Two ‘possibly’ John Singer Sargent watercolors commanded attention at Amelia Jeffers

Watercolor of an urban street scene attributed to John Singer Sargent, which hammered for $26,000 and sold for $32,500 with buyer’s premium at Amelia Jeffers.

DELAWARE, Ohio – Two watercolors in the manner of John Singer Sargent sailed above their estimates when offered by Amelia Jeffers on March 7 during the first day of a three-day auction. Both works were part of a collection of more than 300 Renaissance, Modernist, and 19th-century paintings from the estate of Carl Eriksson, a civil engineer and past president of the Scandinavian Club of Columbus.

These two watercolor sketches were both described as ‘possibly John Singer Sargent’. Eriksson had unknowingly bought both together: one had been found folded and tucked behind the other in its frame after purchase.

The larger and more ‘finished’ of the two works was a 6-by-8in urban street scene populated with the well-dressed of European or American society. With more than enough technical skill on show to convince bidders the signature was ‘right’, it hammered well above the $800-$1,200 estimate at $26,000 and sold for $32,500 with buyer’s premium.

The smaller of the two works at 5.5 by 4.5in – the bonus buy found inside the frame – was signed and titled on the verso as A Wet Day in Venice. Additional framer’s notes and the price of 20 francs appeared in pencil below. Between 1898 and 1913 Sargent visited Venice almost every year, attracted by a community of friends and colleagues who gathered there and by the city’s scenic possibilities. In this composition, a sculpture loosely formed in the foreground appears to depict a lion – the emblem of St Mark, patron saint of the city. This work hammered for $7,750 and sold for $9,687 with buyer’s premium against the same $800-$1,200 estimate.

Complete results for all three sale days can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

Painting of conductor Leonard Bernstein’s Carnegie Hall debut shines at Amelia Jeffers March 7-9

Theresa Ferber Bernstein-Meyerowitz’s oil on canvas depicting Leonard Bernstein’s first performance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, estimated at $8,000-$16,000 at Amelia Jeffers.

DELAWARE, Ohio – An exuberant canvas depicting Leonard Bernstein’s first performance with the New York Philharmonic is among a group of works by Theresa Ferber Bernstein-Meyerowitz (1890-2002) offered by Amelia Jeffers in Ohio on Thursday, March 7. It comes to auction as part of ‘A Lifetime Collection of Fine Art’ formed by the late Carl Eriksson, a civil engineer and past president of the Scandinavian Club of Columbus.

The painting, which captures much of the vitality of Bernstein’s last-minute debut at the Carnegie Hall on November 14, 1943, is estimated at $8,000-$16,000. It is one of 10 works on offer by Bernstein-Meyerowitz, the Krakow-born Philadelphia artist who painted for close to a century in a style that evolved from realism to expressionism. To try to avoid the discrimination that came with being a women painter, she seldom used her full name and instead signed her works T. Bernstein or just Bernstein.

Remarkably, having held her first solo exhibition at the Milch Gallery in New York City in 1919, she was also in attendance at Jo-An Fine Art in New York City in 2000 for the exhibition Theresa Bernstein: An Early Modernist, held to mark her 110th birthday. She died in 2002, just a couple of weeks short of her 112th year, still living in the rent-controlled loft-style studio a block from Central Park West where she had worked for decades.

The second day of this three-day Ohio sale brings more Americana from the collection of Bruce and Vivalyn Knight. Knight, a full-time antiques dealer from the late 1960s, was the man who put Springfield, Ohio on the antiques map. He founded the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market, which became one of the largest of its kind in the country, and the Heart of Ohio Antique Center in Springfield, which is still America’s biggest. The lion’s share of his collection was sold by the auction house during two days in January, with an 18th-century Native American trade axe pipe linked to the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh selling at $41,000. However, this offering numbers a further 438 lots, with most categories of folk art well represented.

Sharing top-lot status on the third day of the sale are two 1969 pencil-signed Alexander Calder lithographs from an edition of 75 each. Soucoupes Volantes numbered 72/75, and Soucoupes Dans de Noir numbered 55/75, are both estimated at $4,000-$8,000.

Tomahawk pipe believed to belong to Tecumseh secured $51K at Amelia Jeffers

Native American inlaid trade axe pipe believed to belong to the Shawnee chief and warrior Tecumseh, which sold for $51,250 at Amelia Jeffers’ auction of the collection of Bruce and Vivalyn Knight.

