GENESEO – A landscape oil painting on canvas by famous American artist John Frederick Kensett sold for $ 1.08 million at auction at Cottone Auctions in Geneseo earlier this month.
Kensett’s painting, “Singing Beach & Eagle Rock, Magnolia, Massachusetts,” won the highest selling price at the auction. It was sold to a private collector who participated in the September 18 auction by telephone.
According to Cottone Auctions, the artwork was purchased in 1955 by Adrian Smith, formerly Lusyd Wright Keating, of Buffalo, from Victor D. Spark. Smith bequeathed the painting to his daughter, Cynthia Doolittle, in 1971. The painting has been exhibited twice at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo – first in 1958, then again in 1983.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kensett belonged to the Hudson River School of American Artists and is recognized as a master of the “luminism” mode of landscape painting. The picturesque views of the sites along the Hudson River, at Niagara Falls, in the Catskills and the Adirondacks are well represented in Kensett’s work, according to the museum.
Matt Cottone, auctioneer and co-owner of Cottone Auctions, said marketing the painting had been “a privilege.”
“I was happy for our shipper – the Doolittles – who could have sent their stuff anywhere but gave us the opportunity,” Cottone said.
The catalog notes for the painting contained a 1965 letter from John K. Howat, assistant curator of American paintings and sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Smith, the painting’s former owner. The letter read: “The Kensett looks to me like a very good one.” The arrangement and the colors are very clear and energetic – a good sign in Kensett’s work. The silence of these spare Kensett’s is very impressive.
A letter sent by Susan Crane, Associate Curator of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, to the Doolittles in 1983, following her exhibition at the Buffalo Gallery, was also included in the notes for the piece. The letter read: “Your Kensett was a huge part of the show’s success – he really made the play shine. Several art historians, in fact, have commented on its excellence. He truly ranks among the most magnificent of his works, and we are grateful that we were able to show it in the context of his “peers”.
In total, some 170 items – called lots – sold for around $ 3.7 million in Saturday’s auction. A collection of Tiffany lamps collectively sold for over a million dollars, the best-selling of which, a rare “Elaborate Peony” lamp by Tiffany Studios on a telescoping bookcase base, sold for $ 390,000.
Other items sold at the September 18 auction included:
m An E. Howard & Co. No.49 Astronomical Hanging Regulator, a type of clock, purchased directly from Edward Howard in 1875 by Henry Abbott, which sold to a telephone bidder for $ 174,000. Other highlights of the auction’s clock category include a rare DJ Gale astronomical calendar gallery clock, patent model 1871, sold for $ 43,200, and a mysterious oscillating clock Robert Houdin, Paris, sold for 12,000 $.
m A Turkish Kilij – a type of curved sword – from the historic Wadsworth family sold to a buyer in Istanbul for $ 24,000 and a rare 17th century scagliola table also from the Wadsworth family fetched $ 12,000.
m Two Navajo weavings, one a Phase II chef blanket, circa 1860-1870, the other a Navajo transitional blanket, in near pristine condition. Both pieces were descended from the family of Othniel Charles Marsh, a paleontologist at Yale University. The blankets were reportedly given to Marsh by Red Cloud, the Native American leader of the Sioux. The blankets sold for $ 204,000.