Published: March 16, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Clarke Auction Gallery
LARCHMONT, N.Y. – It is not often one of Agathon Leonard’s (French, 1841-1923) “Le Vampire (La Chauve Souris)” bronzes come to market but when one does, it always flies high; such was the case in the March 7 Important Estate Auction at Clarke Auction Gallery, when a 33-inch-high model sold for $475,000. The result was not surprising to Clarke’s owner and auctioneer, Ronan Clarke, who said “I’d expected it, it was a conservative estimate. We had a lot of international interest in it.”
The Symbolist figure, which Clarke said came from a Sutton Place South estate, handily escaped the confines of its $100/150,000 estimate and led no fewer than ten phone bidders – as well as some online competition – on a merry chase with a buyer from the United States, bidding on the phone, bagging it in the end. The circa 1903 figure was stamped “P” both above and below the signature and “10” on the edge; a model was illustrated in Alastair Duncan’s, Art Nouveau Sculpture. According to online prices database www.askart.com, it is a relatively rare work; a version of this size has appeared at auction only a few times in the last ten years. Most recently, another 33-inch-tall example brought $435,390 when it was offered in Christie’s Paris’ Exceptional sale in November, 2017; the highest price for the model was set at $787,615 in Christie’s King Street’s Twentieth Century Decorative Art & Design sale on May 1, 2013. Two smaller versions – each standing about 13 inches – brought $204,945 and $94,915 when they were sold in 2019 and 2014, respectively.
The 570-lot sale saw several other surprises and totaled “in excess of a million,” with more than 93 percent of lots selling to bidders vying in the room, on the phone, on three online platforms or by absentee bid.
“We did quite well. People took advantage of the good weather and we had a tremendous viewing,” Clarke said. “Brown wood furniture is doing better. The good news is that the market is extremely strong. In the future, I think people want to buy with more thought.”
Several of the top prices in the sale came to Clarke’s during the firm’s weekly Walk-in Wednesday no-appointment appraisal days. Not least was the second highest price in the sale – a portrait of a woman in a pink dress that had the look of Renoir to it and was cataloged as “Manner of Renoir” with a sufficiently tempting estimate of $400/600. After heated bidding, the 26-by-19¼-inch oil on canvas work, which had been discovered in a South Carolina donation center and consigned by a Carmel, N.Y., collector, sold to an international buyer, bidding online, for $28,750.
Three other works of fine art that were discovered during a Walk-In Wednesday included Angel Botello’s (Puerto Rican, 1913-1986) oil on Masonite depiction of a nude, which a Long Island collector brought in near the consignment deadline. It sold to an online bidder for $10,625. Lelia Pissarro’s (French, b 1963) “Les baleaux de la famille Pissarro” balanced out to $6,875, selling to a phone bidder. For William Schweller, Clarke’s fine art specialist, the most exciting lot to come in during a free appraisal Wednesday was “Art School Scene” by Oswald Jackson, a Twentieth Century American artist for whom there are few records. The oil on canvas work was dated 1915 and received a lot of interest once it was posted online. It sold for $7,500, which Schweller said was “absolutely the record for the artist.”
A Millbrook, N.Y., estate of a collector for Chinese works of art was the source for two lots that achieved top dollar. One was a 24-piece lot of enamel decorated celadon porcelain, the other was a 32-lot group of yellow-ground porcelain with enamel decoration and sgraffito design; they sold for $17,500 and $8,125, respectively. Both saw interest from Asian bidders and Clarke thought at least one of them was going back to China. Other lots from that estate included silk rank badges and textiles that ranged in price from $750 to $3,250.
“We usually have a strong jewelry section in every sale,” Clarke said. A platinum articulated bracelet with central emerald-cut diamond weighing 1.80 carats and surrounded by more than 13 carats of diamonds in various cuts and sizes topped the category, bringing $16,250 from a bidder in the room. The bracelet had come from a Long Island estate and was accompanied by a 1969 jewelry appraisal. Another lot that came with documentation, which Clarke’s had procured prior to the sale, was a 14K yellow gold engagement ring with 2.99-carat round brilliant cut diamond flanked by 16 full-cut diamonds. It had been consigned by a Nyack, N.Y., estate and sold on an absentee bid for $11,875. A pair of de Grisogono 18K yellow gold with round brilliant-cut diamonds finished at $5,000, just ahead of a Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra 18K yellow gold necklace with quatrefoil form malachite pendant, from a New Rochelle, N.Y., estate, that measured 18 inches long and fetched $4,000.
Brown wood furniture may be bringing stronger results of late but modern furniture in the sale made the more impressive numbers. A Midcentury Modern “Angle” sofa designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar that had been owned by a Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y., estate sold to an online bidder for $9,375, more than four times its high estimate. A pair of Adrian Pearsall upholstered wing chairs from a Scarsdale, N.Y., consignor topped off at $4,500, just ahead of a pair of Robsjohn Gibbings slipper chairs that had come from an Upper East Side New York City estate and finished at $4,000. A Tobia Scarpa Bastiano sofa for Knoll from Brooklyn, N.Y., rounded out the category, bringing $2,125 and more than four times its high estimate.
Among traditional antiques, a pair of Chippendale Chinese-style carved and giltwood pier mirrors that measured 63 by 32 inches tripled their high estimate and was one of two lots that brought $4,500. The other to achieve that was an antique marble table – with green marble top and white marble trestle-form legs – from a Tuckahoe, N.Y., estate. Marble seems to have appealed to bidders, who took a large (25 inches high by 37 inches long) carved figure of a reclining Classical nude to $3,500.
Clarke Auction Gallery’s next sale is scheduled for April 11 and will feature, among other things, a big estate from Long Island and more than 100 lots of cameo glass.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For information, 914-833-8357 or www.clarkeny.com.
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