Abigail Rose portrait stars at Skinner's record -breaking $2.9m Folk Art auction

Skinner, Inc has announced the results of its American Furniture and Decorative Arts auction, which was held in Boston on November 5. The highly successful sale brought $2.9 million, including Buyers' Premiums.

The rare 18th century portrait of Abigail Rose, of North Branford, Connecticut, sold for $1,271,000. The portrait broke the previous record for American folk art portraiture, set in January of 2007, and is one of three folk art portraits to have passed the million dollar mark at auction.

The painting, from 1786, depicts a fourteen-year-old Abigail seated in a Queen Anne chair next to a table on which rests a group of books and a Battersea patchbox.

The asymmetrical composition is unique for the time period. Well-preserved, in original condition, and not seen publicly since the 1930s, the portrait descended through the family of the sitter.

According to Stephen Fletcher, Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Skinner, "I knew the portrait of Abigail Rose had potential, as it is the finest early American folk portrait offered here at Skinner in forty years.

There were a couple of quiet predictions in the trade that the picture might well bring a million dollars, and we were delighted that it brought a record-setting price."


The rare 18th century portrait of Abigail Rose, sold for $1,271,000

Fletcher continued: "Apart from the success of the portrait, this sale showed strong results across the board and demonstrated that the market for rare and distinctive American antiques and art remains healthy."

The landmark Rod MacKenzie Collection of Early Photography did especially well. The 150 lots of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes realized over $220,000.

As a collector, MacKenzie has a sophisticated taste for images that speak to the viewer emotionally, historically, and artistically. Rare portraits of a class of school children and an architect at work each sold for $15,405, and a daguerreotype of two hunters with their dog brought $18,960.

The picture was very carefully composed in a painterly manner - truly the work of a daguerreian artist. Portraits of military officers, soldiers, men at their occupations, young couples and families, and children at school showed strong results.

American furniture also did well: a Queen Anne cherry scroll-top high chest of drawers sold for $33,180, and a pair of Federal mahogany carved and flame birch inlaid card tables, attributed to the cabinetmakers Joshua Cumston and David Buckminster, with excellent provenance, sold for $28,440.

A Rare Chippendale carved cahogany reverse serpentine bureau made in the Boston area sold for $94,800.

The sale continued a very successful 2011 for Skinner, Inc.

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