Folk art painting by the renowned self-taught artist Sam Doyle reaches a record $204,000 at auction
A 28 inch by 50 inch folk art rendering by renowned self-taught artist Sam Doyle (1906-1985), soared to $204,000 – a new world auction record for the artist – at Slotin Folk Art Auction’s Delta Blues to Visual Blues Auction, held April 26-27.
The painting, created from house paint on found roofing tin, was in excellent condition and depicted Mr. Doyle’s grandmother, a midwife, holding a newborn infant. It was the top lot of the April 26 session, dedicated to Visual Blues (folk art, typically from the Deep South). The April 27 session was themed Delta Blues and featured photographs, concert posters, records and more.
“We married two entirely American-born and inspired phenomena, folk art and the blues, into one massive two-day sale, and it went very well,” said Amy Slotin of Slotin Folk Art Auction, based in Gainesville, GA. “It was one of our most successful auctions to date. Bids poured in literally from around the world, prices were strong and several world records were shattered.”
The auction came on the heels of another successful sale held by the firm Nov. 9-10, 2013, also in Buford. That event, a Masterpiece Sale (Slotin Folk Art Auction has held many of those) was packed with around 1,200 lots of folk art creations. The top lot of that auction was an enamel on wood painting by Howard Finster (1916-2001) titled Vision of Mary’s Angel. It fetched $51,600.
“It is heartening to know that, even now with the economy still in a state of recovery and many collecting categories seeing a downturn in sales, prices and the market for self-taught art seems to be on an upswing and stronger than ever,” Ms. Slotin said. “The November Masterpiece Sale grossed $1.1 million, which astounded us, then the April auction did even better - $1.2 million.”
Following are additional highlights from the April 26-27 auction. All prices quoted include a 20 percent buyer’s premium. Internet bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com. Online bids, phone bids and left bids combined totaled around 3,000. About 200 people attended the auction.
An important and rare folk art sugar chest in the form of a desk, made circa 1825-1850 by an unknown craftsman (or possibly slaves) in South Carolina, and the only known example of its kind to exhibit such an extraordinary inlay design, changed hands for $36,000. The inlay and apron profiles suggest upstate South Carolina, an area of Southern slave-holding plantations.
An enamel on Masonite painting by William Hawkins, titled Rider on Horseback (1980), signed and dated (with Hawkins’s birth date), measuring 48 inches by 36 inches (less the frame), gaveled for $43,200; and a graphite and silver pencil on paper by Chris Hipkiss (British husband and wife artists, both born 1964), titled Trans Whispered, rose to $19,200, a new auction record.
Additional record prices were achieved for Herman Bridgers (1912-1990) and the second-tier artist Myrtice West (1923-2000). Bridgers’s Two Churchmens (1978), made from cut-out wood with off-white paint, tar and nail head eyes, hammered for $13,200; while Ms. West’s Christ Returns As Church Gets Ready, a paint and glitter on canvas spiritual work, coasted to $11,400.
Two other lots achieved identical selling prices of $11,400. One was a pair of decorated Lee Godie photographs (circa 1970), both black and white with some hand-coloring by Godie and each one 4 inches by 5 inches (one signed). The other was an oil on canvas panel by Minnie Evans, titled Solomon’s Temple (1963), signed and dated and measuring 20 inches by 16 inches.
A signed, dated (1980) and titled (Hurrying Home) oil on canvas painting boasting beautiful colors by Mattie Lou O’Kelley, with intricate details and great hill scenery, 32 inches by 24 inches, went for $18,600; while a pair of Indian motif whiskey jugs by Cheever Meaders (circa 1960s), done in an ash glaze and initialed on the bottom, each one 8 ½ inches tall, made $13,200.
A hand-stitched cotton cloth plantation quilt with paper pattern backing by the centenarian folk artist Clementine Hunter (1886-1988), measuring 66 inches by 84 inches (framed) realized $10,080; and an interesting eight-blade fan made from paint on cardstock by Sister Gertrude Morgan, a Slotin Folk Art favorite, breezed to $9,600.
Following are additional highlights from the Nov. 9-10 Masterpiece Sale.
Howard Finster’ top lot, Vision of Mary’s Angel, was signed, dated (Oct. 14, 1987), titled and numbered by the legendary late Georgia-born artist and Baptist minister. It was one of several of his works in the auction. Finster’s enamel on wood with glitter titled Time Waits For Nothing (1981, numbered 1,862), impressive at 23 inches by 81 inches, in great condition, hit $18,600.
Sam Doyle was also represented in the November auction. His initialed and titled house paint on found roof tin work, Mr. Fool, undated but in excellent condition and measuring 26 inches by 43 inches (framed) sold for $20,400. Also pulling double-duty at both auctions was Sister Gertrude Morgan, whose triptych The Rising of Lazarus, etc., created circa 1970-1975, achieved $24,000.
New record prices were achieved for Prophet Royal Robertson (1936-1997) and Joseph Yoakum (1889-1972). Robertson’s 120 Page Notebook was exactly that – the artist’s sketch and notebook (circa 1980), done in ink and marker on writing paper ($24,300). Yoakum’s colored pencil and ink on paper, McHunt in Big Horn Mountain Range Near Sheridan, Wyoming, rose to $22,800.
One more record price was set Nov. 9-10. It was Tim Lewis’s Double-Sided Guardian Angels, a beautiful carved sandstone figural creation done in 2000. The signed and dated work commanded $9,600. Also, a signed and dated oil on canvas painting by Mattie Lou O’Kelley, titled Sun Setting Hill Farm, measuring 40 inches by 33 inches and in excellent condition, fetched $20,400.
Slotin Folk Art Auction’s next big event will be a Fall Masterpiece Sale, planned for Nov. 8-9, also at the Historic Buford Hall in Buford, Ga. Already consigned is a wonderful selection of early Meaders pottery pieces. The sale may also include a large estate out of Chicago. Quality consignments are now being sought. Call (404) 403-4244 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Slotin Folk Art Auction and the firm’s calendar of upcoming events, log on to www.slotinfolkart.com.
Steve or Amy Slotin