Just about a month into 2020 and with gold and silver prices on a high, things are on a roll at Clarke Auction Gallery. Starting off the new year with a bang, Westchester’s premier auction house has already ticked off fine Asian abstract paintings and gentleman’s wristwatches at its January 19 auction, among many highlights. Next up on Saturday, February 16, at 11 am, will be an auction that runs the gamut from David Hockney artworks to early American Gorham silver and nearly everything in between.
“Our January sale was incredibly strong across the board and things conservatively estimated were blowing through their estimates. We are confident our February auction will be equally impressive,” said owner and auctioneer Ronan Clarke. “Buyers are always anxious to break the winter doldrums and we have curated an auction lineup that will appeal to many collecting tastes.”
Fine art will be well represented February 16 with a pair of David Hockney lithographs, both estimated at $8,12,000 and depicting Celia Birtwell, consigned from a Scarsdale home. “The works are particularly desirable, as Hockney’s market continues to ascend, due to their depiction of Birtwell, one of Hockney’s most famous subjects,” said Clarke’s fine art specialist William Schweller. Also on offer with be figural art, led by a signed Giorgio Zennaro (Italy, 1926-1968) bronze abstract sculpture ($4/6,000), large at 34 by 20 inches, dated 1979.
Antique carved marble garden statuary will cross the block, including a life-sized statue of a satyr and maiden on stand having a nice aged patina, 62 inches tall; a signed Pasquale Romanelli (Italian, 1812-1887) marble sculpture, both estimated at $4/6,000 and a signed Cesare Lapini (Italian, 1848-1893) marble figure, “Segreto al cuore.”
Among Asian arts, a curated selection of decorative smalls will be prominently featured and is expected to do nicely. On offer will be a pair of Mughal style agate “Chrysanthemum” bowls ($500-700), measuring 1⅜ inches tall with a 3⅛-inch diameter; a pair of flambé glaze bottle vases ($2/3,000), each having a beige lip descending into dripping red, purple, and blue, with a foot coated in a thin brown wash, standing 19¼ inches tall.
“The flambe glaze is particularly attractive just because there is so much depth to it,” said Senko Imamura, the Asian art and antiquities specialist, noting the metals in the glaze change colors in the kiln. “I think this one was really nicely done. You have got a really natural progression from red to purple with these little streaks off blue and pink in there. They are a nice pair of pieces and they are also quite large.”
Another highlight is a cloisonne inset cinnabar lacquer foliate box ($1/1,500), Qing Dynasty, Chinese, 5 inches tall with a 13-inch diameter. “The cinnabar is nicely carved. A lot of work went into that one,” she said. “That’s what lacquer is supposed to look like, it’s supposed to be very thin layers built up and then carved out over a long period of time. It’s got very nice cloisonne insets with a poem.”
Silver and diamonds are also expected to shine bright in the sale, according to Clarke’s jewelry and silver specialist Whitney Bria with two particular pieces by Gorham. “I have an early Gorham little figural vessel, which is interesting I always like those early American silver pieces and American silver always sells well,” she said. Bria also recently picked up on a house call a late 19th Century Gorham sterling punch bowl ($3/5,000), handhammered, having applied grape clusters and leaves with a gold wash to interior. “What makes it all the more spectacular is its matched Gorham sterling ladle,” she said. An expected standout in diamonds from a Greenwich, Conn. estate is 2.73-carat diamond and 18K yellow gold ring that was just sent out to the GIA for certification. At press time, Bria was still inventorying for this sale but said there will be many Art Deco jewelry pieces, a pair of jade bangles also going out to GIA, two Hamilton watches (a his and hers), a turquoise cocktail ring, French silver and Hermes scarves,
Aptly kicking off the new year with wonderful old objects bringing robust prices, Clarke’s January 19 auction was led by a trio of fine men’s wristwatches.
“Watches were a huge part of the jewelry selection in this auction,” Bria said, saying the overall top lot was a Patek Philippe 18K gold Nautilus 3700/11 watch that attained $118,750, against a $60/90,000 estimate. Bringing $18,750 each were a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner watch in 18K yellow gold and a Breguet 18K Le Reveil du Tsar in yellow gold, 5707.
Judaica was another top performer, led by a Torah breast plate, in .812 German silver depicting lions rampant flanking a crown while holding a cloth, 10 inches tall, that sold for $7,500, well over its $600-900 estimate. By the same unidentified artist, who used a maker’s mark of “KD,” was a pair of German .812 silver Torah finials with bells and crown form tops that earned $4,750.
