Published: November 17, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Shapiro Auctions
MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Isidor Kaufmann (Austro-Hungarian, 1853-1921), a painter of Jewish themes, traveled throughout Eastern Europe in search of scenes of Jewish, often Hasidic life. His portrait of a “Hungarian Rabbi with Prayer Shawl,” an oil on panel, 15¾ by 12-5/8 inches, captured such personages and rose to the top of Shapiro Auctions’ November 7-8 sale, finishing at $287,000. Acquired by the consignor at Sotheby’s in 2006, the painting’s exhibition history includes Vienna’s Judischen Museum der Stadt Wien.
On the first day of the sale, a soulful depiction of Christ with crown of thorns by Francisco De Zurbaran (Spanish, 1598-1664), “Veil of Veronica,” circa 1638-1640, reached $275,000, more than twice the estimate for the 39¾-by-32¼-inch oil on canvas. Also on the sale’s first day, described as being by a follower of Bernardo Daddi (Italian 1290-1348), “Crucifixion,” a tempera and gold leaf on canvas laid on panel, 24 by 10-5/8 inches, had provenance to the Imperial Hermitage, St Petersburg, and was bid to $34,375.
Auctioneer Gene Shapiro’s two-day sale comprised more than 800 lots of important paintings, sculpture, antique and modern furniture, jewelry, decorative items and Judaica.
A consignment of Le Pho (Vietnamese-French, 1907-2001) and Vu Cao Dam (Vietnamese-French, 1908-2000) works with provenance to Wally Findlay Galleries posted strong results. The top selling Le Pho was a garden scene with two women. “Figures dans le jardin,” an oil canvas, 23-5/8 by 28¾ inches, signed lower left, realized $68,750. The gallery achieved its best price for Vu Cao Dam with “Divinite,” 1968, an oil on canvas, 36-3/8 by 28¾ inches, signed and dated lower right, which brought $50,000.
From a private collection in Italy came an oil on canvas of kaleidoscopically rendered horses in a landscape by Slovenian artist Zoran Antonio Music (1909-2005). “Cavallini,” 1953, 15¾ by 19¾ inches, signed and dated lower center, was bid to $68,750, a more than twofold premium over its $30,000 high estimate.
Born in 1951, Léonid Purygin was a Russian postwar and contemporary painter whose work was featured in exhibitions at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and offered at multiple auctions. Growing up the son of a toy factory director, he was self-trained in the Art Brut mode, his color-intensive style deeply inspired by Russian popular art and perhaps influenced by the fantasy toy world of his childhood. Here, his “Dunya Ballerina,” 1990, acquired by the consignor directly from the artist, who died in 1996, reached $50,000. The oil on canvas depicting a mystical ballet dancer amid a swarm of Surrealistic winged visages measured 69¾ by 43¾ inches, was signed lower center, titled upper center and dated upper left.
Russian-American artist Ivan Olinsky (1878-1962) was represented in the sale by a celebratory scene, “La Fete, San Marco,” an oil on canvas, 22½ by 29-1/8 inches, that fetched $42,250. Catalog notes profile Olinsky, born in Elizabegrad, imperial Russia (present-day Ukraine) as coming with his family to New York City at age 13 in 1890. Soon after, he enrolled at the National Academy of Design, where he studied under American Impressionists Julian Alden Weir and Robert Vonnoh, as well as muralist and illustrator George W. Maynard, who then hired Olinsky as an assistant. In the 1890s, he was also a student at the Art Students League under Bryson Burroughs. In 1900, Olinsky moved on to Boston as an aide to John La Farge. Increasingly motivated to establish himself as a painter in his own right, Olinsky ended his eight-year assistantship to La Farge and embarked on a tour of Italy and France with his wife and first child. The most notable pictures of the period are his stunning Venetian scenes, including “La Fete, San Marco.”
A mythic sylvan tete-a-tete, “Daphnis et Chloe,” 1881, by Nineteenth Century French realist Gaston Renault took $25,000. The 61-by-81½-inch oil on canvas was signed and dated lower left.
Contemporary art by Natalia Nesterova (Russian, b 1944) included “Beach Triptych,” 2008, populated by sunbathers in various seaside pursuits, which left the gallery at $31,250. Each panel of the oil on canvas measured 50 by 40 inches, with the overall work at 120 by 50 inches. It was signed and dated on verso.
A surprising result was achieved when a sculpture by Theodore Joseph Napoleon Jacques (French, 1804-1876), estimated just $400/600 was chased by 55 bids to a final price of $35,750. Titled “Allegory of a River,” and cast in the late Nineteenth Century, the bronze semi-nude female figure, 25 inches high, was signed and marked with E. Quesnel Fils and F.L. Hausburg / Liverpool foundry marks along its base.
Soviet-era posters showed continued strength with a Soviet advertisement for the state airline Dobrolet going out at $31,250. By Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891-1956), the 1923 lithograph of a dynamic aircraft against a pale green background was signed in plate lower right, stamped with Rodchenko and Stepanova archive stamps on verso, the full sheet measuring 13¾ by 17-7/8 inches. Rodchenko was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design.
Jewelry highlights in the sale were led by an 8-carat round cut diamond ring, flanked by two trapezoid baguette cut diamonds set in platinum, which commanded $68,750, followed by an Art Deco bracelet with synthetic rounded sapphires, eight bands of round cut and baguette cut diamonds and 14 rows of square cut diamonds. The center of the bracelet, which settled at $43,750, featured a large marquise cut diamond flanked by two emerald cut diamonds surrounded by round cut and baguette cut diamonds. A pair of Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and pearl ear clips, circa 1930s, iconic with a single princess cut diamond surrounded by eight round cut diamonds, surrounded by alternating pattern of baguette cut and marquise cut diamonds, creating a flower, earned $14,375, and a diamond braided bracelet with alternating pattern of round cut diamonds and baguette cut diamonds set in platinum took $13,000.
In decorative arts, the sale was led by a pair of monumental Napoleonic Sevres-style vases, which found a new home for $35,375. The vases featured two very similar cavalier scenes, on recto a prominent figure leading the cavalier of men dressed in Napoleonic attire atop horses through a landscape, on verso a view of a wooden wheel and bare tree branch.
Rising to $31,750 on a $1,500 high estimate was a Nineteenth Century Chinese rug depicting a dragon, handwoven and mounted as a tapestry. With metal weft/warp, it had overall dimensions of 9 by 6 feet.
And an extravagantly decorated silver Victorian wine cooler by John Samuel Hunt for Hunt & Roskell, late Storr & Mortimer, London, 1860, finished at $18,200. Its classical urn form was designed with highly stylized and ornate grapevine motifs, with twin entwined branch handles, flaring rim with overhanging fruiting grapevines atop conforming openwork body. It was 15-3/8 inches high and weighed 143 troy ounces.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For more information, www.shapiroauctions.com or 212-717-7500.
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