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Displaying items by tag: Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian

On January 25, Sotheby’s held the auction ‘Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the collection of Ralph O. Esmerian’ in New York. The sale, which included over 208 lots ranging from watercolors, portraits, pottery, furniture and weathervanes to carvings, needlework, sculpture and scrimshaw, fetched $12,955,943, significantly exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $9.5 million. The sale set a new record total for any auction of American folk art. 

The top lot of the auction was a carved figure of Santa Claus by wood carver Samuel Robb, which sold for $875,000, far surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $250,000. Other important sales included Ruth Whittier Shute and Samuel Addison Shute’s portrait of Jeremiah H. Emerson, which brought $665,000; a rare carved pine pheasant hen weathervane from the late 19th century, which sold for $449,000; and ‘The Carver Limner,’ a painting depicting three members of Freeport’s Carver family, which fetched $521,000.

Esmerian, the former chairman emeritus of New York’s American Folk Art Museum, is currently serving a six-year sentence for fraud. The sale at Sotheby’s was ordered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and generated $10.5 million for Esmerian’s creditors including Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

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On January 25, 2014 Sotheby’s will hold the auction Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian in New York. The sale includes over 200 works including watercolors, portraits, pottery, painted furniture, weathervanes, carvings, needlework, sculpture and scrimshaw. Together, the collection marks the most important assemblage of American folk art to ever appear at auction. The sale carries a pre-sale estimate of $6.4 million to $9.5 million.

Nancy Druckman, Head of Sotheby’s Folk Art Department, said, “Ralph Esmerian is known for his profound connoisseurship, discernment and passion for the best in American folk art. Each of the examples in the collection is distinguished by the highest quality in design, pattern, color, texture and form. A pervasive respect and understanding of the inspiration and expertise of the various makers is present in each of the pieces, as they represent both the traditions and inventiveness of American art.”

Highlights from the sale include a drawing of a man with a plough by outsider artist Bill Traylor, an important Federal paint decorated slant front desk attributed to Johannes Braun and a rare fireboard with a view of Boston Harbor from 1825-35.  

The Ralph Esmerian collection will be on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries during Americana Week in New York beginning January 18, 2014.  

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