Published: March 8, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Helmuth Stone Gallery
SARASOTA, FLA. – A monumental Syd Solomon painting and more than 450 lots of American and European fine art, a large single-owner collection of Florida Highwaymen paintings, modern art, antiques, jewelry and more crossed the block at Helmuth Stone Gallery on February 27. Solomon’s (1917-2004) “Wake,” a 1976 abstract oil on canvas, led the day, pulling in $27,830. Signed upper right, along with being inscribed verso on canvas, the work measured 42 by 40 inches.
Solomon was an American abstract artist. He spent most of his time in his homes in both East Hampton, N.Y., and Sarasota, which influenced many of his paintings. His works have been featured at the Guggenheim, the Whitney, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Wadsworth Athenaeum and several others. His works were also featured in a Ringling School exhibition a year or two ago, so it got a lot of local attention. “His prices have really been skyrocketing, said Austin Helmuth, contacted after the sale. “We actually had a couple of bidders in house for that as well as a telephone bidder, who was in Sarasota but not present for the sale. He ended up winning that painting.”
The sale total was a little over $300,000, according to Helmuth. “We actually had a private sale of our largest lot before the auction, so we had to pull it before then,” he said, noting that the sell-through for the fine-art-heavy sale was about 65 percent. A total of 4,520 bidders were registered on six online platforms, along with left bids, phones and 25-30 patrons attending in-house.
Russian artist Julius Sergius von Klever (1850-1924) was a landscape painter who displayed artistic talent at an early age and after completing his primary education was enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts where he first studied architecture and then began to take landscape painting classes. In this sale one of his exceptional oil on canvas wooded landscape paintings, titled “Pine Forest After Rain,” signed lower left and dated 1895 verso, 21 by 31 inches, sold for $8,370.
A monumental painting depicting an encampment, possibly Idaho, by John Fery (1859-1934) was bid to $7,260. Signed and dated 1890 lower left, the oil on canvas, inscribed verso, was 32 by 45½ inches. Born Johann Nepomuk Levy, Fery was an Austrian-born painter known for his works of the Western United States. He was a painter of outdoor scenes, whose largest customer was the Great Northern Railway. His works were large format, often more than 100 square feet and his paintings were hung in train stations and other places, promoting travel.
A run of Florida Highwaymen paintings did well, attesting to the continued market strength of works by these entrepreneurial African American painters, mostly self-taught, who beginning in the late 1950s, captured Florida’s natural landscapes. An example by Alfred Hair (1941-1971), bringing $6,510, was an oil on Upson board, signed lower right and measuring 24 by 36 inches.
More unusual was a painting of an encampment scene with figures by George Buckner (1943-2002), who painted with skill and more formality than his Highwaymen colleagues, which shows in the elegance of compositions such as this one. Signed lower right, the oil on Upson board measured 24 by 36 inches.
And though not technically a Highwaymen painting but certainly in the style of that genre, Mary Ann Carroll’s (b 1940) oil on board painting of a coastal Florida scene, signed lower right, 24 by 36 inches, found a buyer at $5,890.
A contemporary art highlight came in the form of a pulsating work by Jesus Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005). “Vibration,” 1967, engraved signed, dated and numbered (71/100) top edge, also fetched $5,890. Published by Editions Denise Rene, Paris, its dimensions were 11½ by 16¾ by 3-1/8 inches.
An antique Orientalist oil on canvas painting of a guard, signed lower right was from a private Maryland collection. The 36½-by-23-inch painting went out at $6,200.
Not all of the sale’s top highlights were in the fine art category. A 22K Ilias Lalaounis gold cuff bangle bracelet realized $5,580. It was marked inside the band and comes with the original box, total weight 2.13 troy ounces.
Overall, Helmuth said he was most surprised at how well the Highwaymen paintings performed. “Both ourselves and the collectors who came to the sale thought that they went for more than they typically do, and I think that was mostly from the attention that we got for them. All of those paintings came from one specific collector. She was about 100 years old and we actually just got word that she passed away just days ago.” There will be more from her Highwaymen trove featured in the gallery’s next sale, scheduled for April 10.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For more information, www.helmuthstone.com or 941-260-9703.
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