Down the lane: Fitz Henry Lane art shuffled from Gloucester Sawyer Free library to Cape Ann Museum

You may have noticed that the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library is sporting noticebly thinned out collections, and it’s not just the books. Three Fitz Henry Lane paintings were moved across the street to the Cape Ann Museum: Gloucester Harbor (gifted to the Library by Judith M Todd); Sawyer Homestead Freshwater Cove, Gloucester; and Coasting Schooner off Boon Harbor, ME. Additionally, a portrait of Sawyer and a Bertha Menzler Payton painting are no longer on view.

BEFORE AND AFTER

Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library installation views- BEFORE (Lanes installed) / AFTER (Lanes removed)

Installation view two FITZ HENRY LANE paintings GLOUCESTER HARBOR left and SAWYER HOMESTEAD right at Sawyer Free Public Library ©C Ryan IMG_183127
Past the crowd, on the far walls installation view showing pair of Fitz Henry Lane paintings (Gloucester Harbor on the left and Sawyer Homestead Freshwater Cove on the right). A Carlton T Chapman painting is under the clock. Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library
Installation view two Gruppe paintings former site of two Fitz Henry Lane paintings at Sawyer Free Public Library ©C Ryan_111423
Gloucester, MA. Gloucester Lycecum & Sawyer Free Public Library December 2017 pair of Emile A Gruppe paintings installed (formerly site of two Fitz Henry Lane paintings)

 

You can click on the photos to read captions. The photo pair below show Lane Coasting Schooner replaced with a painting from the Addision Gilbert Hospital collection, a portrait of Sawyer and his wife

 

Library vs Museum

Lane painting installation views comparing Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library vs Cape Ann Museum

More photos from both collections

 

Cape Ann Museum is just across the street and it’s the world’s most vital Lane collection. Still, I wish the paintings could remain at the library. I lament my industry’s inability, all of us, actually– to find a way to make stewardship affordable for repositories just like this one. I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of making copies for the library. When access to originals is difficult or impossible, copies can be a boon. For example the Madonna atop Our Lady of Good Voyage is a replica. The original is held at the Cape Ann Museum and affords close observation that was impossible from the street. The copy preserves the impact of the site. Two dimensional  poster reproductions and painted copies are rarely more. Mostly, I advocate for originals. Here, original art was replaced with original art.

The gifts were for the library and Gloucester, in varying degrees of partnership with the library since Sawyer’s private endowment upon his death in 1889. The provenance paperwork for the Lanes can be deciphered differently depending upon context.

The Lanes leaving the library made me think about the James Prendergast Library collection deaccession, for operating funds and a new vision, rather than a relocation just across a city square. That library is located in Jamestown New York. The board consigned 44 paintings to two auction houses for November 2017 sales. The update is that several works did not find purchasers, failing to meet presale estimates. The board rejected lowball offers following the public sales, and the art remains with the auction houses to be sold in future to-be-determined sales. The New York Attorney General office denied a purchase offer that would have held the art in Jamestown, ruling instead for public auction.  A makerspace was crafted from three extant rooms where a children’s computer coding Scratch class was offered at the time of the sales. Jamestown had cut annual funding for its library by $300,000. (see prior GMG posts November 20 2017 and auction results)

I was hoping the Lanes might be featured prominently and safely with any interior buildout proposals at Sawyer Free library, like this installation at the Currier (which was a temporary build out for a museum exhibition), and the library’s other works. The Matz gallery is pretty perfect for changing exhibits of local artists.

Installation view ALBERT BIERSTADT The Emerald Pool Currier Museum of Art Mount Washington exhibit January 2017 © c ryan.jpg

 

LIVE: James Prendergast Library only sold 3 at Sotheby’s! Rockwell fetches 6.2 million

Christie’s and Sotheby’s held dueling LIVE auctions on November 21, 2017. Christie’s American sale offered 93 lots resulting in $34,131,500 total sales, nearly 7x the total sales of Sotheby’s which featured less than 67 lots because the Berkshire Museum lots were pulled from the sale. Sotheby’s* failed to sell more than 1/2 of the first 45 lots. I’ll update after the sales have ended. *Sotheby’s sale is now closed. The auction house sold just 34 of 67 lots, total sales  (including Buyer’s Premium) were $5,858,250. Christie’s sold 72 of 91 lots today.

It turns out that the James Prendergast Library deaccession (see prior GMG post) would have made more money and kept the art in Jamestown if they had not brought the art to market at Sotheby’s. Here are the three of  nine paintings to find collectors; two went under estimate.

