Published: April 18, 2023
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle conducted the second part of The Joan Stacke Graham Majolica Collection auction on April 4, following up the first part that occurred on December 14, 2021. Joan Stacke Graham (1934-2020) was a majolica expert who began collecting in the 1980s with her friend Marilyn Karmason, building an archive of more than 2,000 pieces. Graham and Karmason wrote the first major book on the field, Majolica: A Complete History and Illustrated Survey (1989, 2002). Graham also served as president of the Majolica International Society. With just over 150 lots, the auction totaled $544,000, far past the presale estimate.
First in the sale was a Mintons “Hare and Duck Head” game-pie dish and cover that doubled its $20/30,000 high estimate to $62,225. Attributed to French sculptor Paul Comoléra (1813-1890), the dish was shape #1990 and showed a date cypher for 1876. It was bought from Charles Murphy’s Animal Art Antiques, New Orleans, in 1995 and came with a Wiebold, Inc Antique & Art Restoration certificate from the same year. In addition to Graham and Karmason’s Majolica, Eve M. Kahn and Susan Weber both included the dish in publications on majolica. It was also exhibited at the Bard Graduate Center’s recent “Majolica Mania” exhibition.
Another figural game-pie dish in the top lots was a “Full Nest” liner and cover by George Jones, circa 1873. The cover showed a mother quail with her chicks in the round, and the tureen displayed a continuous bas-relief scene of mother rabbit with a clutch of kits. The interior was a pearly pink that contrasted with the exterior’s green leaves and turquoise ground. It realized just above the high estimate at $25,200 ($15/25,000).
Human figural pieces ranked high in the upper lots. An Egyptian Revival garden seat from T.C. Brown Westhead placed second in the overall sales at $50,400, multiplying its $10/15,000 estimate. Next in price was a Minton “Japanese Boat” spill vase, designed by Johann Hasselmann Hénk after a Japanese ivory netsuke, that also sold at many times its $6/8,000 estimate for $28,350. Ex the Gyora and Judith Novak collection, the vase was bought at their Sotheby’s majolica collection sale in 1997.
Majolica is often inspired by natural forms, some more literal than others. A Minton garden pot and stand with molded foxgloves, ferns and other greenery on a brown-ground base color was yet another surprise top lot at $25,200 with a $2/3,000 estimate. Achieving the same price was a Minton cheese dome and stand in the shape of a beehive or skep, a form recorded at London’s International Exhibition of 1862, sold within its $20/30,000 estimate for $25,200.
Other members of the animal kingdom found new homes for high prices. An “America” compote from George Jones, one of a set representing four continents, showed two naturalistic bison and a beaver on its base, supporting a tree stem whose branches “supported” the piece’s shallow bowl. It was the highest achieving compote of the auction at $21,420 ($10/15,000); “Africa” was next on the lot listings for $16,380 ($10/15,000). Less placid in tone was a Minton teapot in the form of a vulture battling with a python designed by Henry Hope Crealock. Also modeled close to nature and dated 1874, the teapot was reminiscent of earlier bronze sculptures of animals in combat, such as those by Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875). It was bid to $20,160 ($20/30,000).
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Doyle’s American Furniture, Silver & Decorative Arts auction will take place on May 2. For additional information, 212-427-2730 or www.doyle.com.
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