Auctions | Penna. academy painters at Freeman's

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"By the Stream," a painting by British artist Harry Watson, in Freeman's American and European paintings sale on Dec. 2.

Freeman's will again combine its late fall sale of American and European paintings, set for Dec. 2, with a session devoted to artists from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In fact, about half the nearly 140 lots in the sale are by PAFA painters, including a work expected to draw one of the highest bids.

That painting is Figures in the Glen, by Roy C. Nuse (1885-1975), depicting three boys swimming nude in a sun-dappled glade, a theme Nuse employed more than once, using his own children as models. The piece is expected to sell for $60,000 to $100,000 at the sale, which will begin at 2 p.m. at the gallery, 1808 Chestnut St.

It would be tempting to dismiss a theme such as skinny-dipping. But an essay by Erika Jaeger Smith excerpted in the Freeman's catalog says Nuse was creating scenes from Arcadia. "The suggestion of mythological creatures gamboling through the woods is heightened by the use of sunlight as an overall pattern, dappling water, trees and children alike," Smith writes.

The session opens with more than a dozen lots of works by two earlier PAFA alumni: Russell Smith (1812-1896), who specialized in Philadelphia scenes, and his son Xanthus (1839-1929), who focused on sea scenes. (Freeman's affinity for the academy stems from their mutual establishment in 1805, the cause for cooperation since their joint bicentennial two years ago.)

Scenes by Russell Smith of Pennypack Creek and the Wissahickon are expected to sell for $4,000 to $6,000; Xanthus Smith scenes of the Maine seacoast have presale estimates of $1,000 to $5,000. The session also features a gouache-on-paper depiction of a sailing vessel by Xanthus Russell Smith Jr. (1886-1961) that is expected to sell for $400 to $600.

Works by other PAFA artists include a seascape by William Trost Richards ($8,000 to $12,000); Windsor Castle From Datchet Meade by Edward Moran ($10,000 to $15,000); Pelicans and Turtle by Walter Inglis Anderson ($20,000 to $30,000); a still life by Arthur Carles and Snowy Banks by Arthur Meltzer ($12,000 to $18,000 each); and Reflection on a River by Antonio Pietro Martino ($15,000 to $25,000).

Estimates for three autumn landscapes by Fern Coppedge range from $20,000 to $80,000. And to conclude the sale, there's a merry drawing by Daniel Garber, done as a family Christmas greeting, that is expected to bring a modest $1,500 to $2,500.

The auction will open with more than 30 lots of European paintings, notably the British artist Harry Watson's By the Stream (it's reminiscent of the Nuse, except the three children are clothed). It carries the auction's high presale estimate, $100,000 to $150,000.

Following will be almost 40 lots of American painting and sculpture, including Ogden Minton Pleissner's fishing scene A Long Run - "Curtis Pool" ($50,000 to $80,000) and Pan of Rohallion, a bronze by Frederick William Macmonnies ($18,000 to $25,000).

Previews will be from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through next Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 1. For more information, call 215-563-9275; view the catalog at www.freemansauction.com.

Sales in the suburbs. Two auctions will offer bidding opportunities for holiday shoppers.

At 9 a.m. tomorrow at Rhoads and Rhoads Auction Center in Spring City, Ron Rhoads will offer a wide variety of furniture, decorative items, paintings, vintage jewelry and clothing, including a collection of more than 30 fur coats. Preview is from 3 to 6 p.m. today at 20 Bonnie Brae Rd. Information: 610-385-4818.

And beginning at 9 a.m. next Friday in Downingtown, Pook and Pook Inc. will conduct one of its periodic "variety auctions," offering more than 1,000 lots of furniture, artwork and miscellaneous items at far more affordable prices than at its more formal catalog sales. All but one are expected to bring three-figure prices, according to presale estimates at www.pookandpook.com.

For example, a collection of illustrations by Henry Clarence Pitz is expected to sell for $100 to $200; a set of nine Quimper plates, $200 to $400.

The only lot with a four-figure estimate is an unlikely piece described as a Chippendale-style bombe chest-on-chest made by Stickley, a brand not known for curved lines. It is expected to sell for $2,000 to $4,000.

Previews will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 8 a.m. to sale time next Friday at the gallery, 463 E. Lancaster Ave. Information: 610-269-4040.


Contact David Iams at daimas@comcast.net.