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Pennsylvania Impressionists and Old Masters Lead William Bunch's May 3 Fine Art Auction
Nancy Maybin Ferguson (American/Philadelphia, 1869-1967), They Walk Past the Band Stand, oil on canvas, 30 by 36 inches. William H. Bunch Auctions image.

CHADDS FORD, PA.- The walls at William H. Bunch’s auction gallery are alive with color, in preparation for a Tuesday, May 3 auction of nearly 400 paintings and other fine-quality works by American and European artists. Three primary consignors were the source for the vibrant and varied selection of American Impressionist art – including Bucks County/New Hope School; Old Masters and other Continental pictures; and illustration art.

The single-owner collection of Bucks County/Pennsylvania art features paintings by some of the most collected artists of the genre. Highlights include Bucks County Bridge, an oil-on-canvas winter landscape by Walter Emerson Baum (1884-1956); a dramatic circa-1925 oil-on-board seascape depicting Pigeon Cove, Mass., by George William Sotter (1879-1953); and an atmospheric snow scene of a horse-drawn sleigh entering a covered bridge by Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965). Redfield’s oil-on-panel painting is titled From Lumberville to Raven Rock and dates to around 1915. It was authenticated by Dr. Thomas Folk, who also documented its trail of provenance.

A highly important New Hope school artwork by Charles Rosen (1878-1950) is titled Delaware Thawing (Delaware Quarries). The 32- by 40-inch oil on canvas is artist-signed and dated “Charles Rosen ’06” and has a long and distinguished history of exhibition, including at the Phillip’s Mill Community Association’s 75th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition of 1983. An exceptional painting that showcases Rosen’s mastery of pastel tones, it is expected to make $100,000-$150,000.

Other Pennsylvania art includes Robert Spencer’s (1879-1931) oil on canvas painted around 1917-18 titled Waterloo Row and S. George Phillips’ (1890-1965) oil-on-board picture from the 1930s titled New England Coast. Auctioneer William Bunch observed that the Pennsylvania art collection “presents beautifully – each painting has been well conserved and tastefully framed.”

An exciting addition to the sale is the collection of illustration art from the living estate of Richard C. Baldwin (b. 1911-). Now 90 years old, Baldwin studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia under Walker Hancock and George Harding. Upon the advice of fellow student N.C. Wyeth, Baldwin headed west in his youth to fulfill a dream he harbored. “He boarded a train and traveled to places where he could paint scenes of cowboys, Indians and Mexican culture as witnessed firsthand,” said Bunch. That period of Baldwin’s career is reflected in several paintings to be auctioned on May 3, including the 30- by 46-inch Stage Holdup and the animated market scene measuring 32- by 56-inches and titled Guadalupe, Mexico.

After his sojourn to the West, Baldwin returned to Philadelphia where he worked as a commercial artist for the advertising agency N.W. Ayer. He would subsequently serve as master sculptor and design director for Franklin Mint, working collaboratively with Norman Rockwell on the company’s respected Boy Scout series and Bicentennial medals.

“Richard Baldwin has had a very successful and diverse career,” said Bunch. “When his son called and asked if we would auction his father’s collection, we knew we would see an interesting cross section of art. Mr. Baldwin worked in nearly every medium and was adept in every style he embraced, from Western and commercial art to 1950s street gangster art and even cheesecake.”

Bunch said the most difficult aspect of cataloging the Baldwin collection was placing values on the various works. “There are people out there who definitely known Richard Baldwin’s name, but his art hasn’t appeared at auction; it’s untested in the marketplace. This sale will be a nice opportunity for collectors to buy excellent-quality illustration art at a fair price. Most of the lots are estimated in the $300 to $600 range.”

Another strong component of the sale is the collection of approximately one dozen Old Masters from a long-held Texas collection. An unidentified 17th/18th-century oil on canvas of the Madonna with Child surrounded by cherubs measures 47 by 38 inches and is presented in a heavy, horsehair-reinforced gilt frame. “This is a painting that could easily be on the wall of The Louvre or some other great museum,” said Bunch, who has estimated it at $20,000-$40,000.

Other Old Masters to be offered run the gamut from simple portraits of men in period dress to large, exotic garden scenes painted by a follower of Melchior D’Hondecoeter (Dutch, 1636-1695). Two luxuriant oils created by the latter artist are entered in the sale, each measuring 64½ by 98½ inches. One of the paintings features cockatoos and other tropical birds in its foreground, while the other depicts peacocks and flamingos amid lush foliage, flowers and fruit trees.

“This collection is going to be a real treasure hunt for people who pay attention to Old Masters. Something here is going to catch fire,” Bunch predicted.

A religious-themed highlight from the array of Continental art is Ecce Homo, an oil on canvas of Christ in the Crown of Thorns, painted in the manner of Guido Reni (Italian, 1575-1642). The 20½- by 18½-inch oil on canvas is presented in a heavy molded-plaster gilt rococo frame with an Uruguayan gallery label that reads: “Arts Dorados Artistico.”

British art is led by a Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958) artist-signed oil on canvas, 18 by 14 inches, titled Matchstick Boy. As its name suggests, the circa-1900 painting depicts a young boy – rosy cheeked and dressed in rain gear – peddling a box of matches.

The sale selection is rounded out by several fine bronzes, including an Ignatius Taschner (German, 1871-1913) sculpture titled Young Woman on Bull, and a bronze bust titled Cuauhtemoc, Aztec Ruler of Tenochtitlan, circa 1520-21.

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