Bidders tackle European art, NH paintings and early America

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European art was in vogue. Oil on canvas by William Newenham Montague Orpen (Irish, 1878-1931) titled “After the Ball”, depicting couples in masks and haircuts just outside a building, sold to an English bidder for $72,000, a premium significant compared to the painting’s $20/30,000 estimate.

Review by WA Demers, Photos courtesy The Cobbs Auctioneers

PETERBOROUGH, NH – Antique dealers and savvy collectors flocked to the historic mill known as Noone Falls Mill in this quaint New England town whenever Charlie Cobb of The Cobbs Auctioneers presented one of his busy sales of art, antiques and cultural objects. This pilgrimage these days may be more in line with the realities of the digital age, but even online the appeal is there, as the family-run auction house provides an enjoyable auction experience for buyers and sellers. This was the case on August 7 when the firm presented its summer auction of works of art, antiques, jewelry and decorative arts. Cobb does not disclose the total amount of the sale, but said the auction had a 96% sell-through rate and attracted 4,265 registered bidders in total from all auction methods.

European art was in vogue. Experiencing a resurgence in this market, William Newenham Montague Orpen (Irish, 1878-1931) whose oil-on-canvas painting titled “After the Ball”, depicting masked and combed couples just outside a sold building for $72,000, a significant premium over the paint’s $20/30,000 estimate. Signed lower left “Orpen,” the 53-inch by 41-inch canvas was presented in a good old molded gilt frame and had exhibition labels attached to the stretcher from the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh and the Royal Academy. An Irish artist who worked mainly in London, Orpen was an excellent draftsman and a popular and commercially successful portrait painter for the well-to-do in Edwardian society. The painting went to an English bidder, Charlie Cobb said. “With such great provenance in the history of the exhibit, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Among several items consigned by the Hood family of New Hampshire was this revolutionary 18th century American powder horn which ended up at $26,400, more than double its high estimate.  Dated and signed

Among several items consigned by the Hood family of New Hampshire was this revolutionary 18th century American powder horn which ended up at $26,400, more than double its high estimate. Dated and signed “LH (Landon Hood) 1775, June 28”, it was decorated on the exterior with houses, cannons, buildings, trees, fish and many designs. Hood was a native of Taunton, Massachusetts, born around 1750 and died in 1839, having served as a soldier in the Massachusetts militia from 1775 to 1780.

An 18th/19th century Italian carved marble frieze by Luca Della Robbia/Brunelleschi also moved the paddles, selling for $20,400 above a high estimate of $12,000. Titled “A Musical Procession,” the original group of “Cantoria” friezes is now on display at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy. Measuring 38 by 45 by 5 inches, the frieze was in good condition, with an old weathered and partially polished surface and mounting holes drilled in the sides and top. The catalog description noted the provenance of a house in Dublin, NH, originally built in 1972 by Ray Winfield Smith (1897-1982), professor of Egyptology at Dartmouth College and relative of Joseph Lindon Smith, famous painter of the interiors of the Egyptian pyramids, which brought many antiquities back to the United States.

Recover $14,400 was a painting by Camille Bombois (French, 1883-1970). The view was of two gentlemen in a rowboat. The oil on canvas, “Rowing on a Pond”, was signed lower left “Bombois C”, measured 23¾ by 36½ inches and was presented in an original two-tone black and gray frame and the painting was from a private Dublin, NH, collection.

Representing Belgian art, an oil on canvas scene of a shepherd and his sheep by Franz de Beul (1849-1919). Signed lower left “Franz de Beul, 1880,” the 35-by-25-inch painting from a New Hampshire collection was set in the original gold cast frame and fetched $3,360.

Camille Bombois' (French, 1883-1970) oil on canvas depicting two gentlemen in a rowboat, “Aviron sur un étang,” fetched $14,400.

Camille Bombois’ (French, 1883-1970) oil on canvas depicting two gentlemen in a rowboat, “Aviron sur un étang,” fetched $14,400.

The focus is on the early Americana, a revolutionary 18th century American powder horn with history and provenance that ended at $26,400, more than double its high estimate. It was in very good condition, dated and signed “LH (Landon Hood) 1775, June 28”, and was decorated on the exterior with houses, cannons, buildings, trees, fish and many designs. The horn was 13¼ inches long at the end and featured an inset paper star design with the pen writing “Landon Hood his horn Liberty or Death 1775 AD” on the end cap. According to catalog notes, Hood was a native of Taunton, Mass., born around 1750 and died in 1839, having served as a private in the Massachusetts militia from 1775 to 1780. He was purchased in January by Victor C. Hood, who entrusted it to auction, of the specialist in old weapons William Guthman.

