Published: June 16, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Doyle
NEW YORK CITY – On June 3, Doyle held an 80-lot auction of Old Master & Nineteenth Century Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture. Showcased were a wide range of landscapes, still life paintings, portraits and religious subjects by European artists from the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century. With competitive international bidding, the sale totaled $365,813, surpassing the estimate of $163,500/267,900 with 88 percent of lots selling.
Elaine Banks Stainton, Doyle’s senior specialist in fine art, was very pleased when we spoke with her, having closed the deal on several works that had passed off the podium. “The sale, which included works fresh to the market from a variety of estates and private collections, attracted buyers from around the world,” she said, “These included both longstanding clients and many new to Doyle. Bidding was spirited and enthusiastic, sending realized prices over the high estimate for the sale.”
Under normal circumstances, Doyle typically includes Old Master and Nineteenth Century works of art in sales with English and Continental furniture, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the firm opted to sell the fine art separately from the decorative arts. Previews were by appointment only and were conducted by an art handler who showed items individually to clients outside Doyle’s front door on East 87th Street. Stainton prepared extensive photographs and condition reports for clients who were unable or unwilling to come to Manhattan to examine works.
Organized chronologically, a Sixteenth Century Tuscan school painting of Saint Dominic exceeded expectations, bringing $5,000 ($2/4,000). A floral still life from a follower of Jan van Os more than quadrupled expectations, bringing $12,500. The sale featured two marble sculptures that saw interest from American bidders: “Two Sleeping Children” by Joseph Gott (British, 1785-1860), brought $5,312, while a bust of a woman by John Gibson (British, 1790-1866) realized $10,625. Towards the end of the sale, a small selection of sporting works of art were presented, led by two works by Francis Calcraft Turner (British, born circa 1782-1846) that made $5,937.
Highlighting the sale – and the last lot on offer – was an 1893 portrait of Charles Frederick Worth by French artist Emile Friant (1863-1932) that achieved $53,125, more than doubling its estimate of $15/20,000. Referred to as the father of haute couture, Worth dominated French dressmaking in the late Nineteenth Century and dressed the era’s most fashionable women on both sides of the Atlantic. The portrait was painted only two years before his death and was consigned to auction by one of his descendants, who Stainton said was “ecstatic” with the results.
The estate of Robin R. Henry was the source of several of the top works in the sale. Stainton acknowledged the quality of Henry’s collection, characterizing her taste and eye as “exquisite.” One of several highlights from her estate were two works by Ottavio Maria Leone (1578-1630), who was considered one of the most sought-after portrait draftsmen in Rome in the early Seventeenth Century. His likenesses in black chalk are noted for their silver tonality and the elegance of their execution. “A Portrait of a Gentleman Wearing a Ruff” in exceptionally fine condition soared to $50,000, ten times its estimate of $3/5,000. Its companion, “Portrait of a Lady,” sold for $18,750, just above its $10/15,000 estimate. Two different English trade buyers were the winning bidders of the Leone works.
From the same estate was a portrait in black chalk heightened with white attributed to Louis-Leopold Boilly. The drawing depicted Simon Chenard, one of the most popular actors and singers of the day. Determined bidders, including a French museum, drove the work far past its estimate of $600/900 to a surprising $17,500.
All prices include the buyer’s premium as published by the auction house.
Doyle’s next sale of Old Master and Nineteenth Century works of art will take place in October or early November.
Doyle is at 175 East 87th Street. For information, 212-427-4141, or www.doyle.com.
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