1215 the liturgical dove
2017 sold for $ 800k including premium
The Eucharistic dove appears at that time. By comparison with the ornaments of the châsses the specialists separate two generations, respectively dated 1200-1220 and 1215-1235.
This zoomorphic utensil is a lidded receptacle used for the host. The bird is standing on a base that supports the hooks for its suspension. The hanging position may prompt the faithful to recognize the action of the Holy Spirit whose symbol is the dove since the Gospel of St. Matthew. Above all, it enables to keep the sacramental bread away from the appetite of the rodents.
A 18 cm high enamel and gilt champlevé dove with a raised head was sold for $ 1,95M including premium by Sotheby's on June 8, 2007 over a lower estimate of $ 500K. Its base was realized in the 19th century in conformity with the original model, probably by Frédéric Spitzer to whom this piece belonged. Sotheby's catalog indicated that no such dove had been auctioned for more than 25 years.
On January 26 in New York, Sotheby's sells a bent headed dove of same height mingling the characteristics of both generations, lot 138 estimated $ 200K. It belonged also to Spitzer and its base was similarly made in the 19th century. It retains a vertical band inlaid with turquoise cabochons separating two rows of colored feathers.
This period of intense activity in Limoges is contemporary with the 4th Lateran Council which met in 1215. The council officially recognized the dogma of transubstantiation and consequently renewed the rite of communion with the hosts. There is no doubt that this decision encouraged the use of Eucharistic doves. 42 enameled doves are listed, from a single model but differing in their details. The Limoges dove certainly remained an instrument of luxury without a mass production.
1660-1670 NEEDLEWORKS UNDER THE STUARTS
2011 SOLD 33.6 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
The English Puritans wanted to reform the morals. Under Cromwell, their chase against luxury slowed all the artsthat could be related to the royalist aristocracy. Conversely, the embroidery was encouraged. This activity intendedfor domestic use promoted patience and skill to women and girls.
The decade following the restoration of the Stuarts was marked by the passing but particularly exquisite fashion for embroidered mirror frames. No fewer than five of these rare pieces are presented in the Bonhams sale in London on March 2. All are dated between 1660 and 1670.
The top lot has a most interesting additional refinement. The mirror window is closed by two folding shutters. It is pictured in the closed position on the release shared by Artdaily.
The textile frame is illustrated with exotic or fantastic flowers and animals. The shutters are on the theme of the noble savage, in tribute to the creation by King Charles II of the American province of Carolina in 1663. At left, abearded white man. At right, an indigenous woman with dark skin.
This piece is made in silk and brocade on a background of ivory colored silk, 38 x 35 cm, mounted in a real ebony frame. It is estimated £ 30K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The results of the top three needlework mirrors of the sale are very close to their lower estimates.The exceptional piece discussed above was sold £ 28K before fees, 33.6K including premium.
The other two were sold respectively at £ 20K and 19K before fees, £ 24K and 22.8K including premium.
1670 The Needle of a Schoolgirl
2015 SOLD for $ 900K including premium
Sarah is a schoolgirl who is exerting her skills for embroidery with pictures extracted from English books. A piece 44 x 62 cm made by her around 1670 is for sale by Skinner in Boston on March 1, lot 30.
The symbolic iconography includes the tree of life, the good shepherd, the animals in paradise, the prodigal son. The house, the sun, the European costumes of the two central characters bring a nice realism to this scene reinterpreted by the wit and imagination of a young girl.
The drawing is accurate and the technique is complex. The embroidery is made of five colors of wool along with silver and gold threads on a greenish-blue wool background. This needle work follows the English tradition of silk embroidery on white satin, but is extremely rare in America: a single similar specimen survives.
Since its creation, the Phillips embroidery has been carefully preserved in the family and was only exhibited twice. The colors remain remarkably vivid. This masterpiece of American popular art is estimated in excess of $ 800K.
17th century - A Mexican National Treasure
Japan closes once again in 1638 CE. Meanwhile screens had arrived in Mexico. For a century this form of art will be highly appreciated by the creole elite. The Japanese word byobu is hispanized in biombo.
Towards the end of the 17th century, several luxurious biombos are made in oil on canvas on the themes of the Conquista on one side and the bird's-eye view of Ciudad de Mexico on the other side. They are articulated in ten elements. Their illustration is very detailed. One of them is kept at the Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City.
