On September 24, buyers at the Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers gallery and around the world will vie for works by influential St. Louis-born 20th century artists, in addition to European works as unique as a 15th century pair of wedding portraits, and fine Asian porcelain and jade.
Baer O’Byrne Estate Headlines
Two Ernest Trova sculptures owned by the late Faye Beth Baer O’Byrne are among more than 100 lots from her estate. A generous and influential figure in her St. Louis community, Mrs. O’Byrne was the widow of William T. O'Bryne, and her first husband, S. Charles Baer of Stix, Baer and Fuller. Mrs. O’Byrne’s estate evokes her wide and varied taste from the late 20th century contemporary sculpture by Trova to exquisitely and accurately detailed 19th century American furniture miniatures.
Best known for his Falling Man series, the work of Ernest Trova (American, 1927-2009), is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Tate Gallery, among others. The 15-inch-high Study/Falling Man (Figure in Sphere) in stainless steel is numbered 2/8, dated 1986, signed and monogrammed on the base. The piece, which includes the original key for sculpture transformation, is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. At 31 inches tall, Trova’s stainless steel Walking Jackman is the iconic representation of six figures, radiating from a central cube. Also from an edition of eight, it is mounted on a slate base and marked appropriately with monogram and "AP 1-2 E. TROVA 1985" stamped into the sculpture. The auction estimate is $10,000 to $15,000.
Among the other fine and lovely items from the estate, an Alexander I Porcelain Cabinet Cup with sulphide bottom dates to early 19th century Russia. The cup has a gilt bird head form handle, armor and helmet depictions on green ground to side panels and a profile portrait of Alexander I at the bottom. It is inscribed to reverse of sulphide, "Desprez, Rue des Récolets,” and estimated at $1,000 to $3,000. A 9.75-inch-tall Lalique Bacchantes vase, signed in cursive "Lalique - France,” carries an auction estimate of $600 to $900.
Among Mrs. O’Byrne’s exquisitely detailed 19th century miniature antique furniture examples is the Lawyer's Bookcase, 6.5 inches tall on revolving pedestal supports with a smaller set of table top books, which is estimated at $200 to $300. A 16-inch-tall American Federal Breakfront Miniature in walnut, rosewood, mahogany, and bone features an eagle perched above four églomisé paneled X mullion glazed doors resting on two centered drawers, the top opening to writing service, flanked by single drawers over cabinet doors with bone escutcheon. It is estimated at $600 to $900. An 11-inch-tall miniature Mahogany Chest Form Tea Caddy with top drawer masked as four, holds two hinged covered compartments, flanked by spiral lobed standards, raised on turned footing, estimated at $200 to $400. Diminutive antiques and collectibles are displayed within a 13-inch walnut miniature cupboard with astragal glazed top over panel door below. Its estimated value is $300 to $500.
Monumentally Sized Furniture - Fit for a King
In sharp contrast to the fine miniatures from the local estate, the September Gallery auction features a selection of furniture acquired from a California collection reflecting the grandeur and craftsmanship of 19th century Europe. All elaborately carved, one is a Belgian Clock Fireplace Surround in oak with attached display cabinets featuring individually glazed panels flanking a centralized pendulum clock and shelving, six panel mullion doors, a scroll-carved mantel and tassel form footing. The shelved display compartments retain the original silk brocade lining. The surround, standing 99 inches tall, 109 inches wide and 24 inches deep, is estimated at $3,000 to $6,000.
A massive black walnut Hunt Arc mantel, possibly German, shows a finely carved boar's head centered in a lavish surround of scrolling forms and grape vines. The mantel is flanked by stepped pillars carved with fruit clusters and game creating an arched mantel terminating in block supports with high relief pheasant carvings. At 100 inches tall, 124 inches wide and 29 inches deep, the mantel is estimated at $4,000 to $7,000.
A pair of Italian Renaissance nightstands complement a bed frame of the same style. The nightstands have finely carved black walnut putti backsplashes in high relief on grey carrera marble resting over heavily carved rectangular cabinets of single doors, elevated on blunt arrow footing. At 60 inches tall, 19 inches wide and 15 inches deep, the nightstands complement the fine, heavy carvings in high relief of the bed frame’s shapely arched headboard which bears a discreet B monogram to oval medallion at center. Side rails connect to a similar form footboard lavished with identical carvings. The bed frame is 77 inches high, 82 inches wide and 85 inches deep. The pair of nightstands is estimated at $1,500 to $2,500, as is the bedframe.
