The room was full for a recent American art auction at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The evening brought paintings from the Jean and Graham Devoe Williford Charitable Trust. Together with the morning session, which offered works from Lexington Trust of Los Angeles, the sale brought in more than $5 million.
It was the collection of Graham Williford we found most interesting.
One lot of particular note was a painting by Henry Golden Dearth, which doesn’t come around too often. This one shows a Long Island beach scene, Heather Plain, Easthampton. The painting exceeded the $7,000 to $10,000 estimate, fetching $17,000. Contributing to the success was a stunning frame, made by George Of, the first person to buy a Matisse in the U.S. If you’re in New York, Of is mentioned in connection with Matisse in the Steins Collect Exhibit (through June 3).
Also performing exceptionally well was Still Life With Roses by Wilder M. Darling, known as the Dean of Toledo (Ohio) painters. Estimated at $500-$700, this 9×11 painting brought $2,400. A still life Pears, Basket, and Shell, by Bruce Kirkland was estimated at a high of $900 but brought $5,500.
If there were an award to be had for a unique frame in the sale, it would have gone to an artist known for making his frames, Hermann Dudley Murphy. Clouds and Water were estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 but brought $35,000. Also noted for clouds, Afternoon in Early Winter by Charles Harold Davis, which called to mind a painting hanging in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, exceeded the high estimate of $4,500, fetching $15,000.
That paintings of dogs sell is a fact well-noted in art circles, The Family Dog by Conrad Wise Chapman was no exception. The painting, which has a high estimate of $3,500, brought $13,000.
A small attractive painting in a Classical vein depicting a female figure and roses and titled A Thoughtful Moment brought $1,900, exceeding the high estimate by $1,000. We thought perhaps the unsigned work could be from the hand of Kenyon Cox.
Of course, there were sleepers too, and some post-auction opportunities. Thinking about two passed lost it occurred a painting by William Hart without a cow is about as marketable as a Charles Warren Eaton painting without an Evergreen Tree. Such lots by both usually well-selling artists passed.