Published: April 27, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Nadeau’s Auction Gallery
WINDSOR, CONN. – Ed Nadeau Jr surely wakes up in the morning thinking, “It’s good to be an auctioneer.”
In today’s market, and with the ability to reach buyers worldwide via the internet, estimates can sometimes be meaningless; in the firm’s April 17 sale of antiques, Chinese folk art and furniture, which totaled $1.19 million, that was clear.
Eclipsing its $4/8,000 estimate, a large, framed, rare Sino-Korean monastic portrait of “Yuan Chiao Kuo Shih Chih Hsiang,” ink and oil on silk, circa Fourteenth/Fifteenth Centuries or later, sold for $113,775. Yuan Chiao Kuo Shih Chili Hsiang was revered as a Buddhist patriarch and nations leader. With Ralph M. Chait Galleries labels adhered to the backing board, the 45½-by-34½-inch work also sported a museum and gallery label along with three appraisals dating back to 1976. Provenance included the collection of Rhode Island Governor Theodore Francis Green, Ralph Chait Collection, Ralph Chait Gallery, Hasting House, Essex, Conn., and the estate of Alan Gans, Mulberry Point, Guilford, Conn.
“We knew going into the sale that it would bring a lot more than what we had down,” Nadeau said of the portrait. “We had talked with a number of experts about it and they said it would bring in the $100,000 range. In the auction world, it’s all about getting out to the right people, and with us being on three online bidding platforms, it helps a lot.” The gallery said that the lot was won by “someone out of the country.”
In addition to its three bidding platforms, absentee and phone bids, there were about 50 in-person bidders attending the sale in Nadeau’s spacious gallery, and the total number of registered bidders hit 6,200.
Fetching the next-highest price in the sale, nearly three times its high estimate, was a 28-by-40-inch painting by Carroll Cloar (American, 1913-1993) depicting “Trailers at the Gin.” The acrylic on Masonite, signed lower left “Carroll Cloar,” titled and dated “March 1972” on the reverse, sold for $70,725. “The market is really hot right now across the board on paintings and, frankly, just about everything. Our sales have been doing really well. And for the Cloar, we were expecting it would go for $25,000 to $30,000. This painting has a lot going for it, the reds that are in it are great, so it’s really a step above most paintings out there by Carroll Cloar.” Cloar, born on a cotton farm in east Arkansas, was a painter who earned national acclaim as a realist and surrealist. The majority of his works had conceptual ideas based on his memories from childhood. His paintings are characterized by flattened figures in landscapes formed of decorative patterning.
Another Asian lot to excel in this sale was a Chinese hand-colored book comprising three folding books in a silk case. Pertaining to the life of Buddha, the Nineteenth Century work, 8½ inches high, sprawled to a $52,890 final price against its $200/400 estimate. “As everyone knows, Chinese material is hard to figure out,” said Nadeau, “what things are actually going to bring. The book came in and we didn’t expect much of it. I guess it’s a lot more rare than we expected.”
Similarly, three Chinese robes – one, bearing silk and gold threads, of a five-claw dragon among clouds and cranes; another, a purple foo lion; and a third of pink silk, the longest measuring 57 inches – outperformed a $400/800 expectation to command $13,530.
There was more Asian material. A pair of Chinese porcelain jars having painted panels of courtyard scenes with figures, 17 inches high, reached $6,765. A group of five Oriental porcelain items included a small pair of five-claw dragon dishes with six-character mark on bottom, a pair of porcelain foo dragon dishes marked with Yongcheng mark on bottom, a famille rose bowl with Qianlong mark and one saucer with orange paint. The lot was bid to $7,995.
Further, a Nineteenth Century Chinese blue and white globular vase had five-claw dragon decoration and a six-character Qianlong mark to the underside. Standing at a height of 16-7/8 inches, it found a buyer at $6,150. Fetching $5,227 was a pair of Chinese blue and white Yen Yen vases having flaring rims over slender neck and bulbous body and all-over foliate design. Both had been repaired and each 17½ inches high.
A large, Eighteenth Century Chinese bronze foo lion or dog censer came on its original carved stand. In the traditional stance of left paw raised on a ball, the possibly Qing or Ming dynasty figures brought $7,300.
Also, a four-fold gold leafed and painted paper screen came decorated with a Kano school nature scene. Edo period and depicting a bamboo grove and red flowers throughout the landscape, the late Eighteenth Century screen was 66 inches high and approximately 100 inches wide. It earned $4,305.
