William Bradford Painting of Boston Leads American Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction at Skinner October 25th

William Bradford (Massachusetts/California, 1823-1892) Boston Harbor (Lot 23, Estimate $150,000-$250,000)

William Bradford (Massachusetts/California, 1823-1892) Boston Harbor (Lot 23, Estimate $150,000-$250,000)

BOSTON, MA – October 6, 2015 – Skinner’s flagship American Furniture & Decorative Arts Department announces their upcoming live fall auction on October 25th in Boston at their 63 Park Plaza Gallery. Two hundred sixty lots span a broad variety of objects highlighted by the auctions top lot, a William Bradford painting of Boston Harbor from 1859 signed by the artist. Also featured are mid-19th century landscape paintings, 18th and early 19th century furniture, and varied group of 18th and 19th century pottery and porcelain.

Collectors can also bid on over 300 lots at their convenience during Skinner’s Americana Online auction, taking place October 19th through October 26th. Skinner specialists have hand-picked a selection of American furniture and decorative arts, as well as early 20th century cast iron, 19th century lithographs, and oriental rugs and carpets. Bidders also have the added value of previewing the online-only lots in person during the regular Boston preview hours.

William Bradford: Boston Harbor

The sale is led by a quietly breathtaking oil on artist board painting of Boston Harbor painted in 1859 by William Bradford (Lot 23, Estimate $150,000-$250,000). Depicting a variety of sailing vessels in serene waters, the painting is an early signed example of Bradford’s forays into Luminism – the representation, through light, of the glory of the natural world. Bradford’s deft hand disappears into the work, just as mankind, in the Luminist view, was meant to disappear into and be overwhelmed by nature’s beauty.

So much was thought of the painting after it was painted that, according to a label on the reverse, it was exhibited at a world-renowned event in Boston known as “The National Sailors’ Fair,” held in part at the Boston Athenaeum in 1864, a venerable organization founded in 1807 which still operates as a cornerstone of Boston’s cultural history.

In that year, with the American Civil War still in full swing, Boston presented the Fair, an event of grand scale that would benefit veteran Navy men by, according to a November 11th, 1864 account in the New York Times, “aid[ing] in the establishment of a Sailors’ Home for Seamen and Mariners disabled in the naval service of their country.” The celebration garnered attention country-wide. In that contemporary account, The Times wrote, “The fair itself is said to surpass anything yet held in Boston. Contributions of rare and costly articles, of arms and trophies, of models and designs, of everything, in short, that is attractive, interesting, showy or useful, crowd the tables, which are placed in every part of the grand edifice. The effect of the whole display is said to be magnificent.”

“We are delighted, as a part of our October 25th auction,” said Stephen Fletcher, Executive Vice President and Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts. “to be able to present Bradford’s Boston Harbor for auction, 3/4 of a mile from where it graced the walls at that important event 151 years ago.”

[Detail] Three Reverse Paintings on Glass, China, early 19th century (Lot 59, Estimate $4,000-$6,000)

[Detail] Three Reverse Paintings on Glass, China, early 19th century (Lot 59, Estimate $4,000-$6,000)

More Paintings

A strong section of the sale consists of a small group of mid 19th century landscapes by Victor De Grailly and Edmund Coates, both of whom worked in upstate New York and New England in the 1840s and 50s. A highlight among the group is de Grailly’s View of the Oxbow from Mt. Holyoke (Lot 100, Estimate $8,000–$12,000), an expansive panorama of the Connecticut River Valley in Hadley, Massachusetts. Folk portraiture is well-represented too, the group led by an arresting painting of a boy holding a hammer and nail, donning a red dress so bright as to border on the abstract: Portrait of a Boy in Red Dress Holding a Hammer and Nail (Lot 37, Estimate $15,000-$25,000).


The auction on the 25th also features 18th and early 19th century furniture from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and further afield. Highlights include a very nice group of late 18th century cherry furniture made in Connecticut, including a small scroll-top desk bookcase (Lot 41, Estimate $3,000-5,000), a diminutive chest of three drawers (Lot 47, Estimate $3,000- 5,000), and a carved slant-lid desk (Lot 43, Estimate $2,000-3,000). The furniture of Massachusetts is also well-represented, the sale featuring a scroll-top chest-on-chest from the late 18th century originally owned by the Jackson family of Newburyport and Boston (Lot 6, Estimate $8,000- 12,000),  a carved claw-and-ball foot serpentine chest of drawers (Lot 7, Estimate $6,000- 8,000), a delicate waterleaf-carved work table from Salem (Lot 115, Estimate $3,000- 5,000), and a rare small classical circular marble-top table from Boston (Lot 87, Estimate $3,000- 5,000). Other highlights include a Chippendale Pennsylvania tall chest of drawers, a Federal inlaid card table from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a mahogany carved server from New York City.

Cherry Desk/Bookcase, Connecticut, last half 18th century (Lot 41, Estimate $3,000-$5,000)

Cherry Desk/Bookcase, Connecticut, last half 18th century (Lot 41, Estimate $3,000-$5,000)

Pottery, Porcelain and Textiles

The American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction  also features a varied group of 18th and 19th century pottery and porcelain – Chinese export porcelain, creamware, delftware, and stoneware; an extensive group of 19th and early 20th century textiles – led by a private collection of quilts and another of woven coverlets.

Previews, Catalog and Bidding

Previews for both the live and online auction will be held on Thursday, October 22, from noon to 5 PM; Friday, October 23, from noon to 8 PM, and Saturday, October 24, from noon to 5 PM. An illustrated catalog #2855B is available from the Subscription Department at 508-970-3240. The catalogue is also available at the gallery. Prices realized will be available at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sale. The Skinner website also enables users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Coral Gables, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at www.skinnerinc.com, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.



Stephen Fletcher
Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts


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