SMART COLLECTOR

American regional paintings becoming highly collectible

The circa 1760-1765 Chippendale carved mahogany easy chair sold for $1.16 million recently at Christie’s New York.
Courtesy of www.christies.com
The circa 1760-1765 Chippendale carved mahogany easy chair sold for $1.16 million recently at Christie’s New York.
Posted Oct. 11, 2012, at 6:16 p.m.

Q: Can you tell us anything about a painting we’ve had stored for years?

A: I have good news, and better news, for this reader.

First, the writer adds that he and his wife inherited the Anne Cary Bradley painting from a family member married to one of the New England Cabots, who bought it long ago.

Signed and titled by the artist, the painting has a label on the back from a Boston framer. There is also a back paper indicating that the art was exhibited at the 58th annual exhibit at the Portland Society of Art in 1941. All that info makes for great provenance.

Anne Cary Bradley (1884-1956) is a well-known Maine artist with a solid record of sales. She is in the pantheon of American artists from a period that is becoming more sellable each year.

Researching recent sales, we found that “Maple Drive,” a 12- by 14-inch oil on board autumn scene brought $690 at James D. Julia, a Maine auctioneer, in 2010. That same year, Skinner in Boston sold a scenic oil on canvas titled “Bold Face, North Chatham, New Hampshire” for $1,541. A 30- by 26-inch still life of mums and a parrot brought $250 in 2008. A watercolor up for auction this August did not sell.

With that info, smart collectors know that Bradley’s nature scenes are most in demand and bring highest prices at auction.

Here’s the best news for our readers: Their painting, titled “Mt. Royce New Hampshire,” with “Mt. Royce” on the back in Bradley’s hand, is everything a connoisseur could want from a Bradley work.

For starters, it is scenic, of a known regional spot. Judged from a photo sent, everything from composition to technique — including the purple haze on the mountains, expansive skies and verdant foreground with farmhouse — is perfection.

Any auction house would love to sell this work. It is fresh to the market and has a great backstory. And it is a superior example of Bradley’s work. Excellent condition would be the frosting on the cake. I cannot spot a single negative.

If professional assessment is the goal, I recommend a professional appraisal. See FYI on how to find a qualified art appraiser.

To sell, it behooves this reader to find the best auction house for the painting. The artist and her work have ties to Maine and New England: Several fine auctions in the area seem apt.

American regional paintings are hot now. Selling this beauty should be a win-win for all concerned.

FYI: To find a professional appraiser in your area, key appraisersassoc.org (Appraisers Association of America), isa-appraisers.org (International Society of Appraisers) or appraisers.org (American Society of Appraisers).

Q: Our lithographs of Martha and George Washington are colorized. Any value?

A: The query adds that the pair was bought decades ago because shadow box frames coordinated with the buyers’ Colonial home and decor. A copyright from G. Gilman dates 1876.

A printer who copied paintings by various artists, G.F. Gilman copyrighted the prints in 1876. That does not mean they date from that year. Made as art for classrooms and for a growing middle class, the prints are chromolithographs. The late 19th century was the golden age of that process, a print technique that uses colored inks.

Because they were mass produced and are still relatively common, value for the set is purely as decoration. The frames are probably worth more than the paper.

Auction action

A rare circa 1760-1765 Chippendale carved mahogany easy chair that sold for $1.16 million recently at Christie’s New York is called the “Garvan” chair because its carving is attributed to a designer-craftsman known as the “Garvan” carver, the most influential carver in Philadelphia at the time.

Consigned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the chair is from that city. Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia were all early centers for master carvers and cabinetmakers. Each city developed a singular style.

In this chair, the carver’s skill is evident in the way he tailored ornamentation to the contours of the surface.

Collector quiz

Q: Founded in Williamstown, W.Va., in 1907, Fenton Art Glass announced in 2011 that it was closing. The company has since reorganized and may or may not survive. For sure, goods made in China to cut costs will not be as collectable.

Can you match the big sellers in Fenton history with their decade?

1. 1910

2. 1930s

3. 1940s

4. 1950s

5. 1970s

a. Burmese

b. Dormeyer mixer bowls

c. Carnival glass

d. Milk glass

e. Hobnail and Opalescent

A: Answers are 1-c, 2-b, 3-e, 4-d, 5-a. Source: “Fenton Art Glass: 2nd Edition, A Centennial of Glass Making 1907-2007 and Beyond” by Debbie & Randy Coe (Schiffer, $39.99).

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

 

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