Published: February 25, 2020
Notable sales detailed in our March 6, 2020 issue include a 1956 abstract oil on canvas titled “Continuity of Change” by Michelle Lee that brought $43,750 at Hudson Valley Auctioneers. A Greek Hellenistic period marble head of a bearded male sold for $34,238 at Artemis Gallery’s one-day auction, while at Bruneau & Co.’s sale, John Singer Sargent’s “Pagan Gods” charcoal drawing was won by a phone bidder at $22,800. Other items highlighted this week include a firearm for the serious collector, a 1682 copy of A Tryal Of Witches at the Assizes from Sworders “Out of the Ordinary” sale, and more that upped the bidding across the United States.
LOUISVILLE, COLO. – A Greek Hellenistic period (circa Third to First Century CE) skillfully carved marble head of a bearded male sold for $34,238 at Artemis Gallery’s one-day auction featuring museum-worthy examples of antiquities, Asian and ethnographic material on February 13. Perhaps the visage with a stern yet gentle countenance portrayed a deity such as Zeus, but it just as likely could have been a more pedestrian portrayal, as the new international culture of the Hellenistic era led to a wide range of subject matter. The head is exquisitely carved, clearly by the hand of a skilled sculptor, with deeply set almond-shaped eyes beneath a smooth brow line, an aquiline nose, finely contoured cheeks, and wavy facial hair surrounding a full lower lip. At 3½ inches wide by 4½ inches high, the lot included a custom stand. For information, 720-890-7700 or www.artemisgallery.com.
NEW YORK CITY – A large abstract painting by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman (b 1932) burned well above its $2/3,000 estimate to sell at $10,200 at Showplace’s February 16 auction. The 48-by-72-inch acrylic on Masonite abstract art saw enthusiastic bidding between the internet and the phones – it ultimately sold to a phone bidder. Signed lower right “Nierman,” the colorful painting was offered in a simple, 49-by-73-by-1-inch frame. For information, www.nyshowplace.com or 212-633-6063.
CRANSTON, R.I. – At Bruneau & Co.’s February 15 sale, John Singer Sargent’s “Pagan Gods” charcoal drawing was won by a phone bidder at $22,800. The work is a study for Moloch, god of material possessions, from the “Pagan Gods” mural that decorate the walls of the Boston Public Library. Sargent was approached for this commission by McKim, Mead and White, the library’s architects, starting a project that lasted from 1895 to 1919. The work had great provenance, going back to the estate of the artist and including a 1986 sale at Sotheby’s American Nineteenth and Twentieth Century paintings, drawings and sculpture. For more information, www.bruneauandco.com or 401-533-9980.
WESTMORELAND, N.H. – Flying Pig Auctions’ February 10 sale featured an interesting and well-received African American memorabilia collection. It had art, signs, figurines and more, according to the firm’s Roxanne Reuling. “A total of 100 percent of the approximately 100-lot collection sold – unusual to not have any items pass,” she reported. “We had almost 500 registered online bidders.” The top lot of the collection, fitting for Black History month, was a three-piece porcelain lot, an antislavery ceramic group with African American transfer decoration that included a covered tureen, square platter and cup plate. Produced by abolitionists to further their cause, the pieces proclaimed “And Freedom to the Slave” and sold for $2,214. For information, www.flyingpigantiquesnh.com or 603-543-7490.
HARRISBURG, PENN. – A bidder did not seem to mind that the clock portion of a French “Singing Bird” automaton carriage clock from the Nineteenth Century did not work. The automaton did, and the item with works marked “Japy Freres Annees Medailles D’Or 18126.96.36.199.49” and “4978” was bid to more than eight times its high estimate to land at $10,800 at Cordier’s February 15 auction. The clock featured a white enamel dial with Roman numerals and clover hands, as well as eight-day movement. The piece had beveled glass panes, bird-cage automaton on top and measured 5 by 4 by 10¾ inches. For information, 717-731-8662 or www.cordierauction.com.
HATFIELD, PENN. – In a week filled with auctions at Alderfer Auctions, the company’s firearms sale on February 11 was led by a Springfield Armory SA1 semiautomatic rifle which sold at $15,600. The 7.62 caliber with a 22-inch barrel and a flash suppressor had a 98 percent parkerized finish, excellent bore, textured plastic butt stock, grip and forearm showing light handling marks, bipod assembly. Another rifle, a flintlock long rifle with some condition issues, sold at $5,300, well above expectations. For information, 215-393-3014 or www.alderferauction.com.
COPAKE, N.Y. – Paintings attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), not surprisingly, fared well at Copake’s unreserved estate auction on February 15, the top lot, an oil stick on sheet music signed “SAMO,” which surpassed its high estimate at $3,540. Two wild card surprises, however, were in store for bidders as an early primitive Hudson Valley candlestand in blue paint was chased from its $300/400 estimate to a final price of $2,124 and a pair of ceramic platters (shown), fruit and pollinator decorated, possibly Worcester, English, Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century with the same estimate found a buyer at $2,360. For information, www.copakeauction.com or 518-329-1142.
STANSTED-MOUNTFITCHET, UNITED KINGDOM – “Out of the Ordinary” was the title of Sworders’ February 11 sale, and the top lot captured that description perfectly. Flying past its $650-$1,035 estimate, a 1682 copy of A Tryal Of Witches at the Assizes… came to rest at $9,096. The rare volume conjured extensive interest with a private collector from London on the phone casting the winning bid. For information, www.sworder.co.uk or +44 20 3971 2500.
BEACON, N.Y. – Topping Hudson Valley Auctioneer’s February 10 sale was a 1956 abstract oil on canvas titled “Continuity of Change” by Michelle Lee that brought $43,750. The large (34½ by 70 inches) work was from the estate of art and antiques dealer James Donovan, who passed away in 2019. The painting was acquired by a representative for the Hollis Taggart Gallery, who was bidding in the room, underbid on the phone. For information, 845-831-6800 or www.hudsonvalleyauctioneers.com.
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