Past Auction

American Paintings, Furniture & Decorative Arts

Wed, Apr 06, 2016 at 10am EDT |
New York
View Lots

'The Spirit of 76' by Tompkins Harrison Matteson Tops the Sale of American Paintings, Furniture and Decorative Arts

  • 'The Spirit of 76' by Tompkins Harrison Matteson Tops the Sale of American Paintings, Furniture and Decorative Arts on April 6, 2016
  • World Auction Records Were Achieved for Paintings by Paul Raphael Meltsner, Minna Wright Citron and Jackson Lee Nesbitt
  • Consignments Are Currently Being Accepted for the Fall Sale of American Paintings, Furniture and Decorative Arts

Tompkins Harrison Matteson’s masterpiece, The Spirit of ’76, took top lot at Doyle’s April 6, 2016 auction of American Paintings, Furniture and Decorative Arts. This sale category is Doyle's premier venue for American paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including fine examples of portraiture; Hudson River, western and regional landscapes; marine paintings and still lifes. Also showcased in the sale was a wide range of American furniture and decorative arts from the Colonial period through the Federal and Classical styles. Silver, ceramics, mirrors, Chinese export porcelain and rugs were also offered, in addition to Audubon, Currier & Ives and topographical prints.

With competitive bidding from the salesroom, the telephones and the Internet, the sale totaled a strong $940,188, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $521,325-819,075, with an exceptional 87% sold by lot and 91% sold by value.


The Spirit of ’76 by Tompkins Harrison Matteson (1813-1884) attracted competitive bidding at the auction from private collectors, dealers and institutions, which drove the price soaring past its estimate of $10,000-15,000 to fetch a stunning $149,000. The work depicts an heroic young man taking leave of his family to volunteer for military service during the Revolutionary War. Matteson‘s first major sale, this painting was acquired by the American Art-Union in 1845 and made into a wildly popular engraving. Matteson became well known for his portraits and  genre scenes based on historic events, but none of his later works achieved the renown of The Spirit of 76.

Also exceeding its estimate was a large-scale view of Yosemite’s Bridal Veil Falls by renowned 19th century landscape painter Thomas Hill (1829-1908). Hill traveled to California in 1861 and visited Yosemite the following year. Hill built a studio there in 1883, and the park became his primary residence, with winters spent in San Francisco. This depiction of Bridal Veil Falls, one of Hill’s most beloved themes, found favor from the bidders who sent the price to $53,125 against an estimate of $20,000-40,000.

World auction records for three artists were set at the sale. A marvelous WPA-era work by Paul Raphael Meltsner (1905-1966) titled Man and Machine fetched $28,125, a tempera on masonite from 1936 titled Final Adjustments by Minna Wright Citron (1896-1991) achieved $25,000, and the 1933 Open Hearth Door - Sheffield by Jackson Lee Nesbitt (1913-2008) realized $20,000.


Furniture in the auction was highlighted by a handsome New England Queen Anne figured maple high chest from the Stachelberg Family Collection that achieved $13,750, many times its estimate of $3,000-4,000. From another collection was a set of eight armchairs that exemplify the taste for Neoclassical design in Philadelphia during the second quarter of the 19th century. It is unusual to find a set of eight Classical armchairs, particularly made of luminous figured maple. The set sold for $11,250, at the high end of their estimate of $8,000-12,000.

Export Porcelain

Achieving exceptional results at the auction and a perennial favorite among Chinese export porcelain collectors were pieces in the Tobacco Leaf pattern, which was originally made in the 18th century for the Portuguese market. The pattern is recognizable by its  large tropical leaves, which are not necessarily those of the Nicotiana, punctuated by brilliantly hued flowers and the occasional phoenix. Competitive bidding sent a group of item estimated at $800,1,200 to a stunning $18,750, and an individual platter decorated with a robed figure at the center estimated at $600-900 to $6,250.


In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany established Tiffany & Co., which became the leading purveyor of jewelry, silver and luxury goods to New York’s elite. The silver section of the sale offered an elaborate tea and coffee service made 1854-1870 by Tiffany & Co., which fetched $6,875, surpassing its estimate of $4,000-6,000.

All prices include the buyer's premium.

Next Americana Auction: Fall 2016

Doyle's next auction of American Paintings, Furniture & Decorative Arts is scheduled for Fall 2016. Consignments are currently being accepted. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection.

For information, please contact:

Anne DePietro, American Paintings, 212-427-4141, ext. 249, or [email protected]

David E. Gallager, American Furniture & Decorative Arts, 212-427-4141, ext. 271, or [email protected]

Consignments are currently being accepted

To have your property evaluated for possible consignment in the next auction, please contact:

David Gallager

Media Contact

Louis LeB. Webre
SVP, Marketing & Media
212-427-4141, ext 232
[email protected]

  • A New England Collection
  • Collection of Sheldon and Marcia Sacks
  • Estate of a Boston Collector
  • Estate of a New Jersey Collector
  • Estate of Camila Pinto
  • Estate of David Llewellyn Reese, New York
  • Estate of Gloria T. Confort
  • Estate of Leon Oxman
  • Estate of Louise Bookstaver
  • Estate of Pamela Banker
  • Estate of Raymond Kay
  • Estate of Susan W. and Charles G. Stachelberg, Jr.
  • Private Collection, New York
  • Property from a New Jersey Collector
  • Property from the Collection of Bridget Sweeney
  • Property from the Estate of Ruth Sternberg
  • Property from the Stachelberg Family Collection
  • Property from Tingey House, residence of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington D.C.
  • Property of a Mid-Atlantic Museum to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund
  • Property of a Private Long Island Collector
  • Property of an East Hampton Estate
  • Property of Robert E. Schmidt, New York
  • Property of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Spanierman Gallery, LLC

A Selection of Auction Highlights