Published: October 13, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
FREEHOLD, N.Y. – Going home to Paris is a painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), which sold above high estimate at Carlsen Gallery’s October 4 antiques auction, selling to a phone bidder at $57,000. Pictured is “Castel – Saint-Elia,” a lush landscape of a commune in the province of Viterbo, Latium, central Italy, located about 40 kilometers north of Rome. So, naturally, the gallery had bidders in both Italy, France, United Kingdom and even the United States vying for the 9½-by-14¼-inch canvas. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape and portrait painter as well as a printmaker in etching. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neoclassical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.
The online sale offered items being deaccessioned from the Georgi Museum, Salem, N.Y., as well as items from the estate of Asheton Langdon and Douglas Kent, to benefit Hyde Hall, a National Historic landmark, near Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Georgi was founded at the bequest of Mr and Mrs Georgi, wealthy financiers best known for implementing electricity to the streets of Paris. Notable items from the Georgi Museum included Seventeenth through Nineteenth Century Continental furniture as well as a selection of antique Persian carpets.
“We were blessed with a number of terrific consignments,” the firm’s president and principal auctioneer Russ Carlsen told Antiques and The Arts Weekly after the sale, which approached $500,000 in total sales for 401 lots.
Hyde Hall consigned many exceptional items from the bequest of Asheton Langdon and Douglas Kent of Bedford, N.Y. Langdon was a well-known Broadway set designer and interior decorator and both he and Kent were patrons of the arts. This lifelong collection included the oil painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, which is pictured and listed in the catalogue raisonné by Alfred Robaut, 1905. “We were delighted to have found the painting in the catalogue raisonné,” said Carlsen. Other art included works by Marco Ricci, John Downman, Henri Harpignies, Giacomo Guardi, A. Vickers and James Stark. Many Grand Tour items, mirrors and accessories completed the offering to be sold on behalf of the general fund of Hyde Hall.
Langdon’s set designing sensibilities were clearly evident in two works by Venetian painter Marco Ricci (1679-1729) that were among the sale’s top selling highlights. Fetching $26,400, more than six times its high estimate, was a tempera on board attributed to the artist, a classical composition measuring 11¼ by 16-7/8 inches. Another tempera on board of a similar scene of figures among classical ruins took $22,800, also at a more than sixfold increase over expectations. Both paintings sold to a California collector. Ricci created “sets” that harkened to antiquity. Born in Belluno in 1676, he received his earliest training in Venice from his uncle Sebastiano (1659-1734), although his principal training was not as a figure painter but came as an influence of landscape and view painters then active in Venice. He studied Titian’s landscape paintings and drawings, as recounted by the biographer Zanetti. Although he continued to paint other landscape subjects, he seems to have turned increasingly to depictions of ruins populated with small figures. The scenes do not represent actual archeological sites, but are capriccios composed from a repertory of elements – obelisks, pyramids, sections of temples and colonnades, fallen architectural elements, statues, funeral urns and vases.
A surprise in the sale came in the form of a pair of Grand Tour bronze busts of Vespasian and Titus, father and son Roman emperors who established the Flavian dynasty. Estimated just $300/500 and from the Hyde Hall consignment, the pair went out at $18,750. Grand Tour material has a collectors market, said Carlsen, who added that he plans to have more such items in his next sale at the end of the year. Prices for such material were strong. For example, a Grand Tour Etruscan-style terracotta krater, 20¼ by 12¾ inches, left its $300/900 estimate in the dust to leave the gallery $4,375. Two Italian Nineteenth Century classical gouache watercolors, each measuring 15½ by 20-1/8 inches, earned an above estimate $4,200.
Items from the Georgi Museum added to the sale’s diversity. An antique Mahal carpet, 136 by 98½ inches and exhibiting areas of wear, reweave, patches and repairs, nevertheless elicited $2,250, while an antique room-size Heriz achieved $2,125. A Seventeenth Century cabinet, inlaid and with original hardware, drawers and door was bid to $1,560, and an Italian stretcher-base walnut table with ring-turned legs turned in $1,800.
Asked about conducting sales in the age of COVID-19, Carlsen said, “It’s had a tremendous effect. We weren’t even able to have our employees present for awhile. Unable to conduct auctions, things kept coming to me, so we ended up with a little bit of a backlog.” He said the biggest impact is the fact that everything is sold remotely, and everything has to get shipped or picked up. “Material that is sold languishes here for some time. It used to be at the end of the day, between 50 to 70 percent of the stuff would walk out the door, now the entire sale is there and needs to be shipped or picked up.” The gallery uses third-party shippers.
One lot that crossed the block in this most recent sale presents a shipping challenge. It was a classical three-tiered swan fountain and pan turtles with frog and lily pads. It had graced the Bedford estate of Langdon and Kent, and at 68 inches diameter by 52 inches tall, it was on its way to Canada after selling to a bidder there for $3,600.
“Should be easy to get across the St Lawrence River,” said Carlsen, laughing. “We were thinking about putting it on a raft.”
Furniture highlights included a Twentieth Century reproduction block front Goddard Townsend-style secretary with broken arch top, 98½ by 42¼ inches, that sold for six times its estimate at $9,000. There was also a decorated blanket chest with original bear trap lock that similarly beat its high estimate sixfold to go out at $5,000. On the primitive side, an Eighteenth Century slant lid stand up desk/cupboard in pine towered over its $1,000 high estimate to command $3,000. Selling within estimates were an English tilt top breakfast table with ebonized and brass inlays and banded top, $3,600; and a two-section dining table attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York, circa 1810, with provenance to Ginsberg & Levy, $3,300.
There was significant bling in this sale. A 3.12-carat Asscher cut diamond set with two baguettes in platinum took $16,800, and a large group of mostly 14K with some 18K gold pieces and approximately 65 dwt sold for $3,300. An 18K gold cigarette case with a sapphire clasp made $13,200.
Fine art highlights included a watercolor and pen and ink on paper by Antonio Canal (Canaletto, 1679-1768), “View Of The Square Of St Marks, Venice,” that came from the collection of Langdon and Kent. At 7¼ by 11-3/8 inches, it realized $7,200. A James Renwick Brevoort (1832-1918) oil on canvas “Sunset Farm” landscape with figures, 20 by 36 inches was $4,688. Fetching $4,200 was an 8¾-by-7-inch oil on panel portrait of “Mr Farhill Of Bennetts College, Cambridge,” signed and dated 1777 by John Downman ARA. A Marc Chagall etching, “An Der Staffelei (At the Easel)” from 1922, 50/110, 9-5/8 by 7-3/8 inches, brought $3,000.
Additional items from private sources included estate jewelry and gold coins, and an Art Nouveau figural table lamp depicting “Vesta” crossed the block at $4,500.
Carlsen stated, “We were very pleased to offer these collections as they were truly lifetime endeavors. The quality of this sale was excellent throughout.”
Carlsen Gallery’s next sale will be conducted in December, date to be announced. Prices given include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 518-634-2466 or www.carlsengallery.com.
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