Skinner Reports Excellent Results from American Furniture and Decorative Arts Auction: Sale Grosses $2.1M

BOSTON, Mass. – March 7, 2012 – Skinner, Inc. today announced exceptional results for its recent American Furniture and Decorative Arts sale held last Sunday, March 4th. The sale grossed $2,167,558.97, including buyer’s premium, with many lots far exceeding pre-sale estimates.

Brumidi’s The Apotheosis of Washington

Constantino Brumidi’s study for The Apotheosis of Washington set the world record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by the artist. The study was sold to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum for $539,500, exceeding its estimated high of $350,000. The fresco, for which this painting is the final study, is found on the ceiling of the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building and is considered to be the Italian-born Brumidi’s masterpiece.

Brumidi’s career included other notable achievements such as the restoration of the 16th century frescoes in the Vatican’s Third Loggia. While his frescoes decorate many meeting rooms and hallways of the Capitol, The Apotheosis of Washington remains his crowning achievement. It is widely considered to be the most important fresco in America.

The previous record for a work by Brumidi was $21,000, for, fittingly enough, a portrait of George Washington. “Prior to the sale, we had great interest in the painting from all the right quarters,” said Chris Barber, Deputy Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts. “We’re very excited that it is now in the hands of such a venerable institution in its city of origin. Of course we’re also delighted that it will eventually be put on public view – it deserves to be seen by all.”

The Collection of Gregory Rubin Reynolds

The Collection of Gregory Rubin Reynolds, highlighted in a single-owner catalogue, also saw strong results. Buyers were attracted to the furniture Reynolds collected for its color and form, and to his folk paintings and decorative objects for their beauty, whimsy and sense of humor. Highlights include a chimney cupboard in early green paint which sold for $23,700, and a black-painted Queen Anne high chest attributed to Peter Bartlett of Salisbury, New Hampshire, which sold for $35,550. A pair of very “folky” portraits, of Henry and Anna Ehle of Chittenango Village, New York, sold for $27,255; and a Meredith, New Hampshire work by Edmund C. Coates depicting a May Day celebration on Lake Winnipesaukee exceeded its high estimate to sell for $21,330. The Reynolds collection brought over a half a million dollars and, per Reynolds’ wishes, the proceeds will be donated to the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

American Furniture

American furniture also brought high prices. A rare, beautiful, and well-preserved Queen Anne scroll-top fan-carved walnut and maple high chest of drawers from the North Shore of Massachusetts exceeded its high estimate of $15,000, to sell for $53,325. This chest was part of a group of furniture that was consigned by the Smith College Museum of Art. Other notable furniture items include a Federal mahogany inlaid breakfast table probably from Charlston, South Carolina which sold for $20,145; and a Queen Anne Massachusetts mahogany drop-leaf tea table c. 1740-60 which sold for $11,257.50. Stephen Fletcher, Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts noted “we have seen improving demand for antique American furniture in our recent sales. In our experience, the marketplace for high quality examples of period furniture remains strong.”

Other Notable Sale Results

A diminutive stoneware ‘grotesque’ face jug descended through the family of a Massachusetts antiquarian who was actively collecting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries sold especially well. An early 20th century note retrieved from the interior of the vessel reads: “Monkey Jug= made at Bath S.C. 1862 by negro slaves/Aiken S.C.” Estimated between $800 and $1,200, the jug sold for $56,287.50. According to Fletcher “face jugs provide an important view into the culture and life of enslaved African-American potters in the 19th century.” He continued “This example is an extraordinary piece with a fascinating history, and it’s in perfect condition.”

Other strong performers included a 19th century portrait of Americas Cup racing yacht America that sold for $35,550; a Sturtevant Hamblen painting of a young girl sold for $15,405; and a unique and vibrant suffragette fund-raising quilt sold for $16,590. The quilt, which was probably made in New York State in the late 19th century, resembles the American flag and has the names of many individual contributors to the cause embroidered on the red and white stripes. Noteworthy among these is the name of Susan B. Anthony.

Upcoming Skinner Americana Auctions

The next Skinner Americana auction will take place on August 11 and 12 in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and will feature the collection of the late William Hubbard, antiquarian and auctioneer from Sunderland, Massachusetts. A collection of Shaker furniture from Tyringham, Massachusetts will also be offered. Consignments are now being accepted. Please contact the Skinner American Furniture and Decorative Arts department directly at 508-970-3229.

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 Works of Art, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, 20th Century Design, Fine Ceramics, Fine Silver, 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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