Death of a Warrior, Dearth of Competition for American Portraiture

Doyle Auctions sent out a release today regarding a recent sale. The headline was Robert Havell Jr’s Death of a Warrior brought more than $80,000 November 18–the Second Highest Price achieved for a work by the artist. Less noticed was the fact that a work by Charles Willson Peale went for what seems a very good price. From what I can tell the portrait of Philadelphia Merchant Andrew Caldwell sold for less than half of the second lowest price for a work by this American old master. Moreover the work at Doyle came with a bonus 18th Century portrait for just $10,000. A Peale portrait of Gunning Bedford, Jr.’ sold for $9,000 is 2005. Most of the American portraits at the sale sold near or less than the low estimates. Lot 7, American School 19th Century Portrait of a Woman, brought just $125. A portrait of a woman by Mary Jane Peale went unsold.  Lot 2, 19th Century Portraits of a Gentleman and a Lady, said to be the Reverend Brown Emerson and His Wife, went just above the high estimate at $1,250 and a Portrait of a Lady by Thomas Sully went right down the middle at $2,000.

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