Peter the Great: early 18th-century Russian award portrait miniature with diamonds to be auctioned Nov. 2, 2009 at Sotheby's New York. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Copyrighted image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Rare miniature portrait of Peter the Great to be auctioned on Nov. 2

 Peter the Great: early 18th-century Russian award portrait miniature with diamonds to be auctioned Nov. 2, 2009 at Sotheby's New York. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Copyrighted image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Peter the Great: early 18th-century Russian award portrait miniature with diamonds to be auctioned Nov. 2, 2009 at Sotheby’s New York. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Copyrighted image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK (AP) – A miniature portrait of Czar Peter the Great in a diamond-encrusted frame – owned for decades by an Arizona family that didn’t realize its historic significance – is going on the auction block.

The rare Russian treasure will be offered Monday at Sotheby’s. Its presale estimate is $80,000 to $120,000.

The estate of the original owner, George Roberts, learned of its importance during an appraisal over the summer. Roberts purchased it in 1951 from a London dealer.

Experts believe that as few as 10 of the bejeweled miniatures were bestowed by Peter the Great on his subjects for their exceptional service to him. Until the latest discovery, only five were known to exist, three of them in museum collections. They predate the better known Order of St. Andrew award for civilian and military merit.

In 2001, one of the two in private hands sold for $132,500 at Christie’s.

The 3½-inch-high oval portrait at the upcoming sale depicts Peter the Great in a blue cape and the sash of the Order of St. Andrew. The frame hangs from an imperial crown surrounded with diamonds. The reverse side is engraved with a triple-crowned, imperial double-headed eagle.

While believing it had some value because of the diamonds, Roberts’ granddaughter, who lives in northern Arizona and did not want to be identified, had no idea it was an early 18th-century work of historic importance, Sotheby’s said. After her grandfather bought it, it spent some time in Illinois where he lived and finally ended up in Arizona where the family kept it in a display cabinet.

It will be sold as part of Sotheby’s Russian Art sale.

The miniature portrait is just one example of rare Russian treasures being discovered in unusual places in American collections.

Sotheby’s expert Sonya Bekkerman said that last year it sold three works by Boris Grigoriev for $8.1 million that had been discovered tucked away in the Berkshire Museum of Art in Pittsfield, Mass. One of the works set an auction record for the artist.

In another case, Bekkerman said she received an e-mail from a man asking about the value of a painting he planned to offer on eBay for $5,000.

“When I opened the e-mail, it was absolutely divine. It was a work by Boris Grigoriev,” said Bekkerman, who hastened to tell the man not to sell it that way.

Sotheby’s sold the work, Sailors at a Cafe, Boui Bouis for $1.6 million in April 2005 – at the time a record for the artist at auction.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


 Peter the Great: early 18th-century Russian award portrait miniature with diamonds (view of back) to be auctioned Nov. 2, 2009 at Sotheby's New York. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Copyrighted image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Peter the Great: early 18th-century Russian award portrait miniature with diamonds (view of back) to be auctioned Nov. 2, 2009 at Sotheby’s New York. Estimate $80,000-$120,000. Copyrighted image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Late-19th-century embossed tin sign touting The Great Majestic Range, $7,500.

New buyers added punch to Dan Morphy’s $1.5M Fall Auction

Late-19th-century embossed tin sign touting The Great Majestic Range, $7,500.

Late-19th-century embossed tin sign touting The Great Majestic Range, $7,500.

DENVER, Pa. – The most convincing proof that quality Americana finds its buyers in any market condition came on Oct. 8-10 at Dan Morphy Auctions’ Fall Sale, which featured the revered Joseph and Lilian Shapiro Americana and folk art collection. Internet live bidding was provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

“The sale did over $1.5 million (inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium), and the usual factors came into play – rarity and condition,” said Morphy’s owner and CEO, Dan Morphy. “We specialize in genuinely fresh to the market collections that have been held for many years. When the quality is there and the antiques legitimately have not been available to the public for several decades, the collectors don’t hold back. They buy.”

Antique advertising signs, salesman’s samples and an extraordinary collection of decorative 19th-century folk art “bride sticks” (implements once used to push down laundry into washing water) generated tremendous presale interest. A beautiful 1890s paper sign advertising Soapine Soap, which previously had been displayed in the president’s office at Kendall Manufacturing in Providence, Rhode Island, hit the midpoint of its estimate at $17,250. “It was a rare and spectacular example,” Morphy noted.

Many other graphically appealing soap and laundry-related advertising signs in the Shapiro collection finished in the top 20. An 1890s bas-relief composition sign for Snow Boy Washing Powder, featuring a child clutching a box of soap and sledding downhill was bid well past its $7,000-$10,000 estimate to realize $15,000. A late-19th-century Magic Washer Soap sign depicting Uncle Sam with a proclamation reading “The Chinese must go!” exceeded its estimate to settle at $5,750.

Morphy said he was especially pleased to see adventurous participation from new buyers right alongside confident bidding from the more-seasoned collectors. “One man whom I did not know drove up from North Carolina specifically to bid on – and buy – an antique Pepsi-Cola sign,” Morphy said. The 27½-inch by 34-inch heavy cardboard sign from the early 1900s featured “Miss Pepsi-Cola,” a strawberry blond, turn-of-the-20th-century beauty dressed in a diaphanous gown and daintily holding a glass of the fizzy soft drink. Estimated at $7,000-$10,000, it was bid to $12,650.

