Fairfield, ME ~ August 19-22, 2012. James D. Julia, Inc. has long marked the end of summer with the biggest and best antique & fine art auction in the state of Maine, and this year is no different. Actually, there is a slight difference. For nearly 20 years, the division was headed by Bill Gage, who through unyielding dedication and seemingly bottomless energy helped grow the division to one of the biggest and best in North America. He has recently handed the reins to the equally proficient and experienced co-captain Tony Greist to tend to family concerns, making for a seamless transition. However, Bill Gage will still be working with the Julia Company as a representative in Massachusetts and will also participate in some of the cataloging process throughout the year as well as participating in the actual auction themselves making for a seamless and very positive transition. The upcoming auction, numbering over 3,000 lots with an expected gross of approximately $4.5 million, will be one of their largest and most diverse summer antiques auction to date. Over a four day period, bidders will be treated to a massive selection of American & European paintings, folk art, Asian antiques and art, silver, and fine antiques of every kind.
Day I starts things off with approximately 400 paintings highlighted in part by an outstanding and large oil on canvas scene by Edmund William Greacen entitled “In a Giverny Garden, 1909” picturing a woman holding a small parasol sitting in her lush country garden. The work’s provenance indicates Greacen gave this painting to his good friend and fellow artist Theodore Earl Butler who was Monet’s son-in-law. According to Greacen’s great-grandson who contacted Julia’s after the catalog went to press, the woman in the painting is Ethol Greacen, Edmund’s wife and was painted in front of their Giverny house which was named “maison en face de la gare”, the “house that faced the train station”. This exceptional work comes estimated for $30,000-50,000.
This is joined by a wide variety of other art including over two dozen North Shore, Rockport-Gloucester works including perennial favorite Emile Gruppe whose harbor scenes and rustic landscapes are legendary. This auction features such works as a lovely scene of Smith Cove with fishermen tending to their nets with numerous moored boats comprising the background. It carries a presale estimate of $10,000-15,000. Another highlight is a recent discovery found in a fishing camp that depicts the Annisquam River looking toward Ipswich Bay. Adding to the intrigue is that it was originally thought to be by Fitz Henry Lane. However, it was examined by Lane experts and determined to be an exact expert period copy by Mary Blood Mellen, a student of Lane in the 1850s. A brilliant artist in her own right, the piece is expected to bring $5,000-10,000. Other Northeasterners include two works by William Trost Richards. This renowned New Yorker with a deft hand will be represented by his landscape of a lake in the Adirondacks. From a private Long Island collection, it comes estimated for $10,000-20,000. His depiction of Rockaway Beach with gentle waves lapping the shore carries an estimate of $10,000-15,000.
Also worthy of note will be three works by Ralph Cahoon. This 20th century artist known for his whimsical works that combine fantasy and folk art sensibilities is represented by such examples as “Susannah & The Elders”. It is an octagonal form oil on board depicting a group of pilgrim elders being ferried along the shore when they happen upon a smiling mermaid grooming herself. Or is it just a shared delusion borne from the numerous wine bottles seen on board? Regardless, this charming work comes estimated for $10,000-15,000. Another example he entitled “Seaside Sparring” will bring a smile to your face, no matter who you are. It portrays two sailors standing behind their respective mermaid trainees who are engaged in a portside gloves-on boxing match. The notion is preposterous, which makes it all the more enjoyable to view. It carries an estimate of $8,000-12,000.
The selection of art continues with some international examples such as two works from a Long Island collector of Philippine artist Fernando Amorsolo. The first is a market scene of townspeople buying and selling produce in the village square. It is followed by a marvelous oil of laborers working the rice fields in the shadow of a distant volcano. Each carries a presale estimate of $50,000-80,000.
Other visual art includes a variety of bronzes such as a contemporary modern polychrome sculpture by Dave McGary entitled “A Matter of Honor” that depicts Crow King, a Sioux Chief during the Battle of Little Big Horn and was instrumental in preventing Custer’s troops from reaching the river. One of thirty ever made, it comes estimated for $5,000-10,000. Also included will be a late addition to the auction, a highly desirable Ansel Adams signed gelatin silver print of a southwest village entitled “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico 1942”. No one does black and white like Adams. One look and you know you’re looking at a master. It comes estimated for $25,000-35,000. This is followed by a special large photo collection by Harold Haliday Costain consigned by his daughter Allison. Given to her to represent a cross section of his long life and brilliant career that spanned nearly 80 years, it consists of numerous interior and exterior scenes, portraits, fashion and advertising shots, and slices of life from one of America’s most prolific professional photographers. These hundreds of photographs will be sold individually and in small and larger lots ranging in estimates from the mid-hundreds to the low thousands. This is truly a rare opportunity.