The epic side shows the bloody events of the conquest of Tenochtitlan from 1519 to 1521. The narration shows in a jumble a large number of episodes while identifying the top people in the two armies. Some prominent figures like Moctezuma and Cortés are staged on several scenes. The traitress Malinche, slave, mistress and interpreter to Cortés, is not forgotten. Horses and firearms have largely contributed to the Spanish superiority.
Tenochtitlan was an admirable city for its geometric construction with perpendicular streets. The conquerors kept its plan when they transformed the Aztec capital in Ciudad de Mexico for their colonial use. They were proud of this city whose design had no equivalent in the world. The image of the biombos is copied from a 1628 map. The names of the main colonial monuments are indicated.
A folding biombo of overall dimensions 2 m x 5.60 m with wooden frames is for sale by Sotheby's on October 11, lot 1 estimated $ 3M. It is listed in the National Heritage of Mexico from where it cannot be permanently exported. The sale will be online only. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1768 The Lapidaries of Dresden
2020 SOLD for £ 1.1M including premium
Saxony's subsoil is rich in minerals. The goldsmiths of Dresden became gemologists and lapidaries. Christian Gottlieb Stiehl, who was working in the elector's Mineralienkabinett, was appointed Hofsteinschneider in 1753, at the age of 45. Heinrich Taddel, 6 years younger, will be curator of the Grünes Gewölbe. He left this position in 1769 to his son-in-law, Johann Christian Neuber.
These artists inlay hardstones within the gold of boxes and of various small objects including watches and chatelaines. Their art is didactic : for their most complex boxes, they carefully list the used stones on tiny handwritten notebooks which they insert in a secret compartment.
Stiehl receives in 1765 the permission to mine agates and amethysts, opening the most sumptuous period of the Dresden boxes. His works are very rare : only ten snuffboxes are authenticated. Neuber is his imitator. More prolific than Stiehl, he reaches fame around 1770. A significant difference in their workmanship is that Stiehl was hollowing the lids to highlight the transparency of the thin cut stones.
An unsigned oval snuffbox 8.7 cm wide, attributed to Neuber, incorporates foreign stones alongside local Saxon stones : lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, porphyry from Egypt, chrysoprase from Poland. It was sold for € 1.8M including premium by Sotheby's on December 11, 2019 from a lower estimate of € 500K.
A circular snuffbox by Stiehl, encrusted with 154 stones, was sold for £ 790K including premium by Christie's on December 9, 2003 from a lower estimate of £ 150K. An oval snuffbox signed by Neuber was sold for £ 830K including premium by Sotheby's on July 6, 2010 from a lower estimate of £ 250K.
On December 10 in London, Sotheby's disperses a collection of 37 gold boxes. The most important pieces were made in Dresden and Berlin. Please watch the video showing this whole set for sale.
Lot 12, estimated £ 700K, is an 8.8 cm wide oval Steinkabinett by Stiehl, complete with its handwritten booklet. The date in Roman numerals, poorly transcribed, must be interpreted as 1768. It is inlaid with 174 stones in 53 varieties. It had belonged to King Farouk.
Lot 15, estimated £ 350K, and lot 16, estimated £ 300K, are oval snuffboxes by Neuber with a lid centered with a medallion, respectively a portrait of the emperor Joseph II and a bouquet.
Stiehl : SOLD for £ 1.1M including premium
Neuber : both unsold
1822 and 1872 Gabriel in the Sky
2019 both unsold
The American weathervane is not so standardized, giving full freedom to the fantasies of local artists. When the subject is a human being, he is often life-size. The most commonly used materials are copper and iron.
In 2006 a frenzy seized this category of folk art at auction. The three main results give a fair idea about the unlimited variety of subjects. A flag-waving Liberty was sold on January 21 for $ 1.08M including premium by Christie's. In August a steam locomotive was sold for $ 1.22M by Northeast Auctions. On October 6 an Indian shooting an arrow was sold for $ 5.8M including premium by Sotheby's over a lower estimate of $ 100K.
The market did not follow very long. In January 2009 a firefighter which I had discussed in this column remained unsold at Sotheby's with a lower estimate of $ 3M.