No one “took a powder” when the talcum tins took the spotlight; in fact, there was unexpected interest from a new collector who made quite an impression as an absentee bidder. Morphy explained: “A New York buyer who is known for collecting something entirely different apparently took a shine to the collection of antique talcum, spice and other advertising tins in the sale. He ended up buying 183 lots. The established collectors for talcum tins, in particular, were blown away by the prices. Some had left bids in the $2,000 to $3,000 range for tins estimated around $600, and even then they didn’t get the tins.” An example was the 4-inch-high Yankee Talcum Powder tin with the image of a cherubic baby sprinkling powder on himself. Against a $1,000-$1,500 estimate, it climbed to $3,250.

Morphy said he intends to show his appreciation to the New York buyer by personally delivering the tins to him. “It’s just another way of helping to keep the auction business vibrant and strong,” he said. “I’ll personally deliver the purchased goods to anyone who spends $100,000 or more in one of my sales.”

The top lot of the sale was a J. & E. Stevens Girl Skipping Rope cast-iron mechanical bank. In all-original condition and consigned by the original owners, the highly desirable moneybox rated “excellent plus” had no trouble achieving $32,000 against an estimate of $18,000-$24,000. Leading the still banks was a circa-1902 example replicating the Battleship Iowa. Complete with all masts and lifeboats, and in near-mint condition, it sailed to an above-estimate $4,600.

Bidders gave in to temptation after they saw the superb condition of the antique and vintage toys offered in the sale, many of which came from the Carl Lobel collection. A Popeye tinplate Heavy Hitter with exceptional pictorial box was a strong contender at $8,000, as was the boxed B & R Charlie Chaplin mechanical walker, which also earned $8,000.

A 1930s Marx Blondie Jalopy toy with its original box glided to $5,500 (estimate $2,000-$3,000), while a rare, Italian made Ingap wind-up toy of Pinocchio on a high-wheel trike raced past its $600-$900 estimate to finish at $4,900.

Oozing nostalgic charm, a circa-1949 Shelby boy’s blue and yellow bicycle with Donald Duck’s three-dimensional head perched below the handlebars was probably unused old store stock, judging by its near-perfect condition. It surpassed expectations to apply the brakes at $6,900.

Another depiction of Disney’s wacky duck, Donald, playing a xylophone for his flirty friend Donna Duck, was seen in the boxed, circa-1937 Fisher-Price pull toy. An extremely rare, near-mint example, it sold within estimate for $5,750.

The collecting momentum for antique marbles showed no signs of cooling, as a 2 7/16-inch cobalt blue and white onionskin Lutz described as “the rarest of the rare, and the only one known,” commanded top dollar at $8,050.

Yet another specialty category that held up well was vintage Halloween memorabilia. Topping the group was an 11½-inch German composition witch holding a wooden broom and jack-o-lantern. It ended its bidding run at $5,750 (estimate $2,000-$3,000).

View fully illustrated prices realized for this sale online at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Shelby circa-1949 Walt Disney Donald Duck boy’s bicycle with three-dimensional character’s head, $6,900.

Shelby circa-1949 Walt Disney Donald Duck boy’s bicycle with three-dimensional character’s head, $6,900.

1890s-vintage bas-relief composition sign advertising Snow Boy Washing Powder, 23 inches by 34 inches, $15,000. Ex Joseph and Lilian Shapiro collection.

1890s-vintage bas-relief composition sign advertising Snow Boy Washing Powder, 23 inches by 34 inches, $15,000. Ex Joseph and Lilian Shapiro collection.

Painted composition with rabbit-fur hair, cloth attire, holding jack-o-lantern and broom, 11½ inches, $5,750.

Painted composition with rabbit-fur hair, cloth attire, holding jack-o-lantern and broom, 11½ inches, $5,750.

Copyright 1907 heavy cardboard advertising sign featuring “Miss Pepsi-Cola,” 27½ inches by 34 inches, $12,650.

Copyright 1907 heavy cardboard advertising sign featuring “Miss Pepsi-Cola,” 27½ inches by 34 inches, $12,650.

Drako Coffee tin featuring image of swimming drake, $2,300.

Drako Coffee tin featuring image of swimming drake, $2,300.

J. & E. Stevens cast-iron mechanical bank known as Girl Skipping Rope, $32,000.

J. & E. Stevens cast-iron mechanical bank known as Girl Skipping Rope, $32,000.

Yankee Talc tin, 4 inches high, $3,250.

Yankee Talc tin, 4 inches high, $3,250.

Chein Popeye Heavy Hitter wind-up toy with original box, ex Carl Lobel collection, $8,000.

Chein Popeye Heavy Hitter wind-up toy with original box, ex Carl Lobel collection, $8,000.

1880s-vintage lithographed paper sign for Soapine Soap, 38 inches by 30 inches, $17,250. Ex Joseph and Lilian Shapiro collection.

1880s-vintage lithographed paper sign for Soapine Soap, 38 inches by 30 inches, $17,250. Ex Joseph and Lilian Shapiro collection.