 

One of Sotheby’s best lots today was a Dame Laura Knight which sold for $560,000, right within its estimate range.

dame laura knight  BRIT 1877-1970 The Fairground Penzance ca 1912 oc 55 x 75 sotheby's last sold in 1983 est 400 to 600000.jpg

Hammer prices unless otherwise indicated:

Christie’s Lot 15 Norman Rockwell What Makes it Tick, a 1948 oil on canvas, sold for 6.2million  (just above its pre sale high estimate, 4 million to 6 million) which came to $7,287,500 after buyer’s premiums were factored. Rockwell’s Returning from Camp fetched 1.9 million. A Winslow Homer Tynemouth watercolor fetched a hammer price of $170,000, above its presale estimate range of 100,000-150,000. The Martin Johnson Heade failed to sell; the Milton Avery self portrait went for $45,000 at the gavel drop; and the Paul Manship sculpture was unsold, bidding failing to climb past $240,000 (pre sale estimate was $300,000 to $500,000.)

 

Berkshire Museum on hold, but James Prendergast Library a go

On November 21, 2017, Sotheby’s (New York) will be holding a European sale and Christie’s (New York) will be holding an American sale. Both auctions feature works by artists with ties to Gloucester and neighboring shores, among them:

Christies Martin Johnson Heade 1819 to 1904 Haystacks oc 1878-1892 est 120 to 180000
Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) Haystacks, 1878-1892, oil on canvas, (Christie’s presale estimate $120,000-$180,000)
Paul Howard manship 1885-1966 Lying Doe cas 1932 est 300 to 500000
PAUL MANSHIP (1885-1966), Lying Doe, ca. 1932 (Christie’s presale auction estimate $300,000-$500,000)

There are a few Norman Rockwell works, including the classic What Makes it Tick (The Watchman), a 1948 commission for the watchmakers of Switzerland, oil on canvas. Christie’s presale estimate is 4 million – 6 million. Christie’s is offering a Cecilia Beaux 1916 portrait in its American online auction, ending tomorrow as well. It’s titled Mrs. Albert J Beveridge (Catherine Eddy/Lady Primrose) and measures 57 x 38. Bids open at $12,000 on this Beaux.

NORMAN~1.JPG

 

Sotheby’s Nov 21 Auction a tale of two AGOs

The Berkshire Museum story has several updates. As a reminder, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled last week that the Berkshire Museum could not sell its artworks on consignment with Sotheby’s until the courts settle. The Berkshire Museum is pushing for an accelerated court case. They have issued a press release which I’ve posted below the break. One trustee has quit in protest of the Museum’s intent to sell. The Massachusetts Attorney General office filed responses. It’s been reported that the AG is repeating unanswered requests for archives, financial papers and other material as well as questions related to museum contruction projects completed by another board member (speculating unconfirmed reports of conflict of interest.) Official filings and documents from both sides have been shared with media outlets. The injunction decision impacted Sotheby’s American and Impressionism & Modern art sales last week, and its European sale tomorrow only in that there are fewer lots for sale. The cover of tomorrow’s European sale catalogue featured a Berkshire Museum painting, Lot 18 now unavailable.

x LOT 18 Berkshire Museum Bouguereau featured on the cover of the Sotheby's catalogue 70 lots Nov 21 sale L'Agneau Nouveau-Ne THE NEWBORN LAMB oc 65 x 34 est 1500000 to 2mil.jpg
Sotheby’s lists Lot 18 as “upcoming” sale. Bouguereau L’Agneau Nouveau (The Newborn Lamb) oil on canvas, 65 in x 34 in (Sotheby’s presale estimate 1.5million to 2 million)

 

Additional Sotheby’s Berkshire Museum lots described as “upcoming”, on hold till the courts decide:

 

Sotheby’s European sale features fine art consigned from another public repository: the James Prendergast Library, Jamestown, NY. Unlike the Berkshire Museum, the library attempted to maintain its collection, but was unsuccessful. It did not receive as much press as the Berkshire Museum brouhaha. The New York Times ran a story this weekend, too little too late for any with aims to hold on. According to the article, the library had even lined up angel collectors willing to buy the great works to ensure they remained in Jamestown, NY.

Some critics of the sale are particularly upset that the library rejected a plan by two art patrons, Cathy and Jesse Marion of Houston who had proposed keeping the collection in Jamestown by buying about 40 of the works for $1.2 million and finding a new home for them in the city.” 

The New York State Attorney General’s office declined this proposal, instead requiring that the library sell at public auction.

“Mr. Rankin said the library had to pass on that offer because the New York State attorney general’s office, which oversees nonprofit organizations, had objected to a private sale without testing whether the paintings might actually bring in more if sold through public auction.”

The library founders made careful selections amounting to an encyclopedic world tour of artists and contemplative, dreamy scenes to enrich the experience of patrons of all ages. They are fascinating together. I love this beguiling and chatty magpie narrative!

James Prendergast Library Jehan Georges Vibert Le Nouveau commis oil on panel est 30 to 40000
James Prendergast Library collection: Jehan Georges Vibert Le Nouveau commis oil on panel. Sotheby’s Eurpean pre sale estimate is $30,000- $40,000

 

More works to be sold at Sotheby’s to benefit and from the James Prendergast Library collection

 

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