Published: June 7, 2011
A rare Turkestan ensi rug, one of ten known examples from the Salor tribe, and one which auctioneer Michael B. Grogan described simply as “regal,” was the runaway favorite at Grogan & Company’s May 22 sale, where it brought $241,500.
Ensi rugs were made originally to cover the entry way to a tent or yurt; this example is unique for such design elements as the double rams’ head and ascending rams’ head decoration enfolding the upper and lower sections and the meandering vine of the skirt. Grogan discovered the mid-Eighteenth Century rug on a routine house call in Westhampton, N.Y., and it is the subject of a clip on YouTube (accessible from the Grogan & Company website) in which Grogan waxes lyrical on the qualities of the rug.
Others appreciated its rarity as well; collectors and scholars from around the world expressed interest and came to see it, but it sold to San Francisco and New Hampshire rug dealer Peter Pap, acting as agent for a collector. The last time such an example sold was 1995, when one brought $90,000, so the rug achieved a record price for a Turkestan Salor ensi.
As is his wont, Grogan offered other highly desirable rugs. A Nineteenth Century West Turkestan Beshir prayer rug that measured 6 feet 10 inches by 3 feet 7 inches sold for $19,550. A Nineteenth Century Salor silk and wool trapping fragment measuring 3 feet 3 inches by 1 foot 9 inches then sold for $11,500. It had come from the collection of Morton C. Bradley Jr, a Boston area artist, collector, art conservator and writer.
An early Eighteenth Century Chinese saddle rug realized $10,925. It was formerly in the collection of Arthur Urbane Dilley, founder and first president of the Hajji Baba Rug Collectors Club and the subject of an intriguing profile in the September 2, 1939, edition of The New Yorker . The 4-foot 7-inch by 2-foot 5-inch rug was also on view in the 1960 exhibit of rugs from the collections of Hajji Baba’s members at the Textile Museum in Washington.
Midcentury art glass and Modern paintings from the collection of Jacob B. and Beatrice A. Noble, who gathered in the 1960s onward, include some stellar examples. Noble worked in the textile industry for much of his career, and turned to dealing in retirement. He operated Le Verre Noble near his Berkshire County home.
The highlight of Noble’s pictures was “Flowering Personage,” the oil on canvas by Dutch Modernist artist Karel Appel that sold for $92,500. The successful bidder was a Canadian collector who first saw the painting online. Appel’s colorful ceramic sculpture “Two Figures” realized $12,075 from a glass dealer in the gallery.
The colorful oil on canvas “Phantom in the Room, No. 7” by Scottish artist Alan Davie was dated July 1971 and sold for $13,800, the opening bid. The cover lot, a 1938 landscape by Andre l’Hote, was signed and dated and sold below the low estimate at $18,400; Dan Christiansen’s 1981 acrylic abstract “Ancient Wind” fetched $7,475. They all came from the Noble estate.
Paintings from other collections included the 1932 “A Modern Madonna” by William McGregor Paxton, which sold to a Utah collector for $37,375. The painting remained in the artist’s collection until his 1941 death when it passed to his wife, Elizabeth Okie Paxton, who bears a marked resemblance to the Madonna, although the couple had no children. In the 1950s, she donated it to their church in Newton, Mass., where it remained until it was deaccessioned in 1998. It came to auction most recently from a private collection.
The 1866 oil on canvas floral still life with strawberries and tankard that was signed and dated by Nineteenth Century Belgian artist Jean Baptiste Robie sold for $27,600.
One lot of seven numbered color woodcuts, “Nana Hyaku Mizu Suite” by Viennese artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser brought $23,000 from an Internet bidder.
“Cottage by a River,” a view of a thatched cottage with an abundant flower garden by American artist Louis Aston Knight, was signed and inscribed “Paris.” From Tonomora, the Rhode Island estate of Margaret O’Donnell, the painting sold at Grogan in October 1995. This time out it realized $21,850.
Thomas Hovenden’s oil on canvas portrait of a gentleman, who may have been Thomas Eakins, brought $16,100 against the estimated $2/3,000. The painting was signed and inscribed, “T. Hovenden Pont-Aven 1879” and “To my friend…ifford” but the inscription on the back, “Thomas Eakins 1879” suggests that artist as the subject.
A gouache and ink on paper work by Fernand Leger was initialed and dated “50.” Retaining a label of the art gallery of the J.L. Hudson department store in Detroit, it sold for $13,800.