Mobile, Ala., police allege home remodeler stole valuable antiques

MOBILE, Ala. (ACNI) – Police in Mobile, Ala., have charged a prominent local home remodeler with stealing valuable antiques from homes where he provided his services.

Officer Dana Godwin of the Mobile Police Department’s Public Relations department told Auction Central News that officers arrested Matthew Boykin Walker, 59, on Oct. 22, 2009, and charged him with three first-degree counts of receiving stolen property. Burglary charges could follow.

Reportedly, Walker has a knowledge of antiques, and had access to valuables while working in residences located in some of Mobile’s most exclusive neighborhoods, including Gulf Shores and Spring Hill.

Sheriff’s investigators removed articles from Walker’s home that included silver serving pieces President Dwight Eisenhower gave to then-Senator John F. Kennedy. Antiques recovered so far have an estimated value of $750,000.

Officer Godwin said the case remains under investigation and has been turned over to county authorities.

Copyright 2009 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This example of Disney's 1947 Uncle Remus Stories Giant Golden Book features many of the characters and backgrounds created for the motion picture Song of the South. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Premier Auction Center.

Uncle Remus museum still grapples with race issues

This example of Disney's 1947 Uncle Remus Stories Giant Golden Book features many of the characters and backgrounds created for the motion picture Song of the South. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Premier Auction Center.

This example of Disney’s 1947 Uncle Remus Stories Giant Golden Book features many of the characters and backgrounds created for the motion picture Song of the South. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Premier Auction Center.

ATLANTA (AP) – Curtis Richardson hops around the front parlor of the 140-year-old house, animatedly recounting the enchanting tales of Brer Rabbit and Brer Wolf.

The elementary school students in the room shriek with delight as he huffs and puffs, stomping around the Wren’s Nest, the very house where newspaperman and author Joel Chandler Harris brought the mischievous characters to life based on stories he heard from slaves during the Civil War.

“I smell a rabbit!” Richardson booms in a deep bass voice for the wolf, making the children laugh.

Down the hall in an office sits Harris’ great-great-great grandson, Lain Shakespeare, a spunky 26-year-old who took over the failing museum three years ago and revived it from near closure using social networking Web sites Twitter and Facebook and a blog.

It was quite a tall order for a kid who grew up in a family that mostly shunned the museum because of its long-standing practice of not allowing blacks to visit, a policy that ended in 1984 when Shakespeare was a baby. Piled on top of that painful history is the controversy surrounding Harris’ work _ a white man profiting off stories he took from slaves and spreading what many consider to be an unflattering caricature of Southern blacks.

“It’s an uphill battle, to say the least,” Shakespeare said sitting in his Wren’s Nest office, which was once the bedroom of Harris’ mother. “We’re letting people know the full story, instead of the story that’s been told by other people. We talk about it. We don’t sweep it under the rug.”

He even poses questions on his blog like “Is Uncle Remus racist?” and invites readers to respond honestly. In one post, he wrote of a Girl Scout leader who wanted to bring her racially diverse troop to visit Wren’s Nest, but was “met with dead silence” when she suggested the field trip to parents.

That friction and controversy is exactly what Shakespeare hopes will bring visitors to the front door of the mustard-colored home with the stained glass windows in Atlanta’s mostly black southwest neighborhood. That, and fond childhood memories of hearing stories about Uncle Remus and the Tar Baby in the briar patch.

So far, the strategy seems to be working.

He’s tripled the number of annual visitors to about 15,000 in just three years. The Facebook page has more than 500 members, and nearly 400 people follow the museum’s Twitter feed.

Shakespeare raised enough money when he first took over in 2006 to get the museum out of the $113,000 of debt owed to 19 creditors. Since then, he and his staff of three have raised enough to complete $190,000 in restoration and repairs to the aging house, which is named for the wrens that nested in the mailbox while Harris lived there.

“Before we were this sleepy little house museum on the wrong side of town,” Shakespeare said, smiling. “But now people know who we are.”

Inside the house is a charming collection of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit memorabilia nestled among the original furniture and rugs that were in the house when Harris died in 1908. Book shelves are full of first editions of Harris’ 185 Uncle Remus tales, which have been translated into more than 40 languages.

In one corner hovers a stuffed owl given to the Harrises by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a fan of the Uncle Remus stories and befriended the shy Harris, inviting him to the White House. In another room are two dummies donated to the museum by Walt Disney in 1946 after the movie Song of the South was released based on the Uncle Remus stories.

Harris’ bedroom is the only room in the house that hasn’t been restored, following a rule set in place when the museum opened in 1913 that the room be left largely untouched. His hat and glasses sit on a table in the corner next to his typewriter.

Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1845, though for years he was thought to be three years younger because he lied about his age to avoid fighting in the Civil War. He dropped out of school at age 17 to work near his hometown on Turnwold Plantation, where he met the slaves that would spark his love for African-American folklore and the tradition of storytelling among Southern blacks.

He also learned the newspaper business at the plantation, setting type and writing for “The Countryman,” one of the largest circulation papers in the Confederacy during the war.

Harris worked for a handful of newspapers across the South after the war before settling at the Atlanta Constitution, where he was associated editor for nearly 25 years. It was there he first began writing his Uncle Remus stories, which were released in 1880 in book Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings.

