Americana specialists David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles of Woodbury, Connecticut were the largest single buyer of lots at Sotheby’s sale “Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian,” on January 25, 2014. Winning a total of 37 out of 188 sold lots, Mr. Schorsch and Ms. Smiles purchased many of the collection’s most significant pieces. The sale was the highest-ever total for an auction of American Folk Art and offered superb examples of paintings, weathervanes, carvings and pottery.
Representing eleven private collectors, Mr. Schorsch and Ms. Smiles were successful in acquiring many of the auction’s most important works, including the single most expensive lot, a carved figure of Santa Claus by Samuel Anderson Robb which set a world auction record price for any American trade figure of $875,000. Top prices were realized across a variety of categories. Other record breakers purchased by Mr. Schorsch and Ms. Smiles that day were: a Shaker knitted wool rug, attributed to Elvira Curtis Hulett at $161,000, the highest amount achieved for any Shaker textile; a tiny yellow painted Shaker oval box at $59,375, a record price for a Shaker box; and a painted round box with heart decoration by George Robert Lawton, Sr. for $209,000 a record for any Lawton piece.
David A. Schorsch and his late mother, Marjorie “Peggy” Schorsch (1930-2007) were instrumental in advising Mr. Esmerian in building this monumental collection of American folk art. The last item purchased by Mr. Esmerian from the Schorsches was lot 628, The Carver Limner Family Portraits, at a cost of $220,000. At the sale of the Esmerian collection it achieved a price of $521,000. A total of thirty-two lots sold at the Esmerian sale acquired from the Schorsches between 1978 and 1995 that cost Mr. Esmerian $946,000 achieved a total price of $3,258,813 at the auction.
David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles are nationally recognized dealers, consultants and brokers who specialize in the finest examples of American antiques from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, specializing in weathervanes, folk paintings, folk sculpture, formal and country furniture and Shaker. With a combined experience of over forty years they have assembled numerous notable private collections, and consistently acquired works of extraordinary quality. Since 1995, David A. Schorsch has been affiliated with Eileen M. Smiles, located in Woodbury, Connecticut, where they maintain a gallery in a restored early 19th century building in the heart of the town’s historic district. They are exhibitors at the prestigious Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.