Published: October 11, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Helmuth Stone Gallery
SARASOTA, FLA. – Known for his Paris cityscapes in a variety of weather and night settings, Edouard Leon Cortes (French, 1882-1969) earned the sobriquet “Le Poète Parisien de la Peinture” or “the Parisian Poet of Painting.” The artist’s “Cafe de la Paix,” an oil on canvas, captured both the effects of a rainy city street scene at dusk and bidder interest as it sold for $52,460 at Helmuth Stone Gallery’s October 2 auction. Signed lower right, with inventory reference number verso on canvas, the 18-by-22-inch painting came with a COA from Arnot Galleries.
“The sale total for session one was approximately $260,000,” said Austin Helmuth following the auction. “The sell-through rate was about 65 percent. We had 5,276 registered bidders. We were very pleased with session one of the sale, we had to move the second session to today because of the hurricane and certain complications so we are eager to see how the second part goes. The higher-end artwork performed really well; we had multiple phone bidders on every lot over $10,000.”
The Cortes was just one of more than 200 lots offered in the sale, including paintings by Lê Pho and Vu Cao Dam, plus an important private Chicago collection.
A vibrant floral still life by Lê Pho (French-Vietnamese, 1907-2001) surpassed its $25,000 high estimate to sell for $41,280, going to a collector from Houston, Texas. Sporting a Wally Findlay label verso, the 13¾-by-9½-inch painting bore an inventory number inscribed on the upper stretcher. Lê Pho studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Hanoi from 1925 to 1930. He earned a scholarship at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and he studied there for the next two years under the instruction of Victor Tardieu, a friend and companion of Henri Matisse. He became best known for his stylized depictions of nudes, gardens and floral still lifes. Catalog notes describe his work as succeeding in merging Impressionism, Surrealist and traditional Chinese painting into a sensual yet disconcerting vision of Eden, reminiscent of both Odilon Redon and Pierre Bonnard. The artist chose subjects that he believed were beautiful and pleasing to the eye, so many of his paintings are visual homages to flora and fauna and elegant women.
Similarly, Vu Cao Dam (Vietnamese, 1908-2000) portrayed an elegant woman in relaxed pose in a red gown for “La Poete,” 1969. Signed and dated “69” lower left and inscribed verso, the oil on canvas also had a Wally Findlay Galleries label and measured 10¼ by 8¼ inches. It was bid to $28,750, won by a New York collector.
Fetching $18,125 was a mixed media collage on canvas by Conrad Marca-Relli (American, 1913-2000). The Abstract Expressionist work had been purchased directly from the artist in the late 1970s/early 1980s in Sarasota by local philanthropist and businessman Ed Kalin while the artist lived there. The family was friends with the artist along with Syd Solomon and the Adler family, prominent Sarasota art collectors and art supporters. It was signed lower right. Inscribed verso on canvas and was 19¼ by 25¾ inches.
William Louis Sonntag Sr (1822-1900) was an American landscape painter who became a leading painter of Romantic landscapes as a member of the group known as the Hudson River School. In this sale, one of his monumental Hudson River landscapes with figures, an oil on canvas measuring 32 by 48 inches, brought $16,250.
Dominican Republic artist Candido Bido’s (1936-2011) depiction of two women bending over basins while tending their cascading hair was titled “Peinandose (Combing)” and found a buyer at $7,813. The oil on canvas, signed and dated “64” lower right, titled, signed and inscribed verso on canvas, was 46 by 35 inches and had been given to the consignor by the artist himself in 1965.
An additional art highlight was a rare early view of Florida wetlands depicting cypress trees near a river by Harry Fluhart-Williams (1861-1938). Coming out of a Florida private collection, the 24-by-38-inch oil on upson board was signed lower left and left the gallery at $6,450.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. “There was a large collection from Chicago that performed particularly well, we will be getting more from that collection in the December 4 sale,” said Helmuth. “We will also be offering part two of the Eli Wilner antique frame collection in our December 4 sale.” For information, 941-260-9703 or www.helmuthstone.com.
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