Published: March 10, 2020
Review by Anne Kugielsky, Photos Courtesy Dallas Auction Gallery
DALLAS – A large collection of fine art including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Merritt Mauzey and many others was the big draw at Dallas Auction Gallery’s February 26 auction – and bidders flocked to the phones, online, and to the gallery. Bids from around the world pushed prices above estimates and works by the well-known and highly sought-after artists topped the sale. Of the top ten lots, one was by Mauzey (setting a world auction record), four were by Picasso and three by Warhol.
The top lot of the day was a painting by Mauzey (1898-1975), a Texas artist whose work is becoming highly sought after. DAG owner and auctioneer Scott Shuford said that they had two paintings from Mauzey from a private collection, having been purchased in 2007 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.
The top painting was Mauzey’s circa 1930 oil on Masonite titled “Grandpa Snazzy,” 30 by 24 inches, which came to the block with a $30/50,000 estimate. In this iconic painting of the plight of the Dust Bowl and Depression-era, a dry-land cotton sharecropper is depicted: dirt poor, barefoot and without mechanized implements, he plows marginal and inhospitable land. Two bidders fought for the painting, sending the final price to $150,000 – thus setting a world record at auction for the artist.
Easily exceeding their high estimates were two linocuts on Arches wove paper by Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). One, titled “Jacqueline,” 25 by 20½ inches, signed lower right “Picasso” and numbered lower left, “43/50” sold at $125,000. The 1959 framed piece with a Martin Lawrence Galleries, Dallas, label on verso, was the subject of 20 bids.
The second Picasso to achieve $125,000 was “Tete de Femme” 1962, also signed and numbered; the 25¼-by-20¾-inch work’s provenance was a private collection and Martin Lawrence Galleries, Dallas. Both works, according to Shuford, were the subject of serious competition, with bids coming from multiple areas and mostly over the phone. “We have lots of phone bidders – not so many in the gallery anymore. But bidding by phone is the next best, most foolproof thing to being here,” he said.
From a private collection and with the same Martin Lawrence Galleries provenance, Andy Warhol’s “Vesuvius” color screenprint, 1985, sold at $75,000. From the edition of 57 unique trial proof impressions, it had an estimate of $25/35,000; after 11 bids the 31-1/3-by-39¼-inch impression, printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, signed lower right “Andy Warhol” with printer’s blindstamp lower left was won by a phone bidder.
Another Warhol, the distinctive “Teddy Roosevelt (from Cowboys and Indians)” color screen print on Lenox museum board, 1986, was signed and numbered lower right “TP 16/36 Andy Warhol.” The 36- by 36-inch color print far surpassed its $20/30,000 estimate, selling at $68,750.
The third Warhol print to sell above estimate is from his “Myths” series. His color screen print entitled “The Shadow,” with diamond dust on Lenox museum board, sold at $43,750. Elizabeth Rhodes of DAG said that the Warhol prints were different from many of the artist’s other works because of the intense and often unusual colors he used. “The Shadow,” a 1981 signed and numbered print, 193/200, 38 by 38 inches, came from a private collection.
Of the four Picasso works in the top tier of the sale, two were titled “Pique.” One, “Pique: Rouge et jaune,” color linocut on Arches wove paper, 1959, was signed lower right “Picasso” and inscribed lower left, “Epreuve d’artiste.” With a Martin Lawrence Galleries label, and from a private Dallas collection, the 28¾-by-25-inch work, estimated at $20/30,000, sold after just 6 bids at $43,750.
Then Picasso’s companion color linocut, “Pique (Noir et beige),” sold at $40,625, over its initial estimate of $20/30,000. The 1959 print on Arches wove paper was also signed and sported the Martin Lawrence Galleries label verso. Proving Shuford’s point about bidding, there were 13 bids going on this lot.
A rarity in this auction where fine art dominated and, as Shuford said, “even a beautiful sideboard didn’t garner excitement,” a pair of Chinese carved Huanghuali wood armchairs with horseshoe-shaped backs, estimated at $5/8,000, more than tripled the high estimate to sell at $25,000. Fresh from a Southeastern estate, the chairs were circa early Twentieth Century and had pierced conforming splats and box stretchers.
Another Asian lot, a Chinese Qing red robe with embroidered butterflies and flowers and its original Nineteenth Century gilt bronze buttons, realized $5,312 ($1/1,500), going to a collector bidding online.
Many of the Asian lots came from a private collector with a history of being exhibited at the Crow Museum of Asian Art in Dallas. Almost all sold online, Shuford said, speculating that by running them toward the end of the sale, many Asian bidders were awake, into their day and ready to bid. “It’s a theory!”
Other artwork in the top tier of lots was a 1964 color lithograph, after Marc Chagall, “Romeo et Juliette,” signed and numbered lower right, “55/200 Marc Chagall,” printed with Charles Sorlier. Selling just above its $20,000 high estimate at $23,750, the 25½-by-39¾-inch work was in remarkable condition and 19 bids pushed it into good territory.
Closing within estimate was an oil on canvas by Porfirio Salinas (American, 1910-1973). The untitled (Snowy Hill Country) work had provenance to the estate of Donna Axum, a former Miss America crowned in 1964, and strong bidding sent it to $20,000.
Rounding out the top lots was a George Washington signed military appointment, framed, that sold at $17,500. The single page vellum document with printed script and filled in by hand, appointing Cornelius Lyman as a captain and signed by President George Washington and Secretary of War Henry Knox, was dated 1793.
Another historic lot featured was a Samuel Clemens-owned (Mark Twain) Chippendale-style inlaid desk in mahogany, with a fall front revealing a fitted interior with eight small drawers, an inlaid prospect door over one long drawer and two short drawers, and standing cabriole legs with carved knees and ball-and-claw carved feet. With provenance to Sotheby’s “The Mark Twain Collection of Nick Karanovich,” New York, June 19, 2003, the desk was used by Clemens in his New York home circa 1906. “This was an interesting lot and I thought it should be going to an institution,” Shuford said, “but it was bought by a private collector at $11,250.”
Dallas Auction Gallery is known for its policy of offering most lots unreserved, and of the top lots on Wednesday evening, all were unreserved – including the top jewelry lot that sold at $16,250, well above its $3/5,000 estimate. In the style of the elegant jewels worn by Empress Eugenie De Montijo (1826-1920), the spouse of Napoleon III, a mid-Nineteenth Century French gold, tourmaline and seed pearl parure comprising a necklace composed of graduated pink tourmaline embellished by inlaid seed pearls; two bracelets; a tiara; and ear pendants en suite, the clasps enhanced by floral enamel decoration, came in a fitted leather case bearing the gold stamped eagle crest of Napoleon III. Bidding was intense and only ended when one bidder wouldn’t let it go, Shuford said.
Dallas Auction Gallery’s next sale will be the Chinese Red Revenue Stamp Collection of Mr. Walter Huang, Dallas, Texas, on April 4. Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For further information, www.dallasauctiongallery.com or 866-653-3900.
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