Published: October 19, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Andrew Jones Auctions
LOS ANGELES – Even in Los Angeles, where residents may be jaded by frequent celebrity sightings, some things still spark interest and attract a crowd. In this case, it was at Andrew Jones Auctions, where nearly 400 eclectic lots were offered from the Beverly Hills collection of Lady Victoria White. The California-born model had been married to Lord Gordon White and later Hollywood producer Robert Evans. She developed an appreciation of the English Country House aesthetic with White and broadened her tastes to contemporary and modern after his passing in 1995. According to Aileen Ward, vice president and senior specialist, the house saw unusually strong interest.
“We had a beautiful preview. We got lots of presale press, which piqued people’s interest and as a result we got a lot of new faces in. Her name and title, and connection to Robert Evans, all of these factors helped.”
Ward said that the sale realized $1.7 million, well ahead of the estimates of $750,000-$1.1 million. All lots sold, earning the sale the distinction of “white glove” status.
Would you expect anything else when a lady is involved?
The sale featured four works by Sir Alfred James Munnings (British, 1878-1959), two of which finished in first and second place for top prices achieved in the sale. “The Kilkenny Horse Fair,” done in 1922, brought $500,000, handily clearing its $200/300,000 estimate. Munnings grew up surrounded by the activity of horses and horse-drawn carts; his affinity for horses developed as he visited rural horse farms and was captivated by their energy. He painted several horse fairs throughout his career and submitted another version of The Kilkenny Horse Fair as his diploma work at the Royal Academy in 1925.
Measuring 20 by 24 inches, the work had been exhibited in two exhibitions of Munning’s works, in 1928 and 1983. Illustrated in two previously published works, it – and the rest of the Munnings works offered in the sale – will appear in Lorain Peralta-Ramos’ forthcoming Tradition and Modernity: The Works of Sir Alfred Munnings, due to be published in 2022.
A buyer in the United States, competing against other bidders in the United States and the United Kingdom, won the lot. Ward commented that interest in all the Munnings works came from both sides of the pond.
Ward thought it was interesting that a buyer in the United Kingdom prevailed at $162,500 for “Making a Polo Ground at Princemere,” which was one of a small number of works Munnings painted during his only trip to the United States, in 1924. During that visit, he stayed at “Princemere,” a 994-acre estate in Wenham, Mass., that belonged to American stockbroker, investment banker and financier, Frederick Henry Prince (1859-1953), who Munnings had met in France and subsequently encountered on the boat crossing. During his visit, he painted works for several of Prince’s friends and neighbors. Contributing to the appeal of the work, which, like “Kilkenny Horse Fair,” had extensive publication and exhibition history, “Polo Ground” juxtaposed modernization and traditional methods by showing a steam-powered plow surrounded by teams of horses.
The two other works by Munnings were snapshots of his life and interests. “Winter at Flatford Mill,” a plein air work he did on panel in 1928, brought $33,750; “Lark III, an Irish Setter,” an early work done in 1910 that stands out as being a rare example of a canine portrait, fetched $21,250.
White’s tastes in contemporary and modern art also drew big money. The third highest price in the sale – $93,750 -was realized by Andy Warhol’s “$(1)” a unique screen print on Lenox Museum board that measured 19¾ by 15-5/8 inches. White had acquired it at Christie’s New York in 2015, when she paid $56,250. Interest from bidders around the world helped push it past its $30/50,000 estimate, with a buyer in the United States having the deepest pockets for it.
Two large scale lithograph works from Robert Longo’s (American, b 1935) “Men in the Cities” series were offered consecutively, each estimated at $20/40,000. The same American buyer took both, paying $62,500 for “Ellen” and $52,500 for “Joseph.”
Fine art was clearly the dominant category of the day, whether traditional or modern. A stunning portrait of a seated woman with a parasol by Jean Gabriel Domergue (French, 1889-1962) soared to $35,000 and a study of four rabbits by followers of Jean-Baptiste Hüet (French, 1745-1811) hopped to $12,500. Ormond Gigli’s “Girls in the Windows, New York, 1960,” which Ward said was his best-known work, attracted interest from around the world but is staying in the United States, for $25,000. A record price at auction may have been realized for the artist when “Stone path through the garden,” by Damian Elwes (British, b 1960) made $10,625, more than 20 times its low estimate.
Chinese porcelains in the sale drew attention from around the world as well, and many brought strong results. Leading the grouping, and selling for $40,000 to a buyer from Canada, was a Transitional/Kangxi blue and white porcelain brush pot of large size at 7 inches tall and 7¾ inches diameter that featured a figural scene. Another buyer paid $15,000 for a slightly smaller but equally old blue and white brush pot with Chenghua mark. Rounding out top lots of Chinese porcelain was a blue and white glazed sleeve vase, also Transitional/Kangxi period that brought $25,000 despite being drilled and affixed to a gilt-bronze vase.
White’s collection of pieces made from silver or gold leaned towards the traditional and nearly 70 lots got the sale off to a shiny start. A pair of George III sterling silver wine coolers, made by John Mewburn with liners made by Benjamin Laver in 1798 bore the crest of the Drummond family. A buyer in the United States, underbid by bidders in the United Kingdom, paid $37,500 for the pair. For objets de vertu, an English 9K gold cigarette box, made by S.J. Rose & Son, London in 1965, shone brightest at $7,500. For rarity, Ward said it would be hard to find another Walker & Hall English silver playing card box with a complete deck; estimated at $700/900, bidders anted up $3,250 for it.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
On October 24, Andrew Jones Auctions will offer Part I of the collection of Los Angeles dealer, John Nelson, with Part II on December 12.
For additional information, www.andrewjonesauctions.com or 213-748-8008.
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