Published: February 9, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries
FALLS CHURCH, VA. – On January 30, Quinn’s Auction Galleries conducted a fine and decorative arts auction featuring American, European, Asian and Modern selections from the estates of Washington, DC, notables as well as elegant residences in the northern Virginia region.
Ongoing Covid-19 restrictions prevented a gallery event with in-person floor bidding, but the auction was accessible by means of several alternatives, including phone bidding on auction day, live online and absentee.
There were more than 4,000 registered bidders from 67 countries participating in the sale.
Among the featured consignments in the 650-lot auction were classical antiques and marquetry furniture from the estate of Catherine Spencer Eddy Beveridge (1881-1970) and her aunt, Delia Macomb Spencer Field, the second wife of Marshall Field. The goods came directly from the Beveridge family home in upper northwest Washington and included selections of Meissen porcelain and high-end marquetry furniture.
“The sale was a massive success, doing more than $1.3 million, premium included, against an estimate of $550/700,000,” said Matthew C. Quinn, senior vice president of Quinn’s Auction Galleries.
A Nineteenth Century American School portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), American art collector, philanthropist and patron of the arts, earned more than 25 times its high estimate, bringing $69,850 and going to some local DC-area collectors.
Gardner famously founded the eponymous museum in Boston housed in a building designed to emulate a Fifteenth Century Venetian palace after receiving a large inheritance from her father. Early in the morning of March 18, 1990, thieves disguised as police officers robbed the museum of 13 works worth some $500 million – the greatest known property theft in history, works that to date have never been recovered. The full-length oil on canvas portrait, rendered in shadowy tones, came from the estate of a private collector in Potomac, Md., and measured 47½ by 27½ inches.
A $4/6,000 estimate was no match for bidder enthusiasm for a carved lacquer and wood guanyin, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), which was pushed to $63,500, won by a buyer in New York. The 21½-inch-high figure came from the estate of a southern Maryland collector/dealer and was on a red lacquer wood stand. Gilt throughout the whole body with red brown lacquer, the guanyin presented a serene face; sitting on the base with one leg crossed; five lotuses beneath his feet.
Another Chinese guanyin, this one a large three-piece gilt-bronze example, late Ming/early to mid-Qing dynasty, also performed well, bringing $57,150. Seated in double lotus position (dhyanasana) with the left hand held in dhyana mudra and the right in karana mudra, the guanyin wears a long flowing robe and dhoti bordered with stylized flowers with the chest open draped with an elaborate necklace with hardstone inlay.
A portrait of a lady in black by Alphonse Maria Mucha (Czechoslovakian, 1860-1939) shattered its $4/6,000 estimate by finishing at $53,975. Mucha, of course, is best known as the graphic artist behind many Art Nouveau posters. This portrait, painted in 1917 at Zbiroh castle, was done in oil on canvas, signed and dated lower right, 47 by 42 inches. The painting came with a letter as to the authenticity of the work by Wolfgang T. Swatek, who wrote, “The picture doubtlessly a work of the Czech painter and graphic artist Alfons Mucha…If I interpret the signature and date next to it correctly, the picture has been painted 1917 at Zbiroh Castle near Prague, where A.M. dwelled from 1910-1928 to complete the totally 20 giant canvasses of his Slavic epic, partially also as bare commission works Mucha painted numerous portraits during this period. This picture is one of them, The identity of the model and the little child in the mirror…are not to be determined….The portraited person is most probably a wealthy townswoman of Prague, very definitely shown in splendid evening robe.”
The Beveridge estate contributed a group of three Sevres cabinet plates with green and gilt border and central floral design that had descended in the family. Marked on base, the plates surpassed their $200/400 estimate to earn $31,750. Fetching $21,590 and also from the Beveridge estate was a group of seven Sevres green and gold plates with central floral designs, circa Eighteenth Century.
Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808-1879) was a French painter, sculptor and printmaker, whose many works offer commentary on the social and political life in France, from the Revolution of 1830 to the fall of the second Napoleonic Empire in 1870. This sale offered a caricature of a court scene by the Nineteenth Century artist, a watercolor on paper that was signed upper right and 7¼ by 11¼ inches. Estimated $6/8,000, it did $27,940.
A pair of classical spelter male and female sculptures, one depicting a female figure leaning on torch that rests on a helmet and the other a nude male with a scroll or map case holding a tool in his left hand went out at $26,670, a decided premium over their $300/500 estimate. When we say, “went out,” that should be qualified to mean that at 41 inches high for the woman and 42 inches high for the man, the successful bidder would have to line up a third-party shipper as Quinn’s did not offer in-house shipping for the lot.
A rare 11-1/8-inch ruby-ground famille rose porcelain vase with a six-character Qianlong red-seal mark, probably of the period, was decorated with good-luck symbols on the neck and shoulder. Its main composition showed children on a residential terrace overlooking a pavilion and landscape. Since its purchase in 1922, the vase had remained in the Beveridge/Field family, passing by descent through subsequent generations. It was bid to $25,400.
“This is one of the best auctions we’ve ever produced,” said Quinn.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium, as stated by the auction house.
The gallery’s next estate fine and decorative arts sale will be conducted in June. It will host a wine sale and an African art sale coming up late February, early March. For more information, www.quinnsauction.com or 703-532-5632.
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