Tag: J. Francis Murphy
Several items at Case Antiques auction in Knoxville caught my attention, and while I was out during bidding, the prices seemed to rise to a point where it didn’t matter. Both items on my radar went well above what I expected.
The first was a 13″ Parian bust of Robert E. Lee. Depending on the size, these usually go for anywhere from $175 to $500. Of course there is more appeal in a U.S. historical figure than in a random European official, but in searching the sale records I was not prepared for the $1,600 hammer price recorded. I did however find a record of a 15″ bust of General Grant which sold at Skinner for $2,000 in July, 2009. Perhaps the market for these is on the increase or there really are better deals at antiques shows.
The second item is a 26×40 landscape painting by John Francis Murphy. It is an exceptional example of the artists work in a very attractive frame. The $20,500 hammer price may represent an auction record for this artist. The painting titled Where Sunlight Lingers was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1913.
The item that originally attracted me to the auction was a classical sofa with somewhat of a regency flair. I had decided it would not be worth shipping this item, or driving it to Dallas. That may or may have not been the case at the $800 hammer price, however.
Other furniture, particularly in the high empire category, performed surprisingly well. A classical drink mixing table attributed to Anthony Quervelle circa 1825 brought $4,400. A classical New York sleigh bed brought $8,600.
Most of the Asian objects in the sale seemed to fall at or below estimate. While I was surprised by some of the results, it all makes sense. Even while classical furniture might not be as popular as it once was, there are apparently some very good pieces out there and when they come to auction, they command good prices. Most came from the estate of a collector in Nashville who apparently knew what he was doing.
Once again the doorbell rang after dark. The lack of sunlight and the time of year made it seem appropriate that it was the UPS delivery person bringing a copy of David Cleveland’s new book A History of American Tonalism,1880-1920. After-all, it’s never morning in a tonalist painting, and never Spring.
I could hear it make a thump when the box hit the concrete just before the doorbell rang. It’s a monumental work, almost 600 pages, that has been almost ready for the printer for more than a year. We met up with Cleveland last year at the American Art Fair in New York. My pre-order already placed, the book was not yet ready, he said.
The History of American Tonalism is the first definitive account of the tonalist movement that galvanized America’s artistic life in the decades around 1900. The book presents the works of sixty of America’s finest artists, in concert with the voices of Emerson, Thoreau, John Burroughs, William James and the finest critics of the period.
In addition to Inness, Whistler, La Farge, Wyant, J. Francis Murphy and the better known tonalists, the book takes a look at sixty lesser known but highly talented artists. The book even reaches forward to the “post-modern” tonalists like Wolf Kahn.
Of course there hasn’t been time to read it yet, but by perusing the pages it appears many, and we can probably safely say most of the images are from private collections or galleries.
David A. Cleveland is an art historian, independent curator, critic, and novelist.
I took the book into the bathroom scale, it seems to weigh about eight pounds-more than several of our cats.