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Purchase Story

Skinner Fine Art

Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo | May 19th, 2017

Skinner, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

Photos courtesy Skinner

A standing mobile by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was untitled but garnered much interest and $267,000 (includes buyer’s premium) at Skinner’s May 19 American and European works of art sale in the Boston gallery. Bidding on the 3" tall mobile opened at $120,000 (est. $100,000/150,000) and ended when a phone bidder prevailed. The circa 1953 mobile, created of sheet metal, brass wire, and paint, was balanced perfectly and had a delicately curled tail that was compelling. It had been commissioned by Betty Milton, a close friend of Louisa Calder, wife of the artist, and it had descended in Milton’s family. It had some paint losses, a slight bend in the sheet metal base, and tarnish on the brass wire. A larger (5¾" tall) standing example from around 1965 and in better condition had sold at Skinner in January for $471,000.


This 3" tall standing mobile from about 1953 by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is untitled and drew $267,000 (est. $100,000/150,000). It is made of sheet metal, brass wire, and paint and balanced perfectly with a delicately curled tail. It had been commissioned by Betty Milton, a close friend of Louisa Calder, wife of the artist, and descended in Milton’s family. Mascolo photo.

Two Calder lithographs also sold. The 1972 McGovern for McGovernment, 34½" x 23¾", published by Styria Studio in New York, numbered 191/200, estimated at $400/600, brought $1107 (in Massachusetts, which was the only state to vote overwhelmingly for McGovern that year), and Calder’s 1969 Autumn, 17½" x 24 7/8", brought $584 (est. $300/500). The prints sold in the section of the sale devoted to 170 lots of fine prints and photographs, for which Skinner introduced a third bidding platform, Artsy, which delivered steady bidding.

Ada with Flowers by Alex Katz (b. 1927), a color screenprint from a 1980 edition of 65 plus proofs, sold for $13,530 (est. $6000/8000). The 48¼" x 36" image was signed and numbered 24/65. It was published by the artist and Simca Print Artists, Inc., New York, and bore the publisher’s stamp and also bore a label from Galerie Maurice, which was in Chestnut Hill near Boston.

The bronze Grande Main Crispée Gauche (Large Clenched Left Hand) by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was signed “A Rodin” in the base, inscribed “© by Musée Rodin 1969,” and stamped “Georges Rudier / Fondeur Paris.” The 18½" x 10¾" figure was estimated at $120,000/180,000 and sold for $147,000. It was accompanied by a copy of the Certificat d’Origine from the Musée Rodin, dated November 18, 1969, certifying that it was number six in an edition of 12 (11 known) and by a bill of sale from Leona Cantor of Beverly Hills, California, to Dr. and Mrs. Irving Moskowitz of Long Beach, California. Rodin originally modeled Grande Main Crispée Gauche around 1885, possibly as a study for Les Bourgeois de Calais.


This powerful bronze, Grande Main Crispée Gauche (Large Clenched Left Hand), by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is signed “A Rodin” in the base, inscribed “© by Musée Rodin 1969,” and stamped “Georges Rudier / Fondeur Paris.” The 18½" x 10¾" figure was estimated at $120,000/180,000 and sold for $147,000. It was accompanied by a copy of the Certificat d’Origine from the Musée Rodin dated November 18, 1969, certifying that is was number six in an edition of 12 and by a bill of sale from Leona Cantor of Beverly Hills, California, to Dr. and Mrs. Irving Moskowitz of Long Beach, California. Rodin originally modeled Grande Main Crispée Gauche around 1885, possibly as a study for Les Bourgeois de Calais. Mascolo photo.

A pencil drawing by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Liegende Freundinnen (Reclining Girlfriends), was unsigned but stamped faintly “Gustav / Klimt / Nachlass.” It brought $29,520 (est. $12,000/18,000). Target with Four Faces, a 1979 color etching and aquatint on paper, 23½" x 18¼", by Jasper Johns (b. 1930), was numbered 43/88. It sold for $29,520 (est. $15,000/25,000).

Respite in the Boudoir, alternatively known as Portrait of a Woman in Black and White, a 15" x 15" oil on canvas by Massachusetts-born Willard LeRoy Metcalf (1858-1925), sold for $24,600 (est. $20,000/40,000).

