Antiques and Fine Art Auctions Blog

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Picasso and Matisse Headline American & European Paintings Auction May 15th

BOSTON, Mass. – April 29, 2009 – www.skinnerinc.comSkinner, Inc., one of the nation’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art, today announced that its upcoming American and European Paintings sale will take place on Friday, May 15th in its Boston gallery located at 63 Park Plaza.  More than 500 lots of paintings will be offered.  This sale will feature one of the auction house’s most impressive offerings to date with works from Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, and Salvador Dalí coming to Skinner from notable collections.

Notable Collections

From the estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (née Braman) Grasso comes several impressive pieces; these works represent the first part of a two-part modern collection from her estate.  Ms. Braman was born in 1929 to Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (née Hall) Braman of New York, namesake and cousin of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.   Ms. Braman was active in the New York art scene and her collection is wide-ranging in medium and style, yet can be characterized as dedicated to avant-garde modernism.  Of note is Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Ambroise Vollard with his Cat (lot 378, est. $450/650,000).  Ambroise Vollard was one of Picasso’s earliest dealers and though his role as dealer waned after 1911, Vollard continued to promote him over the decades as an editor of art books.  Picasso was known to have made only a small number of portraits of Vollard in various mediums.  The present portrait, a recently rediscovered work, may have been the inspiration for the etching with aquatint entitled Vollard et son Chat, c. 1960, as well as an updated oil painting in a private collection of the same subject.

Also from the Grasso estate is Henri Matisse’s Seated Woman in Oriental Dress (lot 359, est. $150/250,000).  The work is characteristic of Matisse’s female portraits of the twenties that show an Arabesque interior with women, frequently in exotic costume and in a relaxed state.  However, in this particular work, there is a subtle aggressiveness to her pose in the frontal display of wealth and direct gaze that may challenge the typically passive gaze of the viewer.  The final Grasso masterpieces to be offered are two sculptures by Henry Moore: Standing Mother and Child: Holes, 1955 (lot 489, est. $50/75,000) and Head: Cyclops, 1963 (lot 488, est. $30/50,000).

Another set of works comes to Skinner from the collection of Louis Albert McMillen, a former member of The Architect’s Collaborative (TAC) who was involved in designing the University of Baghdad as TAC partner in charge of project.  It was there that he amassed some of the collection coming up for bid: Dia Azzawi’s Ancient Symbols (lot 395, est. $25/30,000); Dia Azzawi’s Masks of Abyss (lot 390, est. $25/30,000); and Kadhim Hayder’s The Martyr’s Epic (lot 398, est. $15/20,000).  Also from the McMillen collection is Anemones by Raoul Dufy (lot 362, est. $40/60,000) and The Annunciation by Salvador Dalí (lot 386, est. $40/50,000), which is characteristic of Dalí’s artistic vision of the 1950s, which he called “Nuclear Mysticism.”  This concept integrated Dalí’s interpretation of quantum mechanics with Old Master craftsmanship to create a new kind of spiritual art making and viewing experience.

Descended within the families of William Walters and/or George Harold Edgell is another collection up for bid.  Walter Williams established a grain trading company in Baltimore, and invested heavily and successfully in railroads and banking.  During the American Civil War, he moved to Paris where he became immersed in the world of art patronage.  His son Henry was also a collector and the two collections were merged in the creation of Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum.  Offered from this collection is Travelers in Mountainous Terrain attributed to Gillis Claesz de Hondecoeter (lot 15, est. $15/20,000) whose landscape compositions, blending aspects of realism and fantasy, convey a strong sense of depth and distance through their atmospheric light; Antoine-Louis Barye’s Cheval Turc No. 2 (lot 21, est. $15/20,000); Aleksandr Evgen’evich Yakovlev’s Mexico (lot 167A, est. $1/1,500); and Aiden Lassell Ripley’s Ice Hockey by the Train Tracks (lot 277, est. $1/1,500.

American Paintings

Additional highlights from American artists include Campfire Stories by Henry Raschen (lot 152, est. $15/20,000) whose life-like compositions conveyed the customs of the Native American tribes throughout California and the Southwest, particularly the Pomo Indians of nearby Sonoma County; On the Lake by Jasper Francis Cropsey (lot 142, est. $10/15,000); Headed Home from Haymaking, A Figure Study by Edward Mitchell Bannister (lot 129A, est. $8/12,000) whose depiction of “peasant life” was a constant; and John Bunyan Bristol’s Landscape with Church (lot 94, est. $6/8,000).

Other featured works from American artist to be offered include Arthur Clifton Goodwin’s Market Day in Boston (lot 290, est. $8/12,000); Louis Kronberg’s The Red Kimono (lot 294, est. $5/7,000); Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s Heading Home from Pasture (lot 100, est. $15/25,000).  Tait is best known for realistic, narrative scenes, often featuring animals and huntsmen, using rich, natural colors.  Also featured are Frank Henry Shapleigh’s In Hospital Street, St. Augustine, Florida (lot 98, est. $30/50,000); John William Hill’s Summer Afternoon (lot 108, est. $5/7,000); and Alfred Thompson Bricher’s Mountain Landscape (lot 109A, est. $15/20,000) which is both accurate in detail and romantic in its depiction and conveys the subtleties of light and a rich tonality emblematic of the Hudson River School.  Contemporary works expected to draw significant interest include a John Way’s [Wei Letang] Scintillation (lot 501, est. $4/6,000) and an untitled work by Bimal Dasgupta (lot 496, est. $2/3,000).

Previews and Special Event

Previews for the auction will be held from 12 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 13th; 12 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14th; and 12 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15th.  During Thursday’s preview, Skinner will host a fine art gallery walk discussing works at auction at 5:30 p.m. presented by Skinner Painting Director Pro Tem Robin Starr.  Interested attendees should call 617/350-5400.

Catalog Information

Illustrated catalog #2459 is available by mail for $35 ($42 for international requests) from the subscription department at 508-970-3000 x3240.  It is also available at the gallery for $32.

Skinner-Live! Online Bidding on Skinner’s Website

Skinner’s website now features real-time online bidding via the SkinnerLive! bid applet.  Visit and click on the blue Skinner Live Bidding button for full instructions prior to the auction.  The blue Skinner Live Bidding button can be found under the Buy/Sell tab on our homepage and on the Paintings department page.  Once pre-registered on our website, you can join in the live bidding as soon as the auction begins.  All lots in the auction are also available for viewing at The website provides full-color thumbnail images and full lot descriptions.  It allows users to leave bids online, and view prices realized in real-time during and after the auction.  Visit to sign up for our free eZine of upcoming arts & antiques auctions and events.

About Skinner

Skinner, Inc. is one of the nation’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, Science & Technology, Oriental Rugs & Carpets, American Indian & Ethnographic Art, Fine Judaica, Antique Motor Vehicles, Toys, Dolls & Collectibles, and Discovery.  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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