Auction Records Set for American Folk Art Portraiture, Botero Sculpture, Yellow Diamond

A model displays a 110.03 carats Sun-Drop Diamond described as fancy vivid yellow at the Sotheby's preview in Geneva.  The gem fetched an auction record $12.4 million.
A model displays a 110.03 carats Sun-Drop Diamond described as fancy vivid yellow at the Sotheby's preview in Geneva. The gem fetched an auction record $12.4 million.
  • American School, 18th Century Portrait of Abigail Rose, North Branford, Connecticut, 1786, at the Age of Fourteen.  Unsigned.  Sold for $1.27 million at Skinner's in Boston on Nov.  5, 2011.

    American School, 18th Century Portrait of Abigail Rose, North Branford, Connecticut, 1786, at the Age of Fourteen. Unsigned. Sold for $1.27 million at Skinner's in Boston on Nov. 5, 2011.

    Skinner's

  • Botero's "Dancers" set an artist auction record of $1.7 million at Christie's.

    Botero's "Dancers" set an artist auction record of $1.7 million at Christie's.

    Christie's

Skinner's sold a rare 18th-century portrait for a record-setting $1,271,000 with commission (est. $150,000-250,000) on Nov. 5 in Boston. The portrait of Abigail Rose of North Branford, Conn., broke the previous record for American folk art portraiture, set in January 2007, and is one of three folk art portraits to have passed the million-dollar mark at auction.

The painting, from 1786, depicts a 14-year-old Abigail seated in a Queen Anne chair next to a table on which rests a group of books and a Battersea patch box. The asymmetrical composition is unique for the time period. Well-preserved, in original condition, and not seen publicly since the 1930s, the portrait descended through the family of the sitter, according to a press release.

Stated Stephen Fletcher, director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Skinner, “I knew the portrait of Abigail Rose had potential, as it is the finest early American folk portrait offered here at Skinner in 40 years. There were a couple of quiet predictions in the trade that the picture might well bring a million dollars, and we were delighted that it brought a record-setting price.”

Fletcher continued, “Apart from the success of the portrait, this sale showed strong results across the board and demonstrated that the market for rare and distinctive American antiques and art remains healthy.”

Columbian artist Fernando Botero reached a new auction height with his monumental 10-ft. 5-inch 'Dancers' sculpture depicting two huge bronze figures. Sold for $1.7 million (est. $1.5-2 million) at Christie's Latin American sale in New York on Tuesday, the voluptuous duo went to an European buyer. 

Christie's lot description read: "Unlike the artist's paintings of couples, particularly dancers, where one partner is considerably smaller than the other, these majestic figures have nearly the same stature, underscoring the importance of both halves of this relationship."

Three works by Botero pushed the sale total to $15.3 million with nine new artist records, led by Brazilians. Overall, the sale achieved a 76 percent sell-through rate by lot and 83 percent by value.

A yellow diamond set a record this week with the Sotheby's Geneva sale of the Sun-Drop Diamond for 11.2 million Swiss francs ($12.4 million).

Weighing 110.03 carats, the stone is the largest known pear-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world. Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sale was part of a series which totaled $70.1 million, falling short of pre-sale estimates $72 million to $102 million.


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