On October 10 in New York, Sotheby's is dispersing a collection of folk art. The two most important weathervanes of this set feature the winged Angel Gabriel hovering while blowing in his trumpet. The difference between the dates of their creation makes it possible to observe a technical and artistic evolution.
The earlier was made in 1822 to equip a new church at Crown Point NY. This assemblage of several wrought iron sheets measures 47 x 184 cm. The Archangel is figured in a flat silhouette. It is estimated $ 750K, lot 15, and pictured on the right side in the tweet below.
The other Archangel has a detailed figuration with realistic proportions. It was made of molded copper circa 1872 for a chapel in Ohio. It is 165 cm long and is estimated $ 300K, lot 11. It is on the left in the tweet.
The Gabriel Weathervane, also known as "Fame", is considered the most rare and desirable icon of American weathervanes. Ahead of #SothebysAmericana auction on 10 October in #NYC, learn more about the archangel: https://t.co/E7gom2QRls pic.twitter.com/jnCQgHSqas— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) October 4, 2019
1860 A US WEATHER VANE
The news was forwarded to me by one of my Google search engines, which endeavoured to find a local website of Virginia, inRich.com, meaning "in Richmond."
In January, during the traditional week of Americana sales in New York, Sotheby's will sell as lot 232 a copper weather vane made circa 1860 that decorated the roof of Winchester, Va. fire station.
This work shows a fire fighter, a little larger than life, an arm in the direction of the wind. The object was damaged by paint in the years 1950's and by bullet holes. After repair, Sotheby's expects $ 3 million.
A story read in the Richmond article is particularly fun: there were, as always in all countries, supporters and opponents of this sale. The pros won, because once the estimate was known there was no available money to pay the insurance required for an object of such a high price. To quiet everybody, a donor is currently paying for a reproduction.
To increase credibility to the estimate, our friends in Richmond indicate a previous auction result, which I found afterwards on the site of Sotheby's. On October 6, 2006, a more recent weathervane representing an Indian chief, with a very dynamic shape, was sold $ 5.8 million charge included from a low estimate of $ 100 K. It was covered with verdigris, with traces of paint.
1865-1870 Pearls on Silk
2011 SOLD for $ 2.3m including premium
2019 sold for $ 2.23m including premium
The suite of pearl-embroidered silk carpets commissioned in 1865 by the Maharaja of Baroda was originally composed of four rectangular carpets and one circular canopy. The two surviving items, a carpet and the canopy, have been discussed in this column.
The Maharaja had been recently converted to Islam. His objective was to adorn a mosque in Medina or perhaps even the tomb of the Prophet with this tapestry of a dazzling and iridescent visual effect in arabesques, rosettes and floral patterns.
On his death in 1870, the work was completed but had not been used. The pieces were hung on the walls, but when an English traveler had the honor of visiting the palace in 1914 three of the four carpets had already disappeared, probably dismantled.
On March 19, 2009 in Doha, Sotheby's sold the 1.73 x 2.64 m carpet for US $ 5.5M including premium. It has a weaving of 2.2 million Basra natural pearls and colored English glass beads, further embellished with gems set in silver and gold. Rightly considered as a major piece of Indian and Islamic craftsmanship of the 19th century, it has been acquired by the Qatar Museums.
The canopy had been woven with similar elements. It is 120 cm in diameter, which is four times smaller in surface than the carpet, for an estimated total of about 950,000 pearls and beads, 50 to 70 % of them being natural pearls.
Resurfacing in 2009, it has been sold for $ 2.3M including premium by Sotheby's on March 24, 2011. It is now estimated $ 800K for sale by Christie's in New York on June 19, lot 278.
1889 STAIRCASE TO THE CLOUDS
2009 SOLD 105 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
In 1983, a monument (or better an element of monument) 160 meters high was dismantled. It was the staircase that had connected from the beginning in 1889 the second and third floor of the Eiffel Tower. It is a painted iron helicoid of 1.70 m in diameter wrapped around a central axis and provided with a guardrail.
This set was then divided into 24 elements of various heights. One of them was installed as a memorial at the first floor of the Tower, three were donated to museums and twenty others were auctioned on the site on 1 December 1983 by Ader Picard Tajan.
