John Brewster portrait tripled its high estimate at New England Auctions

John Brewster, portrait of a young girl in a white dress, $120,000 ($153,600 with buyer’s premium) at New England Auction.

BRANFORD, Conn. – A John Brewster portrait of a young girl in a white dress sold for more than triple its high estimate at New England Auctions January 10. The 460-lot Fine Americana, Folk Art & Native American sale’s results can be viewed at LiveAuctioneers.

The undated oil-on-panel portrait of a young girl in a white dress, painted by the itinerant American artist John Brewster, Jr. (1766-1854), hammered for $120,000 and sold for $153,600 with buyer’s premium after a protracted bidding war. The sale represented the portrait’s first appearance at auction since it was offered at Christie’s in December 1969, when it realized $43,700.

Brewster was born deaf to a Connecticut family descended from William Brewster, who came to America on the Mayflower and rose to lead the fledgling Puritan community. Brewster made the most of the hand that was dealt to him: his family’s reputation allowed him to move with ease among the elites of New England and offer his portraiture services, while his deafness might have sharpened his artistic skills. On an American Folk Art Museum web page on a past exhibit of Brewster’s work, the writer suggests ‘He was especially sensitive to the sitter’s face, emphasizing his or her direct gaze – as a deaf artist, eye contact became a moment of engagement and communication.’

The Prior-Hamblin School refers to paintings that resemble the works of William Matthew Prior, Sturtevant Hamblin, and other artists who were active in the mid-19th century. This Prior-Hamblin School portrait of a child is an oil on artist panel and came from Maine circa 1840. It includes its original paint-decorated frame and had been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 2001. Estimated at $8,000-$15,000, it hammered for $26,000 ($33,280 with buyer’s premium).

Attributed to J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York, New Jersey and Chicago (1820-circa 1920), this large American Indian archer weathervane caught the right breeze with bidders. Made of molded and sheet copper, it was described as being in ‘fine condition with a fine gilded surface.’ Estimated at $15,000-$30,000, it sold for $55,000 ($70,400 with buyer’s premium).

Originally from the collection of famed New England antiques dealer Jay Turomsha, this American Parcheesi gameboard dates to the late 19th century and is exceptionally large – 22in square – and colorful, with strong design patterns in each quadrant and a central star. It sold for $18,000 ($23,040 with buyer’s premium) against a presale estimate of $2,500-$5,000.

An 1808 needlework sampler created by 12-year-old Rachel Morgan (1793-1864) had the most amazing result when contrasted with its presale estimate. Rachel Morgan was the daughter of Zacquill Morgan, the founder of Morgantown, Virginia (present-day West Virginia), who was likely the first white settler in the region. The silk-on-linen sampler had been professionally conserved and framed and was considered an early example of the desirable Monongalia County samplers. Estimated at only $400-$800, the sampler saw more than three dozen bids trade off between the floor and LiveAuctioneers buyers, landing finally at $36,000 ($46,080 with buyer’s premium).