Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Rare Double Portrait by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865)
The lead highlight of the Americana Week sales is an exceedingly rare, full-length double portrait of Theron Simpson Ludington (1850-1922) and His Older Sister Virginia Ludington (1846-1865) by the prominent 19th century American portrait artist Ammi Phillips (pictured page one, center; estimate: $300,000-500,000).
Unknown among Phillips works until earlier this year, this dynamic, even humorous portrait of two young siblings has been passed down through generations of the Ludington family of Goshen, CT until the present day. Phillips was commissioned sometime around 1852 to paint the family’s members, which included formal portraits of the children’s parents, Theron Daniel Ludington (1826-1900) and Eleanor Bailey Ludington (1826-1863), also to be offered in the sale (estimate: $12,000-18,000).
The full-length double portrait of the children is unusual for its departure from the conventional poses Phillips typically employed in his formal single portraits. Here instead, in a moment of playfulness and insight into the sibling’s relationship, the artist depicted the younger boy leaning away from his older sister to hug the shaggy dog by his side, while a small grey cat bites at a single strawberry that has fallen from the bunch in Virginia’s hand. While hundreds of single portraits by Phillips survive today, only a small number of full-length double portraits of this type are known to exist – a measure of rarity that is sure to attract collectors.
The buyer was Atlanta, Georgia, dealer Deanne Levison. I remember when she worked at Israel Sack in New York. Christie's photo, listing information. The good things always command high prices. This would be lovely above my fireplace.