Eighteenth century, starry glass mountain. Kaminski Auctions image.

Starry glass mountain climbs to $65,520 at Kaminski sale

Eighteenth century, starry glass mountain. Kaminski Auctions image.

Eighteenth century, starry glass mountain. Kaminski Auctions image.

BEVERLY, Mass. – Prices for exciting and rare glass, ivory, bronze, and ceramic items soared above their high estimates at the March 30 day-long Fine Asian Art and Antiques Auction at Kaminski.

LiveAuctioneers.com provided Internet live bidding.

The top lot of the day brought in phone and online bidders from around the world for competitive bidding. The auction hall audience and staff watched as the bidding for Lot 4236, a carved starry glass mountain, climbed well above the original estimate of $12,000 to finally settle at a record-setting $65,520. The glass mountain with a Qianlong mark was carved in the form of three rams on a rocky outcrop and set on a huanghuali wood stand. It came to Kaminski Auctions from the collection of a Boston College professor, and stood 6 1/2 inches tall.

Despite the small scale of the mountain, the piece carries great historical significance and auspicious meaning. “Starry glass,” was a form of glassmaking newly developed in the 18th century, when artists added gold dust to give the glass its entrancing shimmer. Research done prior to the sale at Kaminski Auctions indicates that only one other starry glass mountain in this form has been sold at auction. The three rams that surround the mountain are known as sanyang and indicate that the New Year will bring a change of fortune.

A pair of monumental elephant tusks that became a focal point of the Kaminski gallery in the weeks leading up to the sale also garnered significant bidding attention. The tusks, complete with original documentation of their legal capture, towered above visitors at 7 feet 3 inches tall, and each weighed over 100 pounds. The pair, after much competition, sold for $54,990.

A pair of equally large and impressive 66-inch-tall huanghuali lanterns was also among the top lots of the sale. The pair of lanterns came from the Qing Dynasty and featured intricate carvings of clouds, monkeys, dragons and coins, and sold for $25,740.

Kaminski’s sale also featured two high selling rhinoceros horn items. Lot 4378 included an antique pair of rhinoceros horns mounted in sterling silver that sold for $32,400. A pair of rhinoceros horn inkwells also sold well, fetching $13,200.

A beautiful pair of bronze vessels in the form of decorated elephants carrying vases on their backs also captured the interest of the audience. The Qing Dynasty pieces sold to an Internet bidder for $25,200. A thangka from 18th or 19th century Tibet also sold above estimate at $19,890. The finely painted cloth featured the Shakyamuni Buddha in the center surrounded by guardians and Luohan.

Fine Asian furnishings also performed well. A pair of zitan chairs with distinctive cutout designs and back slat panels with intricately carved flowers fetched $17,000. Another pair of chairs, with horseshoe shaped woven seats and floral carved back panels, sold for $9,500.

View the fully illustrated catalog for Kaminski Auctions’ Fine Asian Art and Antiques Auction on March 30, complete with prices realized, at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Click here to view the fully illustrated catalog for this sale, complete with prices realized.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Eighteenth century, starry glass mountain. Kaminski Auctions image.

Eighteenth century, starry glass mountain. Kaminski Auctions image.

Pair of monumental elephant tusks. Kaminski Auctions image.

Pair of monumental elephant tusks. Kaminski Auctions image.

Huanghuali lanterns. Kaminski Auctions image.

Huanghuali lanterns. Kaminski Auctions image.

Silver mounted rhinoceros horns. Kaminski Auctions image.

Silver mounted rhinoceros horns. Kaminski Auctions image.

Bronze elephant tusks. Kaminski Auctions image.

Bronze elephant tusks. Kaminski Auctions image.

Pair of carved zitan chairs. Kaminski Auctions image.

Pair of carved zitan chairs. Kaminski Auctions image.

Victor has approximately 230 Zippo lighters in his collection – 70 in the U.S. and 160 in Italy.

Celebrity Collector: Int’l film star Victor Alfieri – Zippo lighters

Victor has approximately 230 Zippo lighters in his collection – 70 in the U.S. and 160 in Italy.

Victor has approximately 230 Zippo lighters in his collection – 70 in the U.S. and 160 in Italy.

