Freeman’s caps 2019 with $2.4M American art auction

Daniel Garber (American, 1880-1958), ‘By the River,’ oil on canvas, 28 1/8in x 30 1/8in in its original frame. Price realized: $250,000. Freeman’s image

PHILADELPHIA – Freeman’s reports yet another successful American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, with an overall result of over $2.4 million. Local bidders filled the room, while both domestic and international clients engaged in spirited bidding over the internet and by telephone. The sale was the last fine art auction to be held at the house’s historic 1808 Chestnut St. location, where Freeman’s has been headquartered since 1924. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

Featuring over 150 lots of fine art, the sale included noteworthy paintings, drawings, watercolors and prints. Particularly strong results were seen in the Pennsylvania Impressionists category, with Daniel Garber’s By the River (above) selling for $250,000 – the top lot of the sale. The painting depicted an idyllic view of the Delaware River in Bucks County in 1929 and presented bidders with an exemplary work showcasing Garber’s most celebrated subject matter, and “tapestry-like” formal qualities. Mary Elizabeth Price’s Hollyhocks and Delphinium Screen (below) soared to $112,500, significantly exceeding its estimate of $50,000-$80,000 and setting a new auction record for a painted screen by the artist.

‘Hollyhocks and Delphinium Screen’ by Mary Elizabeth Price. Sold for $112,500, an auction record for a screen by the artist. Freeman’s image

Additionally, the sale offered numerous works by Fern Isabel Coppedge, including a quintessential winter landscape titled Winter Along the Delaware (Lot 116) that garnered $81,250 against a presale estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

‘Winter Along the Delaware Valley’ by Fern Isabelle Coppedge. Sold for $81,250. Freeman’s image

Successful sale of works by several other female artists such as Susette Keast and Paulette Van Roeckens, confirmed a strengthening market for this category, with notable interest from private local collectors as well as major institutions, including the James A. Michener Museum of Art, who proudly purchased Keast’s Portrait of the Artist’s Two Daughters (Lot 96) for $11,875 – the first work by the artist to enter the museum’s collection.

Excitement rippled throughout the room as a minutes-long battle between several telephone bidders sent Incense Breathing Morn. Gray’s Elegy (On the Guayaquil River) by Louis Rémy Mignot (Lot 25) far beyond its presale estimate. The work, newly rediscovered in Rome after nearly 75 years in a private collection, ultimately brought $150,000 against an estimate of $40,000-$60,000 and set a new auction record for a late work by the artist, often so rare at auction.

‘Incense Breathing Morn. – Gray’s Elegy,’ (On the Guayaquil River), by Louis Rémy Mignot. Sold for $150,000. Freeman’s image

A corpus of six works by Romare Bearden later captured auction-goers’ attention, selling for a combined $381,875 and thus reaffirming the current strength of the African American market. Specifically, New York Scenes (Lot 88), a series of 23 watercolors commissioned by John Cassavetes for the opening credits of his 1979 film Gloria, achieved $156,250 and set a record for a purely watercolor (non-collage) work by the artist.

One of 23 watercolors of ‘New York Scenes’ by Romare Bearden. The set sold for $156,250, an auction record for a purely watercolor work by the artist. Freeman’s image

Other highlights in the sale included works by noteworthy artists Theodore Earl Butler (Lot 30; $40,625), Norman Rockwell (Lot 65; $68,750), Edward Willis Redfield (below; $68,750) and George Noyes, whose four landscapes, all fresh at auction, sold for a combined $65,625 (Lots 38-41).

‘The Hill Country’ Edward Willis Redfield. Sold for $$68,750. Freeman’s image

“I was delighted with the response to our very last auction of American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists held in our Chestnut Street location,” said Alasdair Nichol, head of the sale. “It was a packed-to-capacity room, with many active bidders during the highly popular Pennsylvania Impressionist section, a field in which Freeman’s continues to lead the market. I am particularly pleased to have sold the exceptional screen by Mary Elizabeth Price as my last lot on Chestnut Street, much to the delight of the consignor (then present in the room) who confessed it was one of the most over the top experiences of her life. I can’t wait for our next auction of American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists in our new saleroom at 2400 Market St.”

Inquiries may be directed to Madeline Hill: mhill@freemansauction.com.