Published: April 11, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Cottone Auctions
GENESEO, N.Y. – Cottone Auctions’ timepieces and decorative arts auction on March 31 came in at $3 million for the 218 lots offered with unsold items in the low single digits. With about 2,000 registered bidders, it featured a collection of French and European clock masterpieces from Dr William Thomas of Naples, Fla. The presence of two Tiffany Studios impressionist sunset landscape windows of 1915 further lit up the bidding action, selling for an impressive $412,500 combined against a $40/60,000 estimate for each. “There were probably six phone bidders,” said Matt Cottone, the firm’s auctioneer, appraiser and specialist. “In the end, it came down to two previous clients of ours, private buyers, one bidding by phone, one bidding by internet. They both went to the same client.” The catalog notes were extensive for both windows.
Of the highest selling leaded and plated glass window, which was presented in a wooden gothic-style frame, the notes stated, “The lilies, created using white drapery glass to mimic the soft folds of the petals, give both highlights and shadows with the varied thickness and dense rich color. Standing aside a large rock, the stems give the illusion of scattered sun and shade through the use of mottled opalescent glass for the leaves and the three small red cap mushrooms at the base the rock… Layers of wispy opalescent glass on the front side help to add depth and distance to both the trees and the mountains beyond. While a rich blue on amber flashed glass is selectively etched to accent the deep shadows of the foliage.” Each standing 5 feet 9 inches high by 23-3/8 inches wide by 1½ inches deep, the windows were the top lots in the auction, which also offered 50 of the finest examples of clock masterpieces from the Thomas collection.
Foremost among these was a Louis XVI regulator, circa 1785, which sold for $246,000. Featuring a dial by Joseph Coteau (1740-1801), regarded as the greatest enameler of all time, its finely painted, jeweled and enameled porcelain dial boasted astrological zodiac cartouches and was signed “Coteau.” Standing a little over 15 inches tall and in running condition, the timepiece represented the quintessential Parisian luxury during the reign of Louis XVI. Its maker was Robert Robin (1741-1799), with case attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843). Catalog notes relate that an inventory of the Chateau de Saint-Cloud made in January 1794 featured two clocks in Marie Antoinette’s room for receiving visiting nobility that were not there during the previous inventory of 1789.
Another top highlight in Thomas’ collection, which he assembled over a 50-year period, was a rare orrery clock and music box with original matching pedestal by Zacharie Raingo (1775-1847). An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. Selling for $204,000, signed “Raingo A. Paris,” circa 1820, the clock had an amboyna burl veneer and gilt bronze Neoclassical case in the form of a classical rotunda temple. It was supported on a round base that is set on a plinth with cylinder musical movement. Both clock and music box were in running condition. Like the Louis XVI regulator, it had been purchased from horologist Jim Cipra of Long Beach, Calif., who acquired it from a Portuguese collection. Catalog commentary surmised that there are perhaps 20 of Raingo’s orrery clocks known to exist.
The Thomas collection also contributed a T. Cooke & Sons, York & London, astronomical regulator. It surpassed its $10/15,000 estimate to sell for $54,000. The Nineteenth Century timepiece was described as an astronomical regulator with seven-legged gravity escapement and showing mean and sidereal time. It was housed in a case of mahogany, brass and glass and featured a silvered, 13-inch dial, signed T. Cooke & Sons, York & London. It stood 76½ inches tall and, like the previously mentioned lots, had been purchased from Jim Cipra.
Also up for bid were Tiffany Studios New York lamps from the collection of Dr Robert McGann of Naples, Fla., led by a Poppy lamp with a 16-inch shade that rose to $102,000. Other works by Tiffany Studios from various private collections included a rare Lotus lamp with a 26-inch shade that took $115,200. A Tiffany Studios Nasturtium leaded glass and patinaed bronze lamp from an upstate New York collection, its shade impressed “Tiffany Studios New York” and its base impressed “Tiffany Studios New York 459,” realized $105,000. It stood 25½ inches tall and had a shade diameter of 18 inches.
Fetching $34,800 was an early Tiffany Studios large chain mail ceiling light, circa 1900, featuring Favrile glass tiles and patinaed bronze. From a West Coast collection, it had a drop height of approximately 35 inches. A Tiffany Studios, dichroic “Curtain Border” floor lamp sold for $93,600. Circa 1910, its 24-inch diameter shade was impressed “Tiffany Studios New York” and its base impressed “Tiffany Studios New York 375.”
From a Pennsylvania collection came a Tiffany Studios Grape trellis chandelier. It dated circa 1905 and sported a 30-inch shade.
And what Tiffany lighting lineup would be complete without the iconic Lily table lamp? This sale had one, an 18-light example, 20 inches high, that sold for $51,000. Circa 1910, it featured Favrile glass, its shades engraved “L.C.T.” and base impressed “Tiffany Studios New York 28626” with a Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company monogram.
A Western New York collection contributed a Duffner & Kimberly Peony leaded glass and patinaed bronze lamp, circa 1910, which found a buyer at $42,000.
Fine art was not the main attraction in the sale but there were some notable works crossing the block. Albert Bierstadt’s (American, 1830-1902) “A View of the High Sierras,” an oil on paper, jutted to $46,000. Laid on panel, it was signed “A Bierstadt” lower right. Cottone got some cataloging assistance from Melissa Webster Speidel, president of the Bierstadt Foundation and director of the Albert Bierstadt catalogue raisonné project. The painting is included in the database being compiled for a forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works.
Delightfully whimsical was a lot comprising two 1973 oils on board by Orville Bulman (American, 1904-1978) “Easy Rider” and “Au Clair De La Lune” depicting white robed and hooded riders with umbrellas aloft astride a tiger and zebra, respectively. Both signed “Bulman,” each 10 by 8 inches and with provenance to Hammer Galleries and a private collection, the lot finished at $24,000.
By Emile Gruppe (American, 1896-1978), “Palms at Naples Beach, Florida,” an oil on canvas signed “Emile A. Gruppe” lower right and titled on reverse, 24 by 20 inches, left the gallery at $19,200.
Americana offerings included a hand-painted miniature of Lady Liberty, signed “Abijah Canfield (1769-1830), April 1797,” depicting a female figure dressed in a classical Greek or Roman costume, as well as a “cap of liberty.” She was valued at $5/8,000 but found favor with bidders who pushed the 2-5/8-by-2¼-inch lot in a gold frame to $42,000.
“The interest was great across the board on these things,” said Cottone after the sale. It was really an honor to handle Dr Thomas’ clock collection. He had many choices of where to go. The Tiffany market continues to be very strong for us.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The next sale is being planned for some time in May, date to be announced. For information, 585-243-1000 or www.cottoneauctions.com.
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