimate, to sell for $71,100. Tobacconist figures, used to attract buyers into tobacco shops, were common in their day, yet only a small number have survived. This carved Indian, has an old weathered painted surface, and was acquired from the estate of Helena Penrose 50 years ago.

About Skinner

Skinner, Inc. is one of the world’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art. With expertise in over 20 specialty collecting areas, Skinner draws the interest of buyers from all over the world and its auctions regularly achieve world record prices. Skinner provides a broad range of auction and appraisal services, and it is widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the auction business. Skinner’s appraisal experts regularly appear on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, and its specialty departments include American Furniture & Decorative Arts, American & European Paintings & Prints, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, 20th Century Design, Fine Ceramics, Fine Jewelry, Couture, Fine Musical Instruments, Asian Works of Art, Fine Wines, Rare Books & Manuscripts, Oriental Rugs & Carpets, American Indian & Ethnographic Art, Fine Judaica, Antique Motor Vehicles, Toys, Dolls & Collectibles, Discovery and Science, Technology & Clocks. Skinner galleries are located in Boston and Marlborough, Mass. For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s web site




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