Published: June 26, 2000
A painting by relatively unknown artist, Henry T. Cariss (1840-1903), reflects the epitome of the Belle Epoque era and the current demand for American works of art. “Contentment” illustrates a young woman and infant lounging on a settee with kittens at play below them on a leopard skin rug. Estimated at $5/7,000, this canvas achieved a world auction record of $32,200 for a work by this artist. Another highlight of the paintings section of the sale was a work by Belgian artist Heva Coomans, whose “Weavers at Work” fetched $10,925. This painting depicts several young women weaving in an ancient Roman setting.
The bronzes offered in the sale attracted much bidder interest, in particular, works by Demetre H. Chiparus (1886-1947), Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1876), Agathon Leonard and Louis-Ernest Barrias (1841-1905).
Chiparus was one of the Art Deco movement’s greatest sculptors who perfected the “chryselephantine technique” of combining bronze with ivory. An example of his work featured in the sale was a gilt-bronze standing woman drawing her nightgown to her eye that fetched $4,025.
Barye was a prolific French sculptor, primarily of animals, known as the “father of the Animalier school.” His talent for rendering dynamic tension and exact anatomical detail is found in his most famous bronzes, which are those of wild animals struggling with or devouring their prey. Barye also produced many figures and groups of domestic animals. At the sale, his bronzes of a “Lioness of Senegal” sold for $14,950, and a “Tiger with Doe” sold for $12,650.
French Art Nouveau sculptor, Agathon Leonard, was inspired by the famous dancer Lois Fuller. His gilt-bronze figure of a female dancer in a flowing gown, lightly touching her ankle realized $7,475. In addition, a Barrias sculpture entitled “Nature Revealing Herself Before Science” (1899) sold for $4,025.
Sterling silver by Georg Jensen (1866-1935) was pursued enthusiastically by bidders. According to Eric Silver, the firm’s decorative arts specialist, the market for Jensen silver has really “taken off.” He attributes the success of these pieces at auction to the long-standing reputation of the company and their emphasis on craftsmanship, as well as the simple elegance of the designs.
The top lot of the sale belonged to a Jensen silver bowl with pendant grape clusters. It brought $51,750 against an estimate of $20/30,000. Competition was also lively for the cover lot, a Jensen sterling silver tea and coffee service from 1930. In the “Cosmos” pattern, this simple service included a tea and coffeepot, creamer, covered sugar, kettle on stand, strainer, small bowl and a two-handled tray. It realized $24,150. In addition, a pair of Jensen sterling silver candelabra fetched $17,250.
Gustav Stickley (1858-1942), is best associated with the American Arts and Crafts Movement. His furniture was made in native American oak in a sturdy, plain design that embraced simple lines and functionality. Featured in the sale were seven Stickley oak dining chairs, including two armchairs, which brought $24,150 against an estimate of $6/9,000.
The designs of French cabinetmaker, Francois Linke, have been recognized for their innovative interpretation of the Louis XV and Art Nouveau styles. Featured in the sale was an elaborate Louis XVI style gilt-bronze mounted extension bureau plat table, with an inset tooled leather writing surface and frieze, depicting a procession of cupids. After much spirited bidding, the table sold for $11,500. Another Nineteenth Century French furnishing commanding a high price was a fine Louis XVI style gilt-bronze mounted vitrine with a D-shaped upper section and gilt-bronze mounts. Detailed and finished with bronze work, this piece sold for $12,650.
The sale presented ten lots of Roseville pottery vases in the Sunflower pattern, all designed with yellow flowers and green foliage. In combination, the vases brought over $27,000. Also sought after by bidders was a Tiffany bronze pottery vase in the form of an artichoke with a thin bronze layer. It sold for $8,000. A pair of Italian gild and painted wood figures in an incised gilt costume realized $10,925, and an unusual Italian carved wood monkey, standing on a rocky base and holding a plate in its chained hands, achieved $7,475. A Royal Worchester porcelain dessert service comprised of 12 plates and two cake stands in a floral design brought $1,495.
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