The Sotheby’s sale Two Centuries American Art closing March 3, 2021 highlights work by artists inspired by Gloucester and/or with Gloucester ties including these few: illustrations for Harper’s and Redbook by Frank E. Schoonover; work by Leon Kroll including a Good Harbor Beach scene; and views of Gloucester harbor by Frederick John Mulhaupt and Mary Blood Mellen:
More Mulhaupt Gloucester Harbor
Gloucester Harbor, a central panel from one of Mulhaupt’s monumental mural masterworks, has been on display at Gloucester’s O’Maley school for decades. The center panel was commissioned under the auspices of the WPA-era programs and ultimately moved from its original site at Central Grammar to City Hall in 1972, and then again to O’Maley. Other sections of this mural were disconnected and dispersed within City Hall in 1972, and not all on display, which has confounded understanding of the sections individually and as a whole. All will be reunited one day–temporarily or permanently– back to the artist’s original, immersive art experience intent. Here are several photos of the mural to compare with the artist’s treatment of the harbor scene at auction.
Head to Cape Ann Museum
Fine examples by all the artists coming up at auction can be found at Cape Ann Museum within the permanent collection and/or special temporary exhibits.
photos c ryan: installation views at Cape Ann Museum (double click or pinch and zoom depending upon your device; right click to see credit info)
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A classic Edward Hopper inspired by Gloucester will be sold at Sotheby’s auction this morning*. Architectural and natural elements in the drawing remain recognizable today. The scene overlooks the same house on East Main, Capt. Joe & Sons, and Cripple Cove (see then/now comparison photos below). The Gorton’s factory building there burned down. Cripple Cove playground is the green on the right of the Hopper image.
The drawing last changed hands in 1989 when the Horchows purchased the drawing from Kennedy Galleries in New York. Will it land in another private collection or an institution?
Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Gloucester Factory and House, 1924, watercolor and pencil on paper, 14″ x 20″, from the Carolyn & Roger Horchow collection (Dallas,TX) They purchased the drawing in 1989 from Kennedy Galleries, NYC.
Lot 8 estimate $800,000-$1,200,00 currently at $600,000 bid before the auction opens
*Update- With just 56 lots to sell and two withdrawn ahead of sale, Lot 8 came up quickly with a few competing bids and a hammer price of $700,000 ($867,000 with fees), below estimate.
Many lots before and after were short of estimate or passed (unsold) including a Winslow Homer watercolor which was “reoffered” by pausing the bidding on the final lot #56 to return to Lot #16 (which sold for 2 million hammer price) before moving back to the final lot, an Edward Willis Refield (which sold for $250,000). That whoopsie “reoffer” is highly unusual**. The auction house scrambled to bring that phone bidder forward before the close of the sale. A second Homer watercolor passed at 850,000.
The Sotheby’s December 11, 2020 auction offered a variety of American art from various collections. The sale results were a mixed bag of purchases, passes, and pulled works. Only one work sold far above estimate, thanks to a bidding war, a western scene by John F. Clymer. Scroll below the Hopper and Gloucester images to see the Homer.
above photo: Catherine Ryan
above: page from Edward Hopper all around Gloucester by Catherine Ryan, 2010
above: Sotheby’s catalogue entry page
In 2017, Christies sold a Rockefeller Hopper painting, Cape Ann Granite, also in December, which I wrote about here: Bring it Home.
**December 11, 2020 Winslow Homer Lot 16 sold at Sotheby’s after passing first in the live sale and then “Reoffered” before the close of sale. For both the first and second offer window, the bid opened at 1.8 million. In the first round the bidding went back and forth, but “passed” at 2.2 million, presumably failing to meet reserve or presale estimate (2.5 – 3.5 million). Before the final lot of the sale, the auctioneer annouced a “re-offer” for Lot 16 after the audio went silent for a brief time. The drawing was sold to a buyer placing a phone bid for 2 million hammer price (2,440,000 after fees), less than the “pass” of the first time through. This move is nearly an aftersale during the sale. Perhaps the first time around the buyer was late to the call or there was confusion determining the “up to” amount, factoring in the fees.
Property from a Prominent Private Collection
1836 – 1910
Two Girls on the Beach, Tynemouth
signed Winslow Homer and dated 1881 (lower left)
watercolor and pencil on paper
14 1/8 by 20 inches
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Justice Lowy’s JUDGEMENT was released April 5, 2018. The Museum may sell Shuffleton’s Barbershop, and — via Sotheby’s– the remaining 39 works free of any restrictions.
