Published: July 21, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Hess Fine Art
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Hess Fine Art Auctions’ July 11 sale featured 206 lots of estate jewelry, fine and decorative arts, as well as Native American silver, rugs and pottery, altogether realizing about $165,000, with about 55 percent of lots selling. The house offered preview by appointment and phone and absentee bidding as well as online through either Invaluable or LiveAuctioneers. Company owner Jeffrey Hess said its online registrations were more than normal with many of those never having bid with Hess before. Hess said the majority of buyers in his auctions are from out-of-state and noted several countries were participating in this sale, including Italy, Germany and a few Asian countries.
“We were very pleased with the sale,” Hess said in a post-sale phone call with Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “It exceeded expectations.”
An abstract painting by Syd Solomon (American, 1917-2004) led the sale, bringing $9,360 from a trade buyer. “Shorenight Notice” was the largest of five paintings by the artist offered in the sale, all from the Dunedin, Fla., estate collection of Florida Bank president, Dr J. David O’Dea. All the works sold, the rest bringing a range of prices, from $1,500 to $2,700. The trade buyer who acquired the top lot took another of the works home; the rest of the collection went to private collectors.
A striking antique platinum, 18K gold, diamond and ruby halo pendant necklace was the top jewelry lot in the sale. The estate piece sold to a private collector for $4,980 and had a pendant set with a large oval faceted natural ruby weighing approximately 19 carats, surrounded by old mine-cut diamonds; the pendant featured an 18-inch long beaded strand of natural rubies with an antique gold clasp and was also with rose cuts diamonds.
An unusual Bavarian Black Forest lift-top bench/chest rounded out the third highest price in the sale, selling for $4,920, slightly below expectations. The distinctive features of the piece were not only the two standing carved black bears that supported the chest but its diminutive proportions, with the box measuring 15½ inches by 42½ inches long by 14½ inches with the bears standing just 29 inches tall. The seller’s family had acquired it in Germany in the 1940s.
One of the more interesting stories in the sale came when an 1892 portrait of a young girl by Sir Samuel Henry William Llewellyn (Welsh, 1858-1941) was acquired by the great-grandson of the artist – bidding via LiveAuctioneers – for $3,420. Llewellyn was the president of the Royal Academy of the Arts and awarded the Albert Medal by the Royal Society of Arts in 1933. The portrait came from the private estate collection of a Florida retiree, who had purchased the work from Jackson, Mich., fine art dealer Daniel Rees.
Hess has a particular interest and expertise in Tiffany and collects catalogs from the company. He noted that the quality of the Tiffany pieces in the sale were “extraordinary.” Though one of the most eagerly anticipated pieces – a Tiffany & Co., Aesthetic Movement sterling and mixed-metal hand hammered Japonesque serving tray from an Illinois trade seller – failed to sell with an estimate of $15/30,000. A Tiffany & Co., sterling silver gilt two-piece spoon set in the Audubon pattern in its original silk-lined box brought $4,380 from a private collector.
Hess Fine Art Auctions’ next sale will take place Saturday, September 12, and includes, among jewelry and Patek Philippe watches, a Pablo Picasso bronze figure from the Wolper Collection that was mounted as a brooch by jewelry designer David Webb.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include applicable internet bidding surcharges.
Hess Fine Art Auctions is at 1131 4th Street North. For information, 727-896-0622 or www.hessfineauctions.com.
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