December 30th, 2013

World Treasures Bidding Erupts in November Sale!

It was as if a volcano of bids abruptly erupted in the midst of the cold windswept fields of northeast Iowa at Jackson's International auction of World Treasures this past November 19th and 20th. The 900 lot auction saw participation from 33 countries comprising over 600 registered bidders from around the globe and producing total sales right at two million dollars.

The auction featured fresh to the market merchandise from a variety of family collections including that of the late Laurence A. Steinhardt (1892-1950) who served as the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1939-1942, as well as items from the collection of the estate of Dr. Franz Julius Rose (1873-1975) a noted Russian doctor who began his career in Imperial Russia working at one time with Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and ended his career in Germany after having escaped communist Russia in the 1930's.

However, perhaps the most interesting lot to sell was lot 127, catalogued as a pair of 17th century Neapolitan oil on canvas paintings depicting Lepers Attended by Angels. The paintings, from a private collection in Chicago, Illinois, each measured 30 x 40 inches with one displaying an initialed signature “L.G” but were otherwise unidentified. The lot attracted 12 European phone lines and three in the U.S. Bidding opened at a modest $6,000 slowly climbing upwards with bidders dropping out and jumping in as the bidding moved higher and higher finally selling to a European phone bidder for $143,750.00.

The sale opened with Imperial Russian items, a field in which Jackson's, over the past 20 years, has gained an international reputation of scholarly knowledge, familiarity and success. The first lot sold was a 14 inch engraved silver salver by Fabergé which sold to a buyer from Moscow for $21,250.00 (including Buyer's Premium). Next up was an interesting silver hot water kettle by Sazikov in the Renaissance revival style and dated 1847, which sold to the phone for $11,250.00. That was followed by a 1749 dated silver engraved tankard that sold to an in house bidder attending from St. Petersburg, Russia, who paid $37,500.00. Additionally, a silver mounted leather folio by Faberge sold for $10,000.00 and an interesting Russian silver-plated copper punch bowl by Nicholas Poltavtsev finished at $3,750.00.

Russian Imperial porcelain saw a great amount of interest beginning with an assembled group of six fairy tale plates by Kornilov Brothers, each measuring 10.25 inches in diameter, and decorated with designs by Ivan Bilibin; with the group selling for an even $30,000.00. A set of eight dinner plates and bowls from the service for the Order of Alexander Nevsky by the Imperial Porcelain factory sold for $27,500.00, whereas a single plate for the same service by Gardner and dating to the 18th century made $12,500.00. An interesting assembled Russian porcelain tea and dessert set by Gulin Brothers and Musakov factory, circa 1835, sold for $10,000.00, and a group of six Kornilov Brothers dinner plates displaying the coat of arms for various Russian cities together with 12 smaller bread and butter plates came in at $8,750.00. Two other notable Russian porcelain sales include a Gardner bisque porcelain figure of an Ostyak from Obdorsk that sold to a buyer from Moscow for $7,187.00 and a 17 inch porcelain charger by Kuznetsov went to a buyer in St. Petersburg for $6,875.00.

A small offering of Russian art followed porcelain including an 18 x 14 inch oil on canvas floral still life by Russian artist Konstantin Korovin (1861-1939) which sold to a buyer from California for $62,500.00, followed by a modern still life composition by Dimitri Krasnopevtsev (1925-1995) that sold for $35,000.00. A small Volga River barge scene measuring 8 x 14 inches by noted artist Sergei Vinogradov (1869-1938) made $18,750.00, a bronze winter Troika scene by Lansere measuring 17 inches did $11,250.00, and a 13 x 18 inch oil depicting a shoreline scene in Sorrento, Italy by Ukrainian artist Mihail Berkos (1861-1919) also sold for $11,250.00.

Sales of Russian icons clearly showed the trend of popularity for those finely painted examples produced at the very end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Perhaps not surprisingly this same style of icon in their own day quickly overshadowed the older or traditional style icons making them a favorite of Russian aristocracy even though many clearly exhibited western or Catholic style influences. Indeed it is fair to say that in this regard and in the supercharged market today, age very often has little or nothing to do with value as it relates to Russian icons. For example, one can buy an original and good example of a Russian icon from the late 16th century, in most cases for far less than an icon of the same size produced at the beginning of the 20th century. Case in point, lot 73, a Russian icon of Christ, measuring 10.5 x 8.8 inches executed in the Neo Slavic style and even with a later Art Nouveau style riza dated to circa 1900 (and later) sold for $27,500.00 whereas a 12 x 10 inch icon of Saint Nicholas dated to circa 1600 sold for only $1,875.00.

