With new additions to the team and a million-dollar sale, 2016 was quite the year at Cowan’s Auctions! We worked with over 3,000 consignors from across the United States and as far away as New Zealand to auction off over 15,000 items across 35 auctions both online and in our Cleveland and Cincinnati salesrooms.
Below are just a few of the success stories Cowan’s had this year. You can see the complete listing of all lots we handled this year along with their Prices Realized by visiting our Past Auctions tab.
Price Realized: $1,102,500
William Adolphe Bouguereau is regarded as the foremost representative of French academic art during the second half of the 19th century. He was a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and exhibited his work at the Salon for most of his life.
This portrait is an exceptional example of Bouguereau’s work, showing unflinching attention to detail, and demonstrating lofty levels of technicality. While often described as a member of the Realist movement, Bouguereau in fact contributed to the development of a particular strand of realism combining the official style of the Academy, where classical themes and techniques tended to prevail, with a more socially concerned, relatively recent, form of artistic expression. Sunbeam is a superb illustration of this merging of meticulous composition and social commentary. The subject’s appearance – her bare feet, loosely tied hair, and relaxed posture – denote her modest origins, while the natural scenery, neoclassical banister and jardinière, all rendered in precise detail, suggest a deep commitment to a more academic mode of representation.
Sunbeam was completed in the spring of 1899 at the apex of the artist’s career. The painting was accomplished in Menton in the south of France, where Bouguereau had accompanied his son for a curative retreat. During his sojourn, the artist set up a makeshift studio at the Hôtel des Îles Britanniques where he completed six portraits of “a few little models,” including the young girl featured in Sunbeam.
Price Realized: $201,250
.36 caliber, 7.375″ octogonal barrel, S/N cryptic letter L. Top of frame marked T.W. Cofer Patent. Barrel marked Portsmouth Va. Brass frame, walnut grips, iron barrel, and cylinder. Top of frame is notched for sighting. Removable left brass sideplate unlike any other Confederate handgun produced.
Included with the revolver is a leather holster that has been with this Cofer since it was captured. Written in ink on the reverse side of the holster by the belt look: 21 July 1864. This Revolver and holster was captured from a Rebel Signal Officer, Capt S.H. Merrill 11th Maine Regiment.
One of the few Confederate handguns that were produced under contract and actually delivered and issued to Confederate troops, the Cofer has always been known as the “Walker” of Confederate revolvers. There are a total of fifteen Cofer revolvers variations – the first type with at least three variations – the first type with a bored-through cylinder which fired a cartridge with recessed percussion nipple; the second type with a cartridge with percussion nipple on the back of the cartridge; and the third type with a percussion cylinder.
Price Realized: $126,000
Price Realized: $115,000
.42 caliber, the extra barrel is .476 caliber, 19.687″ octagonal-to-round barrel length; the extra barrel is round and 17.375″. S/N 108; all numbers match. Next to the serial number on the right flat is LM under a five-pointed star. Top barrel flat is marked Colonel LeMat B syste[me] S.D.G.G. Finished in a highly polished blue, with extra fancy French highly varnished walnut stock. Eyes for sling swivels in the butt stock and on the middle barrel band. Two-leaf folding rear barrel sight and and small dovetailed sight with blade. Cleaning rod on the right side in between the barrels. Loading lever on the left side of the barrel. Some of the screw heads are engraved.
The LeMat carbine and its use by Confederate troops was of special interest to Cliff Young. In his chapter on this weapon in Murphy’s 2002 edition of Confederate Carbines & Musketoons (Young, 2002: 158-165) Young notes that the LeMat carbine was the only foreign-made long gun and repeating arm made for the Confederacy. Young indicates that no more than 125 were probably manufactured under Confederate Army and Navy contracts. Because of the Union blockade of America’s coastline during the Civil War, most never reached the shores of America.
Young’s research recorded about 20 surviving examples as of 2002 with serial numbers ranging from a low of 2, to a high of 112. This example, serial number 108, fits squarely into the range of weapons produced for the Confederacy.
Price Realized: $102,000
Carved from a single piece of walnut this ball club is gracefully formed with slightly beveled handle and embellished with 178 square-shanked brass tacks. Depicted along one side is incised imagery of a crooked lance and a split linear element as well as an otter, or Underwater Panther, that tops the crest of the club.
The ball club was originally discovered in a dump in the early 20th century before being given to the consignor. An avid woodworker, the consignor admired it more for its craftsmanship than any monetary value it may hold.
Similar examples can be found published in The Plains Indians: Artists of the Earth and Sky (Torrence 2015: 148); Splendid Heritage: Perspectives on American Indian Arts (Warnock 2009: 53); and in Plains Indian Sculpture (Ewers 1986: 27, fig. 19).
Price Realized: $102,000
Lot of 23 items belonging to Brevet Brigadier General James Harvey Kidd (1840-1913).
Kidd accepted a commission as a Captain on August 28, 1862. A few months later, he mustered into the 6th Michigan Cavalry Company “E” under General Joseph D. Copeland. He and his fellow officers assumed a difficult task training men who “enlisted from love of country rather than from a love of arms.” Shortly thereafter, General George A. Custer took command.
The centerpiece of the collection is Gen. Kidd’s “Custer Valor Medal.” The badge was designed by Custer while in the field in 1864 and produced by Tiffany & Co. to his exact specifications. Made of 14k gold and blue enamel, it features a Maltese cross with “Custer” across the middle and the Latin motto “Tuebor” at the bottom, the motto of Custer and Kidd’s home state of Michigan meaning “I Will Defend.” Reverse is engraved “Col. J.H. Kidd / 6th Mich. Cav.” The top of the Maltese cross morphs into a five-pointed star with a “6” representing Kidd’s 6th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry, and is suspended from a gold crossed sabers pinback by a gold cavalry ribbon.