DELAWARE, Ohio – An 18th-century Native American trade axe pipe linked to the great Shawnee chief and warrior Tecumseh (1768-1813) was the runaway performer when the collection of Ohio dealer and entrepreneur Bruce Knight was dispersed in the first days of 2024. The two-day sale was conducted January 5-6 in the old Garth’s auction barn under the banner of auctioneer and appraiser Amelia Jeffers.

Distinctive for its German silver and brass inlay and curly maple handle, this tomahawk pipe  an ingenious combination of weapon and smoking pipe used in trade and diplomatic agreements between the white settlers and the Native tribes – is thought to have been taken from Tecumseh during a council meeting in Springfield, Ohio on June 24, 1807. The episode is related in John Sugden’s 1998 biography Tecumseh, A Life.

Tecumseh, born at a time when the far-flung Shawnees were reuniting in their Ohio homeland, promoted resistance to the western expansion of the United States. On the basis of the notion that ‘your enemy’s enemy is your friend’, he died fighting for the British in The War of 1812 at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813.

This was a piece of some personal significance to Bruce Knight. While a young man, he had bought it out of a home in Springfield and sold it at the time to dealer Clark Garrett. Evidently, he had regretted the deal, as he bought it back when local auctioneer Mike Clum conducted the celebrated Clark Garrett auction in Rushville, Ohio in June 2002. This time out it had an estimate of $2,500-$3,500, but hammered for $41,000 and sold for $51,250 with buyer’s premium.

Knight, a full-time antiques dealer as of the late 1960s, was the man who put Springfield, Ohio on the antiques map. He founded the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market, which became one of the largest of its kind in the country, and he founded the Heart of Ohio Antique Center in Springfield, which is still America’s biggest.

Another of his prize possessions were two full-size cigar store Indians. Figures of all shapes and sizes lined cities throughout America until the 1890s, when ordinances required that they be placed inside the shops to avoid the obstruction of street traffic.

Standing 6ft 8in high on a canted base was a figure of a Native American woman in a dress, holding cigars, tobacco leaves and a signature rose. It is thought to have been made in the New York City shop of Samuel A. Robb between 1880 and 1890. In a newspaper advertisement dated 1881, Robb offered: ‘Show Figures and Carved Lettered Signs A Specialty, Tobacconist Signs in great variety, on hand and made to any design, Ship and Steamboat Carving, Eagles, Scroll Heads, block letters, Shoe, Dentist and Druggist Signs, etc.’

This example, in old painted decoration with the original colors occasionally showing underneath, had been purchased from Jane Murphy, a once well-known dealer who traded in Cincinnati as The Townhouse Antiques for more than 75 years. It hammered for $50,000 and sold for $62,500 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $20,000-$35,000.

Most categories of American folk art were represented in the Knight collection. It included, for example, more than 20 pieces of early 19th-century English mocha ware. Several choice wares brought four-figure sums, with a 7in cider pitcher hammering for $6,250 ($7,812 with buyer’s premium), close to double the top estimate. The decoration included a central band of iron red with a slip trailed stylized tulip. Also popular was a simple child’s mug emblazoned with the name Ann to a deep tan band and a pitcher with bands of decoration including earthworm and cat’s eye. They took $2,300 ($2,875 with buyer’s premium) and $1,800 ($2,250 with buyer’s premium) respectively. 

A selection of 19th-century British livestock oils featured two canvases by or attributed to the Worcestershire painter Richard Whitford (active 1854-1887). Both had been bought by Knight at auctions in the U.K. Based in the Cotswolds, the great sheep breeding area of England, many of Whitford’s pictures are of sheep. He seems to have traveled to the annual livestock shows all across the country, often painting the local gentry standing proudly beside their prize-winning animals.

Offered in the sale at $8,000-$12,000 and hammered for $14,000 ($17,500 with buyer’s premium) was a 2ft 1in by 2ft 6in depiction of three sheep in a pasture dated 1863 and titled 1st Prize & Silver Medal, London, Xmas, 1862. A slightly smaller portrait of a prize bull, unsigned but attributed to Whitford, hammered for $9,000 ($11,250 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500 despite some patched repairs. The composition showed the animal standing four-square near a lake with a sailboat in the background.