Published: November 17, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Auctions At Showplace
NEW YORK CITY- Fine and decorative arts from abroad were the mainstay attractions at Auctions At Showplace’s November 8 sale, with 280 lots going 94 percent sold. Nearly all of the offerings were pulled from estates in New York City and the surrounding area.
“We were delighted by the strong performance of our November 8 auction” said owner of Auctions At Showplace, Amos Balaish.
Fine art was led by two Nineteenth Century Italians, including an oil on board portrait of a “Cavalier” by Cesare Auguste Detti (Italian, 1847-1914), which measured 22½ by 16¼ inches. Twenty-one bids pushed the work over its $5,000 high estimate to land at $21,250. Detti is largely known as a genre painter with his artistic life solidified in Paris, where he settled in 1876 before exhibiting at the Salon the next year. Behind at $16,250 was Ignace Spiridon’s “The Swing,” an oil on panel measuring 17¼ by 21 inches. The lively scene speaks to the joy in companionship as one couple swings together under a pergola, another couple sits beside them talking while a woman holds the hand of her well-trained dog on the other side of the work.
Taking $5,938 was a portrait of American socialite and philanthropist Betsy Bloomingdale by Uberto Pallastrelli (Italian, 1904-1991).
“The Uberto Pallastrelli portrait of Betsy Bloomingdale came from an eclectic collection in the Pierre Hotel,” the auction house said. “The apartment had Anglo Indian inlaid furniture, Nineteenth Century sculpture and art.”
A label on the back of Georges Michel’s (French, 1763-1843) “Approaching Storm” placed it at one time in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The bucolic golden countryside scene featured an approaching storm in the sky and sold above estimate for $9,375.
A Papua New Guinea carved wood spirit figure defied its $500 estimate when it sold for $16,250. A white pigment was placed inside the incised carving with a worn red pigment to the face. The figure measured 24 inches high.
“The sale mostly met expectations but as always there were a few pleasant surprises,” said Balaish. “We had an inkling the Papua New Guinea figure might be something, but as generalists we put a very conservative estimate on it and let the market speak, and boy did it.”
Another work with a distinct African style was “Mother & Child,” a carved wood sculpture by American artist Halford Lembke (1889-1962) featuring a Zulu woman. It sold for $2,813. Not much is written of the Kansas-born artist or why he carved African figures, though he won first prize in sculpture at the 1919 Annual Exhibition of Work by Cleveland Artists and Craftsmen at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He showed up in a 1933 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and has three carved figural sculptures in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum.
Judaica found interest in a sterling silver Torah crown that brought $2,375. It measured 19 inches high and weighed approximately 95 troy ounces. The house said it was likely American and made in the Russian manner with pierced and repoussé decoration featuring Stars of David that framed the open work words “Keter Torah.” It was among four Judaica lots that came from a Monsey, N.Y., estate. The others included a Russian silver repoussé Torah shield, $938; a pair of Middle Eastern silver Torah finials with a hand wrought dome and open arch design, $594; and a pair of North African Torah finials with pierced openwork decoration and hanging bells, $531.
The decorative arts were led by a Japanese palatial cloisonné vase on stand, 60½ inches high, that sold for $6,875. A 12-1/8-inch high ceramic vase by Louis Majorelle (1859-1926) with an iridescent lustre glaze and floral relief design sold above estimate for $4,688. It featured a faded mark to the bottom for Ceramique Rambervillers. Other French works were strong, including a pair of frosted art glass bookends signed “Etling France 68” featuring two nude female figures that sold for $2,813. Edmond Laurent Etling was a Parisian retailer of decorative items who did business on Rue de Paradis for more than 30 years until 1940, when France fell to Germany and the Jewish man was sent to a concentration camp where he died. He commissioned famous artists of his time to create designs that he would then have made in bronze, ceramic and glass: both frosted and opalescent. The present design has been listed by some retailers as having been created by Georges Béal.
Two works by Twentieth Century folk artist Purvis Young (1943-2010) sold at or near high estimate and both had been purchased directly from the artist. A 48-by-32-inch cityscape with two large horses amid groups of buildings sold at $3,438, while a painting on wood panel of a larger-than-life standing figure, 96 by 24 inches, sold at $3,125.
Showplace has future sales scheduled for November 22, December 6 and December 20.
All prices quoted include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.nyshowplace.com or 212-633-6063.
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