Other icon sales of note include a large example of the Kazan Mother of God measuring 28 x 21 inches and overlaid with a silver riza dated 1843, which sold to a Moscow buyer for $35,000.00. A small but finely painted triptych icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God measuring 12 x 8.5 inches sold to an in-house bidder attending from Moscow for $25,000.00. A large icon of the Archangel Michael, circa 1890 with arched top and measuring 52 x 28 inches sold for $21,250.00. A large icon of the Pokrov Mother of God, measuring 42 x 27 inches sold to a buyer from Minsk for $20,000.00. A 12 x 10 inch icon of selected saints circa 1900 and attributed to the famous Moscow workshop of Osip Chirikov sold to the phone for $18,750.00. An interesting icon depicting St. Alexi Metropolitan of Moscow, measuring 12 x 10 inches and with dedicatory inscription related to Tsarevich Alexi Nikolaievich dated 1913, sold to a Moscow phone bidder for $13,750.00 and an icon of St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas from the workshop of Ivan Malyshev measuring 12 x 10 inches crossed the block at $10,625.00.

The highlight of the second session was without question the winter landscape by Nebraska artist Dale Nichols (1904-1995). The 30 x 40 inch oil on canvas sold to a collector from Nebraska for the price of $57,500.00. That was followed by a fresh to the market oceanside landscape by California artist William Wendt (1865-1945). The 12 x 14 inch painting was accompanied by the original receipt of purchase dated 1925, and sold to a California buyer for $26,250.00. An interesting bronze relief plaque by noted American sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt (1867-1917) followed. The 20 x 32 inch plaque depicting a map of the United States and flanked by two American eagles as commissioned for the National Highways Association sold to an American collector for $25,000.00. Another bronze worthy of note that also fetched $25,000.00 and also sold to an American collector was the reclining figure of Oceania by famed French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) creator of the Statue of Liberty.

The second session opened with Asian works beginning with a floral still life oil on canvas by Vietnamese artist Le Pho (1907-2001) that sold to a California buyer for $22,500.00. That was followed by a much smaller, 22 x 16 inch oil also by Pho that sold for $13,750.00, and an 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas by fellow Vietnamese artist, Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000) finished at $6,000.00. Other Asian works of note include a Japanese Meiji period silver and Shibayama cabinet measuring 10 inches in height, which sold to an East Coast buyer on the phone for $12,500.00. That was followed by a Chinese Mughal carved celadon jade lidded urn measuring 12.5 inches in height that sold to a buyer in Beijing for $11,875.00. Up next was a Japanese Meiji period carved ivory Buddha measuring 13.25 inches that sold to a California buyer for $11,250.00.

Other sales of note include a small offering of sterling silver and jewelry which garnered strong interest and included a Bailey, Banks and Biddle sterling vase which sold for well above its silver content, bringing $5,250.00, a Steiff sterling tea set sold for $3,750.00 and a Derby silver plated golf theme cocktail shaker set from the 1920's brought $5,000.00. A Van Cleef & Arpels diamond bangle dated 1974 rose above its $6,000-$9,000 estimate selling to a New York collector for $11,250.00. That was followed by a diamond solitaire ring that sold for $9,375.00, which preceded a modern Tiffany & Co. floral pin estimated at $800-$1,200 that sold to a buyer from London for an even $2,500.00.

Furnishings and decorative arts that also found new homes included a George III tilt top table which hammered to a collector in Sydney, Australia for $2,750.00. A small Chinese Chippendale style Pembroke table sold to a Midwest phone bidder for $3,000.00, while an 8 inch English Chelsea porcelain botanical plate returned to its country of origin after finishing at $3,000.00. An interesting unmarked slag glass floor lamp attributed to the Riviere Company with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000 crossed the block with a top bid of $9,375.00, and a modern Baker furniture dresser and bed designed by Charles Pfister totaled $3,250.00.

Lot 32

One of a group of six Russian Fairy Tale plates by Kornilov Brothers, each measuring 10.25 inches in diameter and decorated with designs by Ivan Bilibin, sold for $30,000.00.

Lot 79

This Russian icon depicting Selected Saints dated to circa 1900 and measuring 12 x 10 inches sold to a buyer from Moscow for $18,750.00.