Dormant Hartley Painting, Silver & Snuff Bottles Ascend At Selkirk

Auction In St. Louis, Mon.

ST LOUIS, MO. – “It came through an email inquiry,” said Bryan Laughlin, executive director of Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers, of the Marsden Hartley painting, which announced it would sell on January 9th for $ 552,000.

The untitled oil on canvas showed the towering, snow-capped volcano Popocatépetl, which the artist saw through his studio window in Cuernavaca, Mexico, between 1932 and 1933 during a Guggenheim grant. Hartley wrote to Adelaide Kuntz in 1932 and called it “one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world”. Of the four pictures he took of Popocatépetl, two are in public collections at the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“It was in the shipper’s family for several decades, nearly 70 years,” said Laughlin. On the back of the work was an inscription from June 1949, which said that Hartley had given it to his friend and artist colleague Carl Spinchorn at the time. The note was signed by New York art dealer Hunter D. Walker, who represented Hartley. The work was cataloged in 1945 by art critic, writer and historian Elizabeth McCausland and will be included in the upcoming catalog of the Bates College Museum of Art. Raissoné Marsden Hartley Legacy Project: Paintings and Works on Paper.

“The word from bidders has been very positive,” said Laughlin. “It’s a dynamic painting and it’s a great size. We don’t usually just step out and rate things in the six digits, we’re not a fishing auction house. Most of the time we are conservative. With the essay by Sarah B. Cunningham and the respect of other Hartley scholars, including Gail R. Scott, legitimacy was not to be questioned. It was up to marketing and the market to decide. Paintings will sell themselves if you do the due diligence and get the word out whether it’s Sotheby’s or St. Louis. “

Laughlin had eight telephone bidders at work including two museums before it was sold to an individual / foundation.

It was one of 203 lots that sold 98 percent of the time that day. Further offers were drawn from five other collections, three local and two regional and other senders.

Linked to St. Louis history was the second highest lot in sales, a complete sterling silver chrysanthemum cutlery set by Tiffany & Co for 12 people, which sold for $ 31,200. It comprised 28 serving pieces and dated to the late 19th century. “From a Golden Age social perspective, the chrysanthemum ministry had an interesting story that the family shared with us and that we found further support for in some newspaper clippings,” said Laughlin. The lot description stated that the set “was originally donated to Clara Warner of St. Louis on April 12, 1899 by Mr. and Mrs. George J. Gould of New York on the occasion of their wedding to Herman B. Kooser. Clara Warner was the daughter of Charles G. Warner (1844-1911), a prominent St. Louisan and first Vice President of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, friend and associate of Mr. Gould. “George J. Gould was a financier and railroad manager who followed in the footsteps of his father, Jay Gould, who became known as the ruthless robber baron of the Golden Age and amassed a fortune that was among the greatest of his time. Gould’s death, which would occur in 1923 as a result of pneumonia, is attributed, among other things, to the curse of the Pharaohs, in which people became mysteriously ill after visiting the tomb of the recently uncovered Tutankhamun.

With the estate of Dr. Barbara Geller of St. Louis brought out a collection of snuff bottles, including many of the three examples of faux cinnabars that cost $ 7,800. The group consisted of two examples in red lacquer with a four-digit Qianlong marking on the underside and another example in imitation vermilion.

“Every single snuff bottle showed a performance that was way above estimate,” said Laughlin. Dr. Geller had bought from all over the place in the late 1970s and 80s, including several records from Sotheby’s and Christie’s. “

Other highlights included a carved example of amber from the 19th century that grossed $ 3,900. The catalog stated that the carving depicted “a bird of prey under pine trees and on a rock facing crashing waves”. At $ 2,375 was an example of white jade with the image of a horse lying under a jaw with a monkey and a butterfly on the side. In the shape of a pumpkin, there was a jade example with a highly relief carved squirrel that sold for $ 2,250.

The sale also included a number of offers from Jack Parker, the owner of Jack Parker’s Antiques. “He was a regional icon who passed away in 2020,” said Laughlin. “It was a great honor for us to finish his collection.” Parker’s family had horse breeding roots and the dealer also owned a bar under his gallery on Shaw Avenue, O’Connell’s Pub. His offerings included a female nude signed by Miller, possibly Richard Edward Miller, who the auction house said was possibly a smaller study for the artist’s “bather”. It sold for $ 1,920. Titled “Fort Charette, circa 1790,” an 11 “¼ x 15” ¼ “oil on canvas by artist L. Edward Fisher from the 20th century sold for $ 1,020. A note on the back of the Missouri Historic Trading Post indicated that it was a color study for a larger 24 “by 30” painting by the artist.