The stories were an instant hit, capturing readers across the globe. The tales were the first in American literature to give human characteristics to animals and were unique because of the heavy dialect in which Harris penned the tales. Harris is also credited with revolutionizing children’s literature, which had never before seen anything like Brer Rabbit and Brer Terrapin.

Still, black authors like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker – who was born in Harris’ hometown of Eatonton – have denounced the author and say he stole the stories unjustly. And other plantations, like the Laura Plantation near New Orleans, say that the stories started there and that Harris simply adapted them, showing the deep roots these stories had in Southern folklore.

For Curtis Richardson, who is one of several regular storytellers who perform at the Wren’s Nest, being black in a museum that celebrates such a controversial body of work can be tough. Richardson said he refused to tell Harris’ version of Tar Baby stories until he researched their roots back to West Africa and the Caribbean. Now he tells the older versions as a way to honor the stories’ heritage and skip the modern associations with racism.

“It had connotations of black folks being slow,” Richardson said standing on the porch of the Wren’s Nest on a recent rainy afternoon. But the older African stories are “easier to tell, and I can live with it then.”

___

If you go:

WREN’S NEST: 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW, Atlanta; http://www.wrensnestonline.com/ or 404-753-7735. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Adults, $8; children, $5; seniors and students, $7.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-10-28-09 2115EDT

While no image of the painting mentioned in this article is available, here is a fine example of the work of Robert Scott Duncanson (American, 1821-1872). This 1856 oil on canvas titled Robbing the Eagle's Nest sold for $90,000 on Feb. 7, 2009 at Cowan's Auctions. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cowan's Auctions.

Painting purchased in shop worth many times asking price

While no image of the painting mentioned in this article is available, here is a fine example of the work of Robert Scott Duncanson (American, 1821-1872). This 1856 oil on canvas titled Robbing the Eagle's Nest sold for $90,000 on Feb. 7, 2009 at Cowan's Auctions. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cowan's Auctions.

While no image of the painting mentioned in this article is available, here is a fine example of the work of Robert Scott Duncanson (American, 1821-1872). This 1856 oil on canvas titled Robbing the Eagle’s Nest sold for $90,000 on Feb. 7, 2009 at Cowan’s Auctions. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers Archive and Cowan’s Auctions.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – A London, Ky., ophthalmologist liked what he saw in a Lexington antique shop and paid $900 for a landscape painting.

Dr. Jim Huffman took two weeks to decide and finally paid a little at a time to buy to 30-by-40 inch painting on layaway.

He told the Lexington Herald-Leader it was so dirty that he took it to a Cincinnati restoration expert for cleaning.

Huffman said when the artist’s name was uncovered, it was Robert Scott Duncanson, a noted 19th-century African-American painter.

The restoration expert appraised the work at $100,000.

Antique shop owner Dennis Pigg said he bought the painting at a northern Kentucky estate sale a few months earlier.

___

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-10-29-09 0810EDT

This serigraph on wove paper work is by Gary Benfield (Bristish, b. 1965). ‘Escapade II' has an $800-$1,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

Top contemporary art to be offered at Baterbys, Nov. 7

This serigraph on wove paper work is by Gary Benfield (Bristish, b. 1965). ‘Escapade II' has an $800-$1,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

This serigraph on wove paper work is by Gary Benfield (Bristish, b. 1965). ‘Escapade II’ has an $800-$1,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 300 works of art by some of the greatest names in 20th century fine art will be sold alongside contemporary names like Peter Max, LeRoy Neiman, Nicola Simbari and Gary Benfield at a live and Internet auction slated for Nov. 7 by Baterbys Art Auction Gallery. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding.

The event will be conducted live at Baterbys’ Pointe Orlando gallery 9101 International Drive, Unit 1008. The auction will begin at 7 p.m.

Mention of the name Salvador Dali often evokes soft watches and surrealist dream imagery. Later in life, however, Dali turned to more traditional subjects, in particular those involving biblical and historical references. His entire Aliyah Suite is an example of this and will be auctioned along with other limited-edition works, like the Divine Comedy series.

Dali’s Aliyah Suite was executed in 1968. Each image in the 25-print series is an original lithograph d’Arche Vellum, about 20 inches by 15 inches each, and signed lower right in pencil and numbered of 250 lower left. All are in excellent condition. The Divine Comedy series, circa 1960, comprises six signed, framed prints, with an image area of 13 inches by 10 1/2 inches.

Gary Benfield (British, b. 1965) is known for his romanticized female figure paintings and equestrian renderings. Offered Nov. 7 will be a six-work series of serigraphs on wove paper, executed between 2003-2007. Each serigraph is signed in gold pen in a limited-edition series of 750. The six titles include Escapade II, Golden Mask, Renaissance, Heavenly Dance, Day Dreaming and Love Secrets.

Original oil paintings and hand-embellished giclee prints by Elena Bond will also be sold. The giclees include Strolling Harbor Side edition of 95, 24 inches by 40 inches; Love Gondolier edition of 95, 36 inches by 18 inches); Sand and Surf edition of 95, 32 inches by 32 inches; and City Reflections edition of 95, 19 inches by 60 inches. All the giclees are artist-signed and in excellent condition.

