PALM BEACH, Fla. — Together with his wife Marilyn, Michael Mennello (1933-2020) spent his entire life collecting and championing regional artists from Florida, while amassing a one-of-a-kind collection of American Impressionists. The Menellos founded the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, which today houses the largest collection of works by self-taught folk artist Earl Cunningham (1893-1977).
Freeman’s Hindman has been charged with dispersing the remainder of the Mennello collection in an event titled A Lasting Legacy: Estate of Michael Mennello. The catalog for the Wednesday, February 21 sale is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.
The sale’s top-estimated lot is The Necklace (La femme au collier), a 1913 oil on canvas by Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943). A native of St. Louis, Miller studied in Paris and became a member of the Giverny (France) Colony of American Impressionists. He was known for his paintings of women sitting idly, which The Necklace typifies. Freeman’s Hindman estimates the 36 by 29in painting at $150,000-$250,000.
Joseph Raphael (1869-1950) was born in the California Gold Rush town of Jackson in the Sierra Nevada mountains, but as a young artist moved to Europe, where he resided until the outbreak of World War II. He would resettle in San Francisco, where he had previously conducted numerous sales of his American Impressionist originals with the assistance of local benefactors such as Alfred Bender, who also championed Ansel Adams and Diego Rivera. Children of the Artist is a 57.75 by 59.25in oil on canvas depicting Raphael’s three daughters in the 1920-24 period, when he and his wife lived in Uccle, Belgium. The work is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.
No collection of American Impressionism is complete without a Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883-1962). Silver and Gold at the Plaza was painted just a year prior to the artist’s passing, and features the snowy but adoring treatment of New York Wiggins is known for. Best of all, the work has been authenticated in writing by Wiggins’ son Noel. The 28 by 42in oil on canvas carries a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
The Mennello collection also contains two works by John French Sloan (1871-1951), a founding member of what was called the Ashcan School of American Art. Adherents focused on gritty depictions of working class life in New York City, and Sloan would often gain inspiration by peering through his studio window in Chelsea. Sloan did apparently leave the city now and again, as seen in Fassett’s Cove and Black Rocks and Ledges, both dated 1915 and both estimated at $25,000-$35,000.