Published: November 17, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Clarke Auction Gallery
LARCHMONT, N.Y. – The top six lots all sold in many multiples of their estimates at Clarke Auction Gallery’s November 8 sale. The 551-lot auction pulled from a variety of New York estates, including those in Westchester County and Manhattan. Auctioneer Ron Clarke said the sale grossed about $850,000.
Fine art was led by an Orientalist scene oil on canvas by Lawrence Lebduska (American, 1894-1966) that sold for $26,250 to an American buyer. Measuring 20 by 27¾ inches, the painting from a Queens, N.Y., collection featured two camels, a donkey and a robed figure at the shore of an oasis. A desert seems to extend off to the right, while a wooded hill rises in the background on the left. Lebduska learned the art of stained glassmaking at an early age, an industry his father worked in. From there he went on to paint and received his first solo exhibition at the Contemporary Gallery in New York City in 1936, which sold out to acclaim and is said to have inspired Abby Aldrich Rockefeller to begin collecting folk art.
“Much of his work is landscape painting in this naive folk art style,” Clarke’s fine art specialist William Schweller said. “He often painted these cartoon-style fantasy horses. What sets this apart is that it has an Orientalist bent to it, it’s an oasis scene – a unique package presented very well.”
Just behind at $25,000 was “Soleares,” a 1958 late-career oil on canvas abstract painting by Byron Browne (American, 1907-1961). Browne was a major proponent of abstract expressionism in the United States and a founding member of the American Abstract Artists in 1936, an organization that aimed to broaden domestic understanding of the style at a time when it was broadly criticized.
Clarke had sold two works by Browne from the same consignor in its October sale, this final work generating the highest price. Schweller said two more works on paper by Browne have come in from different collections for the firm’s December auction.
An acrylic and fabric collage work by Canadian artist Miriam Schapiro (1923-2015) had provenance to the Barbara Gladstone Gallery and it made $25,000 to an overseas bidder. Titled “1899,” the 32½-by-32¼-inch work was completed in 1978. Schapiro is known as one of the leading figures of the Feminist Art Movement, and “1899” represents a type of work that she called “femmage,” which combined cloth materials associated with women’s activities in the home. The painting came from a Long Island consignor who had bought it at Christie’s for $562 in a 2011 sale.
“Within the past few years, folks are quite rightly looking back into the canon and elevating female artists,” Schweller said. “Schapiro’s star has really risen, she’s an important feminist artist. This is a great example of her work in the height of her powers.”
The most traditional artwork among the top earners was an oil on canvas laid to board still life featuring a group of seashells by Peter Baumgras (German, 1827-1904) that sold for $16,250. It hailed from a New York City collection and measured 21 by 26½ inches. The artist is known to have completed many different still life works, mainly of fruit. A scene of shells seems to be unique in listed offerings at auction from the painter.
Porcelain proved desirable as a pair of Chinese enamel decorated circular plaques went above the $600 high estimate to sell for $42,500 after 35 bids. They were the highest selling lot in the sale and came from an Armonk, N.Y., estate. The auction house described their decoration as “one with a depiction of a gilt-decorated butterfly amongst flora, and the second a portrayal of a snail atop a series of rocks with Lingzhi in the background.”
Selling for an impressive $23,750 was a 72-piece porcelain service in the “Khedive” pattern by Richard Ginori. The pattern received its name from he who first commissioned it from Ginori, the Khedive Isma’il Pasha, also known as Ismail the Magnificent, who reigned as the Khedive, or Viceroy, of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879. The commission was designed by Gaetano Lodi between 1873 and 1875 and is said to have numbered to 4,800 pieces when it was delivered in 1876. Ginori reprised the pattern in the early Twentieth Century. The lot had three phone bidders on it and it sold it to an American buyer.
Clarke’s jewelry and sterling silver appraiser Whitney Bria cataloged the set. She said, “It was an exceptionally beautiful service in the Egyptian Revival style. You’ll find a piece or two here and there, but you don’t find those in a complete set. Sometimes we get a surprise among porcelain, but this brought what it should.”
Ron Clarke said he had about 40 people circulating in and out of the gallery on auction day, a higher number than usual. His firm’s next sale is December 6.
All prices quoted include buyer’s premium. For information, www.clarkeny.com.
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