Published: March 15, 2011
Select Orientalia, paintings and graphics, glassware and jewelry consigned from numerous local estates made for an action-packed sale at Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches on February 21. A well-attended auction, the sale saw spirited bidding from the crowd in the auction hall, as well as from a host of absentee, telephone and Internet bidders.
Gallery director Leslie Baker, a popular and well-known figure throughout the region, has history in Florida. For more than 30 years, Baker was a key man at the Arthur James Gallery, prior to it closing with James’s retirement. Baker headed for West Palm Beach and, in 2003, the Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches was founded. It is located less than a block away from the prestigious Norton Museum of Art and at the northern tip of the renowned South Dixie Antique Row.
With his reputation cemented over the past four decades, consignments pour into the gallery from both coasts of South Florida, material that is fresh to the market, as well as items that Baker is selling for the second time around, coming from estates of old and trusted clients.
Two collections of Orientalia, including numerous select pieces of carved jade, highlighted the recent auction, with substantial international interest expressed. Baker commented after the auction that “Internet and telephone bidding was particularly active” for these lots, and added that “most of it was leaving the country.”
Baker was familiar with many of the better pieces from the offering of Orientalia, having sold many of them in a James auction back in the 1980s. The buyer at the time was a Del Ray Beach collector who amassed a stellar assortment, much of it coming through Baker, who was naturally chosen to liquidate the collection this time around.
Other pieces of Orientalia, including numerous pieces of jade jewelry, had come to the gallery through a referral that ended in a consignment from Fort Lauderdale.
Leading the Orientalia was a carved translucent white jade vase with foliate pierced handles and inset cabochons. Signed with a four character Qianlong mark, the Chinese vase attracted a great deal of attention. Bidding on the lot was active, with the lot exceeding estimate as it sold for $28,320.
A large jade brush washer in the form of a lotus flower with reticulation and decorated with a grasshopper was another lot to do well. Also attracting international attention, this Chinese jade lot also went over estimate, bringing $18,880.
Two green jade bangles created quite a stir as the crossed the auction block. Both diminutive, a bracelet with carved flowers shot past the $800․1,200 estimate, climbing to $11,800. The other green jade bangle, estimated at $400/600, realized $9,440.
A carved jade figure of a boy and a toad, just over 6 inches tall, sold at $8,260, while a small figure of boy crouching on an elephant realized $7,080.
A spinach-colored censor with cover was in a pierced diaper pattern with loose ring handles. The unusual piece, measuring just over 5 inches tall, brought $5,900, as did a pair of spinach-colored reticulated vases in the form of tree trunks with branches and leaves.
Other Orientalia included a pair of carved ivory covered vases with loose ring monster mask handles, 10¾ inches tall, that sold for $7,670. A highly detailed carved ivory royal dragon boat with dragon masthead and carved passengers was another lot to do well, bringing $6,490.
A small fire enameled snuff bottle from the Qianlong period attracted attention with it selling at $5,015, a miniature enameled vase in yellow sold at $4,720, and a carved ivory figure of a female warrior in full armor brought $2,950.
The top lot of the auction came as an impressive three-piece garniture set in sterling was offered. Consisting of an ornately repousse decorated monumental center bowl with two matching side bowls, the set was Sheffield, circa 1889, and was marked Walker and Hall. Active bidding from the floor and the telephones pushed the price to $29,500.
A set of eight sterling plates by Dominick and Haff, each with a cashed floral border, fetched $4,720. A Tiffany sterling tray with pierced gallery decorated with ram’s masks and mounted on leaf-form feet brought $2,655, while a pair of Tiffany fruit stands realized $2,360.
From the selection of art came a colorful Jean Dufy gouache and watercolor on paper titled “Scene du Park.” Measuring 8 by 13 inches, the attractive painting realized $17,700.
“If this artist was sold in New York,” said Baker, “it wouldn’t bring much. Around here, however, paintings by Orville Bulman are highly sought after.” The local artist (1904‱978) painted bright and interesting, often surreal subjects, such as the oil on board depicting a top-hatted gentleman seated in a chair with a child on his knee atop the forecabin of a fantastical boat at sea. Selling above estimate, the 8 by 10 inch oil brought $15,340.
An acrylic on canvas titled “Apollo No. 3” by Robert Natkin, circa 1972, measuring 50 by 64 inches, was another lot to do well, selling at $12,980. A classical painting depicting a portrait of a gentleman in a wooded landscape that was done in the manner of Thomas Gainsborough went out at $5,310.
Graphic art did well, with a silkscreen by Andy Warhol, “Scotch Broth,” a signed artist’s proof from his Campbell Soup series, seeing active bidding, going out at $13,340. A Joan Miró etching with aquatint, “La Galante,” also did well, selling above estimate at $16,520. Roy Lichtenstein’s “Before The Mirror” sold at $9,440, while two Jim Dine works, “Atheism” and “Rise Up Solitude” realized $6,490 and $5,900, respectively.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged.
The next auction at Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches will be March 28 and 29. For information, 561-805-7115 or www.agopb.com .
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