They reappear from time to time on the market. The section 14 (4.50 m) was sold 180 K € including premium by Ader in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on November 19, 2007. The section 15 was smaller (2.70 m). An excellent media announcement led it to 550 K € including premium at Sotheby's in Paris on November 26, 2008.
The section 16, which exceeds the two helical turns and includes forty stairs, is one of the tallest (7.80 m). It will be sold by Lucien in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 14. The published estimate is much lower, for an unidentified reason, to the two results quoted above. It is said in Paris that the too low estimates attract the customers. This time, they are promised with the Eiffel Tower.
POST SALE COMMENT
85 K € before fees, 105 K € including premium: it's by far the lowest result of the three pieces of staircases sold for two years.
Here is the image of this lot shared post sale by Luxuo.
1893 A LIFT FOR THE CHICAGO STOCK EXCHANGE
2008 SOLD 600 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
Financial markets would have required, as they say, some lifting upwards. I do not know if Sotheby's had similar thought when presenting the lot 105 of the sale of 18 December in New York : an empty elevator enclosure of the Chicago Stock Exchange.
Its condition is exceptional, considering that most of such objects have been dismantled without caution when replacing machines. Installed around 1893, this piece was born of an illustrious designer: Louis Sullivan, who is considered as the father of modern architecture and one of the most important figures of the American Arts and Crafts movement.
It was the time of the use of steel, and of the skyward thrust of American buildings, according to the skyscraper model invented by William LeBaron Jenney for whom Sullivan had worked. One progress due to Sullivan was to consider that the form has to adapt to the function (and not the contrary) while contributing to enhance it. 1893 is in the boom period of activities of the firm Adler and Sullivan, which he led with Dankmar Adler. It is also the time when Sullivan was helped by an assistant who was to become one of the most important architects in the next century, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Our element of elevator enclosure in cast and wrought iron is estimated $ 250 K, and measures 3 meters high, 4 meters wide and 15 cm thick. It was reconstructed from elements gathered between the third and thirteenth floor.
I take this opportunity to mention a lot of architecture also sold by Sotheby's: a piece of staircase from the Eiffel Tower 2.70 m high sold 460 K € excluding fees in Paris on Nov. 26. It was original (1889), and therefore contemporary of the works of Adler and Sullivan.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sotheby's has been convincing in showing that this lot was exceptional. The market followed, that is fine. Result: $ 600 K inclusive.
1894 A NEW TSAR IN THE KREMLIN
2011 SOLD 385 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
In 1894, Tsar Alexander III died. His son Nicholas II succeeded him. This event accelerated the preparation of the marriage of the young prince, aged 26. Ceremony took place less than a month later.
Relations with Britain were good. Nicholas had visited that country. Lord Carrington, who held the office of LordChamberlain, was Queen Victoria's representative to the funeral and wedding.
The Tsar ever had in reserve some gold snuffboxes on which he made his portrait on ivory assembled before presenting to his guests of the highest rank. The snuffbox offered to Lord Carrington is indeed one of the first completed under the new reign. It is registered in the Russian Imperial ledgers at the date of December 28, 1894.
Executed for Fabergé in Perchin workshop, this box with three color gold 9.3 cm wide, whose existence was known, had never been seen in public. It is estimated £ 300K, for sale by Christie's in London on June 6.
A smaller box offered to a Turkish diplomat in 1913 had been discussed in this group. It was sold £ 937K including premium at Christie's on November 29, 2010.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold £ 385K including premium, this lot remained in the lower range of the estimates.
1899-1903 Luxury Furniture with Fabergé
2007 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium by Sotheby's
Fabergé knew how to respond to the desire for extreme refinement at the Russian court. His first Easter surprise egg was made in 1885 for a presentation by Emperor Alexander III to his wife Maria Feodorovna. The Empress is so enthusiastic that she asks for such a gift to become a tradition.
Fabergé is organizing for this prestigious market. In the following year he appoints Michael Perchin as head workmaster. Until his death in 1903, Perchin made all imperial eggs. He also worked for other wealthy clients including Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the sister-in-law of the Empress.
A master of enamels, Fabergé had developed 145 new hues. His miniature furniture is in enameled gold skillfully inlaid with precious materials for an exquisite imitation of the textures and decorations of the original furniture.
The three examples below were made by Perchin for Fabergé in St Petersburg between 1899 and 1903. They are inspired by French styles. Each of them is a highly rare model without being a unique piece.
