Kentucky Latonia Racetrack Painting is Top Seller in Cowan's Inaugural American Scene Auction
Cowan’s inaugural American Scene Auction had total proceeds surpassing $500,000 for 404 lots. Regional items, such as a Kentucky Latonia Racetrack Painting, a portrait of a Derby winner by Walter Herbert Wheeler, and an Anna Pottery Pig Flask sold exceptionally well and inspired heated bidding from local collectors.
Cowan's Fine and Decorative Art Director Diane Wachs commented, "For our first American Scene Auction, we decided to be very selective. The auction wasn't a record-breaker monetarily, but we also had fewer lots of higher quality than we have in the past. We want to stick with this strategy as we continue to build our American Scene auctions."
The highest-selling lot of the auction was a Kentucky Latonia Racetrack Painting which brought $27,025, far exceeding its modest $3,000/5,000 estimate. Attributed to the nineteenth-century Cincinnati artist Charles W. Waite, the painting was likely given to a local riverfront bar in exchange for a debt. The oil on canvas was desirable to many as it depicts Latonia Racetrack, currently known as Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky.
With horseracing season upon us, a Portrait of a Derby Winner by Walter Herbert Wheeler surpassed expectations, selling for $5,287, considerably above its $1,000/1,500 estimate. The painting depicts the 1925 Kentucky Derby winner, Flying Ebony.
The second-highest selling item was a bronze sculpture by Harriet W. Frishmuth entitled Crest of the Wave which sold for $24,675, more than doubling its $9,000/12,000 estimate. Frishmuth studied under Auguste Rodin in Paris, and the Crest of the Wave is exemplary of Rodin’s masterful technique and execution.
Also blowing away its $4/6,000 estimate was a Classical Giltwood Girandole Convex Mirror, which realized $23,500. Circa 1800-1810, this item is an excellent example of the Federal-style Girandole mirror. Its condition drew bidders from across the country, who bid both on the phone and the internet, driving its price.
A rare Anna Pottery Pig Flask sold for $20,562, nearly tripling its $6,000/8,000 estimate. This salt-glazed molded stoneware pig bottle has one side incised with a map of Indiana and was made in the Illinois pottery workshop.
Cowan's folk art specialist Roxanne Argrenbright commented, "We have sold Anna Pigs in the past with great success, but we have never seen an example with glass eyes. Usually the eyes on the pigs are incised circles. This was truly a rare example."
A Cast Iron Umbrella Stand fetched $4,112 six times its $400/600 estimate. In excellent condition, this cast iron piece has beautiful detailing of Hercules fighting a serpent.
Additional items that greatly surpassed their estimated sale price includes a Masonic high back chair that sold for $3,055, above its $600/800 estimate; and Loet Vanderveen Bronze of Running Cheetahs that sold for $2,937, well exceeding its $800/1,200 estimate.
A smaller-sized sale, Cowan's first American Scene Auction was highly successful, passing on only fifty lots. The next auction for the department will be Continental Fine and Decorative Arts on July 31, 2010. The auction will feature fine British and European paintings, decorative art, and Orientalia. Consignments are being accepted for the October American Scene Auction.