Published: October 15, 2019
Review by Greg Smith, Images Courtesy Cottone Auctions
GENESEO, N.Y. – Sometimes a string of occurrences will go on to define a period of time. For Matt Cottone and Cottone Auctions, 2019 will be heads and shoulders above the rest, perhaps the “Year They Got Ahead.” Or three. Building on the firm’s March sale when it sold two rediscovered marble busts by the French Eighteenth Century sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon for a combined $1,475,000, the firm did it again on September 28 when it auctioned off a Roman marble head of Dionysos for $413,000 above an $80,000 estimate.
“Seems to be a big year for busts,” we said to Matt Cottone following the sale. He laughed. “We’re making it look like our specialty,” he said, “but I think they have been special pieces. It’s been a good year for us.”
The 13-inch-high head of Dionysos had descended through the same family for approximately 100 years and came with a 1923 invoice from the Kalebdjian Frères Antiquaires. The marble work was Roman Imperial, Hadrianic, from the first half of the Second Century CE, after an early Fourth Century BCE late classical Greek archetype.
Cottone said that the chain of provenance on the piece helped it immensely. “[Provenance] is beyond critical when you deal with antiquities, and [the chain] went back to the turn of the century. It had been in the same family, came with an original receipt, and it had never been offered for sale before.”
Bidding was competitive, Cottone said, noting the 15 phone lines on the lot. “It was just a beautiful sculpture. The execution of it was great. And that’s not just my opinion on it. There were a handful of bidders into the $200/250,000 range, it wasn’t just two bidders there.”
The lot sold on the phone to an international bidder.
With a 90 percent sell through rate for the 329-lot auction, the Cottone sale found success in its varied offerings. It finished at $2.3 million in total sales. The auction included more than 130 lots from dealer Peter Tillou, who Antiques and The Arts Weekly profiled in our August 16, 2019 issue. The sale also included the collection of Lorraine and the late Sy Merrall of Brighton, N.Y. Adding to this mix were several other estates and collections.
The Tillou offerings mostly sold between the estimates. They were led by a Maximilian suit of armor in the Sixteenth Century style that had provenance to London arms and armor dealer Peter Finer. The sale of the lot for $47,200 was timely, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounting the exhibition “The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I” profiled on the cover of this (October 25, 2019) issue and available for viewing through January 5.
Cottone said that Tillou’s name held a lot of weight in the marketplace, drawing interest from domestic and international bidders for his exceptional eye. “In the end, it’s always about the item. If it’s not a good item, it doesn’t matter whose it was. But Peter is known for handling great items throughout his entire career, so that’s a great bonus.”
Other notable sales from the Tillou collection included two Japanese Meiji period mixed metal vases, Nineteenth Century and 18 inches high, decorated with pheasants and foliage. They went out near the high estimate at $24,780. A carved and painted cigar store Indian attributed to Thomas Brooks, circa 1900, found tepid response when it sold for $18,290. Nine lots, including 13 watercolor works from Nineteenth Century artists Amedeo Preziosi and Adalbert de Beaumont, did well, selling for a combined $64,015. The unpublished works documented a journey through Egypt and Constantinople by French Prince Roger de Bauffremont (1823-1891), whose collection these reportedly at one point came from. Continental furniture from the Tillou collection was led by a Sixteenth Century Spanish polychrome painted sacristy commode in pine and walnut, $10,620.
An English Hepplewhite accordion dining table with inlaid shell design and decoration, circa 1890 and from the Chaptman Collection, brought $8,850. An Eighteenth Century painted European kas took $5,310. Not to be forgotten were the carpets that Tillou had acquired over the years, some with provenance to Peter Pap. At the top was an Eagle Kazak, 8 feet 5 inches by 5 feet 8 inches, Nineteenth Century, which sold over high estimate for $12,685. Another Nineteenth Century Kazak, this with animal decoration, 8 feet 5 inches by 4 feet 11 inches, took $6,195. A Shirvan rug, circa 1900, 11 feet 6 inches by 5 feet 2 inches, took $9,440.
Cottone had no issue selling the Midcentury Design collection of Lorraine and the late Sy Merrall of Brighton, N.Y. Sy was a former vice president at Bausch & Lomb. The couple bought the 38 lots in this sale new in the 1960s-70s and lived with them their entire life.
Cottone said the collection sold very well.
“It’s kind of a can’t-miss category these days, there was great interest across the board in those things,” Cottone said. “Being a single owner collection, you hardly had to answer any questions, and you didn’t have to make an excuse for anything. It was in great condition and it all spoke for itself.”
The collection was led by two pieces of furniture from Danish designer Finn Juhl, who supplied an upholstered teak settee, model NV-53, produced by Niels Vodder, that took $12,980. The designer’s Chieftain chair, produced by Baker Furniture, sold for $12,390. A 119¾-inch-width teak modular bookcase designed by Mogens Koch in 1948 and produced by Rud Rasmussen went out at $12,390. Two chairs from Hans Wegner would do well, including $11,800 for a Papa Bear Chair and ottoman as well as $9,440 for the designer’s valet chair. The couple’s collection also included designs by Charles and Ray Eames, Bruno Mathsson, George Nelson, Nanna Ditzel, Isamu Noguchi, Borge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen and others.
Two antique cars were sold in the auction and both came from the estate of Lisle Hopkins in Bath, N.Y. The family had acquired them both 50 years ago. A $69,620 result came for a 1931 Packard Model 840, a six-wheel rumble seat roadster with brown leather interior. A 1931 Cadillac 335 Fleetwood brought $64,900. Both cars had won awards at shows.
Thirteen examples of Tiffany lighting from seven different collections found even bidding. All but one sold and they all went between or above estimate. Leading them was a Dragonfly table lamp that took $64,900. A Poppy table lamp would sell for $54,280, while an Arrowroot table lamp brought $43,660. Though all had bronze bases, the latter stood out with a pumpkin oil base.
Cottone teased a collection of Roman and gold coins that come from the same collection as the Dionysos sculpture for his November 23 sale.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, 585-243-1000 or www.cottoneauctions.com.
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