Published: December 13, 2011
A three-day auction offering more than 1,500 lots was conducted by Millea Bros over the weekend of November 18, with exceptional results posted. “This is some of the best stuff we have ever sold,” commented Mark Millea, who along with his brother Michael make up the auction team Millea Bros. The brothers Millea confirmed in the days following the auction that it was also their “highest grossing auction to date.”
“I know it was kinda weird,” stated Mark in regard to their auction advertisements, “but lots of people have commented on it.” Always looking for a new and humorous slant, the brothers “photoshopped” their heads onto an image of a Meissen figurine featuring two putti posed with a lamb and flowers.
One of the main attractions of the auction was a collection of more than 200 pieces of Meissen that had been deaccessioned from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The pieces of consisted of a diverse offering of Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century Meissen animal and figural groups, tableware and many large-format pieces.
The Meissen and a selection of Asian antiques were offered on the opening day of the auction; day two featured a single-owner collection of Impressionist paintings along with Twentieth Century accessories and furnishings; and the final day of the sale offered a selection of formal antiques, including French, Italian and Continental furnishings, along with objects of art and paintings, of which one unassuming work went on to become the top lot of the auction.
The sale began with the Meissen, with the first lot offered setting the tone for the day as a figure of a peacock, estimated at $600/800, sold for $1,020. It was not long before a serious chord was struck as the third lot of the sale, a figure of a seated pug on a cushion estimated at $1/1,500, saw competition from the telephones, Internet and bidders in the gallery. Bidding was quick paced, with the lot hammering down at $6,000.
The top lot of the Meissen came as a large Nineteenth Century equestrian figure of Augustus III was offered. Marked on the base with the blue factory mark and inscribed 448, the two-part figure measured more than 20 inches tall and 21 inches long. Bids came fast and furious, soon eclipsing the $5,000 estimate as it soared to a selling price of $19,200.
A figure of Count Bruhl’s tailor, after a model by Kandler, was another of the Meissen lots to do well. Measuring 17 inches tall, the piece was marked with the blue factory mark and was inscribed on the base 107/11/63. Estimated at $6/8,000, the lot took off as it crossed the block, finishing up moments later at $16,800.
Other lots of interest included an allegorical group of “Peace” measuring more than 12 inches tall that realized $8,400; a group depicting Elizabeth of Russia ($1,2/1,800) sold at $7,788; and a model of two pugs and a pup ($1,2/1,800) brought $6,600.
The top lot of the day came as a large pair of Serves cobalt blue urn/lamp bases with bronze mounts was offered. Measuring almost 30 inches tall, the pieces were signed C. Leber and carried an estimate of $15/25,000. Bids came from several in the gallery, and sold at $37,200.
Asian ceramics, accessories and furnishings were also sold on day one of the auction. Leading the group was a set of 18 carved ivory luohan figures with polychromed robes and mounted on hardwood stands. The group was bid actively by several of the Asian clients in the room and sold well above the $2/3,000 estimate, realizing $30,000.
A nice Chinese eight-panel hardwood screen with blue and white porcelain plaques depicting landscapes more than doubled estimates, fetching $18,000, a suite of three Chinese Qing dynasty leaf-form tables went for $14,400, and a Nineteenth Century Chinese Export carved hardwood table with marble top brought $12,000.
A large Qing dynasty blue and white glazed hu-form vase tripled estimates, bringing $16,800, while a pair of Chinese Export hexagonal glazed jars realized $11,400.
Also sold was a Meiji period Japanese wakizashi samurai sword with nice quality saya mounts that garnered considerable interest; selling far beyond the $500/700 estimate, it sold at $12,600.
The second day of the auction also proved eventful, with the top lot of the session coming as an assemblage of found objects by Mokuma Kihuhata was offered. Titled “Roulette Hero,” the framed work listed a provenance of several galleries and the Museum of Modern Art. Estimated at $7/10,000, it finished at $34,800.
Other art in the sale included a painting depicting a town scene by Russian artist Abraham Manievich that realized $24,000, while another work by the artist, a homestead scene, brought $15,600.
An early poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec also did well. Titled “Reine de Joie,” the poster brought $14,400.
Twentieth Century furnishings were highlighted by a studded yellow lacquer sideboard by Tommi Parzinger, circa 1970, that retained the original labels. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it handily exceeding estimates as it concluded at $16,800. A pair of lamps attributed to Alberto Giacometti in the form of female heads and constructed of wood and plaster sold for $18,000.
A George III giltwood overmantel mirror attracted the attention of several buyers, with two telephone bidders battling with a buyer in the gallery all the way to a selling price of $12,000. An Edwardian inlaid rosewood secretary bureau from the late Nineteenth Century sold at $9,000.
Day three of the auction saw fireworks erupt from start to finish. Offered late in the day was an unassuming Continental portrait of a bearded man who was knitting. With some red wax seals on the verso, the painting was cataloged as “apparently unsigned” and either late Seventeenth or early Eighteenth Century. Assigned an estimate of $1/1,500, the painting opened to a burst of bidding from the telephones, soaring to a selling price of $384,000.
Other works of art from the session included a First Century Roman marble figure of Aphrodite that attracted a great deal of interest from telephone bidders, selling far above estimates at $32,400.
A painting in the manner of Francesco Guardi titled “View of Doge’s Palace” was another lot to do well, with it being knocked down at $12,200, as was a work by Pompeo Mariani depicting figures at the seashore.
A drawing of flora in a garden by Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck sold for $18,000.
Furniture from the session included a Portuguese Colonial period tortoise and ivory chest on stand that more than tripled estimates, selling at $38,400, and a Louis XVI-style secretaire commode from the late Nineteenth Century and possibly by Henri Dasson that brought $15,600. An Italian neoclassical low table with scagliola top finished at $7,200, while an Empire table with pietra dura top with parrot inlay sold at $10,800.
Other items of interest included a small Russian silver and enamel box that soared past the high estimate of $1,000 to bring $12,000, a gold bracelet by M. Buccellati that doubled estimates at $8,400, and a large Gorham tray that brought $9,000.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium charged.
For additional information, www.milleabros.com or 973-605-1265.
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