Published: June 12, 2018
This week’s Across The Block features a sharp list of paintings, a collection of straight razors and a dinosaur fossil so unique that it’s the first of its species ever found and does not even have a name yet.
PINE BUSH, N.Y. – Flannery’s antiques and estate auction on May 21 was replete with guns and other militaria from two collectors’ estates. More than 30 firearms, bayonets and daggers from World War II included a lot with two US M3 Robeson trench knives with an estimate of $50/100. The 11½-inch knives each had a military sheath included, with the information that “If a knife is dated 1943 it will have a M8 sheath, if not dated, it will have M8AI.” The estimated price was shredded when the pair brought $2,767 after extended and vigorous bidding. For information, www.flannerys.com or 845-744-2233.
LONE JACK, MO. – “Kansas Creek (Wild Horse Creek),” a 1937 oil on board by Birger Sandzen (1871-1954), sold for $26,550 at Soulis Auctions’ regionalist paintings sale on June 1. Sandzen, a Swedish-born artist who studied in Sweden and Paris, spent most his adult life as an art professor at Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan., where he recorded the beauties of the region. Signed lower right front and titled “Kansas Creek (Wild Horse Creek) Graham County, Kansas” verso by the artist the provenance, verso, reads “Belongs to Alfrida Sandzen, Purchased by Dr John C. Mitchell 1951.” For more information, www.dirksoulisauctions.com or 816-697-3830.
PARIS – For the first time in more than 20 years, a work by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most important artistic figures of the Twentieth Century, was auctioned at Artcurial’s June 5 sale of Modern and contemporary art. “Women Mending Nets in the Dunes,” 1882, sold for $8,266,050. Under the hammer of Francis Briest, the work went to an American collector who won after a fierce battle. The oil on paper mounted on panel had spent the last eight years on the walls of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. For information, www.artcurial.com or +33 1 42 99 20 76.
BEVERLY, MASS. – Kaminski’s two-day auction on June 2 and 3, featured a stamp collection, coins, medals and sports memorabilia, along with a selection of estate furniture, decorative art and fine art. Modern art was well represented with a Lucio Fontana (Italian, 1899-1968) signed oil on canvas with nine holes, 1967, 23½ by 19½ inches, from the Italian Riccio collection, which sold for $210,000 on day two of the auction. The painter, sculptor and theorist, known as the founder of Spatialism, employed cuts and punctures that characterized his personal style. For information, 978-927-2223 or www.kaminskiauctions.com.
PARIS – Three buyers of three different nationalities (French, Japanese and Swedish) fought for half an hour to acquire a carnivorous dinosaur skeleton of a new species at the Aguttes auction at the Eiffel Tower on June 4. The single lot, which sold for $2.3 million to the anonymous French bidder, was the recently discovered skeleton of an unknown theropod. The 18-foot-long skeleton still had 70 percent of the original bone conserved. It was discovered in excavations carried out in 2013 at a site on the Morrison Formation, an Upper Jurassic geological sequence laid down 155-148 million years ago that covers much of the western United States and that is one of the world’s richest sources of dinosaur fossils. It will remain in France and will be entrusted to scientists before being shown to the public. For more information, +33 1 47 45 55 55 or www.aguttes.com.
NEW YORK CITY – The top lot at Doyle’s May 23 auction of English and continental furniture and Old Masters was an Old Master painting by the English artist William Pratt. His “The S. Albans Floated out at Deptford” was offered with an estimate of $8/12,000 but sold at $34,374. Not much is known of this artist. He was active in the mid-Eighteenth Century, and this work is a close replica of a painting by John Cleveley the Elder, which is now in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. Unusual for copies, it is larger than the original, which was painted in 1747. Signed “Willm Pratt Pinx” and dated 1750 Greenwich lower right, the oil on canvas is 47 by 74 inches. For information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
LYNBROOK, N.Y. – A large oil on Masonite painting by the Indian American artist Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002) climbed to $235,000 at Weiss Auctions on May 17. Titled “Head in a Landscape,” the 35-by-47½-inch work was, by far, the top lot of the auction. It was completely fresh to the market, making the important estate find that much more attractive to the collectors who were eager to win it. Souza’s style was rooted in Expressionism but was influenced by Art Brut and Neo-Romanticism. Souza lived and worked in New York from 1967 until shortly before his death, when he returned home to India. For information, 516-594-0731 or www.weissauctions.com.
ONLINE – Aarauctions.com has been offering the lifetime collection of fancy and unusual straight razors of Robert A. Doyle, many of which are featured in his book, Celluloid Handle Guide for Straight Razor Collectors, Reflecting Fifty Years of Handle Designs (1870-1920). Highlights from the latest sale that closed on May 21 included an example with a F&B hollow ground blade on a fancy pattern sterling silver handle, the front featuring an inscription surrounded by an intricate leaf pattern, which realized $518. Even better was Allen’s improved razor, circa 1820, with partially hollow ground blade and mother-of-pearl handle (shown) that drew a winning bid of $805. For information, 845-635-3169 or www.aarauctions.com.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Featuring Part I of the Dr Louis Charbonnier March Jr collection of firearms, Amoskeag Auction Company’s June 2 sale offered choice examples of historical rifles and pistols. Leading the action was a rare US Model 1903 rod-bayonet rifle (shown) by Springfield Armory that sold for $39,100. Among advanced Springfield and martial collectors, the “Ramrod Bayonet ’03” is considered the Holy Grail of Springfield rifles. Unaltered specimens in any state are a rarity, so it was no surprise that it beat its $25,000 high estimate. Also exceeding expectations was a unique US Model 1903 carbine by Springfield Armory that went out at $28,750, nearly twice its high estimate. For more information, www.amoskeagauction.com or 603-627-7383.
NEW YORK CITY – Russell H. Tandy’s original cover illustration for The Secret in the Old Attic, the book by Carolyn Keene, published as “Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #21” (New York: Grosset & Dunlap 1944), sold for $35,000 at Swann Galleries’ illustration art sale on June 5. The watercolor, pencil, ink and gouache on Whatman drawing board, 22¾ by 16 inches, was signed in lower right image. It features all the visual hallmarks of a classic Nancy Drew mystery novel, including a dusty attic, an old chest holding a number of curious artifacts, sheet music spilling out across the floor and an ominous skeleton peering out at Nancy from behind a closet door as she sifts through the evidence by candlelight. For information, 212-254-4710 or www.swanngalleries.com.
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