The focus of Day II and the first part of Day III is on a vast array of folk art in a variety of genres but also includes a fine selection of marine and nautical art, American furniture and accessories of every kind. Highlights include the largest collection of weathervanes Julia’s has handled in recent memory. An important copper example from the late 19th Century showing a quill pen breaking a sword blade once belonged to American publishing magnate Cyrus H.K. Curtis whose credits include the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal. Curtis, who was born in Portland, Maine in 1850, had it created as a logical extension of his profession as a publisher and to represent the old adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The vane was acquired in the 1930s by the present consignor’s father who received it as partial payment for some demolition work he was doing on the building on which it stood for many years. It carries a presale estimate of $20,000-40,000.
Other examples include an exceptional and large grasshopper with original verdigris surfaces. Attributed to L.W. Cushing & Sons of Waltham, Massachusetts, it is well detailed and documented. Acquired from a barn in Indiana in 1995, it comes fresh to the market with an estimate of $75,000-100,000. The list goes on to include various leaping stags, horses, wild and farm fowl, and much more. Other folk art includes a generous selection of primitive portraits, most of which depict children with their toys or pets, making them even more desirable. Also up for bid will be an extensive collection of cast iron mill weights and door stops.
An unusual carved calling card figure of a uniformed organ grinder monkey depicts the intricately carved simian seated atop a carved stump plinth. Most realistic, it’s almost unsettling. It carries a $3,000-5,000 estimate.
Folk art of a more nautical flavor includes ship models, portraits, accessories, and even a ship’s figurehead. This carved, full-body painted white pine figure represents Lord Nelson in full regalia atop a carve scroll and rope bundle. When retired as a figurehead, it was then used as a trade sign figure in a ship store in Norfolk, Virginia in the 1920s and 1930s. It now carries an estimate of $4,000-6,000.
Marine art includes three works by the commodore of ship portraits, Antonio Jacobsen. His depiction of the black hulled steamship “The Commonwealth” carries an estimate of $5,000-7,000. Montague Dawson’s vertical portrait of an oncoming three-mast tall ship in full sail cutting through the sun reflected in the white tipped green waves can best be described as majestic as it crests the horizon. It comes estimated for $20,000-40,000. Three turn of the century works by Antonio De Simone that portray various steam yachts traversing the choppy seas are estimated for $2,000-3,000 apiece.
Other items of interest include a nice assortment of American furniture from a private Long Island collector. Highlights include a fine Chippendale carved mahogany block-front slant-lid desk. From the third quarter of the 18th century Boston, this exceptional piece ex-Louis Appell collection is fitted with an arrangement of valenced pigeon holes and blocked drawers accentuated by bold period brasses and ball & talon feet. It comes estimated for $10,000-15,000. From the same collection is a two-part Chippendale block front mahogany secretary bookcase from the late 1700s. This Boston made piece is chock full of doors, drawers and pigeonholes within an elegantly formed case with molded swan’s neck pediment and spiral twist finials. It carries a $20,000-30,000 estimate. And a lovely tiger maple corner chair with delightful pierced and scrolled splats reminiscent of owls alternating with ring turned pilasters carries an $8,000-12,000 estimate. The selection continues with a fine grouping of early American furniture, many with original painted surfaces.
Other fine furnishings include a selection of clocks such as an important tiger maple Pennsylvania tall case clock with a gorgeous mellow honey brown cabinet. It features a figured maple bonnet with swan’s neck crest and a tombstone door that opens to reveal an enameled dial with moon phase above. It is expected to sell for $7,000-9,000. Others include several Howard, Chelsea, and Seth Thomas wall clocks as well as a Massachusetts Federal banjo timepiece. With Aaron Willard dial and mahogany case, it carries an estimate of $2,000-3,000.
From the renowned Norm Flayderman collection comes a selection of exceedingly rare Civil War recruiting posters. Flayderman was an astute businessman, scholar and military collector who helped revolutionize the price guide. While there were firearm and other price guides, his became the bible used most often and were respected above all others for their information, honest assessments, and accuracy. Julia’s sold Flayderman’s firearm collection earlier this year and will now offer his personal collection of Civil War recruiting posters and broadsides that by sheer miracle survived these 150+ years.