The oil on canvas paintings by Bond include The Waters of Venice, Early Morning in Venice, Still in Mediterranean Waters, La Trattoria, Hand and Hand, Night in the Keys, Arch and Lake, Artists Café, Summer Manhattan Style, and After Hours Chill and Le Station de Metro. The works range in size from 16 inches by 12 inches to 20 inches by 60 inches. All are signed and in excellent condition.

Nicola Simbari (Italian, b. 1929) launched his painting career while still in his 20s with a one-man show in London. After that, he was commissioned to paint murals for the Italian Pavilion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. His brilliant impressionistic style and vivid and dramatic interpretations of the Mediterranean have established Simbari as a major artist.

Three of his works will be included in the Baterbys auction. All three are serigraphs, done around 1990. They include: Piazzo Del Duomo (36 1/4 inches by 33 inches, hand-signed lower right, hand-numbered lower left); White Dress (31 inches by 36 inches, hand signed lower right, hand-numbered lower left); and El Parasol (35 inches by 26 ¾ inches, hand-signed and hand-numbered).

The auctioneer’s premium will be donated to Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, an AIDS/HIV awareness organization based in Winter Park.

For details log on to www.baterbys.com or call 866 537-0265.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the sale at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Click here to view Baterbys’ Art Auction Gallery’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


This original Salvador Dali lithograph titled ‘d'Arche Vellum' from his Aliyah Suite (1968) carries a $1,550-$2,300 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

This original Salvador Dali lithograph titled ‘d’Arche Vellum’ from his Aliyah Suite (1968) carries a $1,550-$2,300 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.


Signed by Italian-born artist Nicola Simbari (b. 1929), this serigraph titled ‘White Dress' has a $700-$1,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

Signed by Italian-born artist Nicola Simbari (b. 1929), this serigraph titled ‘White Dress’ has a $700-$1,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.


Elena Bond's original oil on canvas painting titled ‘La Trattoria' has a $3,900-$4,400 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

Elena Bond’s original oil on canvas painting titled ‘La Trattoria’ has a $3,900-$4,400 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.


This 1960 lithograph by Salvador Dali from his Divine Comedy series has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

This 1960 lithograph by Salvador Dali from his Divine Comedy series has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Baterbys Art Auction Gallery.

Although better known as a photographer, Roy DeCarava was also a printmaker. This circa-1948 offset lithograph titled 'Together We'll Win' sold at Ashe Auctioneers' June 28, 2009 sale. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

In Memoriam: Roy DeCarava, photographer of Harlem life

Although better known as a photographer, Roy DeCarava was also a printmaker. This circa-1948 offset lithograph titled 'Together We'll Win' sold at Ashe Auctioneers' June 28, 2009 sale. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

Although better known as a photographer, Roy DeCarava was also a printmaker. This circa-1948 offset lithograph titled ‘Together We’ll Win’ sold at Ashe Auctioneers’ June 28, 2009 sale. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive.

NEW YORK (AP) – Roy DeCarava, a photographer whose black and white images captured Harlem’s everyday life and the jazz greats who performed there, has died. He was 89.

DeCarava died in Manhattan of natural causes on Tuesday, said his daughter, Susan DeCarava. He had been teaching an advance photography course at Hunter College, where he joined the faculty in 1975.

Born in Harlem, DeCarava was considered to be among the first to give serious photographic attention to the black experience in America.

Trained as a painter, DeCarava relied on ambient light, infusing his images with shadows and shades of gray and black – a style that invited the viewer to look closer.

“He photographed for himself, and ultimately produced a body of work that enshrined the social contradictions of the ’50s, the explosion of improvisational jazz music in the ’60s, the struggle for social equity, the bold faced stridency of the ’70s and ’80s, only to turn to even more contemplative realities during the later years of his life,” his wife, art historian Sherry Turner DeCarava, said in a statement.

“His contribution to American photography and culture is manifold,” she added.

Using a 35 mm camera, he chronicled black Americans doing ordinary things: A family watching the Harlem River; a couple dancing in their kitchen; a girl standing on a desolate street in a white graduation dress.

DeCarava worked at a time of enormous creative energy in Harlem, whose many residents included prominent writers, artists and musicians. He spent years capturing candid shots of Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane and other jazz musicians – many taken in smoke-filled nightclubs.

“The Sound I Saw,” published in 2001 and reprinted in 2003, is a collection of his jazz photography.

In 1951, he became the first black photographer to win the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the arts.

In his scholarship application, he wrote: “I want to show the strength, the wisdom, the dignity of the Negro people. Not the famous and the well known, but the unknown and the unnamed, thus revealing the roots from which spring the greatness of all human beings. … I do not want a documentary or sociological statement, I want a creative expression, the kind of penetrating insight and understanding of Negroes which I believe only a Negro photographer can interpret.”

In 1955, he collaborated with poet Langston Hughes on the best-selling pictorial narrative on 20th century African-American life titled “The Sweet Flypaper of Life.”

Some of his works were featured in the 1950 New York exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, “The Family of Man,” that was curated by renowned photographer Edward Steichen.

Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College, called DeCarava a beloved colleague and teacher who “will long be remembered for his inspiring contributions to the arts and for enriching the lives of generations of students.”
MoMA mounted a retrospective of DeCarava’s work in 1996.

His works are in the collections of major museums, including the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

In addition to his wife and daughter Susan, he is also survived by daughters Wendy and Laura DeCarava.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Historic photo of the Manhattan art institution The Salmagundi Club. Image courtesy The Salmagundi Club.

Salmagundi Club’s Nov. 5 gala to bankroll gallery improvements

Historic photo of the Manhattan art institution The Salmagundi Club. Image courtesy The Salmagundi Club.

Historic photo of the Manhattan art institution The Salmagundi Club. Image courtesy The Salmagundi Club.

NEW YORK – The Salmagundi Club, a historic arts institution at 47 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, will formally launch its Capital Campaign to raise funds for the renovation of its Main Gallery with an “Urban Renewal” Gala Event on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009. Taking place from 6:30-9:30 p.m., the gala will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a live jazz performance, and a silent auction that includes such items as autographed copies of beautiful artist books, oil painting instruction, the use of a Vermont vacation home, and even spa treatments.

During its seminal days at the beginning of the 20th century, one of the principal achievements of the Salmagundi Club’s founders and charter members was to provide a gallery as beautiful as the artwork it showcased – a tour de force with a spectacular glass skylight. After many years without major improvements, it is now time to restore this gallery to its former grandeur, as well as to bring it up to the standards of 21st-century lighting, artwork display, environmental controls, and energy efficiency.

A major step has been undertaken with the hiring of a renowned and respected architect, Lisa Easton, who has had experience with major institutions and historical projects such as this one.

The “Urban Renewal” Gala Event is the first of a series of fundraising events. Net proceeds from the Salmagundi’s American Masters Exhibition and Sale in the past two years launched the initial funding for this major renovation project. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization, the Salmagundi Club is also submitting grant applications to many potential funding sources. However, there is no doubt that additional contributions will be required to complete this project. The Salmagundi Club hopes to engage the public, its neighbors in Greenwich Village, friends and patrons from the arts community, the media and, of course, its membership, in this campaign for the renaissance of an important fine arts exhibition center in New York City.

The Salmagundi Club is dedicated primarily to the exhibition of fine art created by living American artists, providing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and photography. An additional major part of Salmagundi’s mission is to nurture a friendly atmosphere conducive to learning about art with classes and demonstrations in drawing and painting, discussions and presentations about art materials and techniques, and lectures and workshops on being a professional artist. All exhibitions and most events are open to the public for free or a nominal charge.

Tickets must be purchased in advance to attend the gala. Single tickets start at $40. For make a reservation, call 212-255-7740 or e-mail info@salmagundi.org.

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ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE



Auctioneer Adam Partridge holds the rare scrimshaw whale tooth. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

Scrimshaw whale tooth from Darwin voyage found in English village

Auctioneer Adam Partridge holds the rare scrimshaw whale tooth. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

Auctioneer Adam Partridge holds the rare scrimshaw whale tooth. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

CONGLETON, ENGLAND – A remarkable and previously unknown carved whale’s tooth which records the explorer Charles Darwin’s first encounter with Indians in Tierra del Fuego has been found in a market town in Cheshire, England.

Its discovery adds weight to the theory that it was these “savages” and not only the findings on the Galapagos Islands that first convinced Darwin about evolution.

The tooth, known as scrimshaw, was carved and signed by James Bute, a Royal Navy Marine private who served on board Darwin’s ship HMS Beagle. It has a unique provenance: it passed probably as a gift from Bute to Thomas Burgess, one of his shipmates on the Beagle, and has remained lost to marine historians in Burgess’s family ever since. In recent years it was kept in a wardrobe [clothes closet] by its present owner, its significance unknown.

It will be sold by Congleton, Cheshire auctioneer Adam Partridge on Thursday Nov. 5. Only five other examples of Bute’s scrimshaw are known, one of which sold in September for $67,500, an auction record for scrimshaw.

One side of the new find is lightly scratch-carved with four Fuegian Indians in a canoe and the title “Canoe Indians Beagle Channel Tierra del Fuego,” while the reverse is decorated with an island landscape titled “Queen’s Island Tahiti.” White metal mounts and belt loops indicate the hollow tooth, which is 20 cms (8 inches) long, was intended as a snuff mull.

Auctioneer Adam Partridge observed: “To have found such a historically important object like this in a box at the bottom of a wardrobe is astonishing. Bute is known to have served aboard the Beagle on its second survey voyage in 1831 when Darwin was invited to join the crew as naturalist. The date of the carving can be narrowed down to late 1835 or early 1836 when the ship visited the islands.

“On board were three of the four Fuegian Indians kidnapped during the Beagle’s first voyage a year earlier. They had been seized by the ship’s captain Robert Fitzroy to avenge the theft of an auxiliary boat. It is tempting to think that Bute was influenced by them when he chose the subjects to carve on the tooth.”

Fitzroy’s intention was to use the captives to bargain for information about the missing boat but subsequently he decided to take them back to London as prizes to show off to the public. They were christened by the Beagle crew as “Fuegia Basket,” a girl aged eight or nine; “York Minster,” a male aged about 26 named after a rock formation near where he was captured which resembled the British cathedral; “Boat Memory,” a younger man so named because he could not remember where he obtained the bottles of beer found in his canoe and “Jemmy Button,” a boy aged about 14, named because his captors paid his family or him with buttons.