Topping jewelry offerings were a ruby and 14K yellow gold statement necklace, having a floral form pendant, that took $6,875 against a $1/1,500 estimate, and a striking Frank Patania Sr. (American, 1899-1964) sterling silver, bib form necklace comprising a graduated row of bezel set turquoise and a second graduated tier of sterling scroll form pendants. The latter quadrupled its low estimate to bring $4,250.
The jewelry category offered a few nice surprises in a pair of 14K white gold and diamond drop earrings that sold for $4,750, well over its $1/1,500 estimate, and a 14K gold, ruby and diamond ring that made $4,000, well over its $500-700 estimate
Silver did equally well with an English silver 4-piece tea service by Hukin & Heath, comprising a teapot, coffee pot, creamer and sugar along with a silverplate tray taking $4,000, to sell comfortably within estimate. “Based on the English silver maker and stylistically, it was attributed to Christopher Dresser, a pretty significant late 19th-early Twentieth Century artist/silversmith,” Bria said. Another silver standout was an Art Nouveau silver lidded box by Kate Harris, a noted silversmith in the Nineteenth Century who worked in the London studio of William Hutton & Sons circa 1899-1905. Selling for $1,750, the piece had a well-detailed figural finial of woman’s head wrapped in leaves and berries. “This was a really interesting piece by Kate Harris. She didn’t mark her pieces but it was undoubtedly by her — just stylistically it was exactly what she did,” Bria said.
Two internationally known artists led the way in the fine art category. “Our January sale was an exciting one with regards to fine art because we had the opportunity to sell some unique works — a pair of small oils on canvas by French painter Emile Villa and a pair of double-sided oils on panel by Canadian artist Henrietta Mabel May,” said Schweller. “Works by both artists rarely come on the market stateside.”
May’s double-sided painting, “Out Sketching on Sunday” fetched $15,000 while a slightly smaller double-sided painting, “Two Friends, Laurentians,” 1934, realized $5,500. “H. Mabel May is one of Canada’s most important female artists, best known for her impressionistic landscapes highlighting the Canadian countryside. The two paintings show May celebrating plein-air painting, as both feature pairs of female artists sketching in the country,” he said. “The reverse of both paintings are landscapes. The majority of May’s paintings sell in Canada, and it was exciting to be able to handle these works, which came out of a Long Island collection, and present them to an international audience.”
Villa is best known for his depictions of elegant female sitters in fanciful, East Asian dress. “The two paintings featured in our January sale were tremendous examples of such work, done on a small scale,” Schweller added. The paintings were perhaps sketches done for larger works. In fact, Villa’s portrait of a woman in a red dress, which sold for $13,750, is compositionally related to a larger painting sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2012. The other painting depicts a woman playing a harp that brought $5,250.
Among Asian art, notable lots included a trio of abstract and colorful paintings by Chinese-American artist Chinyee, the first woman artist to be shown at New York’s prestigious Mi Chou Gallery, which was her first solo exhibition in 1965. “I was pretty happy with the Chinyee paintings, they were really good looking abstracts.” Imamura said. “It was great for me to be able to feature the work of a female as well as a Chinese-American artist, who was an Abstract Expressionist. She ran in the same circles as Rothko and you can really see that influence in her paintings.” The three abstract paintings sold for $4,250, $3,250 and $2,00 respectively against their $800-1,200 estimates.
Rounding out the Asian arts category were a still life oil on canvas by Japanese-American artist Kyohei Inukai (1913-1985) that went over its high estimate to bring $1,500 and a bronze tripod censer with a white jade finial, besting its $300-500 estimate to realize $2,800.
All prices reported include the 25 percent buyer’s premium.
Clarke Auction Gallery is at 2372 Boston Post Road. For more information, www.clarkeny.com or 914-833-8336.
2372 Boston Post Road
Larchmont, New York
About Clarke Auction Gallery
Clarke Auction Gallery was started in Westchester, N.Y., in 1998. It is owned and operated by Ronan Clarke, an Irishman who started his career in Ireland and came to New York in 1988 via London. Since his arrival, Clarke has moved from being a picker to owning two retail Antique Stores and All Boro Estate Liquidators (As featured in NY Times, NewYorker, Cranes and Fox 5 News) to opening his own Clarke Auction Gallery which fast became Westchester's Premier Auction. Clarke Auction Gallery runs monthly to a packed house and is situated in the center of Larchmont, N.Y., just five minutes from the Metro North Station (30 mins from N.Y.C, 20 mins from Connecticut) and also on I-95 @ exit 17. Clarke Auction Gallery also serves a worldwide audience with its online gallery. For any information or personal help don’t hesitate to call us at (914) 833-8336 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.