Published: September 5, 2023
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring; Photos Courtesy Wooten & Wooten Auctioneers
CAMDEN, S.C. — Even though Jeremy Wooten can dispatch about 90 lots an hour, it still took him several hours to gavel down the 605 lots in Wooten & Wooten’s Summer Estates & Collections of the Carolinas auction on August 26. When Antiques and The Arts Weekly caught up with him, he was busy packing up a collection ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia but was happy to take a few minutes break to talk about some of the highlights of the sale, the results of which he said he was very happy with.
Two watercolor landscapes by Charleston, S.C., artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876-1958) figured prominently in the sale. Smith was a leading member of the Charleston Renaissance from 1915 to 1940 who was best known for her compositions that incorporate soft lines to create atmospheric landscapes. One of them, offered just eight lots into the sale, measured 22½ by 31-1/8 inches and depicted a low country marsh with cranes in flight. Recently discovered in a Charleston collection on Church Street, it found a new home with a Charleston collector, who paid $18,750 for it. The second work had the same subject matter but measured just 13¼ by 17¼ inches; it was considered a study for the larger one. Wooten was pleased to say that the same buyer bought both, paying $3,125 for the second.
A double portrait of Mrs James Belton Pickett (Paulina DeGradfenried) (1817-1899) and her daughter, Mrs Sallie Pickett (1837-1855), that was painted by Francois Bernard (France/Louisiana, 1812-1875) in the mid-Nineteenth Century sold to a buyer in the South for $4,800. The work, which was life size, measured 70 by 54 inches in its gilt frame and was being sold by descendants of the Picketts.
Also life size was a bronze sculpture of children and a small dog playing in a woodland setting by Jim Davidson (b 1962), which came to the auction house from a collection in Lake Murray, S.C. Wooten described it as “really big and cool,” noting they had to use a tractor to move it. The size of the piece may have been a deterrent to long-distance shipping but happily, it found its new home with a local couple in Camden, who paid $2,880 for it.
Taking a second-place finish at $9,600 and exceeding expectations was an Eighteenth Century Queen Anne chinoiserie bracket clock with scarlet and gilt japanned decoration that was made circa 1770 by Marwick Markham Perigal of London. It was from a Kiawah Island, S.C., collection, and sold to a buyer on the phone, underbid by a South Carolina collector.
An antique Civil War-era Confederate pike from the John Brown raid that was numbered “276” on both its hilt and collar and featured a hand-forged blade with a wood handle or stock that had been in a Camden private collection, caused Wooten to wax enthusiastic.
“Isn’t that incredible?! Those are super rare; we’ve never had one,” he said, noting that it sold to an institution in Georgia for $8,125.
Southern pottery was in plentiful supply and attracted both a lot of interest and strong prices. Leading the category at $6,600 was a circa 1850 Edgefield District, S.C., stoneware storage jar, that bore the stamp of “L. Miles” and was attributed to enslaved potter David Drake. It was cataloged as having “exceptional form with nice rich glaze and proud handles…with all the characteristics of Dave’s works of this period.” In excellent condition with no restorations or repairs detected, Wooten was pleased with the result and said it sold to a collector of Edgefield District, S.C.
Another stoneware storage jar, also from the Edgefield District but was attributed to Robert Mathis working at Shaw’s Creek. Noted to be an early example of slip decorated ware from the site, it featured a rich and deep alkaline glaze and two handles, though one had been professionally restored at some point. Wooten said he had discovered it in Lexington County, S.C., and that it was staying in the state, to a buyer who paid $4,560 for it.
Not all the Southern pottery was antique. Achieving $1,140 was a stoneware face jug by Twentieth/Twenty-First Century contemporary Columbia, S.C., potter Peter Lenzo, who Wooten said was a family friend of their family. Standing 14 inches tall and featuring glass runs and a rich alkaline glaze, the over-arching single-handled piece came to auction from the collection of a South Carolina diplomat.
Southern furniture was another popular category. A circa 1840 Classical mahogany china press with boldly outset cornice molding and secondary woods of poplar and hard yellow pine also featured an early surface that was likely original. Wooten said he thought it was going to a buyer in Mississippi, bidding online, who paid $2,750 for it, which he said was a good result.
The sale also offered more recently made Southern furniture. An iconic set of hand-crafted tall back chairs that had been made by the African American Hunter family of Camden, sold to an online buyer in South Carolina’s low country for $1,375. For those that aren’t in the know, the men in the Hunter family made the frames, while the women of the family would weave the seats; Wooten said they are very special to South Carolinians. Another iconic form in the sale could be found in a circa 1950 Chippendale-style mahogany campaign chest, made by Boyd Smith of Charleston, that featured a triple stacked case. It came to auction from a Charleston family and sold to a buyer in the South for $1,320.
Not everything in the sale and not everything sold to Southern buyers. Most notably among these was a pair of Chinese hardwood wall hangers that were cataloged as late Qing or Republic period, late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. With mirrored tops and three porcelain plaques, the pair had been discovered in a coastal Georgia collection. A buyer in China, bidding online, bought them for $7,750. It was the fourth highest result of the day. A set of nine Chinese glazed earthenware parrots, probably made in the early Twentieth Century, sold to an online buyer for $1,250, more than three times their high estimate.
Wooten & Wooten Auctioneers’ next auction will take place November 4.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.wootenandwooten.com or 866-570-0144.
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