LITCHFIELD, CONN. — Litchfield County Auctions hosted a whirlwind two-day sale that caught the eyes of more than a few collectors June 29–30. The live auction, split between Asian, tribal, European and fine art offerings on the first day with antique furniture and decorative arts on the second, saw energized bidding across platforms resulting in total sales of just under $500,000 and included a few nice surprises.
Chinese antiques performed well with textiles and porcelain. A hexagonal Chinese Chien Ling famille rose vase surpassed the $600/900 estimate, rising to $4,250. A lot of four Chinese enameled porcelain and wood plaques featuring scenes of nobles reached a healthy $3,625. Attracting considerable attention was a pair of Nineteenth Century Chinese porcelain vases as lamps, one of which had a cracked base in need of repair, that brought $5,000.
Regarding the pair of lamps, Nick Thorn, auctioneer, said, “When the glue came undone from the base, we were able to see the six character rain mark on the bottom. So the damage actually helped.”
Coming out of left field to steal the show was a large Old Master biblical mural from the Seventeenth Century, possibly the school of Rubens. Starting at the $1/1,500 estimate, the bids kept pouring in from the internet against a determined phone bidder in Singapore to finally fall at $42,500. The 73-by-75-inch, unframed mural came from the estate of Mladen and Mary Lou Frlan and featured a busy scene of worshipers with outstretched arms.
“The mural was in such difficult condition that we were surprised that it made so much. It was a situation where the consignor had so much stuff and this was sitting there, tucked into a corner. We got the sense that there was something good in the collection, but it took a while to get it,” Thorn said.
The auction presented five ceramic works by Pablo Picasso, deaccessioned from DeRempich Fine Arts, and all sold well. Of note was a woman’s head pitcher, circa 1954, that attracted heavy bidding from a phone bidder, besting the $10/15,000 estimate to land at $32,500. Another figural Picasso pitcher in a matte glaze finished at $11,250.
A still life oil on canvas with a peeled blood orange, blue dotted wall and flower by Rene Genis titled “La Jacinthe Rose” brought $3,875, a strong price for the artist that quadrupled high estimate.
Unable to find a bidder for the auction house’s newly discovered Paul Gauguin still life painting, Thorn said, “We were disappointed it didn’t sell, but we’re still in negotiations with the consignor and we’re entertaining private offers.” The painting had been authenticated by the Wildenstein Institute and is included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné.
On the second day of the sale, the firm saw healthy bidding for antique furniture and decorative arts.
A handsome Eighteenth Century Georgian walnut bachelor’s chest with four graduated drawers brought $2,875. A Victorian papier mache terrestrial globe with horoscope rim and brass meridian ring on a carved tripod base soared above high estimate to sell at $6,125. A long walnut and oak refectory table from the Seventeenth Century brought $4,625, comfortably above the $1,5/2,500 estimate.
Bidders were drawn to a 28-foot Nineteenth Century Bessarabian long carpet featuring earth tones with green, red, plum and ivory flowers. The rug sold for $2,875. In the same vein, a large French Savonnerie carpet, circa 1925, brought $2,000 and a Gorovan carpet with a rust ground and blue border went home with a bidder for $1,750.
Thorn remarked, “I was quite pleased with the results of the furniture. We sold most of it; some items brought strong prices and others found homes at lower prices. It was a nice section of the sale.”
A collection of religious pieces, including icons, reliquaries and santibellis, found bidders across the board, producing a strong sell-through rate and modest prices. Thorn said, “The paperolles icons were made in France by nuns. They were made as icons to different saints and not many made it to the United States because they’re so fragile. You don’t see them often.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.litchfieldcountyauctions.com or 860-567-4661.