Published: June 15, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Carlsen Gallery
FREEHOLD, N.Y. – Carlsen Gallery’s June 6 Exceptional Estate Auction achieved a result worthy of the name, with all but four of the 400-plus lots on offer selling from the podium and achieving a sale total of just under $500,000. The firm allowed a limited audience back into the saleroom, with absentee, phone and online bidding providing ample competition for the goods, which were largely from three estates: one from Loudonville, N.Y., one from Troy, N.Y., and one from a local estate.
“I thought it went very well, though it was a bit uneven,” Russ Carlsen said. “Some of the categories – like silver, ceramics, rugs and Asian did very well; period furniture was not as strong as it has been. The sale was very well received and very well attended; we had numerous foreign countries vying for what was offered.”
Fine art was the hands-down dominant category, fielding seven of the top ten prices realized, including the sale’s top lot, a still life of flowers by Vietnamese-French painter Le Pho (1907-2001). Executed in a bright palette of yellows and creams, the tempera on board painting measured 17½ by 12½ inches and brought $37,200 from a buyer in the New York metropolitan area who prevailed against competition from around the world. Carlsen said that it had been originally purchased by the seller’s parents from a Parisian gallery that handled Le Pho’s work.
Abby Carlsen commented that most of the top fine art lots were purchased by buyers in the United States.
The contrast between the Le Pho still life and a marine painting by Canadian artist Jack Lorimer Gray (1927-1981) could not have been more striking. Where the Le Pho was intimate and exuded calm, the Gray work was monumental – it measured 72 by 132 inches – and depicted the choppy waters off the Newfoundland Coast. A Pennsylvania buyer bidding online paid $18,000 for Gray’s “The Canadian Fishing Schooner Delawana on the Grand Banks of the Newfoundland Coast,” achieving its second-place status and its high estimate. “It’s a terrific picture but the size was a deterrent,” Russ Carlsen said. “It was being sold by an upstate New York institution and had been offered at Christie’s London but failed to sell. I thought it did well, considering there’s a limited audience for a painting of that size.”
A portrait of a seated girl by Austrian-American painter Joseph Floch (1894-1977) was done in bold primary colors and sold to a phone bidder from the United States for $10,200, more than four times its high estimate. “Roses in an Imari Bowl” by Hortense Dury Vasselon (French, 1860-1924) saw a similarly strong response, closing out at $9,600 to a local private collector.
Herman Hartwich’s (American, 1853-1926) “The Stork Nest,” which was signed and dated 1884, flew to a local private collector, bidding on the phone, for $9,600. An expansive landscape with figures that was attributed to an American School artist realized $7,800, nearly four times its high estimate. The 34-by-43¾-inch canvas was initialed “W.C.M.” When we asked if Carlsen had any ideas as to who had painted it, he said he still did not know but thought someone may have figured it out.
Rounding out the fine art highlights was Charles Vickery’s (American, 1913-1998) “Breezing up the Sea Witch,” a sun- and spray-soaked oil on canvas that measured 24 by 30 inches and realized $7,200 from an online bidder.
Antique pianos can be a hard sell, but Carlsen was pleased at the result achieved for a circa 1855 John Broadwood grand piano with ormolu mounts and parquetry veneered case that sold for $13,200, a price that earned it third place honors. It had been restored in 2005. Consigned from the Troy, N.Y., estate, the piano sold to an online buyer in New Jersey.
The category of rugs and carpets was small but choice, with many outperforming expectations. Leading the group was an antique room-sized Feraghan with ivory field that measured more than 10 by 13 feet and sold to a trade buyer for $11,400, nearly three times its low estimate, while $6,600 was enough to take a signed Isphahan or Tabriz pictorial carpet that measured more than 4 by 7 feet. A palace sized Kashan carpet in excellent condition, measuring more than 12 by 17 feet, was a good buy at $4,500. The only Native American rug in the sale – a circa 1910 Navajo Yei rug with 12 dancing figures – sashayed out the door for $4,200. Carlsen noted that rug and carpet purchasers were a combination of private collectors and trade buyers.
The sale kicked off with two vintage automobiles, the first a 1986 Mercedes Benz 560SL hard top/convertible with that ran to $7,200; the other was a 1952 MG-TD with a 1973 Volkswagen chassis and engine and a standard transmission that drove off for $4,500. The cars were from the same seller and were purchased separately by buyers from Yonkers, N.Y., who will work on the cars together.
An unusual item that one does not see often was a Grand Tour micromosaic altar by Constantino Rinaldi that was dated 1877 and measured 14½ inches tall by 7¾ inches wide. A buyer in California won the lot for $7,800.
A pair of Chinese export plates in the brown Fitzhugh pattern that were made for Gabriel Henry Manigault around 1800 and descended in the family of Charles Manigault each measured 8 inches diameter and the pair sold above the high estimate for $6,000. Both had been restored and each bore Manigault’s GHM monogram within a coat of arms topped by an Indian and the motto “Prospicere Quam Ulcisci.” The plates relate to one in the collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. A private collector from the Boston area acquired them.
Other lots of Chinese export in the sale also did well. A 34-piece famille verde partial dinner service that included several service pieces as well as place pieces rose to $5,100 from an estimate of $500-$1,000. Bringing $4,800 was a Nineteenth Century Nanking blue and white tea set with gilding and large sets of cups, both with and without handles.
A flatware set by Steiff, in the Williamsburg edition, exceeded expectations and brought $5,400. It was followed by a sterling silver repousse punchbowl made by Baltimore silversmith J. Trockenbrot that weighed 70 troy ounces and also topped its high estimate at $4,500. Rounding out silver offerings was a Tiffany sterling silver tea and coffee service with hot water kettle that sold within estimate for $3,900.
With reasonable estimates, furniture sold well. Leading the category was an Eighteenth Century George III walnut card table with accordion action that opened at $500 and closed at $4,200. Another Eighteenth Century piece – a Chippendale camelback sofa with ball and claw feet – nearly doubled its high estimate when it finished at $3,900 and a New York Classical mahogany double pedestal sideboard with gilt elements, made $3,300.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include applicable online bidding fees.
Carlsen Gallery will celebrate 30 years of auctions in Freehold with a sale in September; a date has not yet been announced.
Carlsen Gallery is at 9931 NY-32. For more information, www.carlsengallery.com or 518-634-2466.
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