Published: September 29, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Leland Little Auctions
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – On September 19, Leland Little conducted its fall auction featuring more than 400 lots of jewelry, art and antiques. The sale featured several estates – that of the late Mr and Mrs Walter R. Davis of Chapel Hill, N.C.; the late Edward and Violet Kleitz of Cary, N.C.; and a selection of jewelry from a private Virginia collection. The latter contributed the sale’s top lot, an 18K white gold and cushion brilliant cut diamond ring with a 6.20-carat center stone. Selling for $44,840, the cushion cut diamond (11.92 by 10.83 by 6.72 mm) (L color, VS1 clarity) was prong set and with a halo of full cut round diamonds; the open and interlocking shank set with full cut round diamonds and gallery with milgrain detailing, stamped 18K. Total weight of accent diamonds was approximately 1.85 carats (H-I color, VS clarity).
The Davis estate contributed a Puiforcat “Royal” sterling silver flatware service that attained $40,120. It totaled 215 pieces, with service for 14, including all manner of knives, forks, spoons, ladles, servers and more. All but one teaspoon was marked with period a “D” monogram, and most pieces were marked with post 1972 Minerva hallmark indicating .925 percent silver content. The set weighed in at 385.85 troy ounces.
A Japanese Meiji period silk embroidered wall hanging was bid to $36,580, a sevenfold result above its $5,000 high estimate. With a brocade border and two bronze metal hangers, the meticulously embroidered scene of egrets and cranes in a lush landscape populated with bright pink flowers and lavender irises, as well as cascading wisteria from above, measured 94 by 113 inches. Its consignor related that the tapestry was produced by one family over a period of 20 years and won a national competition in Japan. The tapestry was brought to the United States in the early 1920s by an American who gave it as a business gift to the consignor’s grandfather. Few embroidered wall hangings from the Meiji period have survived due to the delicate nature of care, making an embroidery this large a rare and important artwork.
One of the Northwest’s most prolific painters, Alden Mason (1919-2013) was influential in the Seattle art scene beginning in the late 1940s, as an instructor at the University of Washington, an inventive stylist and a high-profile public artist. Mason’s paintings first drew serious attention in the 1970s, with the transparent oil washes and fluid abstractions of his “Burpee Garden Series,” named for the seed catalogs of bright-colored flowers. “Soft Cradle,” a 1974 oil on canvas by Mason, brought $30,680.
From the Kleitz estate, the impressionistic work measured 20¼ by 36¼ inches, was signed and inscribed on the verso and presented in the original aluminum frame. Working with thinned oil paints, Mason would drip, push and pool the colors, likening the results to the growth and germination of seeds as they became plants. After the first successful showing of these paintings in 1973, Mason was invited by his former student and close friend, Chuck Close, to bring several works for exhibition in New York.
The showing was well-received and Mason’s paintings were acquired by numerous museums, including Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, San Francisco Museum of Art and others. Interestingly, as a very young child, Mason learned about the perils of painting when his father, a house painter, died of lead poisoning after a long, debilitating illness, the result of working with lead-based paints. Mason himself, after becoming ill from long exposures to solvent and varnish fumes, switched to acrylic paint and reinvented his style, working with squeeze bottles to build patterns and stick-like figures in thick, gooey lines.
There were plenty more jewelry highlights in the sale. Bidders pushed an 18K gold, tanzanite and diamond brooch by Tiffany & Co. to $30,680. The piece’s floral motif centered on an oval, modified step cut tanzanite weighing approximately 25.38 carats, surrounded by an asymmetrical cluster of 33 round brilliant cut diamonds in a gold heart.
An 18K white gold, multicolor sapphire and diamond necklace went out at $23,010, while a platinum, 18K gold and emerald cut diamond ring from the same Virginia collection as the sale’s top lot earned $21,830.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, 919-644-1243 or www.lelandlittle.com.
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