A 9 cm high Louis XVI-style sedan chair was sold for £ 790K including premium by Christie's on November 27, 2017. The doors are opening. The windows are in rock crystal and the interior decoration is lined with mother of pearl.
The other two examples will be sold by Sotheby's in London on June 4. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The Empire-style fauteuil en gondole 5.7 cm high is equipped with a hidden drawer under the seat for use as a bonbonnière. The back is an openwork in the shape of a row of lyres. A translucent red guilloché enamel imitates the grain of the mahogany, and the enamel of the seat mimics the silk. This piece which had belonged to the Grand Duchess was sold for $ 2.3M including premium by Sotheby's on April 16, 2007 over a lower estimate of $ 1M. It is now estimated at £ 800K, lot 256.
The 8.9 cm high Louis XVI-style spacer table offers a similar imitation of mahogany. Its top in polished nephrite imitating leather opens for use as a candy box. It is estimated £ 800K, lot 257.
1899-1903 A Surprising Sedan Chair
2019 SOLD for £ 380k before fees
Nicholas II is crowned in May 1896, in a grand ceremony bereaved by a stampede that killed several hundred people. Fabergé had already begun to work on new themes : in March 1896 Nicholas II bought a prototype of a Louis XVI style miniature sedan chair. This piece is known only from the ledgers.
In 1897 one of the surprises is a carriage in enameled gold on the model of the horse carriage of the coronation of the new empress, itself a replica of a coach designed in 1793 for Catherine the Great. It is 12.7 cm high, with double opening doors, revolving wheels and retractable steps.
In the next years, Fabergé provides fancy miniatures for the trade, reusing models that had not appeared in eggs. Pieces inspired by French luxury furniture date from this period. The most valuable materials simulate the textures of the full size artefacts, such as nephrite jade for the leather and guilloché enameled gold for the mahogany.
On November 27, 2017, Christie's sold for £ 790K including premium a 9 cm high Fabergé sedan chair punched by Perchin. It is in gold with a mother-of-pearl interior decoration. The rock crystal windows are etched to simulate the curtains and their pompons.
On September 10 in Cirencester, Cotswold Auction sells a 7.8 cm high Fabergé sedan chair, lot 555 estimated beyond £ 60K (bidding on The Saleroom platform). Like the example above, it is marked by Perchin. The terminus ante quem is 1903, date of the untimely death of the head work-master. The announced terminus post quem is 1899, probably after considering the marks.
This item is the only Fabergé-Perchin sedan whose panels are in vivid green nephrite. The rocaille-style frame is in chased gold. The partially windowed front door opens with a handle, giving visibility to a shining mother-of-pearl seat. The side windows separated in two parts by a gold post are very elegant and the pompons of the curtains have not been omitted.
1905 DUCKS AND GEESE
2014 SOLD 600 K$ BEFORE FEES
Wood decoys constitute an active sector of the folk art market, with some specialized auction houses. The price depends mainly on the reputation of the artist, the quality of the sculpture, the condition and the rarity.
Guyette and Deeter, previously Guyette and Schmidt, regularly achieve very good results for high end pieces.
Elmer Crowell is the most prestigious artist, with several results beyond $ 600K. A plover pecking in a remarkably balanced position was sold for $ 830K including premium in November 2006. A merganser duck by Lothrop Holmes was sold for $ 856K including premium in January 2007.
The next sale of Guyette and Deeter is held in St. Charles IL on 24 and 25 April. The two top lots are listed for the first day.
A Canada goose in hollowed wood with a removable head is estimated $ 400K, lot 53 in the catalog shared by Invaluable.
This big bird nearly 80 cm long in very good condition is a precursor from the time when the decoys were still rarely localized and signed. Discovered in Pennsylvania in 1954, this piece was probably created in Massachusetts during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
A duck drake is estimated $ 500K, lot 155 in the catalog shared by Invaluable.
Edited by Mason Decoy Factory in Detroit, this duck was listed as a premier model in their 1905 catalog and was valued for its ornithological realism. It is however extremely rare because the species was protected in 1918 and its decoy could no longer interest the hunters. This piece in near mint condition is the only example in hollowed wood known for this model.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good results for these pieces of high quality : $ 600K before fees for the duck and $ 550K before fees for the goose.
