Published: May 25, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Treadway
CINCINNATI, OHIO – It was Carl Schmidt and two Gertrudes who led the way at Treadway’s May 16 Spring Decorative Arts Auction of 399 lots. The offerings included everything from American and French furniture and lighting; American art; and decorative arts in ceramics, enamelwork and metalwork.
At $63,750 was Carl Schmidt’s 17-inch-high Iris glaze vase for Rookwood Pottery, dated 1911. The work’s form was a signature shape designed by Alfred Laurens Brennan, among the firm’s earliest designers who began working with the pottery a year after its opening, from 1881 until about 1885. Brenann would later become a renowned illustrator. It is the third highest result for any Rookwood work at auction that we were able to find. The vase featured provenance to Sam and Faydelle Schott, Dr Ed Berger and M.A. Alexander.
“It’s beyond special,” said auctioneer Don Treadway, who was intimately familiar with the example. “I found this thing, I owned it twice, and I’ve sold it four times. It is an enormous vase. I’ve sold 300-500 Rookwood works by Carl Schmidt and I’ve never sold a better one. It’s totally uncrazed and beyond excellent condition. It looks like the day it was made.”
The flower shown on it, a night-blooming cereus, was not native to Ohio, Treadway noted, as many other Rookwood decorations were.
The vase sold to a Texas institution.
At $43,750 was a diminutive painting by Gertrude Abercrombie, 5½ by 8¼ inches. The firm noted the oil on board had been reframed, the original artist-made frame now lost. Still, buyers did not mind as they pushed the work well past its $15,000 high estimate.
“She’s a very hot artist,” Treadway said. “It’s somewhat typical for her work in that the subject matter is dark in terms of what she’s saying. You had a black ladder leading up to a white cloud and, throughout the 40s through the 60s, she was quite close to a lot of black artists and musicians, Dizzy Gillespie and others in the Chicago area. She was sensitive to the racial imbalance that we saw in that time period and I believe that’s what she’s saying in this painting. There are a number of people looking to acquire her work, it’s a deep and solid market.”
The other Gertrude was Gertrude Twichell, the master craftsman and inductee of the Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston, and prior to that a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Her works are mentioned in the same breath as Elizabeth Copeland and Josephine Hartwell. Selling for $17,500 was a hinged copper box with wood interior, a central enamel oval plaque to its lid depicting a three-masted ship at sail before a sunset or sunrise. It measured only 4 inches high.
Treadway pointed to the rare form for its desirability. “The prices we have received for these things are somewhat hard to believe,” he said. “There are a handful of people who are on board with trying to get a piece. We’ve sold probably half a dozen of her works.”
Lamps would prove desirable from both European and American makers. Among the Europeans was a cameo cut glass lamp by French maker Daum, 33 inches high, that sold for $15,600. To its shade was a Mediterranean harbor scene, the sky an azure blue and the sea a golden orange. From Austria was an impressive Loetz “Titania” lamp with a bronze base. The “Titania” line was introduced by the company in 1905 and the firm dated this lamp to circa 1907. They said it was likely all original. Representing American makers was a leaded glass Wisteria lamp in the style of Tiffany Studios that sold for $11,250. Actually produced by Tiffany Studios was a bronze lamp base that took $7,800 and a lamp with orange favrile glass shade that brought $6,250. From New Bedford, Mass.-based Pairpoint came a chipped ice glass “Copley” lamp, so named for its shape, with reverse painted glass that sold for $4,550. Not far away in Meriden, Conn., Handel produced a reverse painted lamp with a river/forest landscape scene that took $3,500.
Hot vases included a $13,750 result for a short, 1¾-inch-high “Weed Pot” by Black multidisciplinary artist Doyle Lane. The artist received a write up by the New York Times in 2020 in preparation for a posthumous ceramics show at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles. The review wrote, “The ‘weed pots’ are ravishingly seductive. Some are smooth as river rocks; others are cracked or lumpen, like overripe fruit from otherworldly trees. Many are barely more than a couple of inches high. Despite Mr Lane’s name for them, the ‘weed pots’ have nothing to do with marijuana; their apertures are wide enough for only a single wildflower stem. They are potent objects. David Kordansky, who is lending pots from his personal collection for the exhibition, describes them as ‘magic crystals.'”
“I’d guess that we’ve sold more Lane than anyone in the country,” Treadway said. The price on this one was astronomical, it’s a little bitty thing. They’re not real common, but the 2020 show created a deeper and wider market, people wanted to get a piece. The pots are just as charming as they can be. In terms of square inches, its smaller than an egg. The glazes are pretty darn cool, too. I’ve sold all kinds of glazes, some look like Raku, some have this volcanic orange.”
At $9,100 was a glazed and carved ceramic Newcomb College vase by Marie de Hoa LeBlanc, which measured 14 inches high. Both Marie and her sister, Emilie, studied at Newcomb College and would decorate works together. They never married, living with each other throughout life.
Daum reared its head again with a number of vases, including a $8,450 result for a wheel carved, acid cut and hammered glass example featuring leaves over sunflowers. The work measured 8 inches high and was signed to the back “Pour Mr Gouttiere Vernolle / 32 Decembre 1896 / R.” Emile Goutière-Vernolle was the editor in chief of the illustrated monthly magazine Art et Industrie as well as the local arts periodical La Lorraine artiste. Another Daum vase featuring poppies in martele and etched glass, 8¾ inches high, went out at $5,850.
Much of the sale featured smalls, but there were a few pieces of furniture. An Eames 670 and 671 chair and ottoman in black leather and rosewood went out at $4,375. In walnut and pearwood was a highly figured French Art Nouveau bed that sold for $2,990. At $1,690 was a bench fashioned in cork by the Johnson Furniture Company, designed by Paul Frankl.
Treadway’s next sale will feature selections from two collections in mid-July.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, 513-321-6742 or www.treadwaygallery.com.
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