Published: July 5, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack;
Additional Photos Courtesy Tremont Auctions
NEWTON, MASS. — For their June 19 sale, Doug Stinson and Brett Downer of Tremont Auctions put together a select group of Russian decorative arts, paintings, Georg Jensen and other silver, dolls, and furniture — both European and American. It was an interesting assortment of material, and many lots generated active phone and internet bidding. Bringing the highest price of the day was a 29¼-inch bronze mounted cut-glass ewer, cataloged as possibly being Russian. With figural cherub handles, it sold for $26,910 — 13 times the high estimate — to a European buyer.
In addition to the cut glass ewer, the sale included Russian paintings, silver and enamel, along with Polish and Hungarian artwork. A large oil on canvas by Gregory Kepel (Hungarian, 1906–2001), appropriately tilted “Brooding Landscape” brought $4,446. Cataloged as Polish, an oil on panel by A. Kowalski (Hungarian, b 1926) depicting a Cossack and horses sold for $5,850. A 4-inch Russian enameled silver cup decorated with floral vines and a geometric border on a yellow ground finished at $2,106, and an interesting piece of Russian silver, an iced tea cup with relief troika decoration and a gilt interior earned $1,521.
There were several Eighteenth Century imperial Russian plates with reticulated borders and floral designs. Each had the mark of the St Petersburg imperial porcelain factory, dating to the reign of Catherine the Great, 1762–96. They sold between $400 and $600 and will all be going to Midwest collections.
The sale started off with about 35 lots of French and German dolls. The decision was made to not use the internet for most of the doll lots. They sold inexpensively, almost all to one of two bidders in the room. The first doll was a #8 open mouth Jumeau with a walking body. She had repairs but sold for just $176. A Simon & Halbig number 1079 doll, together with a doll marked R.A., sold for $20. Each was open mouth and nicely dressed. The most expensive doll was a 17-inch open/closed mouth made by Bahr & Proschild, mold number 132. Nicely dressed, she earned $936. Almost all the dolls sold to Hooksett, N.H., doll dealers Kathy Ray and her 91-year-old mother Barbara. They have been in the doll business for more than 40 years. Kathy told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “Business has been good and we’re glad to get this batch. We think we did well today. It’s tougher to buy at the doll auctions.”
Americana and folk art was interspersed throughout the sale. One of the nicest items was an Eighteenth Century Queen Anne mirror. With a removable shaped crest and japanned with black floral designs, it sold to a phone bidder for $5,382, more than four times the high estimate. The phone bidder was Hilary Nolan, a Falmouth, Mass., dealer, who later told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “It’s one of the best, if not the best, mirror I’ve ever seen. It had an impeccable provenance, having been owned by Chauncey Nash — a member of the Walpole Society, parts of whose collections are in the Peabody Essex and Harvard museums — and there’s a letter from the family that documents that fact. The condition was prime. It had the original glass, japanning and backboard. It’s just a great example. I may decide to keep it for awhile.” The mirror came from an outbuilding on the estate of Jon B. Nash, an avid conservationist, fisherman and hunter who co-founded Boston-based Copley Fine Art Auctions with Steve O’Brien.
Other Americana included a 4-gallon stoneware crock with cobalt decoration depicting a horse tied to a hitching post, which went to a phone bidder for $3,510 despite a crack in the base. The auctioneers thought it was probably from Virginia. An Eighteenth Century two-door hanging cupboard in old red paint with butterfly hinges finished at $4,446, well over its estimate. A pair of Aesthetic Movement side chairs attributed to the Herter Brothers realized $6,435. Probably a very good buy was a pair of full-length watercolor portraits of a man and a woman — interestingly not facing each other. They were dated 1849 and had the name “Mr Joseph Kerry” on the reverse. The pair only reached $380. A Meeks sideboard from the home of former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick sold for $468. A military commission appointing Henry Baker as a first lieutenant in the 5th cavalry regiment, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, achieved $4,680, and a framed James Buchanan letter reached $205.
Silver from a variety of time periods and a variety of makers was offered. A 12-inch sterling compote by Georg Jensen with heavy cast grapes and a swirled stem was the most sought-after silver lot, reaching $8,483. A 96-piece flatware set by Jensen in the Acorn pattern did well, earning $5,382. An Aesthetic period sterling silver sugar and creamer by Schieber with leaf-form bodies and applied insects brought $1,989. A Japanese export silver bowl with raised dragon decoration earned $761, and a Chinese Export silver bowl supported by three dragons brought the same price. Three sterling silver Chrysanthemum pattern serving pieces by Tiffany fetched $1,404. A Gorham sterling silver hot water urn with a raised Greek key border and leaf and floral decoration sold for $2,340.
Other highlights included a two-color Grueby pottery vase, 11½ inches tall, which had raised green molded leaves and yellow flower buds. It went to a buyer in the room for $14,625. A Renaissance Revival three-part walnut bookcase, more than 9 feet tall, with three drawers in the base, glass doors and a fall front desk in the center section, achieved $2,106. A bronze figure of a reclining lioness by Antoine Louis Barye fetched $819, and a bronze figure “Running Elephant from Senegal” by the same artist reached $2,574. A very unusual English Arts and Crafts inlaid metamorphic two-seat chair sold for $936. The “chair” could be converted into a small settee, or the two seats could be arranged back to back. Doug Stinson said that it may have been made by the Liberty Furniture Company of London and that it closely resembled a similar example sold by Boston auctioneer Louis Joseph several years ago. A woodblock print by Agnes Weinrich (American, 1873–1946) and titled “Begonia” sold to the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia, for $3,744. Weinrich was an early Modernist painter and did much of her work in Provincetown, Mass.
After the sale, Doug Stinson said they were pleased with the results. “It was interesting to see how many items were sold to buyers in Europe,” he noted. “The internet really broadens the reach of buyers. We have a sale coming up with great deal of opera material relating to, and having belonged to Enrico Caruso. We may do that just as an online sale. The other thing that I found interesting with this sale was the number of museums that are actively buying. I think that’s a good sign.”
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 617-765-1678 or www.tremontauctions.com.
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