Published: February 15, 2022
KNOXVILLE, TENN. – A small and rare 1929 bronze casting of Charles M. Russell’s “Smoking with the Spirit of the Buffalo” charged to $72,000 at the Winter Case Antiques Auction, conducted January 29-30 at the company’s flagship gallery in Knoxville. It was just one of many of the success stories on a day which resulted in 97 percent of the lots sold, a sale total 37 percent above the high estimate, and new art auction records for multiple artists. Live floor bidding was offered along with online, telephone and absentee bidding. The auction featured 1,172 lots of art, antiques and jewelry from multiple Southeastern estates, along with items deaccessioned by the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Foundation and a private Southern institution.
The Russell bronze, which quadrupled its estimate, was one of just two known castings commissioned by Russell’s widow, Nancy, from the California Art Bronze Foundry just three years after the sculptor’s death. It was acquired directly from Mrs Russell by a Detroit tycoon, had descended in his family, and was being sold by a private Tennessee estate. The buyer was an anonymous West Coast collector, bidding by phone.
A pair of monumental Eighteenth Century mythological paintings depicting Hercules departing for and returning from war were sold separately and brought $17,920 and $14,080 from the same Northeastern buyer, bidding by phone. A George III trumeau mirror featuring an Anglo-Indian oil river landscape in the manner of Thomas and William Daniell sailed to $13,200, and a small watercolor of birds by ornithological artist Louis Agasiz Fuertes flew to $10,800. An Edward Berge bronze fountain, “Duck Mother” from an estate in Chattanooga, competed to $10,200. A Parisian street scene oil on canvas by Antoine Blanchard raced to $7,800, the same price as a set of three religious icon paintings after Fra Angelico, in ornate Gothic frames. A small mountain landscape oil by Nellie Knopf reached $6,000 and an Alfred de Breanski oil landscape, Derwentwater, competed to $4,608.
Case set a new world auction record for contemporary Native American artist James Lavadour, as his expressionist landscape “Stream” achieved $11,520, and his fiery abstract “New Platform” hit $9,600. Other contemporary paintings also turned in strong performances. Two abstract works by Burton Callicott realized $15,600 and $7,680, and Caio Fonseca’s mixed media abstract, “Pietrasanta P.09.30,” hit $10,240, while a turbulent Keith Shackleton seascape crested at $9,600. An expressionist landscape, “Ship Channel,” by Texas artist William Lester docked at $7,040, the same price as an abstract watercolor, “Mountain Red,” by Carl Sublett.
New world auction records were set for three Southern artists: $28,800 for an early Twentieth Century large mountain landscape by Rudolph Ingerle; $10,200 for a modernist oil “Flower Growing from a Tire” by Nashville painter Bill Sawyer; and $12,000 for a church picnic scene by Helen LaFrance. It was one of multiple works in the sale by the recently deceased African American outsider artist from Kentucky.
A Chinese famille verte fish bowl with poem and landscape decoration made an unexpected splash. The large Qing dynasty bowl, which had done duty as a jardiniere for decades, hiding under a silk plant in a Nashville mansion, set off a battle between two Asian phone bidders and several online suitors, culminating in a winning bid of $66,000. A small Qing dynasty bronze oil lamp in the form of a ram, deaccessioned by the Arkansas Museum of Art, hit $38,400, and a 13-inch-tall Southeast Asian bronze Buddha figure with a carved parcel gilt stand also sold for $38,400.
There was solid demand for estate jewelry, particularly GIA certified diamonds. A diamond solitaire ring featuring a square emerald cut 4.01-carat diamond led the category at $52,800, and a platinum ring with old European cut diamond, 3.79-carat tripled its estimate at $33,600. A princess cut 4.0-carat diamond in platinum setting, with side baguettes bringing the carat total to 5.68 carats, competed to $40,960
A Tiffany & Co. sword, belt and commendations presented to US Navy Rear Admiral Cadwalader Ringgold (1802-1867) topped the historical category, competing to $52,800. Ringgold, a former Navy officer, came out of retirement at the age of nearly 60 to serve in the Civil War.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Case Auctions’ next sale will be July 9-10. For more information, www.caseantiques.com.
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