|By Susan Emerson Nutter
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Howard Chandler Christy oil on canvas was the top lot of a Cowan’s offering at its Cleveland salesroom in January.
Titled The Madonna of the Trail, it realized $21,600, almost double the high end estimate. This 1930 painting is a fantastic example of the Morgan County, Ohio-born artist’s talent as an illustrator. Working out of studios in New York City and Ohio producing magazine illustrations and portraits, the artist is best known for his depictions of women which are now known as the “Christy girl.”
According to Cowan’s, “The Madonna of the Trail was commissioned for the Military Tournament at Governor’s Island, New York Harbor, on June 20-21, 1930 to benefit the Army Relief.The unknown buyer gifted the painting to Edwin P. Morrow (1877-1935), a politician who served as the governor of Kentucky from 1919 to 1923. According to his descendants, Morrow assisted with the “Madonna of the Trail” project run by the Daughters of the American Revolution, where 12 identical monuments depicting pioneer women were erected throughout the United States from 1928 to 1929. (There is no evidence to suggest the creation of the painting was affiliated with this project.) The painting has descended through the family.”
A work by another illustrator found favor this day. The oil on board, Child Dreaming of Christmas Toys, by Andrew Loomis (American, 1892-1959) did very well realizing $10,455 against an estimate of $1,000 to $2,000. Loomis, born in Syracuse, N.Y., was an illustrator, author, and art instructor with his commercial work being used in advertising and magazines. Loomis is best known, though, as the author of a series of instructional art books.
A 1956 dated oil on canvas by Ohio artist Clyde J. Singer (American, 1908-1999) titled Hurricane Jackson; capturing the boxing match (held June 8, 1956 at Madison Square Garden, New York) between Tommy “Hurricane” Jackson and Floyd Patterson sold above estimate at $3,480.
Singer was born in Malvern, Ohio, and is known for his American Scene style of work like this image. He studied at the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and attended the Arts Student League in New York City being mentored there by Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry. Singer is most identified with the Youngstown, Ohio, area as in 1940 he was appointed the Assistant Director of the Butler Institute of American Art, and resided in Youngstown the rest of his life.
River Crossing, oil on board by Donald Teague (American, 1897-1991) made $8,610 and was a wonderful example of this artist’s love of cowboys and frontier towns of the Old West; specifically the pioneer era of American history. Teague was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.; studied and lived there, but did move west later in life and died in 1991 in Carmel, Calif.
Other artwork that saw strong sales include two circa 1805 oil on board paintings of Samuel and Julia Ewing which sold together for $7,200. Though the two 9 ½ inch by 6 ½ inch portraits were unsigned, they were attributed to Jasper Miles (American, 1782-1849). Miles was an artist born in Connecticut and who lived and painted in New York, Pennsylvania, and lastly, Ohio.
On the back of one painting was the inscription, “Painted about 1805 in Ohio/ Restored in 1905 by Mr. Smith English / Cleaned Dec 22 1932 by G(?)ard and Kate Ewing / Alex Ewing Scotland 1780.”
Decorative arts made up a major portion of this Cowan Cleveland auction. Porcelain Royal Worcester warbler figurines painted by Dorothy Doughty (1892-1962) of a male and female Parula warbler on a branch amongst flowers sold for $2,460. The species, artist, signature, and factory marks were on the underside of the porcelain base with addition date and signature on the side of base. The figures sold with their original wooden boxes.
And an early 20th century American sterling tea and coffee service by Black, Starr & Frost brought a solid $5,228. The set included a teapot, coffeepot, teapot on a warming stand, creamer, lidded sugar, waste bowl, and handled tray. Each piece was marked “Exclusive Design”, “STERLING/3-041” and the total weightable silver was 236.660 ounces.
Cowan’s Cleveland office opened in 2014 and hosts two live salesroom auctions annually, as well as a variety of timed and online auctions. Cowan’s Cleveland’s next live salesroom auction will take place Aug. 2.