“The museum has satisfied its burden of establishing that is has become impossible or impracticable to administer the Museum strictly in accordance with its chartiable purpose, thus entitling the Museum to relief under the doctrine of equitable deviation. Accordingly the court allows the Museum’s request for equitable relief to sell the designated artwork.”
Justice Lowy MEMO OF UNDERSTANDING
Reaction from Sotheby’s Auction House:
“We are very pleased that the court approved the agreement reached between the Berkshire Museum and the Massachusetts Attorney General. We look forward to working with the museum to ensure a bright future for the people of Pittsfield and Western Massachusetts.” Judge Lowy’s decision came in just in time to meet the auction’s press deadline clearing for art sales this spring, else sales would have been pushed back till the fall at the earliest. The catalogue pages are ready from last fall’s prep.
Reaction from Elizabeth McGraw, President, Berkshire Museum Board of Trustees:
“This is great news for the people of Berkshire County and everyone who visits the Berkshire Museum for one-of-a-kind experiences in history, art, and science. We recognize this decision may not please those who have opposed the museum’s plans. Still, we hope people will be able to move forward in a constructive way to help us secure and strengthen the future of this museum, at a time when our community needs it more than ever. “
“Save the Art-Save the Museum continues to oppose the sale of the Berkshire Museum’s art treasures and its unrestricted use of the resulting funds. We also regret the judge’s disregard of the public trust in which the museum held its collections. The impending sale will not only diminish Pittsfield as a city claiming to be of cultural import to Berkshire County, but will reverberate destructively for years through collections similarly held in trust throughout the state and country. As a group, we will make a more detailed statement after meeting in person to consider the loss to our community and its impact.”
Have a look back at an inspiring 1965 Berkshire Eagle profile about Berkshire Museum Director Stuart C. Henry, and an earlier feature from the Berkshire Evening Eagle, published Thursday, Aug. 20, 1953, heralding the Berkshire Museum’s 50th anniversary. Both convey the museum’s seamless blend of high art, science, community and education.
11/10/2017 Motion for stay under M.R.A.P. 6(a) filed by Maura Healy.
11/10/2017 Memorandum of law in support filed for Maura Healy
11/10/2017 Record Appendix Volume I filed by Maura Healy
11/10/2017 Record Appendix Volume II filed by Maura Healy
11/10/2017 IMPOUNDED Record Appendx filed by Maura Healy
11/10/2017 Response to Motion to Stay, filed by Tom Patti, Tom Patti Design LLC.8
11/102017 Motion to exceed page limit filed for Trustees of Berkshire Musuem by Attorney William Lee.
11/10/2017 Opposition to Motion to Stay, filed by Trustees of Berkshire Musuem.
11/10/2017 Supplemental Record appendix filed for Trustees of Berkshire Musuem
11/10/2017 ORDER: The motion for a stay pending appeal pursuant to Mass. R. App. P. 6(a) from the November 7, 2017, order of the Superior Court denying the request for a preliminary injunction, is allowed. The Attorney General’s Office shall forthwith file a notice of appeal in the Superior Court if it has not already done so. The Attorney General’s Office shall file a status report on or before December 11, 2017, regarding the status of the appeal. (Trainor, J.). Notice/attest/Agostini, J.
11/10/2017 ORDER: After reviewing the parties’ submissions, the request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the defendant, Trustees of the Berkshire Museum from selling, auctioning, or otherwise disposing of any of the artworks that have been listed for auction commencing on November 13, 2017, is allowed. The balance of the risk of irreparable harm to the petitioner and the respondent in light of each party’s chance of success on the merits weighs in favor of the petitioner. Packaging Industries Group, Inc. v. Cheney, 380 Mass. 609, 615-617 (1980). The injunction shall expire on December 11, 2017. Prior to the expiration of the injunction, the Attorney General’s Office may move to extend the injunction with a date certain by which the investigation will be completed. (Trainor, J.). Notice/attest/Agostini, J.
This 11th hour move is not the last word on the case. Stay tuned!
On Monday, November 13, 2017, collectors CAN purchase Martin Johnson Heade’s Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds from Sotheby’s.
But not Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop, or any of the Berkshire Museum 40, for now.