Purchase Story

Ernie Barnes’s Bojangles Leads American Paintings Sale

Bonhams, New York City

Photos courtesy Bonhams

As the last auction house in New York City to maintain a November American art sale, Bonhams held a sale on November 17, the week before Thanksgiving, that attracted dealers and collectors to its Madison Avenue headquarters. The 80-lot sale totaled $1,557,975 with a sell-through rate of 78%.

In the past, Sotheby’s and Christie’s also held American art sales in November, but they have chosen to hold their 18th- and 19th-century American art sales during Americana Week in January. Modernism, Impressionism, and illustration art have been woven into the houses’ respective auction calendars.

This fresh-to-market watercolor by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Sailboats at Gloucester, sold to a phone bidder for $239,775. The 8 1/8

This fresh-to-market watercolor by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Sailboats at Gloucester, sold to a phone bidder for $239,775. The 8 1/8" x 13 9/16" watercolor and pencil on paper, executed in 1880, had an estimate of $250,000/350,000. It descended in the family of the brother of the artist and was property from the collection of the White family heirs. Bonhams used the work as the cover illustration for its catalog.

The cover lot of Bonhams’ printed catalog was a fresh-to-market watercolor by Winslow Homer that had descended in the family of the artist and was property from the collection of the White family heirs. Sailboats at Gloucester, executed in 1880, sold to a bidder on the phone with associate specialist Aaron Anderson. The 8 1/8" x 13 9/16" watercolor sold for $239,775 (includes buyer’s premium) with a $250,000/350,000 estimate.

Estimated at $120,000/180,000, this painting by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009), Bojangles, was the highest-selling lot of the sale, selling for $315,375 to a gentleman bidding in the salesroom. Art dealer Debra Force of Debra Force Fine Art, New York City, was the underbidder for the 18

Estimated at $120,000/180,000, this painting by Ernie Barnes (1938-2009), Bojangles, was the highest-selling lot of the sale, selling for $315,375 to a gentleman bidding in the salesroom. Art dealer Debra Force of Debra Force Fine Art, New York City, was the underbidder for the 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas, painted in 1976. It was commissioned from the artist by entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and has provenance of a Los Angeles private collection and was property from the collection of Gary Norman of Chicago, who acquired it circa 2019.

The top-selling lot of the sale was a work by Ernie Barnes, Bojangles, which sold to a gentleman bidding in the salesroom for $315,375. The acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24", was painted in 1976 and had been commissioned from the artist by Sammy Davis Jr. It had an estimate of $120,000/180,000.

Figure on a Pier at Edge of Lake by Edward Bannister (1828-1901)sold for $48,255 to a phone bidder. The signed and indistinctly dated oil on canvas, 20¼

Figure on a Pier at Edge of Lake by Edward Bannister (1828-1901)sold for $48,255 to a phone bidder. The signed and indistinctly dated oil on canvas, 20¼" x 30¼", had an estimate of $30,000/50,000. The painting last sold at Freeman’s, Philadelphia, December 7, 2003, for $47,000 (est. $10,000/15,000). It was property from the estate of Sherman K. Edmiston Jr. The lot will be included in Anne Louise Avery’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the work of the artist, according to Bonhams.

A painting by Edward Bannister, Figure on a Pier at Edge of Lake, one of two lots that were property from the estate of Sherman K. Edmiston Jr., sold to a phone bidder for $48,255. The signed and indistinctly dated oil on canvas, 20¼" x 30¼", had an estimate of $30,000/50,000. Edmiston and his wife, Essie Green-Edmiston, opened their first art gallery, Park Place Gallery, on the ground floor of their house in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, in 1979.

The captions and images illustrate the sale. Further information is available at the website (www.bonhams.com).

West of New York Harbor by James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894) sold to an online bidder for $60,855 (est. $40,000/60,000). The signed oil on panel, 9 5/8

West of New York Harbor by James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894) sold to an online bidder for $60,855 (est. $40,000/60,000). The signed oil on panel, 9 5/8" x 14 1/8", was fresh to market, having descended in the family of Henry Sellers McKee, who had acquired the work in the 1950s from Kennedy Galleries, New York City.

This oil on canvas by Sally Michel Avery (1902-2003), Hill and Fields, executed in 1988, sold to a phone bidder for $25,500. The twice signed, dated, and inscribed work, 40

This oil on canvas by Sally Michel Avery (1902-2003), Hill and Fields, executed in 1988, sold to a phone bidder for $25,500. The twice signed, dated, and inscribed work, 40" x 50", was estimated at $12,000/18,000. The painting depicts the Catskill Mountain region in New York and was accompanied by a letter from the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, New York. It last sold at Hindman, Chicago, September 29, 2016, for $13,750 (est. $6000/8000).

Several bidders vied for Autumn by William Zorach (1887-1966), a signed and dated oil painting executed in 1914. The buyer, bidding online, purchased the 19 7/8

Several bidders vied for Autumn by William Zorach (1887-1966), a signed and dated oil painting executed in 1914. The buyer, bidding online, purchased the 19 7/8" x 24 1/8" oil on canvas for $31,875. It had an estimate of $15,000/25,000 and was property from a private collection, Portland, Oregon.

Sunlit Forest Interior by Emile Gruppé (1896-1978) sold for $17,850 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a phone bidder. The signed oil on canvas, 40 1/8

Sunlit Forest Interior by Emile Gruppé (1896-1978) sold for $17,850 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a phone bidder. The signed oil on canvas, 40 1/8" x 50", was acquired at Butterfield & Butterfield, Los Angeles and San Francisco (now Bonhams California), June 12, 1996, for $14,950 (est. $8000/12,000).

This nearly 100-year-old gouache and charcoal on paper by Eleanor Parke Custis (1897-1983) sold to a gentleman from New Jersey who was bidding in the salesroom. He paid $7012.50 for On the Ways—Gloucester,executed in 1924-25, 12 1/8

This nearly 100-year-old gouache and charcoal on paper by Eleanor Parke Custis (1897-1983) sold to a gentleman from New Jersey who was bidding in the salesroom. He paid $7012.50 for On the Ways—Gloucester,executed in 1924-25, 12 1/8" x 12 1/8". The work is signed lower left and inscribed with title and date on the reverse. It had an estimate of $1000/1500. Custis was a direct descendant of Martha Washington.

Nocturne with New England Church by Stephen Hannock (b. 1951) sold to an online bidder for $14,025. The 42¼

Nocturne with New England Church by Stephen Hannock (b. 1951) sold to an online bidder for $14,025. The 42¼" x 47¾" oil on canvas is signed and dated “Stephen Hannock 5/86” on the turnover edge. It had an estimate of $8000/12,000.


Originally published in the February 2023 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2023 Maine Antique Digest

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