Fans of daytime television will recognize the name Victor Alfieri as the Italian heartthrob who played on Days of Our Lives (1996-98) and The Bold and the Beautiful (1999-2000, 2004, 2009). He’s done with the soaps, but has enjoyed an international career as an actor in such films as The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003, with Helen Mirren and Anne Bancroft), My Sexiest Year (2007, with Frankie Muniz and Harvey Keitel), I-See-You.com (2006, with Roseanna Arquette and Beau Bridges) and A Secret Promise (2009, with Ione Skye, Ron Silver and Talia Shire). He also has a recurring role on the popular television series Southland.

Alfieri is a passionate collector of Zippo lighters, and we say “passionately” because he’s quick to point out he doesn’t do it as a means of investment or with an eye toward monetary gain – it’s “purely for the passion of it – I’ve just always loved lighters, since I was a boy growing up in Rome.” There, his uncle had a simple, gold-plated lighter with the name “Breaklife” engraved on it (possibly the maker, although a Google search turned up no information on such a firm). “My uncle kept the lighter in a drawer and I would take it out and look at it all the time. When I noticed he wasn’t using it for anything, I just kind of adopted it as my own.”

As a young man, Alfieri began buying a lighter here and a lighter there until a collection was amassed. His lighter of choice? Zippo, the American-made brand that has been producing reusable, metal “windproof” lighters continuously since 1932 (even during World War II, when the firm switched from brass, which was in short supply during the war) to steel. “I liked the Zippo lighters first of all because they were American-made and for a boy and young adult growing up in Italy there is some fascination with all things American” he said. “And second, because so many Zippos are military-themed, they represented American strength to me.”

Over time, Alfieri has collected about 230 Zippo lighters – 160 of them are in storage in Italy, and 70 are kept in a secure place near his U.S. home in Los Angeles. “The most valuable ones are in Italy,” he said, “but because I spend so much time in America I can use and enjoy more the ones I have here. I don’t smoke cigarettes – only cigars – and you’re really not supposed to light a cigar with a butane lighter because the tobacco can take on the smell of the gas, but I sometimes break that rule by lighting a cigar with one of my Zippos.”

Alfieri used to display his lighters on shelving in his house, but because they required such frequent dusting he eventually gave up and put them in storage. “But I make it a point to keep six or seven lighters around the house – like in my bedroom or the living room – so people can enjoy looking at them and even use them. I rotate what I’ve got out from what’s in storage so there is always something new to look at.” Alfieri estimates he’s spent between $3,000 and $4,000 on his collection over the years, “which sounds a little crazy when you consider we’re talking about cigarette lighters, but it has always been a passion of mine.”

The collection includes at least 10 Elvis lighters (“I grew up with his music. In fact, the same uncle whose lighter got me started on my collection introduced me to Elvis”), one of the outlaw Jessie James (“It’s one of my favorites. To me Jessie James represents the Wild West and he’s just the ultimate bad boy”), several showing John Wayne (“Who doesn’t like John Wayne?”), one of the legendary “Rat Pack” of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., beautifully boxed, and one of a Celtic cross with blue pearl inlay (“It reminds me of being in Ireland in 2003 with Helen Mirren and filming The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone“).

Like the “Rat Pack” lighter, many of Alfieri’s lighters are in their original boxes, a fact that will help them retain their value over time. As to where the actor buys his lighters, he keeps an eye out nearly everywhere he goes. “You typically don’t find lighters at auctions or estate sales,” he said, “so I buy them in shops. One trick I’ve learned is to look at the shopkeeper’s display case and try to figure out how long he’s been selling Zippos. Very often, they will have rare or discontinued lighters without even knowing it.” He made one such find about 10 years ago in southern Italy – a Native American bear claw lighter with turquoise inlay (cost: 40 euros).

Many of Alfieri’s lighters are limited-edition pieces. For instance, the “Rat Pack” lighter is #935 of 3,000; one of the John Wayne lighters is #3,419 of 5,000); and a silver-plated Elvis is #4,084 of 5,000. It should also be noted that the collection also includes a few lighters made by S.T. DuPont, the Paris-based luxury house formed in 1872. All of those are in Italy. It appears that Alfieri’s collection will continue to grow, as he makes an attempt to acquire a new lighter every time he visits a new place. “Lately I’ve been doing that for men’s rings as well,” he added. “I’ve got a collection of those now, too – around 20.”

