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An American genre painting, The Pemigewasset Coach by Enoch Wood Perry (1831-1915), signed and dated '99 (1899), sold at Dawson & Nye Auctioneers in Morris Plains, New Jersey, for $224,000 (including buyer's premium) on April 24. It is an auction record for the artist and the most expensive painting ever sold at the Morris Plains auction house.

"There were eight phone bidders" said John Nye. "Our five land lines and three cell phones were in use." Nye said a private collector bought the painting. New York City dealer Leigh Keno said he was the underbidder on the phone.

The 34. x 54. oil on canvas depicts a crowd of schoolchildren watching a stagecoach passing their little red schoolhouse. It was consigned by a New Jersey family and estimated at $30,000/50,000. The previous auction record for a painting by Enoch Wood Perry was $56,000, according to Nye.

This was only the second time this painting was sold in more than a century. It was painted as a wedding present for Mary Lamper Kingman, who married Frederick Clark Sayles Jr. in 1900. Nye said that after he advertised the painting he got a call from a woman who asked him what initials were on the parcels on the back of the stagecoach. Nye told the caller .B.E.K. and .F.C.S.. The woman told Nye that the painting was given to her grandparents as a wedding present in 1900. She said the initials on the parcels are those of Barton Eliot Kingman of Yonkers, the bride.s father, and Frederick Clark Sayles Sr. of Providence and Pawtucket, the groom.s father. She told Nye that the artist was a friend of the bride.s parents and that the painting had hung in her grandparents. house in Irvington-on-Hudson until it was sold in 1946.

When Mrs. Frederick Clark Sayles Jr. sold the house, she apparently sold the large painting to Harry Shaw Newman of the Old Print Shop, 150 Lexington Avenue, New York City. The painting is pictured in an issue of the gallery.s publication Panorama dated November 1946 that features an exhibition of American genre painting. The caption reads:

"Pemigewasset Coach By Enoch Wood Perry, 1831-1915. Passing the little red school house, near the Pemigewasset House, Plymouth, N.H., one of the finest genre subjects known to us, comparable to the best works of E.L. Henry. Oil on canvas, 34-1/2 by 54 inches. $3000."

The New Jersey family that consigned it to Dawson & Nye purchased the painting from Newman. The buyer at Dawson & Nye told Nye that a print of the subject had hung over his fireplace for years.

Kenneth Newman, the son of Harry Shaw Newman, said the Old Print Shop published a reproduction print of the painting a long time ago. The Old Print Shop is still at the same address but no longer deals in many paintings.

This Perry painting was the highlight of John Nye.s third catalog since taking over the Dawson auction gallery six months ago. The sale of 534 lots totaled $604,000.