Published: May 10, 2016
BOONTON, N.J. — “In the last few years many in the antiques business have commented that the only things selling are Midcentury Modern. We’re seeing clients wait for and seriously pursue distinctive pieces in many different categories, pieces with great aesthetic qualities, fine craftsmanship and good design,” said Michael Millea when asked about Millea Bros’ April 14–16 auction.
“Our April sale was very well received, with 150 lots selling over $2,000 and 43 of those upward of $5,000. The top lot of the auction was an elegant French Art Deco Jean Puiforcat silver tureen and stand with aventurine finial and handles, selling in the room for $43,750. This piece is a perfect illustration of what serious collectors are seeking. We had a lot of Internet bids coming in, telephone bids from as far as London, but it’s always nice to see a piece sell in the room,” added Michael.
Five paintings consigned by a former neighbor of American Abstract Expressionist artist Conrad Marca-Relli (1913–2000) did very well, selling for $16,250, $20,000, $35,000, $12,500 and $16,250. These were all acquired directly from the artist before he moved to Italy. Interestingly, the smallest of this group, an untitled collage dated 1957, achieved the highest price. Marca-Relli was active in the early years of the New York Abstract Expressionist School along with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Marca-Relli taught at Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley in the 1950s and was a neighbor of Jackson Pollock in Springs, East Hampton, N.Y.
A monumental portrait of George Washington painted by Herbert Vos (American, 1855–1935) after the original by Gilbert Stuart (1744–1828) doubled high estimate to sell for $30,000. The painting was in good/fair condition with provenance as property from a major corporate art collection. Another American work doing well was a drypoint and aquatint, “Under the Horse Chestnut Tree,” by Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) that realized $21,250. Giovanni Boldini’s (Italian, 1844–1931) watercolor sketch of a sophisticated lady with a hat tripled high estimate to bring $16,250.
A roomful of bidders actively competed for a Chinese school watercolor painting of three birds on a gnarled tree branch, along with five telephone bidders and much Internet activity, driving the price to $25,000. A phone bidder claimed the work, underbid by an in-house participant. The painting was one of the surprises of the auction, as it was conservatively estimated to sell at $500/700. A massive 90-by-189-inch unframed painting depicting the New York City skyline by Chinese artist Han Hsiang-ning (b 1939) also saw heavy competitive bidding, finishing at $30,000 against its $3/5,000 estimate.
The three-day sale grossed $1,569,000, with an average lot value at $1,500. All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.milleabros.com or 973-377-1500.
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