Walker Hancock: St. Louis’ Real-Life “Monuments Man”
As a sculptor and real-life World War II “monuments man,” Walker Kirtland Hancock (American, 1901-1998), is recognized for his role in military intelligence and the protection of important works of European art and history during the war. Hancock was portrayed in the 2015 movie by fellow St. Louis native John Goodman. In the City of St. Louis, Hancock’s work is most visible in the four monumental sculpture groups, Vision, Courage, Sacrifice, and Loyalty, located outside of the Soldiers’ Memorial. Walker’s bronze work Mother and Child is signed and dated "W. Hancock 1938" and bears Polich Tallix foundry mark. The 23-inches-tall, three-quarters length figure is a woman gazing outward, half nude in drapery with her left arm extended skyward with a cradled infant in her right arm. The bronze is mounted on a wooden base and is estimated at $6,000 to $8,000.
Along with Trova and Hancock is St. Louis native Joe Jones (American, 1909-1963), who was among America’s most significant (and controversial) 20th century painters. Jones achieved national prominence in the 1930s for his depictions of both urban and rural aspects of the American Scene. In Last Exit for Brooklyn, Jones captured an urban street scene with train, cars and city dwellers set amongst a background of trees and buildings. Gouache and pastel on paper, signed lower right and dated verso "circa 1939,” the painting is estimated at $2,000 to $4,000. Jones’ Still Life, a depiction of driftwood in oil on canvas, framed and signed lower right, is estimated at $600 to $800.
Paintings and Sculptures from the 15th to 21st Centuries and from Around the World
Stunning examples of work of other artists from the 15th century through today are represented in the Auction.
A pair of Italian wedding portraits dating to the 15th century are attributed to Antonio di Puccio Pisano, also known as Pisanello (Italian, 1396-1455). Oil on board, miniature easel paintings, the portrait of male is shown in right profile wearing a red headpiece and collared doublet with red brocade pattern. The hand-printed label in ink reads "Pisanello 1395-1450." The portrait of the female is shown in left profile wearing a white head ribbon and white dress with similar red brocade pattern on sleeves. The paperboard backing bears stamp verso "Francesco Granuzzi Verona" and a hand-printed label affixed reads "Pisanello 1395-1450." The pair of portraits, both presented in period frames, is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.
Also of late 15th century Italy, the unsigned Massacre of the Innocents Circle Of Titian (1485/90-1576) is oil on copper in a hand carved, gilded antique frame. The dramatic composition depicts the biblical narrative from the Gospel of Matthew and carries an auction estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.
Significant provenance enhances the interest in The Fortune (Solitaire) by Kenneth Hayes Miller (American, 1876-1952). The oil painting of two women, one seated with cards at a table with a background of green drape and caged bird, passed from the artist to his wife and daughter, then to a New York Gallery and private collection. Signed lower right and dated "1927," it measures 43.5 inches high by 36.5 inches wide, presented in a gold-gilded 19th century Italian frame measuring 57.5 inches by 51 inches, estimated at $8,000 to $10,000.
A bronze table-top fountain with traces of gold gilding on verdigris patina by Albin Polasek (Czech, 1879-1965) depicts the mythological figure of Neptune playing a harp aboard a sea faring vessel atop stylized waves on an oval base. Signed "Albin Polasek" and marked on base "Roman Bronze Works NY,” the 19-inch-tall bronze is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.
The dramatic bronze, Mädchen by Doris Caesar (American, 1892-1971), is a full figure nude woman with arms raised and bent over head. It is signed on base and dated “1966.” The bronze is 50.5 inches high (58.5" on the Lucite base) and estimated at $7,000 to $10,000.
A tonalist view of trees reflecting in a body of water silhouetted against a sunset sky is the subject of Landscape by Edward Emerson Simmons (American, 1852-1931). An oil on canvas, it is signed lower left and signed and dated verso "Edward Simmons 1901," with a partial label verso affixed to stretcher. The framed painting is estimated at $4,000 to$6,000.
