What happened and what's forthcoming
Despite the economic downturn, Bonhams' London jewellery department has had their most successful year ever. The recent sale, The Art of Jewels: Fine Jewellery and Iconic Gems, achieved £2.2 million and was dominated by private buyers (71%) seeking the perfect Christmas gift or simply collecting objects of outstanding beauty. The top lot was a natural pearl necklace which once belonged to Lady Houston, the renowned philanthropist and benefactor, which achieved a remarkable £311,200 against an estimate of £30,000 - 50,000. Other highlights included a brilliant-cut diamond, 5.01cts, D colour, loupe clean clarity, which sold for £180,000. Another diamond, a fancy intense yellow radiant-cut, 9.12cts, internally flawless, sold for £120,000. A rare art deco black lacquer and diamond bangle, by Cartier, sold for £96,000 from an estimate of £20,000 25,000.
Bonham's sources ascribe the high prices to the Christmas spirit in general. And the particularly high price achieved by the top lot has been accounted for both the quality of the necklace, and also the significance of their erstwhile owner, Lady Houston, who donated a considerable amount of her personal fortune in support of British aviation which would eventually lead to the design of the Spitfire, an integral part of the British defence during WW2.
Sotheby's New York
Sotheby's closed last month with Important Americana, that included Silver and Prints, Furniture, Folk art and Carpets. The highlight of the first collection was an Important American Silver Punch Bowl, 1700-1710 (est. $400/800,000), the most massive known piece of early 18th century American silver and The Maxwell Vase, (est. $250,000-350,000) for the war of independence years. Among Folk Art and Furniture, the highlights were the Important Ranlett-Rust Family Chippendale Figured Mahogany Bombé Slant-Front Desk, probably by Francis Cook, Marblehead, Massachusetts, circa 1770 (est. $400,000/1 million). The desk is one of the rarest surviving examples of the esteemed bombé form; only twelve additional examples are known. The collection also featured a Federal Carved and Figured Mahogany Marble-Top Pier Table, attributed to Thomas Seymour with John Seymour, carving attributed to Thomas Wightman, circa 1805 (Est. $100/200,000). The table is among the most sophisticated, ambitious and elaborate pieces of American Furniture made in the Federal period. Among the folk art highlights offered is a rare Molded Copper Figure of an Indian with Bow and Arrow, Probably Harris & Co., Boston, circa 1880 (est. $100/200,000). The work was formerly in the esteemed collection of Dione Guffrey Kenzer, one of New York City's most prominent collectors. An Important and Rare Molded Sheet Copper Figure of a Knight on Horseback from the Gingerbread Castle in Sussex County, New Jersey, created by Joseph Urban in 1928 was also featured (est. $40/100,000).
Sotheby's also held an exhibition of Chinese export porcelain from the private collection of Elinor Gordon on 23 January. The collection contained 280 lots of Chinese Export: Porcelain and China Trade paintings. Highlights of the collection include an 'Order of the Cincinnati' Plate from the earliest service decorated with the order owned by George Washington and Henry Lee (est. $30/50,000), along with three pieces from other services decorated with the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati. Other top works include two pieces in the 'Fitzhugh' pattern, a dinner plate and a platter (est. $5/7,000 and $12/18,000 respectively), as well as a Pair of Hounds from the late 18th century (est. $10/15,000).
Christie's New York
Christie's also closed last month with a similar kind of auction, with American Silver (January 21), American Folk Art, Furniture, and Decorative Arts (January 22), and Chinese Export Art (January 25). With over 450 lots, including a number of rare survivals from the 18th and 19th century and many items never before offered at auction, the Americana series of sales was projected to achieve a combined total in excess of $4 million. The lead highlight of the Americana Week sales is an exceedingly rare, full-length double portrait of Thereon Simpson Ludington (1850-1922) and His Older Sister Virginia Ludington (1846-1865) by the prominent 19th century American portrait artist Ammo Phillips (estimate: $300,000-500,000). Unknown among Phillips works until earlier this year, this portrait had been with the Ludington family.
Leading the American Silver Collection was an important and monumental silver ewer, mark of Paul Revere, Boston, circa 1798 and a pair of silver communion dishes, one with mark of Paul Revere, Boston, circa 1801 (estimate: $70,000-100,000). Among the American Folk Art, Furniture and Decorative Art, the lead highlight was a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany scalloped top tea table from Philadelphia (pictured right; estimate: $100,000- 300,000).
