Our mother was almost as passionate about collecting American folk art as she was about her well-lived life filled with travel, family, friends and patients. Her interest in folk art began when she moved to New York in 1964, when she and our father purchased a portrait of Mrs. Henry Bragdon by William Matthew Prior. This rather dour-looking woman loomed large in our lives, gazing intently from above our living room fireplace. My sister and I nicknamed her Mildred, and she stayed in our collective lives until our mother downsized several years ago. Mrs. Bragdon was at last report hanging over another mantel in Maine.
From this first purchase until her last, Mom had an unerring eye. Among her personal favorites were the portraits of a woman in a gray dress by John Brewster, Jr. (lot 13) and of Sarah Chandler Emerson by Ruth Whittier and Samuel Addison Shute (lot 7). She was also quite taken by the large Egret decoy (lot 31) that magically appeared next to our Christmas tree in 1977 and stood watch over our dining room until this fall. Her collection includes examples of American folk art by the most important known artists of early to mid nineteenth century, and highlights a wide range of folk expression, from weathervanes and windmill weights to birth and baptism certificates and theorem pictures.
Having lived with folk art for most of our lives, we hope that these old "friends" will be cherished anew for generations to come.
Jennifer Cohler Mason
Eric C. Cohler