Miscellaneous items include a small collection of first edition leather bound illustrated books by Victor Hugo in French including a five volume set featuring Les Miserables. This exceptional set carries a $12,000-15,000 estimate. And a limited edition two volume Gutenberg Bible facsimile set with finely crafted red tooled and gilded leather using period techniques is expected to sell for $12,000-15,000.
If somewhat larger collectibles are your thing, why not consider a small fleet of antique automobiles. Included will be such attractive 1926 Franklin Series 11A Passenger Sport Runabout boat tail. Complete with rumble seat and finely reupholstered, it is expected to fetch $35,000-55,000. Also up for bid will be a 1948 Chrysler New Yorker ($12,000-18,000), a 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer 2-door hardtop ($6,500-13,000), and a 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85 convertible (10,000-15,000).
This session is rounded out by a selection of early American, English and Mexican sterling silver as well as American and continental coins and Russian enamel pieces such as a superb and large silver kovsh with matching spoon by Maria Semyenova. From the early part of the 20th century, it features delicate shading and robust colors with allover foliate and flower decoration. Residing in the same family since it was brought over from Poland in the 1930s it now carries a pre-auction estimate of $6,000-9,000.
Much of Days III and IV will be devoted to approximately 1,200 lots of Asian art and artifacts, some of which come from an estate collection of a renowned Taiwanese diplomatic family with ties to Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot. The collection consists of a variety of carved figures, scrolls, seals, censers, jade, porcelain, and more. From other collections will be a fine grouping of early and archaic architectural fragments. One of the most significant items in this segment is a phenomenal carved limestone group from the Eastern Wei Period. The central Buddha figure is flanked by two attendant deities with extensive inscription on the reverse. Once part of the Jean Michel Beardeley collection, it now comes estimated for $60,000-80,000.
The auction is also highlighted by a large offering of fine jade in a variety of forms. Of particular note is an important jade scepter. From the 18th or 19th century this sea green celadon stone carved as Ling Chih with lotus flowers and allover foliage and accompanied by a pierced and carved rosewood stand, its beauty is unmatched. Expected to see much attention, it comes estimated for $30,000-50,000. A highly translucent pale celadon carved jade bowl from the 19th century with a floral interior and an exterior carved with the eight precious emblems carries an estimate of $22,000-28,000. With the same high translucence, a nicely carved gray jade covered box with chih lung and san tigrams is fit for royalty and comes with a $15,000-18,000 estimate. A fine forest green jade censer with various animal figural accents and a dragon finial carries an estimate of $15,000-18,000. The selection of jade will also include a variety of jewelry, figural carvings, boxes, pendants, and more.
Also included will be a large offering of Chinese and Japanese cloisonné as well as various figural bronzes. One of the many highlights is a fine bronze of a windblown figure from the Meiji period Japan. Brilliantly cast with realistic billowing folds, the robed gentleman with gilt highlights seems to be taking it all in stride. From the Norm Flayderman collection, it comes estimated for $10,000-20,000.
The auction continues with a grouping of Asian porcelain including Ming as well as a select grouping of Chinese Export including a rare Carlos Maria de Bustamante armorial crest pitcher. The porcelain helmet pitcher decorated in gold with a crest and flowers honors the ascension of Ferdinand VII in 1808 who later became a noted figure in Mexico’s War of Independence. It carries a conservative estimate of $300-500.
The sale is rounded out by over 200+ hand painted scrolls, paintings, and Tibetan thangkas. These exceptional paintings on silk or linen are highly desirable and are not easy to come by. Two such examples showing Tibetan deities Amida and Amytous, each surrounded by lineage figures with lots of color and detail come estimated for $22,000-25,000 and $9,000-12,000 respectively.
More information on the Julia auction can be obtained by going to their website at www.jamesdjulia.com or calling 207-453-7125. Free full-color brochures are available, or their lavish, full-color, detailed and illustrated catalogs are available for $40 apiece for Sessions I and II and Sessions III & IV, or both volumes for $75. Previews for the auctions will be Monday, August 18 from 9am-5pm, Tuesday through Friday from 8-10 am before the auction and 12-5pm during the auction sessions. The auction commences at 10am on the days of the sale at Julia’s auction facilities on Rt. 201 in Fairfield, Maine.