Cowan’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts auction realizes nearly double presale estimate

Art Daily
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Alonzo Chappel (American, 1828-1887), George Washington at Princeton, 1777. Price realized: $35,200.
Alonzo Chappel (American, 1828-1887), George Washington at Princeton, 1777. Price realized: $35,200.

CINCINNATI, OH.- On March 9 and 10, Cowan’s, a Hindman company, saw tremendous engagement in its American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts auction and realized more than $790,000. Property from the private collections of Noel and Kathryn Dickinson Wadsworth (Atlanta, Georgia); Paul M. Bentley (Oostburg, Wisconsin); Karen Tosterud (Bellaire, Michigan); and the estate of James A. Sanders (Evansville and New Harmonie, Indiana) all saw strong interest during the two-day auction. Additionally, a collection of trade signs from Arizona State University received great attention.

The Wadsworth collection saw excellent engagement, including Alonzo Chappel’s historically iconic George Washington at Princeton, 1777 one of the artist’s most noteworthy works (lot 123) which led the auction and realized $35,200 against a presale estimate of $5,000-7,000. The artwork was previously exhibited at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University in Alabama. A bronze bust of George Washington after a model by Jean-Antoine Houdon’s (lot 80) was another top performer from the Wadsworth collection, which soared past its presale estimate of $1,000-2,000 and ultimately realized $9,000. The Wadsworth’s curated collection was featured in Time magazine in the early 1980s.

All 55 lots from the Paul Bentley collection sold and realized over double the group’s presale estimate. The highly coveted collection included carved wood figures, carnival games, trade signs, and several other rare and unusual folk art. Lots that saw extremely strong interest from the collection included a sternboard portrait bust of Daniel Webster, previously from the collection of Stephen and Petra Levin (lot 1), which ultimately realized $15,000 against a presale estimate of $6,000-9,000. A cut and colored glass mounted lighted apothecary sign (lot 15) also sold for far above its estimate, realizing $8,125.

Other highlights included a painted wood tobacco store “Leaner” figure, New York, circa 1860s and from the estate of James A. Sanders (lot 318) which sold for $21,760 against a presale estimate of $4,000-6,000. A carved and polychrome painted pine Native American maiden cigar store figure, manner of Samuel Anderson Robb (lot 339) realized $20,000, more than six times its presale estimate.

In Session II, a Federal fan and fylfot inlaid cherrywood chest of drawers (lot 564) sold for more than triple its presale estimate and realized $15,360. Other brown wood furniture that saw strong interest was a Federal marquetry decorated mahogany walnut veneered serving table (lot 144) and a modern Chippendale style shell-and-block carved mahogany chest-on-chest by master cabinetmaker John Gaar Jr. (lot 662) and after the examples by Goddard and Townsend, selling for far above their estimates, and realizing $8,750 and $9,600 respectively.