2008 SOLD 210 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
During a routine reading of new sales announced by Artnet, I found that the most expensive lots in a sale organized on July 23 in Boston by Copley Fine Art Auctions were decoys, significantly ahead of the best submitted paintings.
At the top: a pair of geese by John Tax (100 K$, lot 338, 1917), one single white goose of same artist and same date (80 K$, lot 339), a duck and a plover made by one of the artists already indicated in my previous article, Elmer Crowell (80 K$, lot 369, 1912; 80 K$, lot 282, 1910). We see here that the years 1910s are topping the hierarchy of artistic wooden ducks, as it is the case in major arts.
Yes, but then, doubting of my ability to find the results after the sale, I was close to decide in my shyness that I shall not tell you about it. Fortunately, I am stubborn. With the help of LiveAuctioneers (free site after registration), I found another sale of decoys, 21 and 22 July at Cape Cod, at Decoys Unlimited. Cape Cod is a nice resort in Massachusetts, therefore, not very far, at decoy's flight (!!!), from Boston.
And then, luck, I found online a detailed catalogue where I could begin to understand how these small-size sculptures are eligible to compete with other works of art.
Lot 232 is a willet showing modernist shapes which make me compare it with works by French sculptor Pompon. It is attributed to John Thomas Wilson and estimated 75 K$.
Lot 522, also at 75 K$, is interesting as an early piece, 1875, and for its attribution to some Albert Orne.
Even more interesting for our study: Lot 99A, another plover by Elmer Crowell, estimated 45 K$, distinguishes itself, according to the catalogue, by the fineness of its sculpture and its decorative effect. Dated around 1910, it comes early in the work of the artist, and it is signed. I did not find its dimensions, but it is undoubtedly its small size which prevents it to expect a much higher price.
I have now no doubt that the decoys are art like any other piece of art, even if the estimates may seem quite different when comparing the two sales of my tracking of today.
POST SALE COMMENT
Copley got $ 210 K including fees for the duck of Crowell, and Decoys $ 200 K, presumably before fees, for the willet of Wilson.
The authorship, even that of Crowell, is not a sufficient argument for the plovers to be sold at a price of ducks. Copley sold its specimen for $ 70 K including fees, and that of Decoys was painfully sold $ 40 K, probably excluding fees.
The early decoy by Orne was sold $ 70 K, probably before fees, by Decoys, and the two lots of John Tax respectively $ 105 K (Lot 338) and $ 85 K (Lot 339), including fees, by Copley.
Let us achieve this walk in the land of wooden birds with another willet by Wilson, sold $ 120 K by Decoys on an estimate of 50 K $.
1905 THE SUCCESS OF FABERGE
2008 SOLD 230 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
He was an entrepreneur who knew how to choose his customers! In 1885, Karl Fabergé was appointed by Alexander III official supplier to the imperial court of Russia. He remained in that position under Nicholas II, until the October Revolution.
We could not imagine a better clientele. Memorabilia of the Russian imperial family are still regularly proposed in specialized sales in Drouot (Paris), in particular by the auction house Coutau-Bégarie. They loved to shoot photos and to be photographed (that is just now if these photos are not sold by weight, but here, I exaggerate a little bit) and other souvenirs are also common.
The habit in this refined society was to make small gifts, and Fabergé supplied them. Source Wikipedia, we learn that Fabergé offered objects in a great range and produced 150 000 of them between 1882 and 1917. His company took up to 500 employees, with branches in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London.
On November 24 in London, Sotheby's devotes a whole sale to one hundred of such small gifts, that had been received at that time by one of these princesses. Of course, the brand Faberge is the majority. There are no major items in this sale, no eggs, no major silverware, just those little things that reinforced the links between members of this closed "network".
The top lot is a miniature portrait showing the dowager empress Maria Fyodorovna in a heart-shaped frame (Lot 25, estimated £ 60 K). It was the Christmas gift of 1905 from the Empress to her younger sister. In recent seasons, Russian artefacts always exceed their estimates. This will happen to this one also.
POST SALE COMMENT
I announced that the estimate would be exceeded. It was obvious.
The result confirms: £ 230 K inclusive.
