Published: September 28, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries
FALLS CHURCH, VA. – One of the most famous works cast by sculptor Frederick Elliott Hart (American, 1943-1999) was “Daughters of Odessa,” a figural group that memorialized the four Romanov daughters of Czar Nicholas II, who were killed alongside their parents and brother during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918. Hart did several versions of the group but the one that crossed the block at Quinn’s Auction Galleries on September 18 was one of the largest. Cast in 1997 and 1999 in an edition of 60, the group of four girls in three separate sculptures measured between 43 and 49½ inches tall. Estimated at $50/70,000, the group achieved $114,300 (hammer price of $90,000), which may be a record for that particular casting, as the highest previous price realized, according to AskArt, was a 2016 hammer price of $80,000.
Matthew Quinn said that “Daughters of Odessa” sold to an American private collector bidding online, underbid by another online bidder. He noted that the five other works in the sale by the Washington, DC-based artist were all from the same collection from Virginia.
“Prices are up; we’ve had probably our best year in about eight years. The Harts all did really well, which was great.”
Quinn confirmed that the 451-lot sale totaled about $470,000, with competitive activity from absentee and phone bidders going head-to-head with online bidders on three platforms.
The proximity of the auction house to Washington, DC, makes Hart a local favorite, though Quinn acknowledged they received interest from around the United States. The artist is best known for his work on the Washington National Cathedral, for the west façade of which he completed six large sculptural groups. He is also known for his “The Three Soldiers,” which accompanied the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a bronze portrait of President Jimmy Carter, now at the Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Ga.
While the five other works by Hart in the sale did not realize the six-figure price achieved by “Daughters of Odessa,” all sold within or exceeded presale expectations. Hart’s “The Source,” a 2003 casting from an edition of 40, depicted a 26½-inch-tall, cloaked bust that finished at $13,970.
Another buyer paid $11,430 for “Ex Nihilo fragment #6,” a 39-inch-tall bronze 2006 casting in an edition of 65, while “Enigma” made $6,033 and “The Guardian” stood to $4,445. The only non-bronze work by Hart – a marbleized resin sculpture maquette for “Ex Nihilo” – was made in 2001 as a model for the tympanum over the central doors at the Washington National Cathedral. Numbering 215 from an edition of 910, and measuring 27¼ by 34¾ inches, it brought $3,302, which may be a record for the edition.
There was more to the sale than just Hart but for those who are in the market for one, Quinn said he has a few more from another client that will be offered in the firm’s January sale.
A small but selective jewelry category was led at $22,860 by a 3.20-carat emerald cut diamond ring in a platinum setting with two baguette-cut diamonds. It had been estimated at $10/15,000.
The Baltimore, Md., estate of a “major collector” who had been the personal doctor to the King of Yemen, as well as an author, proffered a nine-piece 14K gold dresser set by Black, Starr & Frost that included a hand mirror, hairbrush, clothing brush, crystal powder jar, two crystal cream jars, two crystal scent bottles and a pin tray. After competitive bidding, it closed at $10,795, nearly double its high estimate. Other works from the same estate include a Victorian sterling silver card case with high relief by Frederick Marson ($3,683), some framed Arabic manuscripts ($1,905); a 3,200-year-old Chinese Shang dynasty oracle bone fragment ($1,297) and two Cypriot Bronze Age red and black pottery vessels ($1,016). Quinn’s will offer Yemeni jewelry from the same estate in an upcoming sale.
“Personajes con Pajaros” by Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899-1991), a mixograph done in 1988 from an edition of 100, measured 61 by 53 inches in its frame and realized $10,160. It was the highest price achieved for a two-dimensional piece of fine art. An abstract work in oil on canvas by Claude Venard (French, 1913-1999) titled “La Phare, La Nuit” achieved $9,525, nearly double its high estimate. Two landscapes by Antoine Blanchard (French, 1910-1988), each depicted Parisian street scenes: “Arc de Triomphe” realized $6,033, while “Parisian Street Scene” brought $5,398.
Quinn was pleased at how well some of the rugs in the sale performed, noting that it was a trend he’s observed in recent sales. A few rugs featured in the top prices, most notably a 10-foot-5-inch-by-16-foot-7-inch Nineteenth Century Persian Heriz at $7,620, an 8-foot-by-9-foot-5-inch Chinese Art Deco rug in deep blue that flattened its $600/900 estimate and closed at $6,350. A little farther down the results tally, but still exceeding expectations, an antique Persian Malayer runner stretching 18-feet-2-inches finished at $2,286.
A large group of Chinese snuff bottles – 31 lots in total, all from an estate in Washington, DC – achieved some of the highest prices for Chinese works of art, and were led by three works by Chinese artist Ma Shaoxuan (1869-1939). A late Nineteenth Century crystal example with coral stopper depicted Peking opera star Tan Xinpei in costume ($6,985). A reverse painted example with poem and coral stopper topped off at $5,080, the same price paid for an example that depicted the emperor Hongxian, Yuan Shikai (1859-1916).
“Those attracted international interest but sold (to buyers) all over the place. We are members of a snuff bottle society, and we had a number of snuff bottle collectors who were interested and bought,” Quinn said.
Furniture in the sale saw some stronger results for reproductions than for period pieces. A Kindel furniture company reproduction of the nine-shell “Updyke Rhode Island” mahogany desk and bookcase sold within estimate for $6,350; Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library owns the late Eighteenth Century original. A Stickley Williamsburg Reserve Collections king-size mahogany bed, from the “Carter’s Grove” line, brought $1,524.
Quinn’s Auction Galleries’ next Fine and Decorative Arts Auction will take place in January.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For information, 703-532-5632 or www.quinnsauction.com.
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