Published: July 20, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy State Line Auctions
CANAAN, CONN. – State Line Auctions organized a 490-lot sale on July 11, complete with objects from Searles Castle in Great Barrington, Mass., as well estates in Connecticut and Dutchess County, N.Y.
Auction house partner Bruce Kalbacher said the sale was well-attended and strong across the board. He noted good interest in the material from Searles Castle.
Searles Castle is on the US National Register of Historic Places, designed by Stanford White in the French Chateau style in the 1880s. It was originally built for Mark and Mary Hopkins, a founder of the Central Pacific Railroad. The blue dolomite castle is named for Edward Francis Searles, who designed the interior while it was being built and eventually married Mary after Mark died in 1878. After Searles died in 1920, the castle became a private girl’s school, a country club, and from the mid-1980s to 2020, was the John Dewey Academy.
Protecting the castle for aeons, statuary lions in their many forms took four of the top five lots. The highest was mythical, a pair of Nineteenth Century marble sphinx that attracted 48 bids before settling at $12,980 to the trade. They measured 33 inches high and 51 inches long. Two separate pairs of marble lions with flowing manes would sell near each other. A full-bodied pair standing on a rock platform, 56 inches high and 72 inches long, sold for $6,372. A pair of sitting lions with one paw raised on a ball, these measuring 53 inches high and 43 inches long, brought $6,396. A pair of bronze sitting lions, measuring 51 inches high and 32 inches long, took $6,608.
Noting their weight and size, Kalbacher said the auction house required special equipment to move them to the gallery.
The sleeper of the sale came in the form of a four-drawer blockfront chest cataloged as Nineteenth Century in walnut. The chest with claw and ball feet sold for $16,520 on an $800 high estimate.
“It was the plum of them all,” Kalbacher said. “It came out of a local home with a highboy. The consignor was concerned about the highboy but it was the chest that performed.”
The auction house had nine phone bidders on the lot and it sold to a prominent East Coast dealer.
The late Eighteenth Century two-part highboy sold for $1,062.
A vibrant Caucasian rug measuring 5 by 8 feet would also trump its expectations, selling for $4,838, or eight times its $500 high estimate.
Among fine art was a 27¼-inch bronze sculpture by Dimitri Hadzi (American, 1921-2006) that sold for $4,720. Hadzi was a professor at Harvard where he taught sculpture and printmaking for years, according to his obituary in The New York Times. His large-scale bronze sculptures can still be found in front of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Building in Boston, in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, New York City, and in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC.
Two oil on canvas paintings would sell north of $2,000. Fetching $2,596 was a dark autumn landscape by George Harrington (1832-1911), a Massachusetts artist with little biographical information known. With a more powerful image, an oil on canvas of a fighting cock with razors attached to its feet sold for $2,360. It was unsigned and measured 29 by 24 inches.
“That’ll probably be it for us for the summer,” Kalbacher said, noting the firm’s next sale will likely be after Labor Day.
Prices include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.statelineauctionsandestateservices.com or 860-453-4370.
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