Published: June 5, 2001
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Weschler’s recent auction of European and American Furniture and Decorations ended on a high note, with the final lot of the sale, a Chippendale walnut cellaret, bringing a record price for an American southern cellaret at auction, $98,050, including buyer’s premium.
The Chippendale walnut cellaret had stood in the Georgetown dining room of the late Philip W. Bonsal, America’s last ambassador to Cuba, and his wife. Catalogued as Tidewater Virginia or North Carolina, circa 1740-1760, the cellaret has graceful cabriole legs with scroll volute returns similar to pieces made in Perquimans County, North Carolina. A leading dealer in American antiques considered the cellaret one of the earliest forms he had seen. Others apparently agreed, as the bidding spiraled upward and ultimately narrowed to a single bidder on the phone and one in the room. The cellaret sold went to the bidder in the gallery.
While not reaching such dramatic heights, other property from the Bonsal estate was hotly contested. Reflecting a lifetime of global travel, the well-rounded collection included an early Nineteenth Century Chinese School oil, View of the Hongs of Canton. The painting brought $45,850, more than four times the low pre-sale estimate. A Chinese Export ‘Imari’ pattern dinner service, Jiaqing Period (1796-1820) realized $24,150, well above the $10/15,000 pre-sale estimate.
The Bonsal estate included a selection of English furniture and decorations, with a pair of Cary’s terrestrial and celestial globes, dated 1824 and 1820 respectively, selling for a within-estimate $14,950, despite extensive condition problems. Condition problems also did not stop bidders on a George III inlaid mahogany three-pedestal dining table, circa 1800. With the center section partially scorched, estimates were kept to a conservative $3/5,000. Undeterred, bidders served up a final price of $17,250.
A George III satinwood and rosewood inlaid mahogany cylinder desk, circa 1790, brought $7,475, above the $3/5,000 estimate. A pair of George III giltwood fauteuils, circa 1750-1770, garnered a great deal of interest during previews for the auction. Apparently liking what they saw, bidders pushed the fauteuils beyond their $3/5,000 pre-sale estimate to $9,775. A George III mahogany marble-top center table also exceeded estimates, bringing $5,060, more than double the low pre-sale estimate.
Having spent a great deal of his diplomatic career in Central and South America, Ambassador Bonsal’s estate included more than a dozen Spanish Colonial works of art. Most sold within or above estimates, the most hotly contested being a portrait of a young girl wearing a pink dress. The early Nineteenth Century Mexican School work realized $3,910 against a $600/800 estimate.
The Bonsal estate included several lots of needlework. The most desirable to bidders was an American needlework sampler map of Maryland, probably from the second quarter of the Nineteenth Century. It had great local appeal, and brought $11,500 against a $500/700 estimate.
Other estates represented in the sale include that of June Amiel of Washington, D.C. A pair of Louis XIV pewter inlaid ebonized kingwood bibliotheques sold within estimate at $21,850. A George I giltwood and japanned tray-top side table also sold within estimate at $10,925. From the same estate a pair of Louis XVI style ormolu mounted porphyry covered urns exceeded expectations to bring $5,750, more than double the low pre-sale estimate.
In silver, a pair of George V gilt-silver two-handled covered bowls from the Bonsal estate realized a within-estimate $4,025. American silver was highlighted by a Hennegan, Bates & Co. repousse sterling covered soup tureen, late Nineteenth-early Twentieth Century. Topped by a rampant lion, the tureen roared past estimates to bring $8,625, more than double the high pre-sale estimate.
Additional American furniture included a second Chippendale walnut cellaret. While not reaching the heights of the record-breaking cellaret, it brought a robust $5,520 against a $1/1,500 estimate. A Chippendale walnut block-front chest of drawers made in Boston, circa 1740-1760, brought near the top of its estimate to sell for $19,550.
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