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March auction to feature the Estate of Reverend Peter Gomes
Reverend Gomes. Photo: Courtesy of Tsar Fedorsky Photography.


DEDHAM, MA.- Grogan and Company Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers are pleased to announce their upcoming March Auction will be held on Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th. Session one, of the two-day auction, will be a single owner auction comprised of property from the Estate of the Reverend Peter J. Gomes. His personal collection includes fine art, antiques and books from two residences: Sparks House, Cambridge and Oceanside, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Session two will be comprised of Fine Art, Furniture and Decorations, Silver, Jewelry and Rugs from various estates and collections.

The Reverend Peter J. Gomes (1942 – 2011) was Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church at Harvard University, and has been described as one of the most distinguished Christian preachers in the history of the English-speaking pulpit. Born in Boston and raised in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Reverend Gomes was a man of many hats: pastor, professor, humanitarian, scholar, biblical interpreter, writer, collector, advisor and friend. An avid reader and scholar, Gomes received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bates College and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School, as well as being the recipient of thirty-nine honorary degrees. He participated in the presidential inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, has authored many books including the New York Times bestseller The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (1996); The Good Life: Truths that Last in Times of Need (2002), and The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s so Good about the Good News? (2007). The Reverend Gomes was profiled by Robert Boynton in The New Yorker in November of 1996; described by Morley Safer in a 60 Minutes spot as “amongst one of the most important ecclesiastical voices in the country.”; included in the premiere issue of Talk magazine as part of its feature article, "The Best Talkers in America: Fifty Big Mouths We Hope Will Never Shut Up”; and listed by Time Magazine in 1979 as “one of the seven most distinguished preachers in America.”

Reverend Gomes was a self professed anglophile, a lover of all things English, whose passion for collecting took root as a young boy surrounded by lavish Yankee historic homes. During high school, Gomes worked after school at the Spooner House, one of Plymouth’s historic museums, where the trove of interesting items accumulated over generations sparked his passion for antiquing. In 1974, Reverend Gomes was interviewing for his position at Harvard University, while, simultaneously, the University was advancing on plans to demolish Sparks house, a residence Gomes had long admired. As part of his negotiations, he stated “that [Sparks] house is as critical to the ministry as a laboratory is to a chemist.” Adorned in yellow walls, white woodwork and institutional carpet when he moved in, Gomes transformed the 19th century residence into a feast for the eyes, reminiscent of the old Yankee homes he admired from his childhood. In an article written by Peter Gomes titled an “Unruly Passion for Things”, published in Every Room Tells a Story, Tales from the Pages of Nest Magazine, edited by Joseph Holtzman, Gomes describes the history and philosophy behind his passion for collecting. In a December 1997 article from House and Garden Magazine, titled ‘Master of the House’, Gomes says these words about collecting, “I’m not making a place for the ages but a place for me in my times. My theology is such, that I do believe that God is the author of beauty. It is not beauty that distracts us from the love of God. It is beauty that affirms the presence of god. This [collecting] is not the worship of the material. This is using the gifts of God for the people of God.”

Reverend Gomes enjoyed a well rounded circle of friends including British Royalty, Politicians, Writers, Artists, Students and Intellectuals. “He loved antiques, long, multi-course dinner parties with sparkling conversation, and rich old ladies,” recounted Governor Deval Patrick, in Gomes eulogy, “We listened to the music of his voice, his beautiful choice of words. We listened and we learned about life, faith, love and loss, but mostly about how to be better people.”

Highlights from Reverend Gomes Sparks house collection include a Scottish Tall Case Clock, circa 1820, that he acquired in 1970 for $500, now estimated at $2,000-4,000 and an American Silver Chalice monogrammed PJG and inscribed Good Life December 2002, estimated at $800-1,200. A silver tipped baton with a 1914 inscription that Gome’s used to lead every commencement over the last ten years, along with one of his masters robes and graduation cap will be just one of the memorabilia available. Property from his Oceanside Plymouth residence includes a George III Inlaid Mahogany Secretary Bookcase, estimated at $3,000-5,000; a 19th century English School Portrait of a Gentleman reading New Monthly Magazine, 50 x 40 inches, estimated to sell for $3,000-5,000; and an extensive collection of Chinese Export Porcelain and Canton Blue and White Porcelain, reflective of Gome’s wish to create a traditional Sea Captain’s home where he could entertain his many guests. Between both residences, Reverend Gomes’ collection boasts a large selection of English and American School Ancestral portraits and Landscapes, a large collection of 18th and 19th century English engravings of historical, theological and royal subject matter and books, as well as, numerous decorations, mirrors, chandeliers and lighting, garden furniture and statuary. One of the most unusual items discovered amongst his collection is a 17th century edition of Thomas A. Kempis’s Canonici Regularis Ordinis d Augustini (The Works of Augustine), edited by Henricus Sommalius and published in Antwerp in 1615. The text bears a vellum binding that is purported to be anthropodermic (of human skin), a macabre 18th and 19th century practice. “Anthropodermic bindings are rare,” commented Grogan and Company specialist Allyson Lee, “thus, finding an expert to confirm the claim has been difficult.” The book is currently estimated at $700-1,000.

Session two comprised of property from various estates and collections, will be held on Sunday and will include an assortment of American and European Fine Art, Furniture and Decorations, Silver, Jewelry and Rugs. Fine art highlights include 19th century French artist, Emile Munier’s Girl with Kitten, a 24 x 20 inch oil on canvas circa 1878, estimated at $20,000-40,000; while Furniture and Decorative Arts offerings include two pairs of Russian Porcelain Plates from the period of Nicholas I, by the Imperial Manufactory, each pair estimated at $5,000-7,000. Revolutionary War history collectors will find three Rhode Island documents, one dated 1776 bearing the signature of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, presale estimate $3,000-5,000; while a selection of American and European silver features a 19th century French Silver Coffee Service by Alexandre-Auguste Turquet, estimated at $10,000-15,000 and a selection of fine jewelry features a platinum and yellow gold diamond ring, comprised of a two carat diamond surmounted by two one carat diamonds, presale estimate $20,000-25,000.

The exhibition hours begin Wednesday, March 21st, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m .- 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m .- 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 12 noon. Both sessions auctions begin at 12 noon. For more information regarding the auction, please call the gallery at 781-461-9500 or visit www.groganco.com for a fully illustrated catalogue.






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