Published: February 9, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Case Antiques, Inc.
KNOXVILLE, TENN.- Fine art led the day at Case Antiques, Inc. Auctions & Appraisals’ January 30-31 sale of nearly 1,200 lots, with Nineteenth Century scenes dominating the scoreboard. The Historic Winter Auction pulled from three Tennessee estates, the Guardsmark LHI Collection and two Southern institutions.
“I’m counting nine new artist records so far,” said Sarah Drury, vice president of fine and decorative arts at Case. “It was just one after another, the bids kept going higher and higher.”
Top of the sale was found with a $40,960 artist record for French/British artist William Oliver (1823-1901) with his oil on canvas painting “Spanish Lovers.” The painting measures 17¾ by 14½ inches and sold after 62 bids.
“That was a battle of two private collectors, one on the West coast and a collector in the room,” Drury said. “The scene was so compelling and the young lady so beautiful. It suggests all these different storylines and I think the collectors were drawn to the romance of that painting. Everyone that came in spent a while looking at it.”
From Michel Cazabon (1813-1888) came a watercolor landscape featuring three cows drinking in a shallow river with figures and a straw-roof home in the background. Cazabon is a patron painter of Trinidad and Tobago, the island’s first artist to gain international recognition. This work, which brought $33,280, was acquired by its consignor’s ancestor while working for the Theodore Roosevelt administration in the Caribbean in the early Twentieth Century. It sold to a collector from Trinidad and Tobago.
A collection of Twentieth Century regionalist works spilled out from the estate of Carl Klein, a Tennessee collector. Selling for $26,400, an auction record for the artist, was a regionalist oil on board mural study by Joseph Paul Vorst (American, 1897-1947), titled “Hutchingsons Wheatbelt.” Vorst was a German immigrant who settled in St Louis during the throes of the Great Depression. He participated in numerous WPA projects and taught art. The final mural was suggested by a bidder to be on the wall of a Kansas post office. Another Regionalist work was Joseph Cain’s (American, 1904-2003) New York City harbor scene, which took $10,880. Other works from the Klein collection included a George Bruestle (American, 1871-1939) impressionist painting titled “A September Day,” which went out at $5,280. From Jay Hall Connaway (American, 1893-1970) came a maritime painting titled “Launching Boat, Monhegan, ME,” which sold at $4,096. An Ogunquit, Maine, scene from Nellie Augusta Knopf (American, 1875-1962) brought $4,800.
Auction records were set for Burton Callicott (American, 1907-2003) with “Outpouring No. 2,” an oil on canvas measuring 59½ inches square, that sold for $28,800; Tennessee artist Joanna Higgs Ross (b 1934), a member of the Knoxville Seven whose “Cades Cove No. 9,” an oil on canvas landscape measuring 36 by 48 inches, sold for $4,800; for Edwin Gardner (Tennessee, 1845-1935) with “Hoe in Hand” for $10,800, an oil on canvas measuring 35-5/8 by 27-1/8 inches that had been in the 1985 exhibition at the Tennessee State Museum titled “Landscape and Genre Painting in Tennessee, 1810-1985;” Robert Longhurst’s new high at $10,880 was paid for “Wisp,” an abstract wood sculpture measuring 29 inches high; and Tennessee artist Phillip Perkins (1907-1970) with a $3,840 result for a portrait of “The French Sailor.”
Five works by Kentucky outsider artist Helen LaFrance (1919-2020) were included in the sale, and two topped the artist’s previous auction record. Known for her scenes of celebration, “Church Picnic” was an oil on canvas measuring 24 by 36 inches and sold for $9,600. “Fourth of July Picnic,” a 9-by-12-inch oil on canvas brought $8,400. Both were consigned from a Mississippi consignor whose mother had acquired them directly from the artist. LaFrance died only three months ago in November of 2020 at the age of 101.
For buyers of Southern furniture, the sale offered both fine and folk examples, including a $6,000 result for a folk art plantation desk. It was consigned from a Kentucky collection and made of mixed woods with a Gothic-style trefoil carved cornice, the paneled doors centered by an applied sunburst with trefoils in each corner, and further applied details to the front and sides. Drury said it had “a ton” of bidders on it and it went to a private collector. At $10,080 was a Federal sideboard desk that the auction house said was either from the Mid-Atlantic or Virginia. It had been deaccessioned from a Southern historic house museum. Having descended in the Richmond area was a Hepplewhite sideboard with figured maple primary that went out at $7,680. A cherry Sheraton huntboard or slab desk from Tennessee featured a singular fall-front drawer face that revealed a fitted interior with seven pigeon holes and two small drawers. The auction house said it had descended in either the Abram Maury or Newton C. Cannon families of Williamson County, Tenn., to the present owner and it sold for $3,840. Possibly from the Rose Cabinet Shop was a Southwest Virginia Jackson Press with a mahogany veneer and walnut primary. It had history from the Bristol, Va., area and sold for $2,560.
A collection of Knoll furniture came from The Guardsmark Collection, Lipman Holdings International of Memphis, Tenn., a private security company. Included here was a $6,400 result for a Florence Knoll rosewood credenza, $12,800 for a set of four wire chairs by Warren Platner, $5,888 for a pair of Barcelona chairs in cognac leather and $5,632 for a Barcelona daybed in black leather.
While much of the traditional Southern furniture stayed in the South, Drury said that the modern furniture went all over the country and internationally.
Colonial artifacts were found in a $3,600 result for a George Washington “Linked States” inaugural button from 1789. An Abraham Lincoln ribbon badge, possibly made to mourn the loss of the 16th president, featured Presidents Lincoln and Washington together in a frame. It sold for $2,176.
Case’s next auction is scheduled for the spring. For more information, www.caseantiques.com or 865-558-3033.
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