Published: March 15, 2011
Eclectic offerings do not necessarily bring the most money at auction, but the recent Grogan & Company sale on February 13 proved otherwise. A 100-year old collection of 150 lots of antiquarian books, prints, maps and decorative objects from an area family brought out scholars, the curious and collectors of the rare and esoteric for what auctioneer Michael B. Grogan said was the “busiest preview ever.” Bidding over the course of the nine-hour sale came from 15 different countries, in addition to national efforts.
The highlight was a prized 1892 volume on Byzantine art objects by Russian art historian Nikodim Pavlovich Kondakov, numbered 175 of an edition of 200. It sold for $83,375 to a Russian collector on the phone. The book is so rare that Grogan staff was unable to find prior sale records for it and gave it an estimate of $100/200. The pleased winning bidder is taking it back to Russia.
The collection sold began in the early Twentieth Century when the Cambridge, Mass.-born Theron Johnson Damon taught at Robert College in Constantinople from 1906 to 1909 and was subsequently based there as a journalist. He made many buying trips around the Middle East with his friend Bernard Berenson. He returned to the United States and opened an antiquities shop in New York.
A 1938 nine-volume set of A Survey of Persian Art from Pre-Historic Times to P resent by American Persian art expert Arthur Upham Pope, published at the Oxford University Press, also sold on the phone, bringing $10,350. It was accompanied by the portfolio A Survey of Persian Art , extra color plates, deluxe edition.
A first edition of Aya Sofia Constantinople, As Recently Restored By Order of H.M. The Sultan Abdul Medjid by Gaspard Fossati also sold for $10,350. In French, it was published in 1852 London by P. and D. Colnagi with 25 tinted lithographed plates after drawing by Fossati. Fossati was the court architect to Russia, who with his brother Guiseppe, supervised the restoration of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
A second example of the book, also in French, went to the same absentee buyer for $9,775, while a lot of six engraved views of Constantinople after Levantine artist Antoine-Ignace Melling sold for $3,450.
Two Eighteenth Century maps of Rome by important Roman architects brought $9,200. Roma by Giovanni Battista Nolli with a cartouche reading “Silvio Valenti, Benedicti XIV,” and La Topografia di Roma by Nolli and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the cartouche of which read “All Emo e Rmo Sig Pne Colmo Il Sig. Cardinale Allessandro Albani,” were made around 1748.
Islamic tiles, particularly the Turkish examples that were thought to have been Kutahya and made in the same palette as those of the Blue Mosque, gathered by George Huntington Damon were well received. A lot of two Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century underglaze painted tiles from Turkey, described as “probably Kutahya,” brought $4,025 from a consistent bidder. The tiles were decorated in a colorful and detailed pattern of blue and rust flowers and measured 97/8 by 8½ inches. A lot of three underglaze painted tiles, also probably Kutahya, with a central rosette and surrounding palmettes along with a fragment in the same pattern, brought $3,450. A single example decorated with hyacinths, lilies and medallions sold in the gallery to another consistent buyer for $3,163. A lot of nine examples set in a concrete panel brought $3,450.
A lot of five Turkish brass candleholders with Persian inscriptions elicited a bidding war that ended when a bidder in the gallery defeated eight phone bidders and took the group for $13,800. Another lot of metals, four hand mirrors, along with a bronze vessel, sold online for $6,490.
Also from the Damon collections was a lot of two Chinese watercolor paintings on silk, one depicting a young flautist on a bull and the other a woman bearing water near a stream. The lot fetched $5,175.
Painted with hunting scenes, an eight-panel Chinese screen realized $3,738, and a lot of two Chinese scrolls, one of a landscape and calligraphy and the other of trees and birds, sold for $2,950. A second lot of two Chinese scrolls, one of figures with mice kegs and the other of branches with calligraphy, brought $1,093.
Also from the Asian arts category came a three-piece Imari porcelain tea service with Continental silver mounts, comprising a 5½-inch teapot and two tea caddies, which had some condition issues but still realized $5,750.
Three Japanese blue and white bottle-form vases, together with a blue and white jar and bowl, brought $4,313, while a bidder in the gallery paid $4,600 for a lot of five Korean celadon bowls along with a sixth broken example, and $1,955 for a Korean celadon bowl with a crane decoration.
A late Nineteenth Century Tabriz carpet (13 feet 8 inches by 11 feet 6 inches) from the Damon collections realized $17,250.
