Published: February 11, 2020
Review and Onsite Photos by Anne Kugielsky, Catalog Photos Courtesy Fairfield Auction
MONROE, CONN. – If we look at the just the top 10 lots from Fairfield Auctions’ most recent sale ending on January 29, we see the wide-ranging offerings of top quality items that is the hallmark of the experienced owners, Rosie and Jack DeStories, who have conducted sales since 1988, serving individuals and estates.
In an auction where total sales were $345,000 (with several post-auction sales pending) the top lots ranged from a Richard Avedon photograph and a Chinese painting of a man with three horses, which each sold at $9,600, to Samuel Johnson’s two-volume Dictionary of the English Language and a shadow box with two Austrian medals, selling at $9,000 each, to a Frederic Auguste Bartholdi bronze centerpiece ($4,320) and a painting of a seated nude by Pál Fried ($4,080).
“The Chinese painting was from an estate in Litchfield, Conn.” Jack DeStories said. “We judged the Chinese painting purely on aesthetics, the condition issues made me think the $400 to $600 estimate was realistic. Overseas bidders saw something that sent it much higher. The Avedon is such a strong image, and then when we opened it up and saw the signature, we knew its story.”
The Avedon image showed model Ingrid Boulting in a coat by Dior, taken in Avedon’s Paris studio, January 1970. The 24-by-20-inch photograph, from an edition of 50, included a letter from Avedon to the original owner upon her retirement as his personal bookkeeper. Signed and numbered verso, it was printed in 1981.
The Chinese hanging painting, 38-by-21-inches (image) in an old mat and frame, had collector’s marks but the image is very obscured by age perhaps and in need or restoration. But the low estimate did not deter bidders.
Another artwork with a estimate of $300/500 was the subject of over 40 bids across platforms. The unsigned oil on canvas showed the profile of a woman and was described as a “Continental Old Master.” The 14½-by-11¾-inch painting sold after extended bidding at $6,600.
Another top lot, confirming the eclectic nature of this auction, was Swiss interchangeable cylinder music box attributed to Bremond, in working condition (a short video online showed the music box playing). Estimated at $3/5,000, the table standing 29½ by 42½ by 25 inches, with a 13-by-32-by-15-inch box, sold at $8,400. The burled walnut table had a central drawer where five of the six original discs were stored.
Another category was heard from when Marcus Aurelius, The Roman Emperor, the first English language edition translated by Meric Casavbon, 1634, crossed the block with a $400/600 estimate but sold at $6,600 after strong bidding.
Le Morte D’Arthur, by Ashendene Press, drew much interest from book collectors and sold just above high estimate at $5,520. From an edition of 153 published in 1913, the title reads in full: The Noble and Joyous Book Entitled Le Morte d’Arthur Reduced In To Englyssh By Syr Thomas Mallory. Leather bindings in good condition, the “re-writing” of the famous story of King Arthur and his Round Table appeared to be untouched and perhaps unread.
The two-volume set A Dictionary Of The English Language by Samuel Johnson, printed by W. Strahan for J.P. Knapton, London, 1755, was titled Johnson’s Dictionary on the spines of the leather bound volumes housed in a two-slip box.
The decorative accessory lots were led by the 8¾-inch-high bronze center piece with two satyrs supporting a basket on a pedestal of grape leaves on a rouge marble base, which was estimated at $800/1,200. After more than 30 bids on the signed Frederic Auguste Bartholdi piece, it sold at $4,320.
From the Madoura studio, two lots were particularly strong. As DeStories said, “These are always popular, and if the tail of the pitcher had not been repaired, it could have gone higher.” He was referring to a charming and whimsical Picasso Madoura ceramic fish pitcher (estimate $2/3,000) that sold for $3,120. A black plate with white dancers, also signed and stamped Picasso Madoura, with the same estimated, sold at $3,840.
Rosie DeStories showed a period, French bronze pendule d’officier clock, a Swiss travelling clock made circa 1790, about which Jack said, “I think this is the first period one we’ve handled. We’ve had several later Empire Revival models. It’s not currently running, but it appears to be complete.” Bidders liked it too and sent the final price to $2,880.
The top clock of the sale was a French grande sonnerie carriage clock signed Drocourt, 6-inches tall, late Nineteenth Century with a $1,5/2,500 estimate that realized $2,880. It came with its original, albeit well-worn leather case.
Jewelry is often a strong and deep category at Fairfield Auction and the January 29 sale was no exception. A diamond and pearl princess ring with an appraisal by J.A. Kravit, Hallandale, Fla., had a 2.25 carat center diamond surrounded by 10 round diamonds, 13 cultured pearls and the bezel with 24 diamonds. It sold at $5,760.
A 16-inch long 14K gold chain with a 1-carat round brilliant cut diamond realized $3,360; a pair of 18K gold Van Cleef & Arpels clip-on diamond earrings in the shape of a leaf, each set with six diamonds, jumped well beyond its $1,000 high estimate selling at $3,360; and a diamond encrusted 14K gold Hamilton watch bracelet, also appraised by J.A. Kravit, Hallandale, Fla., ticked up to $3,120.
Other artwork in the top lots included two by Hungarian-American artist Pál Fried (1893-1976). Two of his graphic nudes captured the gaze of bidders. One, a seated nude, a 30-by-40-inch oil on canvas sold at $4,080; the second nude, “Lizette,” a 30-by-24-inch signed oil on canvas, brought $3,120.
Rounding out some of the top lots were two with Chinese origins. A pair of Chinese blue porcelain vases, 12½ inches high with decorative handles came up with a $150/250 estimate, 16 bids later, the pair sold at $3,360. A pair of octagonal porcelain wig stands sold at $3,120. The 11-inch-high pair, each decorated with figures standing under a cherry tree, were estimated at $250/350.
Jack DeStories said about this sale and the trend he’s observing, “The underlying trends of the past few years seem to be holding, but with a noticeable uptick across most categories so there is reason for optimism, at least for better material.”
The DeStories will watch the trends in Fairfield Auction’s next sale scheduled for March 25. All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For further information, 203-880-5200 or www.fairfieldauction.com.
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