Boat Memory died from smallpox shortly after Beagle’s arrival but the other three were feted by society, taught to speak English and introduced to Queen Adelaide. It was later agreed that the three survivors should be returned to their native land as missionaries for civilisation and Christianity.

Beagle set sail on Dec. 27, 1831 on her second voyage that was to last almost five years. Darwin became particularly friendly with Jemmy Button, the boy administering to him during his bouts of seasickness. They landed back in Tierra de Fuego in 1833 and the Fuegians were left together with a vicar named Richard Matthews to set about their missionary work. Fuegia and York Minster were married in a Christian service, tents erected and a garden planted, but when the ship returned a month later, they found Matthews in fear of his life and he was taken off.

Beagle returned for a second time in 1834, by which time the Fuegians had deserted the settlement, cast off their clothes and returned to their native ways. Years later in 1856, a further mission ended in tragedy when the Fuegian Indians massacred almost an entire ship’s crew including eight white missionaries. At a subsequent government enquiry, Jemmy Button denied any involvement.

Darwin spent more time in Tierra del Fuego than he did in Galapagos. His first encounter with the Fuegian Indians – recorded in the scrimshaw carving – and the contrast between them and the Beagle captives who by now spoke English and wore Western clothes may have led him to think that one species could change into another.

Seeing Jemmy Buttons’ cousins naked, painted and wild was a shock. Darwin wrote: “It was without exception the most curious and interesting spectacle I ever beheld: I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilised man: it is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal, in as much as in man there is a greater power of improvement… it seems yet wonderful to me, when I think over all [Jemmy’s] many good qualities, that he should have been of the same race, and doubtless partaken of the same character, with the miserable, degraded savages whom we first met here.”

James Adolphus Bute was born in England around 1799 and joined the Royal Navy as a Marine Private in about 1819. Bute is listed as a marine on board the Beagle’s second voyage to the Galapagos and could have collected sperm whale teeth he carved from the whaling station on the Falkland Islands or from whalers in the vicinity.

Accompanying the scrimshaw snuff mull are copies of letters to Darwin written by its then owner, Stockport man Thomas Burgess. He was another marine serving alongside Bute on the Beagle’s second voyage. Originals of the letters are held in the Darwin Archive at Cambridge University Library.

One dated March 26 1875 asks Darwin to send him a portrait as “a remembrance of respect”. It reads: “…do you remember me calling you upon Deck one night, when the Beagle Lay in Chilomay, to witness, the volcanic eruption of a mountain when I was on duty on the Middle Watch, and you exclaimed, O my God, what a sight, I shall never forget.

“Another instance, when we walked eleven miles from the —- River Santa Cruz, and returning Back, you had forgot your compass and we had to make our way Back without them.

“Also, do you remember me giving you my water on our returning to the vessel when you was—- exausted (sic) with thirst.”

In another, dated April 13 1875. Burgess, now aged 65, thanks Darwin for the photograph and goes on to explain his career since he left the Beagle. He writes: “I purchased my discharge from the Royal Marines, and went to Stockport in Cheshire, my native place, Admiral Sir Salisbury Davenport was then living at Bramhall near Stockport, and he —- got me appointed as an Officer in the Cheshire Constabulary force, in which I remained in 32 years and am now Pensioned at thirty two pounds per year. Since then I have sought for no other employment.

“I can at times picture to myself very clear some of the sights we had in the Beagle, for instance the coast of Pantagonia and Tierra del Fuego, Falkland Islands, Straits of Magallan with Port Jamine and Wignan Cove and Otcehite with Dolphin Bay, and Giant Oceans. I fancy at times I can see them.”

He goes on to ask Darwin for a copy of “one of his works” writing: “If you would condesend (sic) to send me one with your name as a present to one of the Beagle’s Crew I should think it a small fortune.”

Having received the book, presumably a copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Burgess writes: “I thank you most kindly for the Handsome manner in which you have wrote to me, considering I am so much beneath you in Position, I shall whilst I live Prize the Book and when Dead have Ordered it to given to one of my grandsons who is named after me.”

The scrimshaw is expected to sell for more than $16,500. For further information, contact Adam Partridge in the UK at 011 44 1260 223675 or 223606, or e-mail auctions@adampartridge.co.uk.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.


View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.


View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

View of scrimshawed whale tooth from historic Darwin voyage. Image courtesy Adam Partridge Auctioneers.

Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, 1953, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Image from Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Copies of Cuban Hemingway papers make US debut at JFK Library

Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, 1953, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Image from Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, 1953, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. Image from Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

BOSTON – Through a groundbreaking initiative with the Government of Cuba, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library announced that it is making available to researchers archival replicas of 3,000 letters and documents written by and to Ernest Hemingway while he was living at the Finca Vigía, the Nobel-Prize winning author’s home outside of Havana.

The treasure trove of documents includes the corrected proofs of The Old Man and the Sea, the ‘Final’ movie script based on that novel, an alternate ending to For Whom the Bell Tolls, and thousands of letters. Until now, these documents were only available to researchers who physically travelled to Cuba.

