|By Susan Emerson Nutter
DOUGLASS, Kan. — What better place to sell artwork by an artist with ties to Kansas, than in Kansas! That was Jason Woody’s game plan when he began amassing items for a very special Woody Auction, LLC event.
The sale was the grand opening of their new Douglass auction facility, and to celebrate, this auction house presented some very special pieces – four oil paintings by Swedish-born Kansas painter Birger Sandzén (1871-1954).
Born in Blidsberg, Sweden, Sandzén studied art in Stockholm and in Paris. At the age of 23, Sandzén came to Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., to both teach languages and help out in the art and vocal music departments. And here he stayed becoming the principal art instructor in 1899 before retiring in 1946.
A prolific painter throughout his life and up until his death in 1954, Sandzén completed more than 2,600 oil paintings and 500 watercolors, as well as 207 lithographs, 94 block prints, and 27 drypoints, according to www.sandzen.org.
Offered by Woody Auction were four oils whose combined selling prices reached $371,000. It also should be noted that these particular paintings had been in private collections for more than 50 years. Understandably, Sandzén enthusiasts were eager to have a go at owning these works as the final price realized for the top image titled Cedar and Rocks, Manitou Colo., indicates. Dated 1922, this work realized $160,000. Prices do not include a buyer’s premium.
According to Woody Auction, “This painting comes from the collection of Mrs. Karin Rieger and the late Dr. Ernest Rieger of Wichita, Kan. The Reigers acquired it in 1977 from a private Hutchinson, Kan., collection.” Woody also noted the painting had been professionally restored in 2015.
Also offered was the untitled Sandzén oil on board showing three cedar trees near a rocky lake’s edge which sold for $90,000. There are various references to a Sandzén painting titled Glimpse of Mountain Lake which could be this image. The painting had been owned by German language professor Robert Davis at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan.
Lake in the Rockies oil on canvas dated 1921 that featured the meringue technique of applying thick paint strokes for texture and depth realized $75,000, while his circa 1930 Horses in Wyoming oil on board went to $26,000. This image was based on the travels of Sandzén to Wyoming.
Art enthusiasts across the nation showed interest in these works, but the locals had something to say about that. Three of the Sandzén paintings sold to Kansas residents, while the fourth was purchased by a former Kansas resident who now lives in Wyoming. Jason Woody of Woody Auction said, “I spent nearly a year finding the Sandzén paintings for this auction. We developed a real nice sale based around the paintings. Bidder interest was pretty intense.”
Though the Sandzén paintings were the featured items, loads of other wonderful pieces found new homes this day; like the fantastic figural lamp signed Galle which sold for $17,000. Wearing a signed Galle French cameo art glass shade with a carved pink and green floral design, the figural bronze base featured a standing woman who was feeding three rabbits. The base was signed “F. Gopnik” and the lamp stood 24 inches high.
A Tiffany art glass vase signed “L.C. Tiffany Favrile 8324J” sold strong when it reached $6,000, while a Mt. Washington Burmese art glass vase decorated with three full-figure fish, sea weed and an enameled net went to $3,750.
Of the furniture offered this day, pieces with a Victorian flair garnered the most attention. A Wooton Standard Grade Patent desk, 69 inches high by 40 inches wide when closed (78 inches wide when open) and 29 inches deep doubled its high estimate bringing $12,000. Made of walnut with burl walnut and bird’s-eye maple highlights, the circa 1874 desk was marked “By Wooton Desk Company, Indianapolis, Indiana.”
And a two-piece Meeks Rococo style parlor set sold within estimate at $3,250 when offered to the crowd. The set consisted of a laminated rosewood couch in the Stanton Hall Pattern and a matching parlor chair. Both wore red velvet upholstery.
Contact: (316) 747-2694