An untitled 25½" x 37¼" gouache and soot on paper by Otto Piene (German, 1928-2014) was signed with the artist’s monogram and dated “74.” It sold for $18,450 on the phone. Piene, known for his kinetic and technological art, was a professor for many years at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An 8 3/8" x 12 5/8" watercolor of a fishing scene by George Benjamin Luks (1867-1933) was estimated at $4000/6000 and realized $13,530. The picture had sold to New York City dealer Carol J. Ferranti in the 1950 artist’s estate auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York City. It came to Skinner from Ferranti’s estate.

Skinner’s next paintings and prints sale is midweek, Wednesday, September 27. For information, call (617) 350-5400 or visit (www.skinnerinc.com).


Marie-José en robe jaune, a 1950 aquatint on Arches paper with a watermark, 21 1/8" x 16 7/16", by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is signed and numbered 26/100. The print was estimated at $50,000/80,000 and brought $98,400.


Clouds from the Sea—Newburyport, a 20" x 27" oil on canvas seascape by Massachusetts-born Charles Harold Davis (1856-1933), sold for $18,450 (est. $5000/7000). Davis trained in Boston and France, returned to the U.S. in 1890, and settled in Mystic, Connecticut. The painting had been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and an undated photograph of the picture attached to the frame described it as for sale for $1200.


A New Variety, Try One, a trompe l’oeil still life with almonds by Indiana-born De Scott Evans (1847-1898), is signed with the pseudonym “S.S. David” and sold for $19,680 (est. $8000/12,000). The artist used a number of pseudonyms in the course of his short life—David Scott, S.S. David, Stanley S. David, and D. Scott Evans. This 12" x 10" oil on canvas is unframed, although the artist painted the edges of the canvas wrapped around the stretcher to look like a thick board.


This 1999 photograph, a 40" x 50" chromogenic print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, is by Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955) of Toronto, Canada. Oxford Tire Pile #5, Westley, California was printed in 2002. Estimated at $7000/9000, it realized $10,455. Burtynsky travels the world photographing industrial projects and their effects on the environment; his work has been exhibited and published widely.


La Côte de Trégune / Harvesting Kelp by Impressionist Henry Moret (French, 1856-1913) is signed and dated 1899. Moret painted mostly in Brittany. The framed 31½" x 36½" painting depicts Breton women in traditional dress harvesting rockweed, also known as Norwegian kelp, along the intertidal rocks. Estimated at $35,000/55,000, the picture sold on the phone for $159,000. The painting sold from one local collection into another. Mascolo photo.


This 1905 society portrait of Mary Barron Tottie, a 44" x 34" oil on canvas image by John Lavery (1856-1941) of Belfast, Ireland, has an extensive exhibition history and sold for $18,450 (est. $25,000/35,000). Lavery, who trained in Glasgow, was so revered for his portraiture that he was the only person to be awarded Freedom of the City of Dublin and Belfast.


This 22½" x 18¼" oil on paperboard portrait of French actress Suzanne Desprès by Édouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940) sold for $22,140 (est. $12,000/18,000). The painting is included in the 2003 Vuillard: The Inexhaustible Glance, Volume II by Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval.


Two oil on panel battle scenes, each 9 3/8" x 12½", were given titles The Melee (shown) and The Prisoners and Spoils and were attributed to Hendrick Ambrosius Pacx or Packx, also known as Henri Ambrosius Pax. They were estimated at $800/1200 and sold for $18,450. It seems that several bidders believed firmly in the attribution. Skinner’s paintings staff sent digital images of the paintings to RKD-Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis for review, and although there is no documentation of other work by the artist who signed himself “H. Pacx,” that institution believes that a work signed H. Pacx that had sold in Stockholm in 1936 is by the same artist as these panels.


Rodin’s bronze Tête de la Luxure (a later casting) is signed “A. Rodin” and stamped “…Exis Rudier Fondeur / Paris. It sold on the phone for $24,600 (est. $9000/12,000). The figure is from a detail of his 1882 Femme Accroupie, which was made for the bronze doors of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The same figure was also seen in Je Suis Belle from the same gates.


This 22" x 30" watercolor of a rainy view of Copley Square, Boston, and Trinity Church by Provincetown artist John Whorf (1903-1959) was dated 1956, numbered 29, and estimated at $8000/10,000. It realized $14,760 from a phone buyer.


Originally published in the August 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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