“I think the sale went very well. We have seen a great deal of interest locally, nationally and internationally in receiving good material and dealing with it the way we do, ”Laughlin concluded. “This auction was a pretty good result from the perspective of medium-sized companies because we are geographically seated. Our reputation enables us to handle some of this material a little more effectively. “

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“It wasn’t a gift long after the set was made. It wouldn’t be uncommon to say the set was made for her,” said Laughlin of this sterling silver chrysanthemum cutlery set from Tiffany & Co, which raised $ 31,200. For family reasons, the service was given to Clara Warner on April 12, 1899 on the occasion of her wedding to Herman B. Kooser. It was given by Mr. and Mrs. George J. Gould, a notable railroad worker and heir to the Golden Age who had inherited an immense fortune from his father, the railroad tycoon Jay Gould.


Reaching US $ 25,000 was “Reclining Figure No. A”, a bronze by Alexander Archipenko (Ukrainian, 1887-1964) from 1913. It had exhibition history in the 1970s-80s and was included in the artist’s catalog raisonné . The “A” stands for the cast of an artist.


Under Dr. Geller’s collection of snuff bottles topped this lot when it sold for $ 7,800. The couple on the right were painted red and showed a courtyard scene. There was a four-digit Qianlong mark on the bottom. The example on the left was a ceramic cinnabar imitation.


Domenico Fetti (1589-1624) was credited with this chalk-on-paper portrait of a seated woman reading a book. It was way above the estimate of $ 700 at $ 6,250.


Selkirk dated this Royal Worcester vase to 1884 and called it “exhibition caliber” for its finely modeled handles and the enamel decoration of cranes, bees, butterflies and a lily pad. An example of the style of aesthetic movement, the vase measures 10 inches high. It sold for $ 1,560.


The first lot on sale was hoisted at $ 4,200, a hand-sewn 34-star Civil War Union flag 109 inches long.


In the distance of this 19th century Hudson River School painting is the Astor Mansion, built in 1851 for Laura Eugenia Astor, granddaughter of John Jacob Astor. The 13½ by 19½ inch oil on canvas sold for $ 1,680.


This nineteenth century amber snuff bottle was 3¼ inches high. Its carved design has been cataloged as a “bird of prey under pine trees and on a mass of rock facing crashing waves”. Dr. Geller, whose estate shipped the work, acquired it from a Christie’s sale in 1979. It sold for $ 3,900.


This four-piece silver coffee service from the Philadelphia company Robert & William Wilson fetched 3,375 US dollars. There was a pheasant closure in the coffee pot and the lid.


One of Laughlin’s favorite works for sale was this Peruvian colonial painting from the Cusco School depicting St. Michael on Lucifer’s back. “It was an incredible and large-format painting that I believed was from the 19th century – an allegorical representation of good and evil,” said Laughlin. Measuring 52¼ by 37¼ inches, the painting cost $ 1,200.


This Oak Gun Cabinet from Arts and Crafts went over the high estimate of $ 800 and cost $ 2,875. It had a label for Corbon Cabinet Lock Co of New Britain, Conn.


This jade gourd shaped Chinese snuff bottle contained a highly relief carved squirrel that grossed $ 2,250. It had an apple green jade stopper and a coral spoon insert.


“Cubist Portrait” by Russian artist Natan Isaevich Altman was sold for $ 2,250. Gouache on paper, 15¾ x 12¼ in.


A European-made Rococo Revival breakfront cabinet sold for $ 1,680. The example showed a marble top with cabinet doors that opened onto shelves.


Bryan Laughlin stands with Marsden Hartley’s painting, which fetched $ 552,000 when it was sold on Jan. 9. It was first cataloged in 1945 and then dormant when it entered a private collection where it lived for nearly seven decades. Hartley painted his first pictures with the Mexican volcano Popocatépetl during a Guggenheim scholarship between 1932 and 1933. Four are known, including this example, two of them in museums. An inscription on the back, signed by Hartley’s gallery owner Hunter D. Walker, stated that the painting was originally given by the artist to his friend Carl Spinchorn.


Starting in the nineteenth century, this Russian Artel silver-gilt cloisonne enameled and jeweled egg was on the stand. At about 3½ inches tall, the egg sold for $ 1,200.


A note on the back of this work by L. Edward Fisher indicated that it was a color study for a larger painting by the artist. “Fort Charette, circa 1790” showed the Missouri trading post in its 18th century splendor and sold for $ 1,020. It came from the estate of St. Louis dealer Jack Parker, who died in 2020.


The third highest lot on sale was a portrait of Abner Coburn by Montague Dawson. It sold above the estimate for $ 31,250.

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