Published: December 15, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Soulis Auctions
LONE JACK, MO. – A three-day sale pulled together 577 lots of clocks, music boxes, antiques, decorative arts, paintings, prints and pottery at Soulis Auctions December 4-6. The gross total summed up to approximately $584,000 and auctioneer Dirk Soulis said he was happy with the end-year selling affair.
The first day of sales saw a robust $33,900 result for a pen and ink with wash by American artist Thomas Hart Benton. The circa 1930s work featured a tourist camp and was part of a series the artist completed on road trips during the summers of the 1920s-30s, according to the auction house. A similar work resides at the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
Four Birger Sandzén works appeared in the sale, two watercolors and two prints. The watercolors sold for the same price at $11,300 and both featured the Smoky River in Kansas. A woodblock print titled “The Old Powder House, Central City,” went out at $2,938, while a lithograph of “Lake in the Rockies,” bearing a striking resemblance to one of the watercolors in the sale, sold for $1,017.
The highest grossing piece of pottery was a San Ildefonso charger from Maria Martinez and daughter-in-law Santana that brought $4,294. The black on black charger featured an image of Avanyu, the water serpent encircling the outer rim. Behind at $3,616 was a Nineteenth Century Zuni Pueblo jar, 9 inches high, circa the 1880s.
Day two of the sale released a fine selection of antique carpets that hailed from a collector who Soulis called his mentor in the category. “You can look at carpets, but it takes some time to see them,” the auctioneer said. Rising to $35,400, the top lot in the auction, was a Joshegan silk prayer rug measuring 68½ by 46 inches. It was published in 1913 in George Griffin Lewis’ The Practical Book of Oriental Rugs. A caption noted it had been loaned by H.B. Claflin & Co, a prominent dry goods wholesale retailer in Manhattan. The auction house described the pictorial design as “a formal garden supporting a fountain and linked flower head lattice adorned with cypress trees before a palace below a shah emblem and peacock feathers, supported by two Simurgh and two exotic birds and sun spandrels, all within a blue border enclosing continuous cypress trees linked by meandering curvilinear and angular vines issuing flower heads and leaves.”
Behind at $17,770 was an Eighteenth Century Persian garden carpet fragment measuring 77 by 53 inches. Made of wool on cotton, the auction house noted that this example is only one of a handful known in this design, defined by the pattern format of columns with rectangular reserves enclosing flora forms. Soulis noted, “The garden carpet fragment is consistent with Azerbaijan origin and presents a particularly good example of the genre with its fine drawing, execution and saturated colors.”
At $10,170 was a circa 1860 Persian Malayer prayer rug with images of cypress trees. The 80-by-54-inch example was published in George O’Bannon’s 1995 title Oriental Rugs: The Collector’s Guide to Selecting, Identifying and Enjoying New and Vintage Oriental Rugs. The author wrote, “Few village prayer rugs equal city rugs in sophistication of design, color complexity and design originality. This one surpasses most of them on all these levels. The wide single main border in yellow is unique. The cypress tree, composed of the herati border pattern is reconciled perfectly, and the color balance is ideal.”
A group of eight standing bear skittles by Steiff knocked down bids until they reached $15,820. The absence of the company’s ear tag led Soulis to believe they were created before 1904, 12 years after the company was established in 1892. The bears were covered in worsted wool, each on a rounded wood base and holding onto a vertical wood post with chains from their nose to the post. The set included its original wood game ball.
A hand painted porcelain jardinière rising 18 inches tall sold for $12,980. The work was created by Doulton and decorated by artist Henry Mitchell for Tiffany and Co. It featured Irish Wolfhounds in a forest with woodland deer.
In enamel on copper was a French Art Deco ginger jar as table lamp that brought $4,780. The lamp was signed for Camille Fauré, an enamel artist who worked for Limoges.
A bronze maquette of “Ad Astra,” the large-scale Native American figure shooting a bow that resides on the top of the Kansas Capitol building by Richard Bergen, sold for $4,720. Bergen died earlier this year and this sculpture was one of 40 examples produced in 1999.
The final day of the sale saw two collections of clocks and music boxes come to the block, led by a French brass clock and instrument station that brought $6,490. The 20-inch-high tower featured two clocks, an aneroid barometer, one thermometer and a compass, all surrounded by nautical elements, including anchors, life preserver, etc.
A French figural mystery clock featuring the allegory of Science after Auguste Moreau went out at $5,900. The bronze figure stands holding a suspension mechanism with a ball-form clock to the bottom and was made circa 1890. Taking $4,480 was an early Twentieth Century fusee drive openwork brass skeleton clock with a deadbeat movement.
Soulis’ next sale will be in late January. All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For additional information www.dirksoulisauctions.com or 816-697-3830.
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