In the Historic Americana collection, the highlights were a highly decorated scrimshaw whale tooth (estimate: $30,000-50,000), conveying both the heroism and loneliness of life aboard a 19th century whaling ship. Another highlight of the Americana section was a personal keepsake that of America's most revered presidents, Thomas Jefferson. g to Jefferson's deceased wife Martha (estimate: $40,000-80,000).
Conceived as a memento more, the keepsake is an engraved gold watch key containing a braided lock of hair belonging to Jefferson's deceased wife Martha (estimate: $40,000-80,000).
The sale of Chinese Export Art on January 25 featured over 100 works of art and was led by a group of dinner services, armorial porcelain, and decorative ware. Leading the sale were three extensive dinner services bordered with fruiting grapevine, circa 1795 (estimate: $30,000-50,000); a faille rose and under glaze blue part dinner service, circa 1775 (estimate: $30,000-50,000); and a selection from the Dewitt Clinton Service, circa 1796-1810, with estimates ranging from $4,000 to $8,000.
Another highlight was a large pair of faille rose baluster vases and covers from the Quailing period (estimate: $10,000- 15,000) and a massive faille rose vase (estimate: $9,000-12,000).
On January 26, Christie's also presented a selection from the collections of Benjamin F. Edwards III, a prominent collector and former Chairman, CEO and President of A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis, who died last year. The sale included over 400 lots pf superb selection of Silver, English Furniture, Delft, Chinese Export, and Rugs & Carpets. Leading the Chinese Export collection was a pair of 1725 verte-imari candelabra (estimate: $80,000-120,000). The silver collection included English silver, believed to be the work of the celebrated silversmiths Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr. Among the selection of eleven pieces was a George II silver cake basket, London, 1739 (estimate: $200,000-300,000). Perhaps one of the most intriguing items in the collection was the George II mahogany Windsor armchair, circa 1750 (estimate: $30,000-50,000), believed to be the very one in which Prime Minister Spencer Perceval collapsed after John Bellingham shot him in the lobby of the House of Commons in 1812.
Forthcoming at Sotheby's London
Sotheby's Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 will be the first ever London sale of its kind to include three works individually estimated to realise more than £10 million. The works - each one a masterpiece - are by Klimt, Giacometti and Cézanne. They form the nucleus of an exceptionally rich and varied sale which also offers major works by artists such as Matisse, Feininger, Schiele, Magritte, Miró and Moore.
The important still-life 'Pichet et fruits sur une table', painted in 1893-94 by Paul Cézanne is estimated at £10-15 million. Of equal rarity is Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone, estimated at £12-18 million one of the most important landscapes by the artist ever to have appeared on the market. Another outstanding work in the sale is L'Homme qui marche I, by Alberto Giacometti. One of the most important sculptures by the artist ever to have come to the auction market, this life-size work ranks among the most arresting and iconic of the artist's bronzes. Henri Matisse's Femme couchée, estimated at £3.5-5.5 million, is a magnificent example of the artist's favourite subject - that of a reclining woman in an interior done in the 1920s. The sale also includes works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Lyonel Feininger. February's sale will also include a strong section of Surrealist works and the group is highlighted by Le Beau Navire, a mysterious composition by René Magritte in which a serene, almost sculpture-like female nude is set against a dramatic seascape, estimated at £2.5-3.5 million.
Forthcoming at Sotheby's New York
On 3rd February, Sotheby's will hold an 1920 (est. $12/15,000); a Diamond Bracelet, circa 1935 (est. $30/40,000); a Platinum and Diamond Bracelet, circa 1925 (est. $25/35,000) and a Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, Gattle, circa 1925 (est. $10/15,000). The sale will also feature Property from the Collection of Danielle Steel, including a Citrine and Diamond 'Bird on a Rock' brooch, Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. (est. $15/20,000) and a Gold, Diamond and Coral Strawberry Brooch and Earclips (est. $12/15,000). Also among the highlights is a 18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Enamel, Colored Stone and Diamond Fish Bangle-Bracelet, David Webb (est. $25/35,000) and an 18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Colored Stone and Diamond Bird Brooch and Earclips, Sterlé (est. $7,500/10,000).
|“Just as eating contrary to the inclination is injurious to health, so study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in”
Leonardo Da Vinci, 1452 – 1519