Maine art auction proceeds to benefit scholarship fund

CASTINE — A premier Maine auction house this weekend will hold its largest sale to date and 15 of the artworks and other fine pieces numbering 1,544 came from the Castine Woman’s Club.

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries is holding the auction at its home base in the Midcoast town of Thomaston.

“It’s quite a nice collection,” said Maine art historian and author Carl Little, who has written 15 books about Maine art. The collection includes envelopes that feature seagulls and schooners painted in watercolor by the Bangor artist Waldo Peirce, a close friend of Ernest Hemingway.

“He did some wonderful paintings of Maine,” said Little, about Peirce, whose work is featured in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “But he also had a reputation for living on the hog.”

Which means he knew how to party. Peirce himself said he almost didn’t graduate from Harvard because he was too busy playing pool. He attended the bullfights in Spain and hit up the bars of Paris with Hemingway, and he married four times. But he’s not the only big name — at least in the art world — in the collection. There also are original photographs of the playwright Tennessee Williams, and of the classic American modernist painter John Marin.

“Notes from the Coast, No 8,” acrylic, David Gray PHOTO COURTESY THOMASTON PLACE AUCTION GALLERIES
“Notes from the Coast, No 8,” acrylic, David Gray

“I’m really happy for the Castine Woman’s Club to benefit from what looks like a wonderful gift,” said Little. Though the club is selling the collection through the Thomaston Auction Gallery, the collection was first donated to the club by Doug Endicott, an insurance and real estate broker with an eye for collecting, and for philanthropy.

“He’s a very nice man and a very avid art collector,” said Jeanmarie Reed, the president of the Castine Woman’s Club. And apparently he also is a punctilious interior decorator. “The reason he donated the art was he was moving to Old Sarasota, Florida,” said Reed, “and the Maine art wasn’t really in theme with the new house.”

The Castine Woman’s Club will reap the rewards from his donation by putting all the sale revenue from the auction toward its annual scholarship fund. The fund awards up to $3,000 a year to students of all ages who are from the Blue Hill Peninsula and who have been accepted to institutions of higher education.

“People will benefit for years to come off his generosity,” Reed said about Endicott. If only a few of the lots sell at the price the auction gallery estimated them to be worth, it would take care of the fund for several years. One painting by Stonington resident Jill Hoy was estimated to be worth $2,000 to $3,000.

“She has a way of capturing the dynamism of the Maine landscape,” said Little. The painting is titled “Crescent Beach, Deer Isle” which seems to celebrate the vibrant blue waters and pink flowers on a sunny day at the beach. “She tends to hype the colors so they really sing.”

The painting might even sell for more than just the estimate. Bob Grant, the marketing manager at Thomaston Auction Gallery, said that the auction has estimated some lots to be worth $800 that then sold for $80,000.

“That’s the fun of an auction,” Grant said. “If you have two people who have to have something, the sky’s the limit.”

“Seed of Life,” carved and stained wood, Clark Fitz-Gerald PHOTO COURTESY THOMASTON PLACE AUCTION GALLERIES
“Seed of Life,” carved and stained wood, Clark Fitz-Gerald

Granted, some lots sell for less than they were estimated to be worth, but maybe the other lots in the auction — which includes a $5,000 18th century Massachusetts tavern sign, and a $125,000 Albert Bierstadt painting — might drive the bidding higher. That, and the quality of some of the work on display.

“There’s an authenticity to an artist who has immersed themselves in the landscape,” said Little, regarding a painting by the late Maine artist Emily Muir, who a painter, sculptor and architect who designed several houses on Deer Isle. The painting, “Seine Boat, Fishermen Pulling the Nets” takes an almost Cubist approach to the scene.

“There’s a certain sophistication: they’ve really studied the subjects, and that comes through in their work.”

Though the three-day auction is in Thomaston, bidders can participate in the auction online by visiting www.thomastonauction.com. The bidding starts Saturday, Aug. 27, at 11 a.m., and at the same time on Sunday, Aug. 28, and on Monday, Aug. 29. Grant said most of their auctions end at 6 p.m.

David Roza

David Roza

Former reporter, David Roza grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and covered news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.

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