1909 The Golden Diplomacy of Nicholas II
2010 SOLD 937 K£ including premium
The accuracy of the account books of the Imperial court allows us to well know about the early history of a luxurious snuffbox made in gold, enamel and small diamonds with the portrait of the Emperor.
Typical of Louis XVI style, this rectangular box is small, 7.6 x 5.7 cm, but precious with its three-colored golds worked in champlevé and its beautiful royal blue plates in guilloché enamel. Bearing the mark of Henrik Wigström who was a key workmaster for Fabergé, it was sold by the latter to Nicholas II for 2500 rubles in 1909.
The portrait bust of Nicholas II in military uniform, a miniature on ivory, was installed on the box in 1911. Its author, named Vasilii Zuev, also collaborated on the decoration of the famous Fabergé Easter eggs which are the greatest masterpieces of Russian Imperial art.
54 presentation boxes have been decorated with the imperial portrait of Nicholas II, only 19 of them being supplied by Fabergé. They were to be kept in reserve pending an opportunity to honor a friend of the Emperor: this one was not used until 1913, when it was presented as a parting gift to a Turkish diplomat who was finishing his mission.
Imperial ceremonial pieces are always welcomed on the Russian art market. The snuffbox is estimated £ 400K, for sale by Christie's in London on November 29. It is shown in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity.
POST SALE COMMENT
Gold and the Tsar! These elements came together for the success of the box, sold £ 937K including premium.
1910 SOUP AND FLAG
2013 SOLD 32.5 K$ BEFORE FEES
The Campbell's soups do not owe their success to Warhol. In fact it is exactly the opposite.
The Campbell Soup Company is a very old company, founded in 1869 and owning now many other brands. The smallred and white can that became their emblem was designed in 1898.
In 1910, the advertising sign in embossed tin mimics the US flag. The stars are in their place, but the stripes are replaced by forty cans of soup. A remarkably short text is announcing the brand name, the range of choice, the price and the way to use it: Campbell's Soup, 21 kinds, 10c, just add a can of hot water and serve.
A specimen is estimated $ 40K in the sales of 4 to 6 October in Ann Arbor MI by Showtime Auctions. It is illustrated on the release shared by AuctionPublicity. I will give the dimensions later. Another plaque of the same design but with a different text, 100 x 70 cm, was sold for $ 60K including premium by the same auction house in April 2013.
Warhol was familiar with commercial art in 1962 when he decided to explore the American symbols. He could not haveignored such a sign where a usual piece of consumerism is multiplied to restore the flag. He turned the Campbell's can into a theme in art and used the strength of the visual impact of multiples.
In 2004, Campbell's paid tribute to Warhol with a limited edition of cans in deviant colors from some variants of the artist. Warhol had shaken the American dream by showing that even the most immutable soup cans could still evolve.He had been right.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting sign, of same size as the referenced example, was sold for $ 32.5 K before fees, according to the catalog page on LiveAuctioneers.
1912 The Cossack of the Empress
2013 SOLD 5.9 M$ including premium
The Fabergé house had the talent to interest the Royal family for a new approach to art by using new themes and new materials as valuable as possible. Creations by Fabergé anticipate many features of luxury and invention in the decorative arts of the European twentieth century.
In 1912, for a gift to his empresses, the Tsar orders to Fabergé the figurines of both Cossacks who were invited to posing in the studio for a wax model. The realization of the final statuettes was then assigned to Henrik Wigström, the workmaster to whom Fabergé subcontracted the most prestigious commissions.
Wigström was specifically responsible for the Fabergé eggs. His figures, also very rare, similarly used hard and semi-precious stones with an enamel finish .
The Cossack of Alexandra, measuring 18 cm, is one of the largest statues of this type and was one of the most expensive pieces sold by Fabergé to the Tsar . Brought out of Russia after the revolution by Armand Hammer, it had disappeared a few years later and its reappearance is a rediscovery.
This statuette is estimated $ 500K, for sale on October 26 by Stair Galleries in Hudson NY. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
The great result, $ 5.2 million before fees, is confirming that it was convenient to compare this piece with the imperial eggs produced by the same foreman for Fabergé. Congratulations to Stair Galleries for the perfectly successful sale of this figure.
1949-1952 Homes by Wright
2011 SOLD 580 K$ including premium
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most important architects of the twentieth century. He understood that nature and living were consistent.
