Published: July 27, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Stair Galleries
HUDSON, N.Y. – On July 15, Stair Galleries offered property from the collection of Luigi Pellettieri, a single-owner sale to celebrate his passion for history, sculpture, paintings and furniture. Leave it to a photographer’s trained eye to discern the best in antiques and fine art. For more than 40 years, photographer Pellettieri has honed his collector’s eye working with the best art and antiquities dealers and auctioneers, including a stint with Ron Bourgeault’s Northeast Auctions, so it was not surprising that his exemplary taste was reflected in the collection he amassed over a lifetime. The focus of his collection was European Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century furniture and works of art. The white-glove sale totaled $318,642, with 713 online bidders and another 147 bidding through Stair. Bidders came from ten different countries.
This sale represented Pellettieri’s keen eye for quality and all that he collected and loved. And that could be found even outside the traditional realms of paintings, furniture and sculpture. Take for example the sale’s top lot, an Italian iron and parcel-gilt hinged gate, possibly from Florence, Italy, standing 6 feet 1½ inches high and 5 feet wide. It swung to $27,000 from an estimate of $1,5/3,000. “We had Italian interest in the gate, but it ultimately sold to a West Coast American private collector, underbid by an East Coast American private collector,” said Muffie Cunningham, the firm’s director of decorative arts.
Performing well were some pieces of furniture. A Portuguese metal-mounted ebonized center table left its $1/1,500 estimate far behind to achieve $11,000 and is going back to Europe. The table featured an over-hanging top above three short drawers and was raised on turned legs, joined by turned stretchers, ending on bun feet. At 32 by 53¼ by 27½ inches, it interestingly had sold earlier to Pellettieri at Stair in May 2010 for just under $5,000, so it was a good return on investment.
A German iron-studded oak “Stollentruhe” chest also did well, pulling in a final price of $6,500 against a $1,5/3,000 estimate. From the Westphalia region of the country, “Stollentruhe” means studded chest. Most examples have ironwork straps. This one, opening to a welled interior, measured 31½ by 72 by 20½ inches. Also fetching $6,500 was an Italian baroque carved chestnut and walnut bench that was expected to top out around $1,200. Its arcaded backrest provided the “baroque” element, but its lines were simple and it sported a plain plank seat. Measuring 33¾ by 77½ by 16½ inches, it had a seat height of 18½ inches
Simplicity was not the case with a Spanish gilt-iron and velvet-mounted walnut table, aswirl with exuberant decoration, including the armorial shield on its lid. Opening to a welled interior, the 14-by-21¾-by-12½-inch table went out at $5,500.
Continental strong boxes were, well, strong – mainly due to rarity, said Cunningham. “Most of the European dealers participating in the sale were bidding on the strong boxes. They haven’t come up at auction much in the last decade.” Leading the parade was an Italian iron-mounted chip-carved walnut strongbox that was pushed by 32 bids to $5,500, well above its high $1,200 estimate. It displayed all the condition issues that make such items desirable to the serious collector – loose hinges, worming throughout with associated losses and some rusting to the iron work and nicks throughout.
More attractive was a Seventeenth Century Italian bone-inlaid walnut casket inlaid with figures and the inscription “Semel Data Durabit.” The lid on the 4¾-by-9¾-by-4¼-inch box featured with two figures shaking hands beneath the inscription, and the interior had a till, and a later marquetry cupid had been added to the underside of the lid. With estimate of just $600/900, it soared to $4,500.
Each finishing at $4,250 were two continental strong boxes, one possibly Italian in polychrome-painted steel, decorated with two profile portrait medallions of men wearing laurel wreaths, over a shaped apron and feet, 11 by 17 by 8 inches, another an iron collection box, possibly German, 7¾ by 5-1/8 by 7¼ inches.
Lions dominate European heraldry. Two leonine lots notable from Pellettieri’s collection were an Italian stone figure of a heraldic lion, Venice, 16 by 15 by 9 inches, commanding $6,000, and an Italian baroque bronze model of a rampant lion that went out at $3,750.
Decorative arts and sculpture highlights included a continental polychrome-painted and parcel-gilt reredo, possibly Flemish, dated 1529, carved with a central crucifixion and stages of the cross scene, an upper register of putti and lower register with saints interspersed with date, emblems, cloth of Veronica and grotesques. It finished at $9,000. A French Gothic limestone head of a king raised on an ebonized and wood base took $6,500, while a Spanish polychrome painted carved pine figure of St Roche, patron saint of dogs, invalids, falsely accused people, bachelors and more, 46½ inches, ascended to $4,800. A Renaissance tazza was $4,600 and a Heriz Oriental carpet left the gallery at $6,000.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Two sales are coming up at Stair, the first is Maine Modern on August 4 and the second is Americana on August 5. For information, www.stairgalleries.com or 518-751-1000.
September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021
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