Published: February 15, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Brunk Auctions
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – For its first sales of the year, Brunk Auctions offered nearly 900 combined lots in an Emporium sale on February 4 and a Premier sale on February 5. More than 95 percent of the lots traded successfully and $1,962,000 was realized by the time the gavel fell on the final lot.
“We were extremely pleased with our first cross-category, Premier sale of the year,” Nan Zander, Brunk’s general manager, auctioneer and specialist in American fine art, photography and Native American art said. “It achieved well over its high estimate, with great bidding from both United States, Great Britain and Europe…We are off to a great start of the year.”
The top price achieved was $59,040 for an impressionist painting by Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940) that was titled “Bateau à l’ancre (Boat at Anchor).” The work had provenance to legendary French art dealer Durand-Ruel and was being sold to benefit the Sheridan Wood Nicholson Revocable Trust to benefit environmental charitable causes. The auction house confirmed that David Dufour, a New York City art dealer, was the buyer.
Zander said that Old Master and Continental paintings in general had a great day, as evidenced by the $49,200 result achieved by Otto Sommer’s (German/American 1811-1911) “The Bear Fight” from 1864. A private Western art collector, bidding on the phone, fended off competition for the grizzly scene. A Sixteenth Century Tuscan School portrait of a ginger-bearded gentleman more than quadrupled its high estimate and sold to a European buyer for $38,400. It came from a Virginia private collector who had acquired it from the basement of a Florentine palazzo during the Florence floods in the 1960s. Also of Italian origin was a Seventeenth Century Italian school portrait bronze bust of a saint that a European bidder, competing by phone, took to $31,980. The catalog suggested it was possibly in the circle or a follower of Alessandro Algardi (Italian, 1598-1654).
“We saw enthusiastic bidding for Art Nouveau, Art Deco and art glass,” Zander recalled. That was certainly the case with an iridescent glass figural fish vase attributed to Croatian designer Antoinette Krasnik (1877-1956) for Loetz. The 6½-inch-tall vessel had swam across the block at Sotheby’s New York in 1990; bidders were attracted by its $600/900 estimate and it was reeled in by a European bidder for $34,440. Other noteworthy art glass results would be remiss without mention of a Tiffany Damascene and intaglio art glass table lamp ($20,480), a Cytisus neurot Loetz vase ($15,990) and a Tiffany millefiori glass and bronze pendant lamp ($16,640).
A significant collection offered in the two days of sales was that belonging to the Humber family of North Carolina. While the bulk of the collection was offered in the Emporium sale, a rare 1906 edition, Les Cuivres de Rembrandt, was offered in the Premier sale and sold to an American bidder for $31,980. It featured 80 etchings, 78 by Rembrandt; the volume, as well as another from the Humber family that Brunk Auctions sold in October 2021 for $39,360, had been acquired by Robert Lee Humber while he was living in Paris, circa 1920-40.
The highest price in the Emporium was the last lot of the day and was also from the Humber family. An American private collector paid $24,320 for an early Twentieth Century bound volume with more than 200 indexed signatures of dignitaries, composers, artists, athletes, actors, world leaders, inventors and scientists, including that of Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Jack Dempsey, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison, to name just a few.
Another noteworthy feature of the Emporium sale was a selection of more than 60 works by Louis Orr (North Carolina, 1879-1961), many of which depicted Southern locales. Prices ranged from $320 for an etching of Heinz Memorial Chapel in Pittsburgh, Penn., to $9,840 for a set of 50 copper-plated engraved plates from Orr’s North Carolina Landmark series, and $8,610 for “Playmaker’s Theater, Chapel Hill, NC University” done in graphite on paper.
Brunk Auctions’ next sale will take place March 24-26.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as quoted by the auction house. For more information, 828-254-6846 or www.brunkauctions.com.
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