Published: April 25, 2023
Asian art and serving ware were popular at auction this week, but not in the forms one may expect. Andy Warhol’s “Kimiko” print may have reached a record at the Benefit Shop Foundation, and Michaan’s presented a sweet still life by Wayne Thiebaud. An antique Buddha at Old Kinderhook joined Freeman’s famille-rose “Balsalm-Pear” bowls and works on paper included both Kawase and Picasso prints. More great finds to follow.
SOUTH GLASTONBURY, CONN. – The highpoint of Connecticut River Book Auction’s (CRBA) April 14 sale was a letter by Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, to her associate Roscoe Wills detailing a recent trip and a conversation with a Union officer. Wills became her assistant and was later in charge of the Clara Barton Ambulance Corps in the early 1900. In the letter, Barton references recovering from ill health and is back to work. She mentions unpacking boxes of shirts, which she had received from Worcester, likely as a result of advertisements she had placed in Massachusetts newspapers requesting items such as shirts to be sent to her for distribution to the soldiers. This letter brought $1,064 and was sold to phone bidder. For information, www.ctriverbookauction.com or 860-908-8067.
ALAMEDA, CALIF. – In April, Michaan’s conducted four auctions – its Annex auction, April 10-13, followed by the monthly gallery auction on April 14 and on April 17 its flagship day with two new specialty auctions: collectibles followed by prints and multiples. In the latter, all heads turned to see Wayne Thiebaud’s (American, 1920-2021), “Sorbet” reach $18,900, more than twice its high estimate. Blurring the line between commercial and fine art, Thiebaud was known for his colorful works depicting commonplace objects – pies, lipsticks, paint cans, ice cream, pastries and hot dogs – as well as for his landscapes and figure paintings. For information, www.michaans.com or 510-227-2505.
LE ROY, ILL. – Chris Fricker auctioned estate treasures comprising country Americana at the Fricker Auction Center on April 14-15, sweetening the deal with the firm’s policy of charging no buyer’s premium. Topping the action was an early Lefever Arms Co poster featuring its automatic hammerless shotguns at $7,000 (pictured). Other items doing well included an oyster painted dry sink at $1,400; a Jensen 1-cent coin-op basketball game for $1,350; a Peters 1908 calendar bringing $5,200; and a Lee Overalls tin embossed sign reaching $3,250. For information, www.frickerauctions.com or 309-838-5829.
DETROIT, MICH. – Two days of DuMouchelles’ April Auctions took place on April 13 and 14, offering more than 1,000 lots of fine art, decorative arts and jewelry. The first day’s sale resulted in $12,400 ($8/12,000) for a 2.12-carat round brilliant cut diamond that sold to a Florida bidder, and the second day brought $7,440 ($6/8,000) for a pencil-signed aquatint etching titled “Peintre et Modèle, Écuyère et Bonhomme” by Pablo Picasso (shown). The Série 347 etching was numbered 26/50 and published by Galérie Louis Leiris, Paris, in 1969; the catalog noted that there were also 17 artist’s proofs. This lot went to a local internet bidder. For information, 313-963-6255 or www.dumoart.com.
PHILADELPHIA – Asian works of art were the focus at Freeman’s on April 18, when all but two of 294 lots sold, led at $94,500 by Chinese famille rose-decorated “Balsam-Pear” bowls with Jiaqing six-character seal mark and of the period. The bowls, which had been estimated at $30/50,000, measured just 4¼ inches in diameter and featured auspicious motifs for a long and prosperous reign, numerous sons, abundance and prosperity. They had formerly been in the San Francisco collection of Franklin Lee Hand (1927-2019), an antiques dealer and patron of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. For information, 267-414-1261 or www.freemansauction.com.
MARLBOROUGH, MASS. – A half dozen lots of Russian silver by the preeminent firm Fabergé were included in Bonhams Skinner’s April 19 “Collector’s Choice: Wedgwood & Silver” auction. Leading the sale at $15,300 was an .875 silver kettle on stand with an oblong tray, both of which were marked “with K. Fabergé in Cyrillic” under the imperial warrant. The 295-lot sale was nearly 96 percent sold by lot. For information, 508-970-3000 or www.skinner.bonhams.com.
MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. – The first lot to cross the block in the Benefit Shop Foundation’s Red Carpet auction on April 19 kicked off the sale with a bang. It was an Andy Warhol signed “Kimiko” #237 screen print, 1981, which at $36,120 may be an auction record for the print, according to auction house owner Pam Stone. Signed on verso in graphite Andy Warhol, 182/250 and with embossed corner, the print came with a certificate of authenticity from the Martin Lawrence Gallery. Depicted is a pink-skinned woman with black hair in traditional Japanese style and wearing a kimono with black outlines and green collar among a blue background. Measuring approximately 35¾ by 35¾ inches, the artwork was property of the Westport estate and private art collection. Kimiko 237 is a print that was published to help fundraise for the Visual Arts Program at Colorado State University, which sponsored visiting artists and exhibitions. The original portrait was commissioned by Kimiko Powers, but the image was a version used to advertise Warhol’s Colorado State University show. For more information, www.thebenefitshop.org or 914-864-0707.
THOMASTON, MAINE – Thomaston Place Auction Galleries hosted a Panache sale on April 19 featuring unique items to decorate one’s home or office. A woodblock print by Hasui Kawase (Japanese, 1883-1987), “Kasugacho (Kumamoto),” 1916, led the sale, rising from a $350/450 estimate to settle at $7,500. Depicting a canal at night and bearing a label from Stewart-Verde Gallery of San Francisco & LA verso, the print was housed in a silvered wood box frame, matted and glazed, with image measuring 11 by 8 inches. For information, 207-354-8141 or www.thomastonauction.com.
VALATIE, N.Y. – Old Kinderhook Auction Company’s “Spring Swinger” sale on April 18 featured some beautiful jewelry, frames and art as well as some surprises, according to co-owner Errol Farr. “A wonderful collection of Twentieth Century American school depictions of the Bahamas was offered, with some of the lots selling over the $1,000 mark, two nice pieces included in the pictures.” A large selection of jewelry was crowned by some Egyptian Revival 18K gold from Ball Black and Co., bringing $4,800 and $5,350, and, most notably, an antique carved Buddha (shown) with a beautifully crackled surface and trace remains of gilding went out at $10,000 after a flurry of bidding from multiple platforms and phones. For information, 518-912-4747 or www.oldkinderhookauction.com.
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