Published: February 28, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy DuMouchelles
DETROIT, MICH. – DuMouchelles’ diverse two-day sale, February 16-17, had something for everyone. The Thursday session featured estate jewelry – brooches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants and watches – art glass, porcelain, antique furniture and clocks and more. Friday kicked off with fine art and there was lots of it – from Setha Arca Whipple, Robert Hopkin, Edward Hopper, Edward Darley Boit, Jean Dubuffet and many others. Midcentury Modern (MCM) furniture was also a draw, including pieces by Edward Wormley, Paul Evans and Frank Lloyd Wright. The sale totaled $860,559 with an 84 percent sell-through rate and 3,254 registered bidders.
Quintessential underdog Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman was captured in a sendup by Chinese-American painter Martin Wong (1946-1999) in an oil on canvas from circa 1978-79 that led the firm’s second day of sales. Selling for $148,800 and heading to New York City, the 36-by-48-inch work depicting the goofy icon created by Mad illustrator Norman Mingo bore a stamp lower left with two Chinese character seals over circular stamp: “Martin Wong, Human Instamatic” encircling: “I.M.U” over “U.R.2.” A hand-painted faux wood frame adorned the canvas edges. Wong’s work has been described as a meticulous blend of social realism and visionary art styles. This painting came out of a Southfield, Mich., collection of an individual who purchased it from an Oakland County, Mich., estate as part of a private sale around 2010.
Edward Hopper’s (American, 1882-1967) wife Jo was captured in a conte crayon on paper drawing, circa 1943, a study for “Hotel Lobby,” which is in the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In this 12¾-by-9½-inch study, which sold for $38,100 to an internet bidder in Florida, Jo is drawn in a much more detailed and careful manner than in the finished painting. Her face is recognizable, and the elegant curve of her leg and her hands are sensitively portrayed. Hopper gave the drawing to his wife in 1967, from which it entered a private New Jersey collection and subsequent gallery and private collections.
Seth Arca Whipple (American, 1855-1901) was represented by an 1881 oil on canvas depicting the towboat Martin Swain, a Grummond Line steam-powered towboat that plied the Great Lakes. Fetching $34,925, the 20-by-34-inch painting was signed lower left “S. Whipple” and dated “5 1881.” Catalog notes observe that in the painting the ship is flying the Grummond’s Line flag with the company’s signature gold weather cock atop the pilothouse. The Swain is depicted on the same tack as a three-masted Great Lakes sailing ship and is believed to be Whipple’s commentary on how steam power was on a collision course with, and overtaking, sail power in the Great Lakes maritime industry. The Martin Swain was built in 1881 in the Detroit Dry Dock Co. Shipyard for the S.B. Grummond Line and was named for the Detroit wrecking tug Captain Martin Swain (1843-1925).
Sculpture highlights included works by Jacob Epstein (British, 1880-1959) and a bronze bull after Isidore Jules Bonheur (French, 1827-01). The Epstein was a bronze on a marble base, circa 1936, depicting Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The three-quarter length bust portrait was created by Epstein at the request of Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson to be sold to raise funds for Ethiopia. With brown patina and a base height of 30¼ inches, length of 34 inches and depth of 23 inches, the sculpture was bid to $26,040 to a phone bidder in the United Kingdom.
The bronze bull with banderillas, the barbed sticks used in bullfighting, was 15 inches high and doubled its high estimate to finish at $8,255. From a private Bloomfield, Mich., collection, it was a posthumous piece with artist’s signature to the base in mold and was presented on a green marble base.
An internet bidder from Washington state took possession of a collection of netsuke carved wood pieces, bidding it to $10,160.
Among the MCM furniture on offer, the best result came from a pair of occasional tables by Edward Wormley (American, 1907-1995), which realized $10,160 to an internet bidder in California. They were a matched pair of custom finished walnut Janus model 6047 tables, 1960, each having 25 inset green “Crystalline” tiles by Otto and Gertrud Natzler. The undersides bore an original gold “Dunbar Berne, Indiana” manufacturer’s label.
Day one had a Patek Philippe & Cie (Geneva) “Gondola” platinum pendant watch on an 18K gold necklace, circa 1850. It sold for $12,400 to a phone bidder out of California.
Rounding out the sale’s top highlights were a Reed & Barton “1824 Collection” of silverplate napkin rings, 18 pieces, which found a new home when a local phone bidder prevailed at $3,720; Numa Patlagean’s (Italian, 1888-1961) Art Deco Burgundian stone bust, circa 1929, titled “Sourire Intimee,” 16 inches high, going to a local internet bidder for $4,650; and, won by a phone bidder in New York, an Antonio and Lorenzo Cialli glazed terracotta sculpture, circa 1784, depicting “Pope Pius VI on Horseback,” 18 inches high, pushing it to $4,030.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Next sale is March 16-17. For additional information, www.dumoart.com or 313-963-6255.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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