Published: January 7, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy DuMouchelles
DETROIT, MICH. – Headlining the December 13-15 sales at DuMouchelle Art Galleries was the collection of Robert “Bob” Schweizer, the proprietor of Schweizer’s Restaurant, a German restaurant that became a Detroit institution during its nearly 130-year existence. “Bob’s father and grandfather were customers of ours since our founding in 1927. They purchased beautiful paintings and sculptures by established artists to adorn their restaurant and homes. When Schweizer’s restaurant closed in 1991, we sold its renowned collection, however, in all those decades, we hadn’t seen Bob’s personal collection until we began cataloguing his home,” said Joan D. Walker, president of DuMouchelles, prior to the sale. “This is one of the most exceptional collections we’ve auctioned at DuMouchelles in this decade.”
After the sale, Walker confirmed that more than 300 items in the sale were from Schweizer’s collection, though the provenance had initially not been identified throughout the catalog, out of concern for Schweizer’s privacy. His name was finally disclosed to potential buyers shortly before the sale when it became clear that his provenance would benefit the sale. “Bob’s things were here to be sold and we were not encumbered by reserves. We had a very good preview and his collection appealed to buyers around the country.”
Schweizer’s collection yielded some of the top lots, including the highest-selling work in the three-day span of sales, most selling on the third day. Auguste Rodin’s “Burgher of Calais” from the A. Rudier foundry brought $34,100 from a California collector. Another Rodin bronze, “Le Desespere,” beat its high estimate when it achieved $21,080 from a Michigan collector, while a third Rodin sculpture of a hand, titled “Main Gauche,” almost doubled its low estimate when it finished at $9,920. Another highlight from the collection was a large still life of flowers and fruit by Severin Roesen, that brought $13,640.
It is often a sign of things to come when the starting lot of a sale does well and a Tiffany & Co., favrile glass and bronze three-light lily-form table lamp that crossed the block first exceeded its high estimate to bring $3,410. A few lots later, a Dale Chihuly two-piece work titled “Amethyst Persian Pair” nearly doubled its high estimate to close at $7,440. Towards the end of the first day, a trio of Murano glass carnival figures from the Schweizer collection that ranged in height from 10 to 14 inches finished at $4,030, more than ten times the $300/500 estimate.
The sale had several lots of Dunbar Midcentury Modern furniture that bidders responded to, including a group of five lots offered consecutively near the beginning of the first day. A pair of ash and walnut circular tripod tables designed by Edward Wormely for Dunbar that squeaked past their high estimate to finish at $5,080. It was followed by a tea wagon also designed by Edward Wormley that brought $806. A Dunbar walnut and rosewood buffet doubled its low estimate when it sold for $3,175 and a Chinoiserie-style table with ten chairs, all by Dunbar, went out at $2,480. Perhaps it was knowing that a set of four Dunbar wingback chairs was the last Dunbar lot for a while that spurred bidders, but interest pushed bidding to $8,255 from an estimate of $600-$1,000.
Other high points of note in the first day included $3,810 paid for a large – 31 by 52 inches – Italian School harbor scene, a 103-piece Herend porcelain dinner service in the “Queen Victoria” pattern that achieved a regal price of $3,810 and the astonishing price of $3,175 was paid for 13 pieces of E. Dehillerin French copper cookware that had been estimated at $100/200.
Traditional antiques characterized the second day of sales on Saturday, December 14, which began with Tiffany sterling flatware sets, a Tiffany hanging lamp and two Tiffany favrile vases. The first of the flatware lots – a 97-piece English set – brought the median of the estimate at $3,100 but bidders turned on the heat for a 65-piece set of Tiffany & Co., Audubon pattern flatware set that brought $12,400. The green Tiffany Acorn pattern hanging lamp narrowly passed its low estimate to bring $4,340. The gold favrile glass vases by L.C. Tiffany were from the Schweizer collection and were estimated at $600-$1,000 and $400/700, respectively. Both exceeded expectations, bringing $1,116 and $930.
Georg Jensen silver – usually a favorite among bidders -brought strong results for most of the dozen lots in the second session. Leading the group was a Blossom pattern tea set with matching tray that also carried the heftiest estimate of $15/20,000; it found a buyer for $14,260. Bringing $9,920 was a pair of Jensen three-light candelabra and a 102-piece flatware set in Jensen’s iconic Acorn pattern that finished at $8,060. Walker confirmed that much of it was from Schweizer’s collection.
“I didn’t know if people would appreciate them, but they did,” was Walker’s comment about a pair of circa 1930s Edmond Enot crystal and bronze candelabra, made in Paris, that had been estimated at $1/2,000. In the end, they sold for more than five times their low estimate, for $5,715. A few lots later, a striking French gilt-bronze and glass surtout de table made into a cocktail table brought one of the highest prices in the sale: $19,840 against an estimate of $4/6,000. Brown furniture in the sale that was priced modestly, very modestly, sold. A late Sixteenth Century Italian carved walnut cabinet priced at $800-$1,200 finished at $2,790.
Three Picasso ceramic works kicked off a section of modern and contemporary glass and ceramics. First up was an “edition” vessel with black and white face decoration that made $9,920, well ahead of its $4/5,000 estimate. A Madoura plate with a bird flew away for $3,410, followed by a Madoura Plein Feu stoneware plate titled “Diaulos Play and Faun” from an edition of 100 that finished at $4,340. All were from the Schweizer collection.
Bronze sculptures were sprinkled through the second session, with a Nineteenth Century group of three rabbits by Jean Marie Magrou (French, 1869-1945) charmed bidders, who gave chase until it closed at $2,790. While the rabbits were not from the Schweizer collection, there were many animal bronzes in the sale that were, including works by P.J. Mene and Irene Rochard.
The Sunday, December 15 session also started off well, opening with a landscape by Johan Hendrich Masterbroek that made $8,060 against a $4/7,000 estimate. Marshall Fredericks’ bronze “Freedom of the Human Spirit” was offered between two of the Rodin bronzes and sold for $22,320, nearly making the lot’s high estimate. The session featured a few stumpwork pictures, all from Schweizer’s collection, which was led by one depicting a princess near a castle with an estimate of $400/800 that saw competition to $5,715.
The Sunday session featured two oil on paper works by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), both of which were from the Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., estate of Mary Jane Drummy and both of which had been acquired from Kennedy Gallery. The first, which depicted a Rocky Mountain landscape, had an estimate of $10/15,000 and brought 9,525. The second, a Rocky Mountain landscape, including buffalo, had been estimated at $15/20,000 but did not sell.
Jewelry was sprinkled through each session to tempt bidders doing some pre-holiday shopping. Several of the higher priced lots were sold in the last session and were led by a 2.12-carat natural purple sapphire and diamond ring that finished at $5,938. Other jewelry highlights included an 18K yellow bold necklace that finished at $3,810, a Cherny 18K yellow and white gold green tourmaline and diamond bracelet for $4,650; a Tiffany & Co. 18K yellow gold mesh necklace for $3,410; an 18K yellow gold mesh bracelet at $3,100; and a pair of Seaman Schepps 18K yellow gold turbo shell ear clips for $3,720.
The remainder of Schweizer’s collection will be offered in DuMouchelles’ next two sales, the first of which is scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday, January 17-19. Highlights from Schweizer’s collection in that sale will include more than 60 pieces of Pewabic pottery. For information, 313-963-6255 or www.dumoart.com.
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