Published: October 19, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Woody Auctions LLC
DOUGLASS, KAN. – The single owner auction offering the lifetime collection of the late porcelain collector Lily Copeland Harkness and her husband, Hosea, was offered in 395 lots at Woody Auction LLC on October 9.
Without any set reserves, the auction went 100 percent sold.
Auctioneer Jason Woody said, “It was a wonderful representation, probably one of the best Pickard collections to sell at public auction in a very long time.”
Harkness came to collecting through her passion for art. Her obituary notes she was a renowned porcelain artist and teacher who earned her Master Teacher, Artist and Master Artist certifications as a charter member of the International Porcelain Artist Teachers in 1990. She showed at local arts organizations throughout her life and made a tradition of painting porcelain Christmas ornaments for her family.
During her career as an artist, Lily Harkness developed a passion for floral art, which inevitably led to her proclivity for the hand painted porcelain works by Pickard China, which began producing richly painted china in Wisconsin in 1893 but eventually moved to Chicago in 1897, where it became entrenched. The flourishing, bright flower petals and the bouquets stretched across forms and created moments of study for the artist. She soon became a member of the Pickard Collector’s Club.
Although the company started producing its own blanks in 1930, the decades prior saw them importing the unpainted, white forms from Europe. Woody marveled at all the marks on the bottom of these pieces, which hailed from Germany, France and Bavaria. Just like the blanks, many of Pickard’s artists emigrated from Europe. Others were tapped as they studied or graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago.
In a conversation with Jason Woody, Hosea Harkness recalled the day he saw the sale’s top lot, a 14-inch vase with a variety of different colored roses by Dominick Campana that sold for $6,500.
Hosea found the work for sale at a small antique auction. It was filthy, he said, and tucked away beneath a table. When he rubbed some of the dirt off, he saw the signature D. Campana. Woody said the signature was quite rare on Campana’s works, traced to the 1930s when he was running a studio in Texas. Campana worked for Pickard only one year in 1902. Adding to the rarity, Woody said, was the vase’s size and its blank, an American example produced by the Ceramic Art Company.
Others had special meaning for the collector. Woody said a woman attended the auction with an image of Pickard artist Joseph Yeschek’s white lily on her mask, the same design that adorned a 7½-inch vase that sold for $5,500.
Not all of the works were by Pickard, but many were related in some way. A large serving tray, 15¾ inches diameter, was signed for Franz Aulich, the brother of well-known Pickard artist Emil Aulich. It was on a Limoges blank and sold for $6,000.
The works in the sale spanned a great number of the many forms put out by the company, including punch sets, tankard sets, vases of all kinds, bowls, lamps, trays and pitchers. Going through the lots of the sale is like a who’s-who among the company’s long line of talent that, quite surprisingly, continues through to today.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.woodyauction.com or 316-747-2694.
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