Published: January 26, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Ripley Auctions
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Four collections local to the Indianapolis area combined for more than $350,000 on 325 lots in Ripley Auctions’ January 16 sale. Into that mix was material spanning fine art, glass from Murano to Tiffany Studios, a library of music-related titles, sculptures, Art Deco decorative arts and much more.
Leading the sale – and proving that focus adds value – were two works supplied by a collector local to the auction house who bought postwar female artists from New York. The sale’s top lot was “Untitled (Can’t See the End Table for the Trees)” by Lois Dodd (American, b 1927), which sold for $71,875, an auction record for the artist. The same 66-by-48-inch oil on canvas had a $9,075 result from a North Carolina auction house in 2015 and it passed on a $5/7,000 estimate with a Chicago-based auction in 2017. The result leaps over the artist’s previous $10,625 record amid the present moment when artwork by female artists is seeing strong interest in the market.
“Interest was from all over the country,” said Ripley’s vice president and head of inventory, Andrea Hastings. “We had interest from people who represented the artist and we really feel we reached all available parties.”
Now 93 years old, Dodd has been the subject of more than 50 one-woman shows, including a 2012 retrospective at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. A book on her work was released in 2017. In 1952, Dodd was among of the founding members of the Tanager Gallery in New York City.
Behind at $65,625 was an untitled still life by Mercedes Carles Matter (American, 1913-2001). The oil on canvas measured 43 by 49½ inches, was executed in 1962 and had been acquired from the artist. It was also an auction record for Matter, whose previous high mark was at $25,000.
Matter was another influential New York City art figure and teacher, holding positions at New York University, the Philadelphia College of Art, the Pratt Institute and founding the New York Studio School of Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture, which is still in operation today. Born the daughter of Philadelphia artist Arthur B. Carles, Matter studied with some of the century’s greatest artists including Maurice Sterne, Alexander Archipenko and Hans Hofmann. She was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group in the late 1930s.
Dodd and Matter were peers. Both exhibited at the Tanager Gallery and in the 1950s or 1960s, Dodd was among those in attendance at a weekly drawing group that Matter started. Others in attendance were Philip Guston, Philip Perlstein and Alex Katz.
Other paintings that proved notable included a $12,500 result for UK artist Gillian Ayres (1930-2018) for “Angel Heart,” a 1992 oil on canvas measuring 50½ by 38½ inches. “Development of Exsultate,” a 1985 ink and watercolor on prepared acetate by Canadian artist Dorothea Rockburne (b 1932) sold for $6,875.
Hastings related that nearly everyone in Indianapolis had a story of meeting its transplanted maestro, Raymond Leppard, who was the conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 14 years. He passed away in 2019. The sale offered the contents of Leppard’s library, which included a vast selection of rare musical titles.
“He was very open, had many friends and was a very significant part of the arts community,” Hastings said. “He was the nicest guy and it was just an amazing thing to present his music library.”
Rising to $3,500 was a 1744 copy of the music for Dardanus, an opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau. After the premiere in 1739 at the Paris Opéra, the opera received mixed reviews, causing Rameau to rewrite it for its 1744 revival, which seems to coincide with this work. An Account Of The Musical Performances In Westminster-Abbey, And The Pantheon In Commemoration Of Handel, published in 1785, went on to bring $1,625.
From 1913 was a handwritten and scored Irish Rhapsody No. 4, The Fisherman of Loch Neagh and What He Saw, by Charles Villiers Stanford. Both Stanford and Leppard were, at separate times, directors of music at Trinity College. Also from Stanford was a handwritten and scored edition of Cushendall, An Irish Song Cycles, the poems by John Stevenson. It sold for $2,000.
Leppard collected artworks as well, including a portrait drawing of French composer Marin Marais (1656-1728) featuring the musician playing a viol, for which he was renowned. It took $3,750. Also from Leppard’s collection was an original illustration plate from the 1687 Francis Sandford work History of the Coronation of James II and of Queen Mary. The work was a disaster for Sandford, who published it just before James II’s overthrow from the throne. Sandford was jailed for his debt and died in prison in 1694. The plate sold for $3,750.
“The sales have just been really great lately,” Hastings said. “We’re finding really fantastic collections.”
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For information, www.ripleyauctions.com or 317-251-5635.
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