Published: April 12, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Leland Little
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – “She’s absolutely thrilled with the results,” auctioneer Leland Little said. He was talking about Caroline Faison, the dealer of Continental antiques who owned an eponymous shop in Greensboro, N.C., the contents of which Leland Little Auctions sold on Thursday, April 1. Of the 475 lots that crossed the block, only three passed for a sell-through rate of 99.3 percent and a sale total that exceeded $315,000. The online-only sale was conducted on just one internet platform, with only absentee bids available.
“Caroline has been a friend and customer for over two decades and it has been an honor and a privilege to work with her. She had chosen to close the shop and sell; this was the inventory.” He said that if Faison had a private collection, it had not yet come to market.
Faison’s reputation, both inside and outside the region, drove prices. “We had a lot of interest from her friends, customers and acquaintances. She has a very fine reputation that she’s built over decades. We had a lot of interest, not only in collectors but also from collectors who knew her. She had a very good eye; her things were very visually pleasing and had a great style.”
“Getting these prices was not unexpected given that we could bill this as what it was and her collection. It was the single-owner collection of someone who is beloved and in the trade, with a good reputation whose name drew lots of interest. The prices reflected that.”
Painted furniture was a particular interest to Faison and several examples brought some of the highest prices in the sale. The top lot was a large Nineteenth Century Italian paint-decorated armoire with green and yellow framing around recessed paneled doors with painted figures and birds. It sold to a buyer in New England for $6,000. Going out for $3,960 was a Continental paint-decorated sideboard, late Eighteenth Century, with a blue painted field with figural vignette flanked by panels with a floral bouquet.
The sale featured less than half a dozen pieces of Scandinavian furniture, but one of them – a paint-decorated cabinet that had drop leaves and converted into a table – brought $2,520 from a regional buyer, while a pair of Twentieth Century wall pedestals had faux marbleizing allover and went out at $1,320.
Furniture with marble tops saw strong interest. Bringing the second highest price in the sale at $4,800 was a Nineteenth Century Louis XVI-style diminutive three-drawer commode with white marble top. Bidders took an elegant Italian Neoclassical white, green and parcel-gilt console table with variegated gray marble top to $2,280, just ahead of the $2,160 realized for a Continental Neoclassical style two-drawer fruitwood commode with mottled pink and gray marble top.
Faison’s passion for Delft was witnessed in both two- and three-dimensional forms. Leading the category was a framed Dutch Delft petit feu tile panel of a strutting rooster. According to the catalog, the use of “petit feu” or “low-fire” techniques enabled Delft craftsmen to achieve pastel colors. Bidding on the tile opened at $50 but quickly escalated, ultimately flying to $4,560. A similar tile composition but depicting a seated cat and done exclusively in manganese finished at $2,520, well ahead of a six-tile composition of an early Eighteenth Century still life with flowers, also in manganese, that reached $1,020.
In three-dimensional Dutch Delft, a colorful five-piece mantel garniture set made up of a pair of beaker vases and three covered baluster vases, all depicting an exotic bird surrounded by foliate and marked “De Porseleine Byl” stood tall at $2,280. A comparable set in blue and white depicted figures in a landscape that finished at $1,320, the same price achieved by a pair of Dutch Delft blue and white mantel vases, made circa 1795-1800 and bearing the underglaze blue mark of Johannes Harlees. A pair of grinning manganese glazed Delft seated cats were chased to $1,320.
Faience and majolica were also Faison’s specializations and the sale offered plenty of options that buyers responded to. A pair of unusually large – 13¾ inches high and 18 inches long – faience guardian lions, attributed to Rouen from the early Nineteenth Century and glazed with a vibrant blue achieved the regal price of $3,480 from a New York buyer. A late Nineteenth Century Venetian Rococo-style faience stove heated up to $1,320. Two groups of Italian majolica apothecary and drug jars, each of six pieces, sold for nearly identical prices, with the one that crossed the block first, including Alberelli and Savona examples, making $2,760, while the other, six Savona drug jars, topped off at $2,640.
Quality, if not quantity, denoted the fine art section. A Nineteenth Century Italian early Renaissance-style painting depicting an assembly of well-dressed nobles in an outdoor setting, with horses and dogs, was reminiscent of Florentine influences, particularly that of Filippo Brunelleschi. After extensive bidding, it brought $3,480 from a buyer on the West Coast. A Nineteenth Century painting of numerous birds in a landscape, done in the style of Melchior de Hondecoeter (Dutch, 1636-1695) had a faint illegible signature and date in the lower right-hand corner. It flew to $2,040. Little said people “responded well” to a set of 11 framed hand colored prints from F.O. Morris’ A History of British Birds, that he characterized as “lovely.” They took $1,680.
A vintage hand wrought iron trade sign, made for the Soho Square, London, shop of U.F. Facciotto in the first half of the Twentieth Century, featured scrolls and foliage and the figure of a saint along with the words “Antiques & Decorations.” It sold to a collector in North Carolina for $3,120. Bidders gave chase to a small – 3¾ inches tall and 11½ inches long – cold-painted bronze of an Irish setter, made in Vienna around 1900 by Franz Xavier Bergman, with one finally catching it for $1,320.
While Faison had dealt more extensively in Continental furniture and decorative arts, there were about 50 lots of English pieces in the sale. Among these, most notably, was a late Nineteenth Century paint-decorated four-panel floor screen titled “The Promenade in St James Park.” Bidders pushed it to $2,400. Bringing $1,200 was an English William and Mary-style oak bench from the Nineteenth Century. A buyer in New England paid $1,920 for a set of five Nineteenth Century English floral crewel-work panels that had adorned the walls of Faison’s shop.
Faison sought out interesting pieces; her sense of humor was apparent with a folk art carved and polychromed wooden crocodile that dated to the early Twentieth Century and measured 58 inches in length. Little said it was staying “regionally,” to a buyer who bagged it for $2,040. For $1,800, one buyer netted an antique Continental carved wood figure of a mermaid with silver-gilt tail that was cataloged as early Nineteenth Century.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Leland Little Auctions’ next sale will feature Modern Art and Design and will take place on May 13.
Leland Little is at 620 Cornerstone Court. For information, www.lelandlittle.com or 919-644-1243.
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