Beatrice and Jacob Noble bought highly desirable work by the masters of Twentieth Century Venetian glass. The shining star of their estate was Fulvio Bianconi’s 10½-inch “Con Macchia” vase for Venini that sold to a New York dealer in the gallery for $33,350, despite a hairline.
A 14¾-inch murrine dish in a brick color with an abstract cream color center design by Carlo Scarpa for Venini, along with a Venini vase with a yellow and brown ribbon decoration, were offered. Catalog notes advised that the dish was cracked and chipped and appeared to have been filed down on one area and the lot was estimated at $600/900. Bidders chased the lot because of the etched Venini stamp on the vase that made it early and rare and drove the lot to $24,150. A murrine dish in a geometric and lacy sea gray pattern with an aqua stream through it, also by Scarpa for Venini, was $11,500.
Two merletto (lacy) vases by Archimede Seguso for Murano included an 11-inch dark red example that sold online for $15,340 and a second example in aqua and lacy white filigree that retained the original paper label and brought $9,775 from an absentee buyer.
Thomas Stearns’ 1962 dome-shaped 1962 “Capello Ducale” vase for Venini brought $12,650 in the gallery and his 65/8-inch Nebbia Lunare vase, also for Venini and retaining the original label, sold for $11,500. Stearns was the first American to design for Venini and earned Best in Show at the 1960 Venice Biennial, but when the judges learned that he was American, the award was rescinded. The artist designed for Venini for three years, but because his designs were difficult to produce in volume, they are rare.
Master glassworker Ercole Barovier’s 8-inch murrine vase for Barovier & Toso realized $11,500, and a 10-inch Barovier & Toso blue and brown tesserae and patchwork vase retaining the original label brought $10,350.
Furniture included a Federal mahogany chest-on-chest with carving attributed to Samuel McIntire related closely to an example in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum and illustrated in Dean T. Lahikainen’s Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style. From a historic Princeton, Mass., collection, it sold for $10,925.
A George III mahogany triple-pedestal dining table that extends to 138 inches realized $8,050, and a set of eight Chippendale-style mahogany dining chairs, including two armchairs, went out at $4,025.
One lot with an interesting history was the silver and blue enamel desk clock by Twentieth Century Fabergé workmaster Henrik Immanuel Wigström ($3/5,000) that sold for $86,250. The piece retained four hallmarks and had an ivory back. It went to a California buyer who is the possessor of a meticulous account of the Faberge workshops; the buyer revealed that the clock was sold to the Ohio-born Nonnie May Stewart. She was a divorcee, then the widow of American tin magnate William Bateman Leeds and in 1920 married H.R.H. Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, becoming H.R.H. Princess Anastasia. As Nancy Stewart Leeds, she purchased the clock, which came from a local collection, in the London shop of the House of Fabergé in 1914.
Selected silver of interest included a lot comprising an Irish silver footed tray by William Williamson of Dublin, a Georgian silver plate made in London in about 1764 and a Georgian silver footed tray from London, circa 1775, brought $5,605. An Edwardian silver oval basket made in London in 1896 and bearing an indistinct maker’s mark, along with a 1911 underplate by William Comyns and Sons of London drew $5,015.
Another clock that attracted much presale interest was the William and Mary ebonized and gilt-metal bracket clock by William Harris of London that fetched $8,050. Among the other clocks across the block was a 95-inch Eighteenth Century Queen Anne tall case clock with red chinoiserie decoration and made by James Chater and Son of London that drew $6,613. The clock, which had some condition issues, had come from the Newport, R.I., estate of Marcella Clark McCormack.
A 57-inch George II carved giltwood mirror with two candleholders and carved with a shell and swags went for $11,500. A Venetian etched glass wall mirror drew $4,025. It was one of a number of objects from the Osterville, Mass., antiques shop of A. Stanley Wheelock.
Bidders made their own decision about a Chinese Export famille rose covered tureen with rabbit head handles that was cataloged as a Twentieth Century piece in the style of the Eighteenth Century King John Double Peacock service. Estimated at $500‱,000, the final price of $7,080 suggests confidence in a much earlier date. It came from the Wheelock shop, as did an assembled three-piece ruby glass garniture that realized $7,182 and may have been by Biedermeier.
Several lots of books from an area collection appealed to bibliophiles, who drove one group of about 350 books, some leather-bound and all in English, above the estimated $1/1,500 to $10,350. A smaller group of about 80 partial leather-bound books in English, mostly on history and literature, was $4,600.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.groganco.com or 781-461-9500.
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