Case auction of Wiley painting to benefit Ijams

Marilyn Henry and Earl Henry, Jr., stand beside the Catherine Wiley painting they sold at auction to benefit Ijams Nature Center

Marilyn Henry and Earl Henry, Jr., stand beside the Catherine Wiley painting they sold at auction to benefit Ijams Nature Center

The date of January 25th, 2014, couldn’t roll around quickly enough for Earl Henry, Jr., and his wife Marilyn.  After all, it had been a long time coming. The year-old idea of auctioning a prized painting by noted impressionist Catherine Wiley to benefit Ijams Nature Center was coming to fruition!

Earl’s father, Dr. Earl O’dell Henry, Sr., accomplished much before his untimely death at 33 when the USS Indianapolis, the ship on which he practiced dentistry as an officer, sank during World War II.  His son, Earl Henry, Jr., an infant at the time of his father’s death, has dedicated his life to honoring the legacy of the father he never knew.  Dr. Henry, Sr., a dentist from Knoxville, Tennessee, began studying birds at the age of 12 and imitating bird calls of over 60 species.  (A skill, Earl says, came in handy as his dad often entertained the crew aboard!)  A self-taught taxidemist, Dr. Henry mounted a collection of 87 birds which the family donated for display at Ijams Nature Center.  Money raised from the auction will go toward improving and enhancing this exhibit. Currently, Ijams sells bird prints and note cards of selected drawings by the talented (and productive!) Dr. Henry.

Recognizing the need for additional funding for this exhibit, Earl Henry, Jr., and wife Marilyn, developed the idea of auctioning a painting from their collection — Mountain Landscape, by well-known impressionist, Catherine Wiley — with the proceeds benefiting Ijams.

Mountain Landscape by Catherine Wiley, Knoxville artist

Mountain Landscape by Catherine Wiley, Knoxville artist

The couple contacted Sarah Campbell Drury of Case Antiques, and the rest is history:  the Wiley painting would be auctioned as Lot 181 in the January 25th, 2014, event in Knoxville.

Sarah Campbell Drury of Case Antiques talking with a guest at the preview event about the silver pieces up for bid

Sarah Campbell Drury of Case Antiques talking with a guest at the preview event about the silver pieces up for bid

Mentioned by Jack Neely in Knoxville’s MetroPulse (click here) as “one noted impressionist,” artist Anna Catherine Wiley, grew up on Laurel Avenue, attended the University of Tennessee, and studied with long-time artist Lloyd Branson.  In a previous Case Antiques auction covered by the Knoxville News-Sentinel (click here), a Wiley painting sold for a record $107,000 to the Knoxville Museum of Art, so the pre-sale estimate of $9,000 to $11,000 seemed reasonable — and would provide quite a boost to the future exhibit at Ijams!

Paul James, Executive Director of Ijams Nature Center admires the Wiley painting with Earl Henry, Jr., and his wife Marilyn

Paul James, Executive Director of Ijams Nature Center admires the Wiley painting with Earl Henry, Jr., and his wife Marilyn

Guests at the preview event on January 24th expressed their excitement — at the number and quality of  auction items amassed by Case Antiques ranging from Indian relics to Chinese porcelains to silver to well-appointed case goods.  Detailed descriptions as well as the informed Case staff members helped guests learn more about items offered for bidding.

John Case pauses for a moment at a very busy preview of the Case Antiques Auction on January 24th

John Case pauses for a moment at a very busy preview of the Case Antiques Auction on January 24th

Bob & Marie Alcorn enjoyed the appetizers while admiring the art and antiques at the preview event

Bob & Marie Alcorn enjoyed the appetizers while admiring the art and antiques at the preview event

Ben & Nancy Davidson had their eye on a silver teapot

Ben & Nancy Davidson had their eye on a silver teapot

Scott Bishop, Owner of Westwood Antiques, admiring a Carlo Bugatti stand

Scott Bishop, Owner of Westwood Antiques, admiring a Carlo Bugatti stand

Jimmy Buckner, owner of Latitude 35, learns more about the Wiley painting from Marilyn Henry

Jimmy Buckner, owner of Latitude 35, learning more about the Wiley painting from Marilyn Henry

Auction day brought a packed house with limited seating, but pictures of items flashed up on big screens and well-dressed assistants (This was not my usual country auction!) held items up for review.

Attendees packed into Cherokee Mills for the Case Antiques auction on January 25, 2014

Attendees packed into Cherokee Mills for the Case Antiques auction on January 25, 2014

Assistants hold up goods while pictures flash onto the big screens at the Case Antiques auction

Assistants hold up goods while pictures flash onto the big screens at the Case Antiques auction

Case staff listened intently to the voices of phone bidders at home.
Then relayed the auctioneer’s bids. Then pressed the phones to their ears again.

Sold to the bid on the phone said the auctioneer quite often, but also, Sold to the internet bidder!  (Ah, technology! We audience folks just held up our numbers and competed as best we could!)

Taking those phone bids at Case Antiques auction, Knoxville

Taking those phone bids at Case Antiques auction, Knoxville

When it was time for Lot 181, the crowd hushed as the auctioneer touted the importance of the Wiley painting.  We waited and listened as numbers rose:  $3,000, $4,000, $6,000 . . .

Finally, Lot 181:  Catherine Wiley painting -- Mountain Landscape

Finally, Lot 181: Catherine Wiley painting — Mountain Landscape

Until finally, we heard the auctioneer say All in?  Eleven five?  Eleven five anywhere? Going once. Going twice.  Sold.  To the internet bidder for $11,000!!! And it was done.

Sold for $11,000! Wiley painting has new home!

Sold for $11,000! Wiley painting has new home!

Earl Henry wiped a tear from his eye.  Marilyn gave him a knowing hug.  The Catherine Wiley painting had a new home.  And Ijams Nature Center is on its way to installing an even better exhibit by the talented preservationist, Dr. Earl O’Dell Henry, Sr.

Pleased with the bid for Wiley painting:  Paul James, Marilyn Henry, and Earl Henry, Jr.

Pleased with the bid for Wiley painting: Paul James, Marilyn Henry, and Earl Henry, Jr.

For more information:

Dr. Earl O. Henry and the Earl Henry prints and cards, click here.

Dr. Earl O. Henry

Dr. Earl O. Henry

Ijams Nature Center

2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37920; 865-577-7517; http://ijams.org

Case Antiques Auctions & Appraisals

2240 Sutherland Avenue, Suite 101, Knoxville, TN 37919, 865-558-3033; https://www.facebook.com/caseantiques

To make a donation to Ijams Nature Center for the Earl Henry exhibit, click here.

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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5 Responses to Case auction of Wiley painting to benefit Ijams

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure | Oh, the Places We See . . .

  2. David says:

    Any winning bid(s) of your own? 😉

  3. FreeRangeCow says:

    Oh, Rusha! This had me in tears. What a lovely story about a son who loved a father he never met, the nature center, the whole family. Best thing I’ve read all day!

    • Rusha Sams says:

      Thanks so much! You’ve made my day with that nice comment. These folks are fabulous, so I’m glad the painting brought in so much money. Can’t wait to see the new exhibit!!

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