A conservation report from the Midwest Art Conservation Center accompanies Chateaux At La Roche-Guyon in the manner of Georges Braque (French, 1882 - 1963). The work is tempera on canvas, bearing the signature "G Braque" verso. The view of a castle is surrounded in greens and buff tones. Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963) created a series of works depicting the castle at La Roche-Guyon, France circa 1909. See de Romilly, Braque, Le Cubisme, Catalogue de l'Oeuvre, no. 38-43. The painting is estimated at $5,000-$7, 000.
Vivid Contemporary Works
Catching the eyes and interest of bidders for contemporary art is the oversized Trophy Wives by Terry Rodgers (American, B. 1949), who is known for large-scale cinematic paintings in contemporary themes. The circa 1992 work depicts a nudist pool party with figures laughing and socializing. Signed lower left, this large-scale oil on canvas is 58 inches high and 109 inches wide and is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.
Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015) has been a widely influential force in the post-war art world, rising to acclaim in the 1950s with his bright, multi-paneled color field canvases. An excellent example is Kelly’s minimalist tri-color lithograph Red Orange/Yellow/Blue from a 1970 series. On Arjomari paper, it is signed lower right, embossed with Gemini G.E.L. mark, and numbered 2/75. The value is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.
With his work included in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Venice Biennale and the Smithsonian, Tom Palmore (American, born 1945) is known for painting hyper-detailed portraits of animals in “possible but unlikely” settings. Emperor Penguin, is a vivid example. An oil on canvas depicting a close cropped composition of an Emperor Penguin in profile with a mountain landscape background, the work is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.
Asian Art and Cultural Items Well Represented
Beautifully crafted items of great variety, including of jade and porcelain, highlight the Asian portion of the auction.
A landscape scroll by Pu Ru (Pu Xinyu) (Chinese, 1893-1963), is ink on paper, signed and seal stamped. The depiction of landscape by shore on paper is mounted onto a miniature scroll made out of an old folded shipping manifest with silk swatches applied, and with an added inscription by Luo Shihui. The scroll has multiple collectors' seal marks and is estimated at $6,000 to $9,000.
A fine pale celadon jade carving (China, 20th century) is pierced and double sided with two birds nestled under a blossoming plum tree, fitted into a carved wooden stand. It includes the original silk lined box, and is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.
With exquisite diapering segmented by three floral medallions to rim above well showing two chickens amongst peonies, this fine 18th century porcelain Chinese Yongzheng Period Famille Rose Ruby Back Plate has provenance: “Rare Art, New York, 1984,” and is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.
A Chinese Xuande Mark Blue and White Jardiniere, dating from the 19th to 20th century, has a bulbous form with three masks to shoulders and is decorated in cobalt blue on white ground. The six character Xuande mark (Ming) appears, but is not period. A finely carved Chinese White Jade Horse, early 20th century, is in the Tang style. The horse, with stout torso and limbs dressed with full processional tack, is in walking pose on a thinly carved base fitted into wooden stand. The porcelain is estimated at $1,000 to $2,000, as is the carved jade horse.
Elegant and Distinctive Jewelry Featured
A highly distinctive Mongolian amber and tiger claw necklace dates from the 18th to 19th century. With large, chunky amber beads strung on necklace with six silver mounted tiger claws and 19th century coins, later added, this unusual necklace is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. Demand for Tiffany will be reflected in the Blue Topaz and Diamond ring. The American, mid 20th century 14k white gold ring has a nearly 5-carat topaz surrounded by 36 round brilliant cut diamonds and is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. A 1897 U.S. ten dollar gold piece mounted as a pendant shows Lady Liberty surrounded by thirteen stars to one side and eagle design to other. Mounted in a pierced round pendant setting attached to 14k gold bale and chain, and weighing 1.2 oz., the pendant is estimated at $1,600 to $2,000.
Selkirk’s Fall Gallery Auction full catalog may be browsed online. The Gallery is located at 4739 McPherson in the St. Louis Central West End. Preview hours will be held from September 18th through the auction on September 24th. Selkirk is accepting quality items for its upcoming Fall Eclectic Auction on October 22, 2016 and Winter Gallery Auction on December 10, 2016. For further information regarding how to sell at Selkirk or for a valuation of your item(s), please contact email@example.com or call 314.696.9041.