Published: November 2, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Andrew Jones Auctions
LOS ANGELES – Auctioneers usually tread carefully when antiques dealers want to sell their inventory at auction because the dealers, understandably, want to protect their interests and often ask for high reserves. If reserves were in place when Andrew Jones Auctions offered Part I from John Nelson’s Collection on October 24, the results of the sale suggest they were immaterial. All 271 lots offered crossed the block successfully and the sale more than doubled its estimate to realize $1.6 million.
The sale was somewhat different in that the dealer had passed away in mid-June. He had been a fixture in the Los Angeles antiques and design scene for more than 50 years, specializing in European furniture and furnishings, Chinese porcelains, paintings, sculpture, antiquities and Grand Tour items. His reputation attracted interest in the sale from around the world; the prices achieved are a testament to his eye.
“I am beyond elated that the sale performed as fantastically as it did,” said Andrew Jones, company president and chief executive officer. “A telephone bidder during the auction said, ‘I bet John is looking down from heaven with a big smile.’ I can’t image a better result than that.” Jones noted he was particularly pleased at having done so well for a dealer he had known for years and one he considered a friend.
Nelson’s marbles did marvelously, with a near pair of life-sized marble dogs, on gray marble pedestals, claiming the award for “Best in Show.” A buyer in London outlasted bidders in the United States and Europe to win them for $62,500. Second highest honors went to an Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century Continental white marble torso of a youth, which a Los Angeles decorator wrestled away from global competition, for $35,000. Two Roman marble lion head reliefs that turned out to probably be ancient, were underbid by an international antiquities dealer, who lost out to a Los Angeles area collector, at $23,750.
Bronzes were also popular with buyers, particularly those of the Grand Tour variety. Nearly quadrupling its high estimate and selling for $10,625 was a large mid-Nineteenth Century Italian patinated bronze bust of King Nicomedes on a giallo marble socle. Two Nineteenth Century Italian patinated bronze figures each brought $9,375; one was a copy of the Spinario, the other a model of the Runner of Herculaneum.
Nearly half of the sale was furniture, with Continental works in pairs attracting notably strong results. A New York decorator had to pay $30,000 to prevail against international competition on a pair of late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century Italian Neoclassical parcel-gilt and white painted demilune console tables with breccia corallina marble tops. Of similar age and origin, a pair of giltwood and cobalt glass pier mirrors brought $27,500 from a Los Angeles decorator while a pair of George II giltwood pier mirrors, possibly Irish, reflected their quality in the $22,500 price achieved. A pair of Louis XVI-style gilt bronze mounted Chinese gilt and scarlet lacquered amaranth and thuya side cabinets, made and marked by Jean Louis Benjamin Gros of Paris in the third quarter of the Nineteenth Century, had inset Spanish brocatelle marble tops and traded hands at $27,500.
Fine art made up about one-fourth of the sale with the category led by a painting of two tethered hounds after Joseph Urbain Melin (French, 1814-1886), one of four works in the sale by the artist. It sold to a New York decorator for $25,000; the others sold more modestly, for $10,000 or $11,250. A collector in the American South acquired two, a collector in Los Angeles acquired the fourth.
A painting by a follower of Jacob Bogdani (Dutch Hungarian, 1660-1724) featured a composition filled with lush flowers, birds and a monkey; it soared to $21,250, while a group of four Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century Italian Cappriccio scenes closed out at $15,000.
Jones thought the Nelson Collection would take more than a year to sell; Part II is scheduled for December 12.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 213-748-8008 or www.andrewjonesauctions.com.
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