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William Bradford's "Gracie in the Lead" lives up to its name at Bonhams New York sale
Thomas Jacques Somerscales (British, 1842-1927), The S.S. Ortega entering the straits of Nelson with the S.M.S. Dresden in pursuit signed and dated with intertwined initials "T.J. Somerscales_1916". Oil on canvas, 15-1/4 x 22 in. (39.7 x 55.8 cm.). Sold for US$ 27,500 inc. premium. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- William Bradford’s excellent maritime composition, “The Goelet Prize for sloop yachts with Gracie in the lead,” was the top lot at Bonhams June 5 Fine Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts auction, selling for $68,500. Depicting the 1883 event that took place in Newport, Rhode Island, the Goelet Cup was an annual race held by the New York Yacht Club and sponsored by Ogden Goelet. This particular year was the first time International code flags were used to signal the course for the race, giving an option for three different courses.

Interest in the auction was truly international, with the majority of bidders coming from the United States. United Kingdom bidders contributed significantly, and clients from South America, Russia and Asia actively participated. Attendees took the lion’s share of the top lots, although telephone bidding was the most popular method of bidding overall, with online bidding a close second.

Fittingly, American painters realized the highest prices in the auction. In addition to Bradford, two James Buttersworth works saw strong results. The artist’s “An American ship being towed out with other shipping,” achieved $62,500, while his colorful “Shipping in Palermo off the Mediterranean,” realized $52,500.

British artists also performed well. The auction’s cover lot, Montague Dawson’s tranquil dusk scene “Eventide” sold for $50,000. “The SS City of Berlin outward bound passing Cape Pine Lighthouse,” by another British artist, Samuel Walters, enjoyed spirited bidding, realizing $31,250. A Thomas Jacques Somerscales work entitled “The SS Ortega entering the straits of Nelson with the SMS Dresden in Pursuit”, believed to have been lost in the 1940 bombing of Liverpool, more than doubled its pre-sale low estimate, selling for $27,500.

The auction’s most surprising result was for a set of Japanese World War II Recognition models of British War Ships that sold for $31,250, more than five times their pre-sale low estimate. Used as a training tool for Japanese soldiers during the war, the carefully carved wooden models came complete with superstructures, armaments and masts. The excellent price realized for the models is sure to boost Bonhams rapidly growing reputation as the premier international auction house for WWII militaria.

Bonhams next auction of Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts will take place in New York in January 2014.

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June 8, 2013

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