Published: November 20, 2018
While the intentions presented by Nineteenth Century French poet Charles Baudelaire’s suicide note may have made his mistress Jeanne Duval think twice about their relationship, bidders at Osenat were sure of their own intentions to close the sale as this lot brought the gavel down at three times more than anticipated. On a lighter note, a gold-mounted violin bow went to an inspired bidder for more than twice its estimate. Stunning diamond jewelry and works by a revered artist and well-known writer shared the spotlight on these notable sales in this week’s ‘Across The Block’.
PARIS – A suicide letter written by Nineteenth Century French poet Charles Baudelaire went up for auction at Osenat recently. The handwritten note is an announcement of his suicide attempt, and it fetched about $267,000, three times more than was anticipated. Baudelaire was 24 when he wrote the letter to inform his mistress Jeanne Duval about his suicide intention. “When you receive this letter, I will be dead… I am killing myself because I cannot carry on living, I can no longer endure the ordeal of falling asleep or waking up again,” the letter read. Baudelaire stabbed himself in the chest on that day, but suffered no serious injuries. The poet went on to live for another 22 years, during which his most famous poems were published. He died at the age of 46 in 1867. For information, +33 1 64 22 27 62 or www.osenat.com.
LONDON – Bonhams’ Chinese art sale on November 8 was led by an imperial underglaze-blue and iron-red enamel nine-dragon dish, Qianlong seal mark and period, that sold for $700,000. Of the rare and large dish, Bonhams global head of Chinese ceramics and works of art Asaph Hyman said, “Only a handful of Qianlong seal mark and period examples of dishes of this impressive size and bold decoration are known to exist in either museum or private collections.” The dish had been in the collection of British businessman and Hong Kong politician Sir David Newbigging, who bought it on a trip to China in the 1960s. It had been consigned for sale from a European private collection and had never before been offered at auction. For information, +44 20 7447 7447 or www.bonhams.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Swann Auction Galleries’ autographs sale on November 8 offered a selection of rare and illuminating autographs, letters and other items from artists, authors and musicians, as well as figures from American history and beyond. The highlight among literary autographs in the sale was a group of letters from Kurt Vonnegut to members of his family, largely from his time enlisted in the US Army during World War II. Vonnegut was an American writer best known for his science-fiction-infused anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five. The offering of 12 letters touch on various subjects covering the war, love, alcohol and art and contain small drawings and doodles by a young Vonnegut. They sold for $12,500 against an estimate of $4/6,000. For information, 212-254-4710 or www.swanngalleries.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle’s auction of postwar and contemporary art on November 7 presented important paintings and sculpture by some of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries’ most prominent artists. The sale totaled $1,735,000 and was led by two works, each of which achieved $162,500. A 2016 work from Richard Hambleton’s (1952-2017) series of “Rodeo” paintings (shown) captures the kinetic energy of a horse and rider in motion, bucking and thrashing violently across his canvas. Tying for top lot was a 1956 abstract by Canadian artist Paul-Emile Borduas (1905-1960), a leader of the group known as the Automatists. For information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
DANIA BEACH, FLA. – Kodner Galleries’ November 7 auction, filled with Orientalist art and decoration, jewelry and estate silver, was led by a contemporary 25-carat graduated, round, brilliant-cut diamond and 18K white gold Riviera necklace that sold to an internet bidder for $19,360. For information, 954-925-2550 or www.kodner.com.
MARLBOROUGH, MASS. – Rare violins and other stringed instruments are the inevitable stars of musical instruments sales. But attention must be paid to the supporting players as well, as in the case of Skinner’s auction on November 11, in which a Henryk Kaston violin bow more than doubled its estimate to finish at $11,070. The octagonal stick was stamped “Henryk Kaston,” the ferrule was engraved “Jascha Heifetz/From/Thom. L. Fawick,” the adjuster with relief portraits of Beethoven, Heifetz, Brahms and Auer. For additional information, www.skinnerinc.com or 508-970-3216.
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. – Rain on November 6 could not put a damper on Freeman’s autumn jewelry auction. When the final hammer fell, the sale totaled more than $1.53 million and enjoyed a 94 percent sell-through by value. Diamonds of all shapes and colors dominated the day’s events. Highlights of the top lots included a rare fancy blue diamond from a private Kansas City gentleman weighing 1.17 carats (shown), which sold for $175,000, and an unmounted pear-shaped diamond, weighing 8.06 carats, which far exceeded its estimate of $75/95,000 to sell for $156,250. For information, 215-563-9275 or www.freemansauction.com.
NEW YORK CITY – One of the top lots from Sotheby’s sale of Gallison Hall: The James F. Scott Collection on October 15 was a monumental bronze and metal bird cage of Palladian form that measured 77 inches high by 96 inches wide and 40 inches deep. Estimated at $12/18,000, competitive bidding pushed it to close to a telephone bidder at $28,750. For additional information, 212-606-7000 or www.sothebys.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Leading the sale for Capsule Gallery’s November 8 sale of contemporary art was a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Pietro Consagra (1920-2005). The work, which came from the collection of the late Evelyn and Thomas Langbert of the Ritz Park Avenue, had been estimated at $20/30,000 but intense interest – including nine phone lines – sent the final price to $109,375, paid by a European buyer. For more information, 860-567-4661 or www.capsuleauctions.com.
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