Among the various auctions of fine and decorative arts in New York held during “Americana Week”, Keno Auctions attained the highest price for any lot sold. On January 23rd, an iconic bronze sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) soared past its estimate of $200-400,000, selling for $506,000 (including BP). Purchased by a young New York couple, it is the fifth highest price at auction for any work by Saint-Gaudens. Recently discovered by Keno, the sculpture was on display at the Glascow Arms Restaurant in Delaware since its purchase by restaurant owner and collector, Constantine Sclavos in 1959.
Saint-Gaudens produced the original 18-foot tall Diana of the Tower as a weathervane for Madison Square Garden. The figure was so popular that the artist wisely secured a copyright of the design in 1895 and immediately began making smaller versions. Leigh Keno, President of Keno Auctions, noted: “I am thrilled but not surprised by the strong result. This discovery is only the seventh example of these larger versions of Diana known. Saint-Gaudens’ brilliant hand is revealed in its meticulously chiseled details.”
The auction was comprised of just five special lots, including the rare and important “Kinsman Portrait of George Washington” painted by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1829), which rose above its $150-300,000 estimate to sell for $356,000 (including BP) to a Southern private collector. The historic portrait had never before been offered at auction. Painted between 1803 and 1805, when Stuart had moved his studio to Washington, D.C., it had been almost exclusively in private hands, including a century in the Kinsman family since its purchase in 1817 by Philadelphia merchant Israel Kinsman. It is in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining its original stretcher and frame.
Keno noted “Like the Diana Bronze, on a scale of one to ten, this masterwork by one of Federal America’s greatest artists rates a ten in terms of quality, rarity, condition and provenance. We are ecstatic but not surprised that it brought such a strong price.”
The sale also included “Frankenstein” by Outsider artist William Hawkins, who was inspired by the image on a box of “Frankenberry” cereal. Estimated at $25,000-50,000, it hammered at $41,000. The painting will return to its hometown of Columbus, Ohio. A stunning Flambé Meiping vase with Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1795), and with Christie’s London provenance flew past its estimate of $6-12,000 to sell for $21,000 to a Chinese buyer bidding by phone.
About Keno Auctions
With more than 40 years of experience in the art world, founder Leigh Keno has assembled an exceptional client base of buyers and sellers, as well as an eminently qualified network of top-notch experts and specialists involved in the disciplines of paintings, furniture, decorative arts and jewelry. Through their longevity in the business, these experts and specialists visit collections and clients advising them on how best to navigate the marketplace.
Keno Auctions works with estate executors, fiduciary advisors and private clients who regularly use their valuation services to provide comprehensive appraisal and auction opportunities. Through their meticulous, well-researched assessments, Keno Auctions has earned the company a distinct reputation for expertise, dependability and integrity, building a broad collector base of buyers and consignors from around the world with record-breaking results.