Published: February 28, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Burchard Galleries
ST PETERSBURG, FLA. – The 550-lot sale of estate antiques, fine art and jewelry at Burchard Galleries on February 18 featured many lifelong assemblages from collectors as well as museum-quality treasures. Owner Jeff Burchard did not provide an exact total for the sale except to say it was in the “multi-hundred thousand dollars.” On LiveAuctioneers, there were 784 active bidders from 19 countries along with Invaluable’s 151 active bidders from 21 countries. At press time, Burchard said he was waiting for a final count of in-house bidders.
“Orchid,” a photogravure by Robert Mapplethorpe, (American, 1946-1989), topped the sale, selling for $15,990. The black and white image shows an orchid against a black background, full frontal, revealing the symmetry of its interior organs and its petals. Mapplethorpe originally trained as a painter before taking an interest in photography, and said he preferred taking photos of flowers over people. As he said in 1988, “I started with flowers because it was a way to learn photography without putting people through a lot of problems.” Measuring 45 by 37½ inches with margins, the work was pencil-signed lower right, dated ’82, numbered 1/30 lower left and archivally framed. It went to a private party in New York.
Among the more than 150 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures in the sale, there were 10 works by Peter Max (American/German, b 1937), the artist known for using bright colors in his work. Works by Max are associated with the visual arts and culture of the 1960s, particularly psychedelic art and pop art. “Umbrella Man,” an acrylic on canvas, 20 by 16 inches, sold for $7,995, within estimate. It was signed upper right, framed and stamped “Peter Max, 2001” verso with inventory ID numbers. It has been said that the story behind Max’s “Umbrella Man” series is that the artist was inspired by a photo of two men walking away from the camera with one man, the famous cellist Pablo Casals, holding the umbrella for his friend Pablo Picasso. Max reportedly drew only one of the figures: the man with the umbrella who was doing the work.
Also by Max, “Statue of Liberty Head,” a serigraph/canvas with acrylic paint, 10 by 8 inches, brought $5,228. Max has several recurring images that he’s returned to throughout his career, but perhaps none are more famous than the Statue of Liberty. In the early 1980s, the actual statue was cracked, crumbling and in desperate need of restoration. For America’s Bicentennial in 1976, Max on July 4, 1976, painted his first portrait of the Statue of Liberty. It became an annual tradition, and each year he painted another, dovetailing with a restoration project launched by the President Reagan Administration and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation that raised more than $350 million in donations to restore the statue, with Max remaining deeply involved in the process.
Vivid colors were also present in an acrylic sculpture by Yankel Ginzburg (Russian/American, b 1945). “Lover’s Gate,” 22½ inches high, comprised five thick lucite/acrylic colored plates that are interchangeable to create different designs. Included with this lot is paperwork from the Yankel Ginzburg Studio denoting this piece as number 43 of a limited production of 45 with an appraised value of $7,500. A bidder won it here for $5,228.
On the monochromatic end of the scale, two large modern welded metal abstract outdoor sculptures in the swooping style of Jerry Meatyard left the gallery at $7,380. The upper portion of both sculptures revolves by hand, and each sculpture stands approximately 76 inches in height.
The sale showcased rare Asian textiles. Fetching $7,688 was a Nineteenth Century Chinese silk Five-Toed Dragon court robe. The Qing dynasty silk robe visually writhed with nine dragons among stylized clouds with numerous literal and auspicious symbols such as bats with wans in mouth, loot, scrolls, rhinoceros horns and more. It measured approximately 54 by 66 inches. A silk Chinese figural robe with medallions and stylized dragon and foliate borders had its sleeves and lower border decorated with phoenix and deer. At approximately 40 by 54 inches, it sold for $6,458.
A treasure trove of estate jewelry yielded a pair of platinum emerald and diamond earrings. In total there were 150 round brilliant-cut diamonds, 12 baguette-cut diamonds and two emeralds. Each emerald measured approximately 9.25 by 7.27 by 5.49mm and 8.87 by 6.99 by 5.32mm. Total diamond weight was approximately 1.76 carats and total emerald weight was approximately 5.15 carats. Considering it was sold with a current Florida Diamond Appraisers appraisal of $18,250, the pair went out at a bargain $5,535.
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Next sale is March 18-19. For information, 727-821-1167 or www.burchardgalleries.com.
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