The Fallingwater house, completed in 1936, is certainly the most famous of his constructions made for wealthy individuals. Wright was a man of projects, always seeking new challenges and new solutions. He loved the low buildings, designed to be functional and pleasant with minimal partitions.
His meeting with Kenneth Laurent in 1948 is an opportunity of further research for the master, still active at over 80 years. The future owner will indeed be able to move in a wheelchair in every room of his home.
Made from 1949 to 1952 in Illinois, Laurent house is for sale by Wright auction house on December 15 in Chicago. This lot, including furnishings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is estimated $ 500K.
This is an opportunity to remind two results.
On May 13, 2008, Christie's had recorded $ 16.8 million including premium on the Kaufmann Desert House designed in 1946 by Richard Neutra, a former employee of Wright. Unfortunately the real estate transaction was not successful and this sale was canceled.
On October 3, 2011 in Chicago, Leslie Hindman sold for $ 772K including premium a copper urn made by Frank Lloyd Wright.
POST SALE COMMENT
This furnished house was sold $ 580K including premium, in line with the estimate.
1957 JEAN PROUVE AT SCHOOL
2011 SOLD 1.83 M€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
This is not the first time that a building designed by Jean Prouvé comes into an art auction. Throughout his life,this designer of furniture and structures endeavoured to pursue an original career, only influenced by his talent as an architect and his strong social commitment. His influence in France on the art of living cannot be underestimated.
His Pavillon rouge is for sale on October 24 in Paris by Artcurial. Designed to be functional, this pavilion 19 x 7m is a roof supported by pillars shaped as crutches, while the fully glazed perimeter is ideal to optimize the brightness.
Once assembled, we can do what you want. Designed in 1957 as a building for a school near Paris, it was once dismantled to become a chapel in Britanny. It is illustrated in the article shared by Batiactu.
On June 5, 2007, Prouvé's work was featured at Christie's in New York, with the sale of the prototype of his prestigious Maison Tropicale of 1951, estimated $ 4M. It was sold at a price consistent with the estimate and published in the post-sale press releases of the time, but is no longer in the online archive of Christie's. An auctionis completed only when the transfer of ownership is achieved.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good result, because lots like this one are not always easy to sell: € 1.83 million including premium.
1973-1982 ORPHEUS RECONSTRUCTED
2010 SOLD 75 K£
The Roman villa must be interpreted like a medieval castle or a Latin American hacienda: a large building designed to control and operate a rural area. 1700 years ago, a much extended network of villas covered western Europe.
Their richest landowners vied in luxury, and mosaic floors were fashionable at that time. One of these villas located in the current Gloucestershire (between London and Bristol) was particularly rich, with 60 rooms including 20 equipped with mosaics.
In 1973, the mosaic of the great hall, on the theme of Orpheus, is exhibited to the public for the last time before this very fragile witness of English antiquity is covered again with a protective earth layer. And the two Woodward brothers are astonished.
From that date until 1982, they spent ten years of their lives to create a most accurate full-size copy of the Orpheus mosaic. They have become scholars, searching for missing parts in old local documents and plausibly recreating the missing areas.
On June 24, in an abbey in the county, Chorley's sell this huge lot: 205 square meters consisting in 1.6 million small blocks of clay. The central image showing Orpheus and his lyre is published in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity.
Lots that are both cumbersome and atypical are difficult to sell, and Chorley's does not take the risk of publishing an estimate.
POST SALE DISCUSSION
This atypical work has been sold £ 75K. I think that this price does not include fees.
Because of the work involved, one would think it was worth more. The art market is merciless!
2007 A Pavilion by Shigeru Ban
2008 SOLD 600 K$ including premium
Shigeru Ban is one of most known among the architects of today. Sotheby's has just announced (by a press release of April 28) the sale of its "Artek" Pavilion, on June 14 at New York.
This pavilion made of recycled materials is prefabricated, which enabled it to take part in three exhibitions in 2007, in Milan, Helsinki and Miami. Composed of repeated elements, it measures in all 40x5 meters, on an important height, with decorated separating amounts of crossed structures which join again with the tradition of the Crystal Palace of 150 years ago.
It is estimated 800 K$, and the product of its sale will go to caritative organizations of arts and culture.