Among furniture was a Federal mahogany candlestand that garnered $3,997. With an inlaid shaped top and standing 28 inches high, it had provenance to the estate of Diana Atwood Johnson, an Old Lyme, Conn., resident who passed away in 2018 and is remembered for her contributions to open space and the arts.
There were several pieces of furniture made by Irion Company Furnituremakers of Wellsboro, Penn. The company, a custom maker of period furniture designs, was founded by Louis Irion in 1977 after learning the trade from his father, who started the Berwyn Furniture Shop in 1948, initially to repair and refinish furniture and to restore antique furniture, which evolved into making furniture as well. An Irion Company custom mahogany kneehole vanity, having triple shell carved top drawer all set on ogee feet, 34½ by 20½ by 36 inches, brought $5,535, while a two-piece lot of Irion furniture that included a tiger maple reverse serpentine chest with shaped top over conforming drawers, set on bracket feet with carvings 36 inches high and 40 inches wide, along with a mirror, sold for $5,227. An Irion Company Goddard-style custom mahogany tea table with shaped top on cabriole legs ending in open talon claw feet, 26½ inches high, brought $4,920. “A telltale sign,” opined Nadeau. “Those came out of a tag sale setting and were bought at maybe 10 percent of what they sold for. That’s where your auctions really kick in versus selling items in a tag sale. In today’s market, you have to run with the auctions. They are on fire right now.”
An additional furniture highlight came in the form of a Victorian book stand in black lacquer, gilt and paint decoration. Raised on elephant shaft with quad base and standing 22 inches high, it was bid to $3,690.
A stand out in the sale was a Delft bowl, whose interior was marked “Success to British Arms in America.” The Eighteenth Century bowl had a small rim repair and was 4 inches high with a 9-inch diameter. Finishing at $24,600, it had come from a Newport, R.I., historic home, in the same family since 1761. “Either the underbidder or the buyer said he had seen only one other one. Just an extremely rare bowl,” said Nadeau.
A Nineteenth Century or later clothier’s trade sign advertising Thompson Brothers, Bath, Maine, went out at $14,760. The pressed and painted tin, which depicted an energetically leaping man, nattily dressed, of course, and in a bowler hat was 74 inches high and 50 inches wide.
A B. Richardson Philadelphia clip point Bowie knife with a wood handle, leather and brass sheath and its 9½-inch-long blade marked “B. Richardson, Philadelphia and Sons, Philadelphia,” made $5,535.
There was a three-piece group comprising an early Eighteenth Century Queen Anne stumpwork tree with wire frame and beaded element in a recessed pine frame, 24 by 19 inches, an embroidered panel with figure and a house, along with a needlework, “School Girl Ruth Fuller is my name, New England is my Nation, Newton is my Dwelling Place, and Christ is my Salvation.” From the early Nineteenth Century, 14 by 10¾ inches, the needlework and other items in the lot were from the Diana Atwood Johnson estate. They brought $6,457.
The sale offered sculpture and fine art. A bronze with black patina after Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870-1952) depicting Chief Blackbird Oglala Sioux sold for $39,975, Marked and titled on his left side “A.A. Weinman,” the realistically cast chief’s bust was 17 inches high.
In the manner of William Hodges (British, 1744-1797), an oil on canvas mountainous landscape with figures drew $33,825 despite being unsigned.
A Dutch School village scene with windmill, late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century, left the gallery at $4,612. The oil on canvas was signed illegibly lower right “Boil…” and measured 12½ by 25 inches.
At $8,610, the decorative arts category was led by a Paris Porcelain 69-piece dinnerware set in the Fleurs Barbeaux pattern. There were three reticulated baskets, four covered dishes, two gravy serving dishes, 12 oval serving platters, round serving plates, 12 dinner plates, bowls, luncheon plates, etc., along with Barbeaux luncheon and bread plates. The set came from the same Newport, R.I., historic home as the Delft bowl.
Bidders liked a pair of Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century famille rose hexagonal vases mounted as lamps and pushed them to $4,920. They were decorated with exterior figural scenes and were 18 inches high.
Finally, a monumental French “Atlas” figural clock depicting Atlas holding the world was lifted to $6,457. The clock face had enameled numbers and, with metal mounts standing on a round base, the 61-inch-high clock bore a plaque marked “Presented by Alberti Voorhis (cashier) to The State Bank, 1904.”
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. Nadeau’s next sale, which will offer a lot of Modern art, is set for May 1. For information, 860-246-2444 or www.nadeausauction.com.
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