NEW ORLEANS, LA. — The highlight of Neal Auction Company’s February 23–24 estates auction was an Eighteenth Century Chinese rhinoceros horn libation cup carved as a large open flower borne on openwork branches issuing fruit and flowers. The extraordinary cup saw widespread competition from collectors around the world, ultimately selling for $185,000 to a US bidder online vying against 17 telephone bidders, six absentee bidders and lively salesroom participation.
Deaccessioned from the Headley-Whitney Museum, the cup was part of a consignment that included six Chinese carved rhinoceros horn libation cups dated to the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. In total, the cups brought $470,000, all six within the sale’s top ten lots.
A Chinese scroll painting of an “Eagle and Autumn Leaves” bearing the signature of Emperor Song Huizong as well as the collector’s seal of the Qianlong emperor, also garnered considerable attention worldwide. The bidding for the painting started at $1,800 and quickly soared upward, selling to a Chinese painting collector in the room for $125,000.
Carrying a presale estimate of $20/30,000, a 1921 William Woodward (1859–1939) oil on canvas depicting a romantic “Gulf Shore” scene sold to a Mississippi collector for $105,000. The work, which was painted as a wedding present for the consignor’s parents, featured two oaks with intertwined branches symbolic of the young couple’s love for one another.
A Mississippi River scene painted by William Henry Buck (1840–1888) featuring a man poling on a raft beside sawn logs on the banks, achieved $87,000, selling to a New Orleans collector. The painting, contemporaneous with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Hick Finn, powerfully captured the late Nineteenth Century way of life along the banks of the great Mississippi.
A vibrant, 1974 oil on canvas by Ida Rittenberg Kohlmeyer (1912–1997) titled “Transverse #3” saw active participation among collectors on the floor competing against six telephone bidders. The work ultimately sold for $60,000, against a presale estimate of $15/25,000.
Additional sale highlights included a seven-volume, first edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, From Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories, $50,000; a rare, circa 1850–60 American rococo carved rosewood bedstead bearing the patent stamps of John Henry Belter, New York, $36,000; and an oil on canvas by William Henry Buck (1840–1888) titled “Louisiana Bayou: Live Oaks and Water Lilies at Dusk,” $30,500.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.nealauction.com or 504-899-5329.