Saturday and Sunday, February 16 and 17, 2013, will go down at Clars as the strongest sale in the firm’s 41-year history. It will also go down as the sale that held numerous surprises and astounding prices on several lots in all categories. After the two-day event was over, President Redge Martin commented, “Yes, it was the strongest in our history. Overall, the auction was just one of those sales — I’ve seen 4 or 5 similar to this over the past 20 years where everything just seemed to work out fueled by the great property offered, good marketing of the sale, an improving economy, very strong bidder and lots of pleasant surprises. The strength of this sale was seen across all categories. Of particular note is the strength of our Internet bidding as we have the strongest presence online of any auction house west of the Mississippi and that is proving increasingly important.” While the Saturday sale did $300,000, that left $2.3 million to be earned on the just over 1,000 lots offered on Sunday. Asian, Fine Art and Decorative Arts all had their day and their astounding surprises.
The Asian Category was the most remarkable of the categories in prices realized. Coming near the end of the sale, Lot 3150, a Chinese underglaze blue porcelain brush pot (PHOTO 1) attributed to Wang Bu (Chinese, 1898-1968) measuring 6.5” high, was assigned a conservative pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. Joyce Kwong, Asian Art Specialist at Clars, noted at “In general, works by Wang Bu have a very strong market and he is known for underglaze blue decorated porcelain.”
President, Redge Martin opened the bidding on this piece at $13,000 and for several minutes, the increments of $10,000 kept rising against highly competitive floor, phone and Internet bidding. In the end, a phone bidder achieved the astounding winning bid of $534,300. (A video of the sale of this lot is available on the home page at www.clars.com)
Furthering the remarkable Asian prices realized at this sale was Lot 3126, a Himalayan gilt bronze figural group of Yamantaka Vajrabhairava Ekavira, (PHOTO 2) 19th century, measuring 10.5” high. The pre-sale estimate was conservatively placed at $1,000 to $2,000 as it had some arm and attribute loss. That did not seem to phase the intense bidding on this lot however which, in the end, sold to a floor bidder for $248, 300.
The Fine Art category offerings were particularly impressive at this sale and the prices realized in this category matched the level of works offered, and greatly exceeded them in a few cases.
The European bronzes offered seemed to know no limits once the bidding began. Topping the bronze offerings was Lot 2246, an after-Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) bronze titled Nude Study of Pierre de Weissant, 1995. (PHOTO 3) The bronze bore the artist’s name “A. Rodin” and was inscribed “By Musee de Rodin 1955-George Rudier.” According to Rick Unruh, Vice President and Director of Fine Arts, “This was a rare casting after the artist from 1955 from the Musee de Rodin. Due to very limited auction records, we chose to assign the very conservative estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 but our global audience dictated a much more impressive outcome.” Impressive indeed as this bronze sold for $59,500, almost 10 times its high estimate.
A second bronze that more than doubled its high estimate was Lot 2243, a gilded bronze sculpture, circa 1890-1900, by Mathurin Moreau (French, 1822-1912). Titled Immortalite, this work sold exceedingly well for $28,560.
It was an American painting however, that topped the Fine Art category overall. An impressive work (Lot 2201) by Joseph Henry Sharp (American, 1859-1953) titled Does Everything — Crow Chief, Custer and Reno Scout, (PHOTO 4) was expected to achieve a high of $50,000. Again, highly competitive bidding on this work saw the final selling price soar to $77,350.
California artist Arthur Frank Mathews (1860-1945) came in second place in paintings with his oil on board (Lot 2165) titled Afterglow at the Seashore. (PHOTO 5) Offered with an estimated of $20,000 to $30,000, this work nicely surpassed this achieving $38,675. On the contemporary side, Black Suckers by Wayne Thiebaud (California, b. 1920) performed nicely within estimate selling for $28,560. And Charles Schulz (American, 1922) surpassed his high estimates with two of his comic strips, Peanuts Daily (Lot 2314) and Peanuts Sunday (Lot 2315) both selling for $16,660 each.
On the European paintings side, it was a work (Lot 2212) by French artist Georges Washington (1827-1910) titled Orientalist Battle Scene (PHOTO 6) which surpassed its high estimate selling for $21,420. An ink drawing on paper (Lot 2294) by Salvador Dali (Spanish/French, 1940-1989) titled Destino also surpassed high estimate earning $17,850.
The Decorative Arts category featured rare works by Teco and Tiffany which perfomed very well but it was a Georgian style gilt bronze mounted bracket clock (Lot 2469), late 19th century, that unexpectedly achieved 7 times its high estimate. Offered for $8,000 on the high side, bidding from the floor, phones and Internet drove the final selling price to $59,500. (PHOTO 7) Deric Torres, Vice President and Director of Decorative Arts and Furnishings attributed the remarkable sale price to “it’s monumental size and the triple fusee engraved movement.”
As expected, however, (Lot 2408) the very rare Teco glazed earthenware vase (1900-1904) (PHOTO 8) drew highly competitive bidding resulting in the final sale price of $29,750. Selling beyond expectation, from Tiffany and Company, and coming from the N, Lee and B. Herbst-Gruhn Estate, was a service for eighteen sterling flatware service in the Renaissance pattern. Offered for $10,000 to $15,000 at estimate, this set sold impressively for $19,040.
And, on the side of whimsy and art, a very rare and important carousel reindeer (Lot 2500, PHOTO 9), by master carver and artist, Gustav Dentzel, Phladelphia, early 20th century, went to a new owner for a very respectable $14,200.
For complete information and prices realized for Clars record-breaking February 2013 sale, please visit www.clars.com or call (510) 428-0100.
Clars next Fine Art and Antiques Auction will be held March 16 and 17, 2013. A complete catalog of all lots to be offered will be available online one week prior to the sale.
Previews for this sale will be Friday, March 13th, from 1pm to 6pm and beginning at 9am on both Saturday, March 16th and Sunday, March 17. For complete information lots to be offered, please visit www.clars.com, call (510) 428-0100 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.