While the original papers will remain in Cuba at the archives of the Cuban National Ministry of Culture, beginning today researchers and scholars have access to color paper copies in Boston in the Hemingway Room at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the world’s principal center for research on the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. A detailed list of the documents in this collection is available at www.jfklibrary.org under the Hemingway Archives’ Finding Aid.

The Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library spans Hemingway’s entire career, and contains ninety percent of existing Hemingway manuscript materials.

“After Hemingway’s death in 1961, his widow Mary received support from the Kennedy administration to travel to Cuba and retrieve the majority of her husband’s papers,” explained Kennedy Library Director Tom Putnam. “We are honored to be the repository of those materials and the addition of these copies of the papers that were left behind helps to make the Hemingway Collection even more complete, providing unparalleled insight into Hemingway’s crucial years in Cuba from 1939 to 1960. I want to thank Congressman James McGovern who was so instrumental in facilitating this exchange with the Cuban government.”

“The preservation of these Hemingway materials is an extraordinary achievement, and I am honored to have played a small part,” said Congressman James McGovern. “I commend the people – Cuban and American – who have worked so hard to maintain Hemingway’s literary heritage as well as the Finca Vigía Foundation. I particularly want to thank Frank and Jenny Phillips and Mary Jo Adams for their tireless efforts. And it goes without saying that I can’t think of a more appropriate place for these treasures to be held than the Kennedy Library. I am hopeful that this collaboration can serve as a model for future cooperative efforts between the Cuban and American people.”

This unique bi-national collaboration stemmed from an agreement signed in November 2002 at the Finca Vigía by former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Sean Hemingway (Hemingway’s grandson), U.S. Congressman James McGovern, and representatives of the Finca Vigia Preservation Foundation and the Social Services Research Council (SSRC) who worked side by side with the Cuban officials in the scanning and microfilming process.

After Hemingway’s death, his widow, Mary Hemingway returned to the Finca Vigía and removed many of Hemingway’s manuscripts, letters, and paintings. She deeded the property and its remaining contents to the Cuban people, and the Finca Vigía was turned into a museum which has been carefully cared for over the years by Gladys Rodriguez Ferrero, the Finca’s curator.

In 2001 Jenny Phillips, granddaughter of Hemingway’s longtime editor Maxwell Perkins, and Congressman James McGovern, a long-time advocate for normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, conceived of a plan to launch a joint Cuban-American project to preserve Hemingway’s Cuban home and archive the remaining papers.

With the support of Princeton Professor Stan Katz, chair of a team of scholars dedicated to stimulating intellectual and cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba, and the Social Science Research Council, a plan was developed whereby the documents would be digitally scanned in Cuba and converted to microfilm by the Center for Research Libraries. Archival copies of the microfilm would then be given to the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston and to the National Council of the Cuban Cultural Patrimony. Scanning the originals is a means of preserving them, as now researchers in Cuba can work from archival replicas rather than handling the original documents.

Examples of the type of documents that are available to researchers in Boston include:

  • Letters to Hemingway from his family including his mother Grace Hall and his sons John and Patrick;
  • Over a dozen letters from Adriana Ivanich, the possible muse for his novel Across the River and Into the Trees. Adriana also designed the dust jackets for Across the River and Into the Trees and The Old Man and the Sea;
  • A group of letters to Mary Welsh Hemingway [his fourth wife] written when they first met and were both serving as war correspondents in Europe during World War II;
  • Letters or cables from such luminaries as Robert Capa, Pablo Casals, Marlene Dietrich, Sinclair Lewis, Lillian Ross and Ingrid Bergman;
  • Mail from friends and fans particularly after Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature and published Old Man and the Sea.

The Ernest Hemingway Collection was the generous gift of Mary Hemingway to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. While Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy never met, President Kennedy admired Hemingway’s work. In the opening sentence of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway’s description of courage, writing that, “This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues: courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ as Ernest Hemingway defined it.” President Kennedy invited Hemingway to his 1961 inauguration, but the author declined as he was too ill to travel.

Mary Hemingway saw the Kennedy Library as a fitting place for her late husband’s papers due to the role President Kennedy played in helping her collect them after Hemingway’s death. In 1961, despite a U.S. ban on travel to Cuba (the result of high tensions between the two countries following the Bay of Pigs invasion), President Kennedy made arrangements for her to enter Cuba to claim family documents and belongings. While in Cuba, Mrs. Hemingway met with Fidel Castro who allowed her to take her husband’s papers and the artwork he collected in exchange for the donation of their Finca Vigía home and its remaining belongings to the Cuban people.

A 1968 exchange of letters between Mary Hemingway and Jacqueline Kennedy confirmed that the Hemingway papers would be archived at the Kennedy Library. In 1972, Mrs. Hemingway began depositing papers in the Kennedy Library, and in 1980, Patrick Hemingway and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated the Hemingway Room in the Kennedy Library.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. Appointments are required to do research in the Hemingway Collection. To learn more about the Hemingway Collection, or to find out how to make an appointment to conduct research, contact Susan Wrynn, Hemingway Curator, at (617) 514-1530 or susan.wrynn@nara.gov.

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