Published: February 15, 2022
Carvings in stone – be it hard or lime – were among the notable results at auctions conducted recently, with a carved hardstone plaque bringing $15,000 at Showplace and an engraved Eighth-Tenth Century Coptic limestone grave marker or stele topped the charts at $16,200 at South Bay Auctions. Landscapes also proved a compelling theme for buyers, evidenced by the $14,400 for a landscape-painted Venetian cabinet, ex Ethel du Pont at Kaminski and the whopping $375,000 paid by a Clarke Auction Gallery bidder. Read on for other headlining lots in this week’s Across The Block.
EAST MORICHES, N.Y. – Featuring lots from New York estates and collections, a February 5 auction by South Bay Auctions was chock full of paintings, prints, sculpture, antique American, English and Continental furniture and decorations and more. But it was an Egyptian Coptic grave stele, circa Eighth-Tenth Century CE that was most impressive, rising from its $1,5/2,500 estimate to earn $16,200. Limestone, with a complete 23-line inscription in Sahidic dialect, the 23-3/8-by-16-1/4-by-1-1/4-inch marker came from the estate of Lawrence Feinberg, papyrologist and specialist in ancient manuscripts turned antiquarian bookseller. For information, 631-878-2909 or www.southbayauctions.com.
PLAINFIELD, N.H. – In the Nineteenth Century, George P. Upton compiled an album of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century autographs. What for him was a labor of love turned out also to be lucrative to the consignor of William Smith’s sporting auction on February 2. The sale, primarily stocked with antique firearms and militaria, was led by the album containing signatures and letters from such names as A. Lincoln, Timothy Pickering, John Adams, A. Hamilton, Van Buren, J.Q. Adams, James Monroe, James Buchanan, Aaron Burr and more, which sold for $42,743, far above its $6,000 high estimate. The album contained approximately 290 signatures and letters. The 14-by-12¾-by-1¾-inch book and its binding were held together with duct tape, but the signatures and papers were in good condition. For information, www.wsmithauction.com or 603-675-2549.
BELLPORT, N.Y. – What was likely a banquet scene depicted in an antique Persian miniature illuminated manuscript whetted the appetites of collectors who vied for the 12½-by-8½-inch work, pushing it way past its $50-$100 estimate to finish at $8,125 in Thos Cornell’s February 6 auction. There is a wealth of detail packed into these miniatures, often a brushstroke is the size of a pinhead. The amazing little work clearly had age discernible to the knowledgeable buyer who clearly knew its value. For information, www.thoscornellauctions.com or 631-289-9505.
LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Clarke Auction Gallery set out to relieve the winter blues with its estate auction on February 6, featuring nearly 500 lots of fine art, antiques, decorative arts, jewelry and silver, Asian arts and more. As expected, the sale’s most important painting attracted not only much presale attention but also the highest price. A circa 1954 gouache by Fernand Leger (French, 1881-1955), “Les loisirs,” depicting figures engaged in leisure activities, sold for $375,000, above its high estimate. The painting, similar in composition to Leger’s lithograph “Le Picnic,” featured motifs that Leger returned to many times in the last years of his life. The work was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Leger Committee, Paris, and came from an Upper East Side, New York City collection. For information, www.clarkeny.com or 914-833-8336.
BEVERLY, MASS. – Kaminski Auctions conducted auctions on February 5-6 featuring the exclusive Palm Beach collection of Ethel du Pont, whose father was Eugene du Pont, an American businessman who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and served as the first head of the modern-day DuPont corporation. The du Pont collection came from her home “Seaspray” in Palm Beach, Fla., and featured both continental and American Federal furniture. Highlights were led on the first day by a Seventeenth/Eighteenth Italian Venetian polychrome cabinet that sold for $14,400 from a phone bidder. For information, www.kaminskiauctions.com, 978-927-2223 or 508-367-4311.
NEW YORK CITY – At Auctions at Showplace on February 6, a Chinese carved hardstone table plaque of a Buddhist scene sold for $15,000 against an estimate of $1,5/2,500. The stone was sourced by important American furniture designer James Mont and the gilt metal stand, with Chinese sutra inscriptions on reverse, was likely produced in his workshop. The piece was removed from a private residence at 370 East 76th Street that was designed and furnished by Mont. The piece was won by a California bidder and was the top price in a sale of 280 lots. For information, 212-633-6063 or http://nyshowplace.com/.
HUDSON, N.Y. – The top lot in Public Sale’s February 5 “Modern Blueprint” auction was a large Frank Stella multicolor round rug that sold to an international bidder who specializes in modern rugs and tapestries, for $10,200. It measured nearly 10 feet in diameter, and comprising two half-circles in various colors and was being sold by contemporary artist, Cary Liebowitz. For information, 518-966-7253 or www.public-sale.com.
THOMASTON, MAINE – Kaja Veilleux’s online entity, Vintage Accents Auctions, a division of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, hosted an Asian arts sale on February 9. A framed Twentieth Century Chinese embroidery on silk, “Flowers and Scholars Stone,” incorporating polychrome silk over gold silk and with a pale gold brocade mount in gold frame, sold for $2,750, at a premium of nine times above its high $300 estimate. It measured 47 by 12½ inches. For more information, 207-354-8141 or www.vintageaccentsauctions.com.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Of the 656 lots of Country Americana and fine decorative arts that crossed the block in Hyde Park Country Auctions’ February 6 sale, an abstract composition by Claude Venard (French, 1913-1999) was the most popular. Discovered in the attic of a Nineteenth Century Millbrook, N.Y., house, the 29½-by-29½-inch oil on canvas had been estimated at $3/5,000. Widespread interest pushed it to $8,610, selling to an international trade buyer bidding online. For information, 845-471-5660 or www.hpcountryauctions.com
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