Published: September 29, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Weschler’s Auctioneers & Appraisers
ROCKVILLE, MD. – When one talks of change in Washington, DC, one immediately thinks of politics, the ebb and flow that moves with the tides of term limits and power struggles. Aesthetic taste in the capital of the United States often moves at a fairly conservative pace, with traditional and representational fine and decorative art continuing to appeal to a larger audience than more modern taste upheld in other cosmopolitan cities around the world.
However, the winds of change may be starting to blow if results from the recent Capital Collections auction, held at Weschler’s Auctioneers & Appraisers on September 18, are any indication.
Colette Chipman, Weschler’s fine art specialist, noted, “The taste for art in Washington has consistently leaned more traditional, but we are seeing the solidification of the overall trend toward more interest in modern furniture and contemporary art, as reflected in the market and this sale. Overall, we’ve seen a shift in taste from traditional art, landscape and still lifes, to more contemporary and Micentury Modern works, including the Washington Color School and works by South American artists featured in the sale such as Rayo and Benedit.”
The two top lots in the sale were by Washington Color School artist Sam Gilliam (American, b 1933). Bringing $79,950 from an international buyer bidding online was “Twinkle Too,” an acrylic and aluminum dust on canvas abstract from about 1967 that measured about 40 by 36 inches. The next highest price in the sale – $17,080 – was achieved for an 18-by-25-inch untitled abstract by Gilliam, this time a mixed-media and aluminum dust on hand-wove paper from 1973, which went to a domestic bidder for more than double its low estimate. The artist was further represented in the sale by two other works, both serigraphs in color and both selling to buyers in the United States: “Pantheon” achieved $3,660, while an untitled 1978 work inscribed “Georgetown Day School” finished at $2,684. Weschler’s has a long history selling Gilliam’s works. Since 2006, the house has sold 50 of his works, 32 of which have been in the past five years, with five works bringing six figures. It is interesting to note that all four works were consigned by different sellers.
Mark Weschler, vice president and jewelry specialist, noted that “the market for high-end designer jewelry remains strong, as evidenced by the robust performances of the Bulgari, Tiffany and Cartier lots in the sale.” Included in that were an 18K yellow-gold and green paillonné enamel “Croisillon” bracelet, Tiffany & Co., and Schlumberger Studios that brought $12,200, a Bulgari princess length 18K yellow gold, emerald and diamond “ancient coin” necklace that was snapped up for $10,980 and a retro 14K yellow-gold and citrine brooch by Cartier that went to $4,880.
A few lots of more traditional or representational decorative arts prevented the sale from being a hurricane of modernizing change. Glenna Maxey Goodacre’s bronze sculpture of Ronald Reagan, consigned by a White House staffer from the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, sold for $12,300 to a private collector bidding online, while “Nude Woman Resting Before an Ocean” by Marcel René von Herrfeldt (French, 1890-1965) more than quadrupled its estimate to close at $6,710 to an American buyer bidding online.
An international online bidder paid $9,150 for a Mintons pâte-sur-pâte peacock-blue plaque decorated by Marc-Louis Solon, circa 1900. A pair of Italian Neoclassical crossbanded marquetry and parquetry commodes, attributed to the Lombardy region, circa 1800, was purchased by an American bidder on the phone, for $6,710, while an Edward VII silver six-piece coffee and tea service by Carrington & Co., of London topped off at $9,150 from an American phone bidder.
By the time the dust settled, the 326-lot sale, which was conducted online on Invaluable, AuctionZip and Weschler’s proprietary platform, had netted more than $670,000. A representative for the house noted that presale registration was brisk, with a continued increase in online registrants who kept a steady pace throughout the sale.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Weschler’s next Capital Collections Auction is scheduled for December 11.
Weschler’s Auctioneers & Appraisers is at 40 West Gude Drive, Suite #100. For further information, www.weschlers.com or 202-628-1281.
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