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  • American Folk Art Collection at Sotheby's
    April 17, 2005 NEW YORK.

    John Bradley, Portrait of a Young Girl in a Green Dress with Pot of Flowers. Important Americana, May 19, 2005.

    This spring, Sotheby's will offer the American Folk Art Collection of Tony and Sally Grassi of Wilton, Connecticut. The grouping boasts superlative examples of folk art including furniture, decorations, utilitarian objects and paintings acquired discreetly over the past 25 years at many of the watershed auctions and from the most respected dealers in the field. Approximately 50 items, expected to bring in the area of $1 million, will be included in a sale of Important Americana on May 19, 2005. Prior to the auction, the collection will be on public exhibition from May 14th to 18th in Sotheby's 10th floor galleries.

    Nancy Druckman, Director of Sotheby's American Folk Art Department, said "Throughout their marriage, both Tony and Sally have shared a reverence for American antiques, and over the last 25 years they quietly assembled a beautiful collection with great consistency of quality across a number of different categories. Now, their decision to sell due to a lifestyle change creates a wonderful opportunity for collectors at all levels to acquire outstanding examples of American Folk Art."

    Chief among the works to be offered is an evocative panoramic landscape overmantel painting by Winthrop Chandler, View of a River with Trees and Figures (est. $200/300,000), which was formerly in the esteemed collection of Nina Fletcher Little. The present work, one of at least eight overmantels painted by Chandler, depicts a fanciful scene of 18th century life complete with gaily caparisoned horses and be-wigged gentlemen among a cast of other characters set in a typical New England landscape. View of a River with Trees and Figures was from the parlor of the home of Ebenezer Waters, a civil engineer and the brother of Samuel Waters, whose portrait Chandler painted, along with that of his wife in 1779.

    Another highlight is an example of a collaborative work produced by the talented and prolific New Hampshire husband and wife team, Ruth W. and Samuel A. Shute, Portrait of a Young Boy with Dark Hair Holding a Blue Cap and Standing in a Grape Arbor (est. $50/75,000). Signed and dated October 13, 1832, the charming scene of a young boy in a landscape with a school book tucked under his arm is thought to be a portrait of Henry O. Winch of Nashua, New Hampshire.

    Another painting included in the offering is Portrait of a Young Girl in a Green Dress with Pot of Flowers (est. $50/70,000) by the New York artist John Bradley. Possessing all of the attributes which make a portrait of a child desirable to collectors, the present work was one of the star lots from the famed Stewart Gregory Collection which was dispersed at Sotheby's in 1979. Also from the Gregory Collection is a charming Fine and Rare Elephant and Giraffe Hooked Rug (est. $12/18,000).

    Among the furniture highlights from the collection is a Painted Tablet-Back Windsor Settee (est. $20/30,000), circa 1820. The piece features a beautifully painted townscape in the crest-rail. One of only four or five known, the settee remains in remarkable condition. Also included is a Fine and Rare Yellow-Painted Pine Miniature Blanket Chest (est. $12/18,000) by Jacob Weber of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Dating to the early 19th century, the chest is painted on the front with a house flanked by trees and the sides with a red tulip.