Another interesting piece of Americana was found in a 13-star American Colonial Flag, a homemade folk art version of the “Hopkinson flag,” which was originally used in the 1770s. Found in an old residence of Peterborough, the flag was probably used for a play, show, parade or school activity. Measuring 28½ inches, it was bid at $11,400.

There was a series of New England-themed artwork by artists from the Granite State. Topping the parade was “Mount Mon at twilight, Marlboro, NH Stone Pond” by William Preston Phelps (1849-1923) at $9,000. The oil on canvas painting depicted Mount Monadnock at sunrise as seen from the old chapel at Stone Pond, Marlborough, NH The auction house provided a photo which showed the same view today from the same where Phelps stood to paint the scene. The painting measured 14 by 22 inches and was set in the original gold molded frame.

Going to a LiveAuctioneers bidder was a 13-star colonial American flag, homemade folk art that was likely used for a play, show, parade, or school activity.  Measuring 28½ inches, it was bid at $11,400.

Going to a LiveAuctioneers bidder was a 13-star colonial American flag, homemade folk art that was likely used for a play, show, parade, or school activity. Measuring 28½ inches, it was bid at $11,400.

Finding a buyer at $5,700 was a snowy vision of Alexander Robertson James (1890-1946). The oil painting on canvas “Woodstock Hills, Vermont” was noted as such by a label on the reverse. It measured 26 inches by 32 inches and had been lined and cleaned and was signed on the lower left “Alexander R. James 1917”.

Another painting by Phelps, this one of a pastoral landscape with sheep in the foreground and Mount Monadnock in the distance, was signed lower left, “WP Phelps”. Measuring 18 by 30 inches, it was set in what appeared to be the original gold cast frame and came from a collection at the Old Wilton Center, NH. It left the gallery at $4,800.

The dogs spent their day in a 19th century American or Scottish School oil painting of six hunting dogs resting on a hill with heather below. It sold for $11,400, measured 24 by 30 inches, and was set in a gold molded frame bearing the label “Newcomb-Macklin Co, New York”.

And for those seeking Cape Cod sensibility, Anthony Thieme’s (1888-1954) oil on canvas depicting a Rockport-area dock scene ticked the $3,900 bill. It had an estate stamp on the back stretcher and measured 30 by 36 inches, set in the original gold cast frame with a “McClees Gallery” label on the stretcher.

No sale at The Cobbs takes place without at least a handful of period furniture, and this auction had a few choice pieces among the highlights. One was a small-sized tiger maple Queen Anne highboy, the top of which had a bold tiger maple molding over two side-by-side rimmed drawers over three graduated drawers. The lower section featured equally bold tiger maple molding over two side-by-side drawers over three drawers on a shaped apron supported by four cabriole legs ending in cushioned feet. Standing just 67 inches tall and possibly originating in southern New England, the crate piece was considered by the auction house to be “one of the best tiger maples we’ve seen” and ended at $4,800.

A 19th-century American or Scottish School oil painting of six hunting dogs resting on a hill sold for $11,400.

A 19th-century American or Scottish School oil painting of six hunting dogs resting on a hill sold for $11,400.

Also catching the eye of bidders, an 18th-century yellow pine corner cabinet surprised by taking $4,500 against an estimate of $600/900. The one-piece cabinet featured a single 15-panel upper door, scalloped shelves above a raised double-panel door below, flanked on the cant by fluted pilasters. English or possibly Southern, the 72½ inch tall closet is from a collection of Pennsylvania properties.

The silver category was dominated by a sterling silver “Stieff” flatware set weighing 100.2 troy ounces and selling for $3,240.

Additional items that surprised included a lot featuring 12 small Asian ceramic, wood and glass wares and three pieces of 19th century tableware that beat its $300/500 estimate to fetch $3,900. The lot included a 3½ inch diameter covered box, a 6 inch high tea caddy, a 3½ inch cubed teapot, four sake cups, four snuffboxes, and a seven-headed carved wooden scroll.

Another miscellaneous lot included a “Hood Tires” advertisement, a red metal driver-shaped sign, a double-sided metal wall sign, and a 1919 Literary collection advertising page. Estimated at $300/500, the whole thing comes to $3,240 for the buyer.

The prices shown include the buyer’s commission as quoted by the auction house. For information, 603-924-6361 or www.thecobbs.com.

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