Published: January 18, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Helmuth Stone
SARASOTA, FLA. – Attributed to Jean August Dominique Ingres (French, 1780-1862) and estimated $4/6,000 in Helmuth Stone’s January 9 auction of Old Masters, fine art and antiques, “A lady playing a guitar,” outperformed and finished at $34,720, pushed by more than 50 bids from its $2,000 starting price. Signed and dated (1833) lower right, the pencil-on-paper work was accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Eric Bertin, dated September 19, 2005, measured 11¼ by 9¼ inches and was framed behind glass. Ingres blended traditional technique and experimental sensuality to reimagine classical and Renaissance sources for Nineteenth Century tastes. A talented draftsman, he was known for his serpentine line and impeccably rendered, illusionistic textures. “It was a great result,” said Austin Helmuth regarding the drawing, which went to a collector in New York City.
More than 400 lots of fine art, including a collection of Old Master paintings and works on paper, antiques, bronzes and porcelain crossed the block in the sale, which totaled $550,000 and sold north of 80 percent of offered lots. Helmuth said the firm saw the most ever number of online participants on the major online platforms.
Also overachieving was an antique Russian icon, “Mother of God,” which slipped its $400/800 estimate to realize $29,760. The oil and tempera on wood panel depicting the Holy Mother and Child came from the Orlando, Fla., estate of the late Dr John Schaffer and measured 12 by 9½ inches. “The consignor was very happy,” said Helmuth. “A gallery in the United Kingdom was bidding on the behalf of a collector.”
Overall, prices for fine art continued to be strong throughout the sale. With a $4/6,000 expectation, an Old Master painting by Jan Gossaert Mabuse (Dutch-French, 1478-1532) with important provenance finished at $21,700. “Portrait of a young man,” traditionally identified as John Colet, dean of Saint Paul’s (1467-1519), 18-1/8 by 11 inches, shows the humanist scholar at half-length in a brown coat. Colet was also founder of St Paul’s School, London. He was a friend of Erasmus and an important early leader of Christian humanism. A posthumous portrait drawing of the sitter by Holbein (circa 1535; Royal Collection) is based on a lost bust, dated to circa 1519, by Pietro Torrigiano, a cast of which is in the National Portrait Gallery. The original evidently inspired the portrait which formed part of the monument to Colet in St Paul’s Cathedral that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Provenance includes the dukes of Manchester, Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire, and by descent to Alexander Drogo Montagu, 10th Duke of Manchester (1902-1977), and by inheritance to the consignor.
Florida School paintings did exceptionally well. One early landscape painting with a $600/800 estimate went out at $20,640. Another with the same estimate took $15,500. “Those ended up going to a museum on the other coast over in Daytona Beach,” said Helmuth. “We found out who the artist was. They were signed although indistinctly. We asked who the artist was, and it was [Harry Davis] Fluhart-Williams [1861-1935], an Indiana/Florida artist, whose highest listing ever was $6,5/8,000. The paintings were consigned, added Helmuth, by a gentleman from Maine who’s a seasonal resident in Sarasota for three to four months. “The paintings were particularly rare because they were Florida landscapes done in the early 1900s, whereas the Highwaymen paintings are later, 1930-1940s-1950s.”
Italian artist Antonio Zanchi (1631-1722) in his early maturity stylistically adopted tenebrism, the technique of rendering details such as faces and hands illuminated by highlights that are contrasted with a predominantly dark setting. That is evidenced in his “The Death of Socrates,” a monumental oil on canvas painting alluding to the final moments of the philosopher Socrates, as recounted by Plato in the Phaedo. Having been convicted of corrupting the Athenian youth and introducing false gods, Socrates was forced to choose between recanting his beliefs or the sentence of death. The great philosopher chose the latter option and is shown here accepting a cup of hemlock poison, the chosen method of execution. From a private London collection, the 36-by-43-inch painting was bid to $19,995.
Beyond fine art in the sale, a rare Rene Lalique “Sauterelles” glass vase found a new home, vaulting over its $4/6,000 estimate to land at $15,500. With an electric blue color, the frosted glass vase No. 888, designed 1912, was signed near the base and stood 10.45 inches tall.
Returning to fine art, a portrait of a nobleman by Bartholomeus Van Der Helst (Dutch, 1613-1670) was signed and dated 1646 lower right, measuring 47 by 34½ inches. It earned $9,680.
Fetching a bit less, $9,300, was an exhibited etching by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Titled “Les Pauvres” from “La suite des Saltimbanques,” the 1905 etching on Van Gelder paper, was Baer’s second (final) state, from the edition of 250 on this paper (there were also 27 or 29 impressions on Japan paper), published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1913. Exhibition history included “Picasso, Braque and Leger: 20th Century Modern Masters: Exhibition of 100 Masterworks,” at the Forest Lawn Museum, Los Angeles, September 15, 2012-January 1, 2013, among others.
Damien Hirst (b 1965) was represented in the sale by “The Souls II,” 2010, one of his butterfly images, a foil print in colors, pencil signed lower right, pencil numbered (12/15) lower left. Co-published by Other Criteria and Paul Stolper, London with Christie’s label verso, the 27-by-19-inch work left the gallery at $8,370.
Loran Frederick Wilford (1893-1972) was a member of the Salmagundi Club, Sarasota Art Association, Bradenton, Fla., Art League and Royal Water Color Society in London. He also taught art, mostly watercolor, at Ringling School of Art at Sarasota for 33 years. In the sale, his 1940s-50s oil on canvas painting of Newtown, Sarasota, signed lower left, garnered $7,563.
Works by the Italian female artist Emma Regis (b 1854) rarely appear on the market, and the one presented in this sale, “A Study of Four Peasants,” expresses dignity for her sitters. The oil on canvas, 22¼ by 39 inches, signed upper right, went out at $6,200.
Additional highlights included a Paris street scene by Alois Lecoque (1891-1981), $5,270; an early antique Chinese hand painted book for $4,960; and a painting by Adam Styka (1890-1959), an Orientalist scene depicting two figures on donkeys wading through water selling at $5,890.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The gallery’s next sale is set for February 27, featuring another run of 20-25 Florida paintings and some Modern material. For information, www.helmuthstone.com or 941-260-9703.
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