Take An Exclusive Look At The Wildly Eclectic Art Collection Of A Southern Gentleman And Quintessential New Englander, Forbes
Captivated by Newport, Rhode Island’s craggy coastline, sequestered beaches, and serene harbors, John Frederick Kensett painted many views of the cove across Newport Harbor, punctuated by imposing Beacon Rock, which obscures the storied mansion of the same name built into the rocky bluff.
Beacon Rock, Newport (1856), a 10-inch-by-18-½-inch oil on canvas in an elegant period carved gilt wood and composition frame, is a stunning example of Kensett’s immaculate scenes featuring sailboats in the distance. Visitors of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., will do a double take, as this painting is strikingly similar to a 22-½-inch-by-36-inch Beacon Rock, Newport Harbor (1857) from the museum’s permanent collection.
This quintessential painting is related to an even larger version held by the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida, as well as Newport Rocks (1872), depicting the view without any sailing activity to focus more on the play of light and owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is expected to fetch between $250,000 and $350,000 when it goes on sale September 12 at Brunk Auctions in Asheville, North Carolina.
William N. Banks, Jr. acquired the painting in 1982 from Alexander Gallery in New York for $65,000. It was previously owned by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Glickman. It was exhibited at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1972.
There is nothing typical about the nearly century-long life of Banks, Jr., the author, antiquarian, and preservationist with a profound knowledge of American architecture and decorative arts.
Another highlight of the single-owner sale of Banks, Jr.’s eclectic collection, which includes more than 300 pieces ranging from Federal to Classical American furniture and 19th Century American paintings, is Raphaelle Peale’s Still Life with Peaches and Grapes (1822), a 14-¼-by-18-¾-inch oil on panel. It’s expected to sell for between $250,000 and $350,000.
Regarded as the the first professional American painter of still-life, Peale’s work is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
Inspired by visits to the White Mountains with a group of artist friends in 1854, Sanford Robinson Gifford painted Mt. Washington from the Saco River (1856), which is anticipated to garner between $200,000 and $300,000.
Banks, Jr.’s wide-ranging collection was housed at Bankshaven, the collector’s celebrated historic property in Newnan, Georgia. After Banks, Jr. died last November at age 95, his cousin and the executor of his estate donated family photos, scrapbooks, yearbooks, paintings, plans and journals chronicling Bankshaven’s elaborate gardens, and play manuscripts by Banks, Jr., to the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society.
Regarded as a consummate Southern gentleman, Banks, Jr. maintained a home in New York City and a 19th century residence in Temple, New Hampshire. He supported many nonprofit and arts organizations including the High Museum in Atlanta, where he was a life board member. He was a Bryant Fellow of The Met.
“The collection is a testament to Mr. Banks’s highly sophisticated eye,” said Andrew Brunk, president and CEO of Brunk Auctions. “He was a rare and true aesthete – a collector and connoisseur at the highest level. Brunk is honored to handle this exceptional collection.”