Other estates and collections provided objects of desire to the bidding audience. The item that received the most interest in the entire sale was a small †3½ by 2¾ inches †oil on canvas portrait by Pierre Auguste Renoir, “Jeune Femme en Profile,” which sold for $54,635 to a private collector in Virginia bidding on the phone. It came from the collection of Ercil Hawkes of Rochester, N.Y.
“Winter on Wall Street” by Guy Carleton Wiggins, a signed oil on board, brought $26,450. Catalog notes remind readers that the inclusion of Red Cross flags, rare in Wiggins’ work, indicates that the painting was made during World War II.
A watercolor and gouache view of a harbor with figures, ships and a lighthouse by Jean Dufy went on the phone for $14,950. It came from the estate of Cecile Parker Carver, of Prouts Neck, Maine, from which Grogan & Company have sold objects in previous sales.
American artist John Linton Chapman’s Italian harbor scene attracted considerable overseas interest and sold for $16,100 after a contest between two phone bidders. Prints of interest commanded attention as Thomas Hart Benton’s “The Race” brought $8,050, as did two etchings by Carl Rungius, “Ivan” and “The Traveler.”
An 88-by-66 inch oil on canvas scene by Cecilia Beaux of “Victory Bearing Away the Infant Future” sold for $8,625. The painting was commissioned by her friend A. Piatt Andrew for the Gloucester, Mass., American Legion Fourth of July celebration in 1921.
A contemporary painting of two girls picking flowers by London artist Dianne Flynn retained the gallery label of MacConnal-Mason & Son, Ltd, London and sold for $10,350.
“Moonlit Figure by a Lake” by Dedham, Mass., artist Alvan Fisher, an evocative picture depicting a hunter or fisherman lakeside with a dog and a dinghy, was signed and dated 1824. It realized $9,775 and was accompanied by a 1987 letter of authenticity from Vose Galleries.
“Psychedelic Profile,” an acrylic portrait with a rainbow by Peter Max, was signed and dated 1971 and sold for $8,050, while a Nineteenth Century Scottish view by Sam Bough, “Low Tide, Evening,” realized $5,463.
Of the Asian art objects from other estates, a Chinese gilt-bronze figure of a seated deity thought to be from the Fifteenth Century commanded the most interest. Estimated at $500/1,000, it climbed to $57,500. A Chinese gilt-bronze figure of a seated Buddha estimated at $1/$1,500 sold after the sale for $70,800.
The furniture lot of interest was a Chippendale cherry bonnet top chest-on-chest made in Concord, Mass., perhaps by Joseph Hosmer, that sold for $10,638. The chest had fan carving, fluted pilasters and an ogee bracket base; a note in a drawer indicated that the piece had been purchased in 1920 from the George Hubbard house in Concord, Mass.
Attributed to Samuel McIntire, a rare early Nineteenth Century classical mahogany sofa in the Grecian style with scroll arms and carved grape vine and carved floral rosette decoration came from a Beacon Hill house and sold online to an East Coast collector for $7,670.
Selling for $3,540 was a large mahogany four-poster bed from about 1830, carved on the headboard with a basket of fruit and with acanthus leaves on the massive (91 inches) posts.
Standing 90 inches tall, a Nineteenth Century classical mahogany linen press fetched $4,313, while an 81-inch late Eighteenth Century Pennsylvania Chippendale cherry example was $2,006.
Furniture offerings included something for every price range, as attested to by the Nineteenth Century George I-style carved walnut side chair that brought $11.50.
A late Nineteenth Century KPM porcelain plaque decorated with an image of a woman holding a mirror that reflects jewelry and a servant in the background was signed “T. Lau” and retained the paper label for the Franz Xavier Thallmaier, Munchen, painting studio. It realized $5,750.
A Steinway B grand piano in a faded mahogany case came from the estate of Marcella Clark McCormack of Newport, R.I., and brought an impressive $16,675 from a piano dealer.
Also from the McCormack estate was a lot of two pair of Staffordshire figural groups, one of which depicted an equestrian couple aboard their horses and the other fruit sellers and their donkeys that sold for $10,350. They are headed to a Washington, D.C., collection.
A 27-inch pair of Louis XVI-style gilt-bronze figural sconces from about 1900 went for $4,130.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.groganco.com or 781-461-9500.
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