Victor Alfieri was born in Rome, Italy, an only child raised by his mother and grandmother. He spent summers working in the family’s restaurant and, as a self-described class clown, created his own sketch comedy to entertain friends. At age 18, a photographer asked him to do an advertising shoot, and before long he was gracing the covers of numerous Italian magazines (or fotoromanzi). His modeling career was cut short when, while trying to protect his girlfriend from two attackers, Alfieri was slashed by the knife-wielding assailants and would required 56 stitches. Soon after, in 1991, he joined the Italian police force.

But his career as a policeman was also short-lived. After three years and four months, he decided to start a career in Hollywood as an actor. Much to the dismay of his relatives in Italy, Alfieri packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles. He quickly found work, first on Days of Our Lives and later The Bold and the Beautiful. Throughout his acting career, he has maintained an international profile, appearing in the 2007 Italian miniseries Pompeii, in which he played the lead role of Darius the gladiator; and the 2003 Italian miniseries Elisa di Rivombrosa, a period piece in which he played a sword-wielding assassin named Zanni La Morte.

Alfieri produced, wrote and directed a short film that is being developed into a full-length feature. Titled J.E.S., it is a horror-suspense-mystery film, shot in an ancient city outside Rome. In 2009, Alfieri had a minor role in the movie Angels and Demons, starring Tom Hanks, playing Lieutenant Valenti. On TV, he has appeared on the NBC series Persons Unknown (playing Stefano D’Angelo) and the NBC series Undercovers. He also continues to make appearances as Victor Cifuentes on the show Southland and will play the part of Razel in the upcoming Danny Wilson film Nephilim. Alfieri heads his own production company, Black Knight Entertainment.

Fans of Victor Alfieri may follow the star on Twitter (@AlfieriVictor).


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Victor has approximately 230 Zippo lighters in his collection – 70 in the U.S. and 160 in Italy.

Victor has approximately 230 Zippo lighters in his collection – 70 in the U.S. and 160 in Italy.

Most of the U.S. portion of the collection is displayed on a table in Victor's Los Angeles home.

Most of the U.S. portion of the collection is displayed on a table in Victor’s Los Angeles home.

Zippo has been producing reusable, metal ‘windproof’ lighters continuously since 1932.

Zippo has been producing reusable, metal ‘windproof’ lighters continuously since 1932.

Victor has at least 10 Elvis Presley lighters in his collection. He grew up listening to Elvis.

Victor has at least 10 Elvis Presley lighters in his collection. He grew up listening to Elvis.

This Jesse James lighter is one of Victor's favorites. ‘He's the ultimate bad boy,’ Alfieri said.

This Jesse James lighter is one of Victor’s favorites. ‘He’s the ultimate bad boy,’ Alfieri said.

‘Who doesn't like John Wayne?’ Victor asked rhetorically, showing off his lighter of The Duke.

‘Who doesn’t like John Wayne?’ Victor asked rhetorically, showing off his lighter of The Duke.

This lighter for the legendary ‘Rat Pack’ is beautifully boxed, as are many other of the lighters.

This lighter for the legendary ‘Rat Pack’ is beautifully boxed, as are many other of the lighters.

This Celtic cross lighter with blue pearl-like inlay reminds Vincent of filming in Ireland in 2003.

This Celtic cross lighter with blue pearl-like inlay reminds Vincent of filming in Ireland in 2003.

This is the lighter that started it all – his uncle's (a Breaklife), which Victor adopted as his own.

This is the lighter that started it all – his uncle’s (a Breaklife), which Victor adopted as his own.

Victor purchased this Native American-themed bear claw lighter in Italy for about 40 euros.

Victor purchased this Native American-themed bear claw lighter in Italy for about 40 euros.

Victor Alfieri in a scene from the movie ‘A Secret Promise’ (2009), with Ione Skye, Ron Silver and Talia Shire.

Victor Alfieri in a scene from the movie ‘A Secret Promise’ (2009), with Ione Skye, Ron Silver and Talia Shire.

Victor (left) played Lieutenant Valenti in the 2009 movie ‘Angels and Demons,’ with Tom Hanks (center).

Victor (left) played Lieutenant Valenti in the 2009 movie ‘Angels and Demons,’ with Tom Hanks (center).

Alfieri starred in the 2007 Italian TV miniseries ‘Pompeii,’ playing the lead role of Darius the gladiator.

Alfieri starred in the 2007 Italian TV miniseries ‘Pompeii,’ playing the lead role of Darius the gladiator.

Manet's 'Olympia,' 1863, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nude masterpieces go face to face in Venice exhibit

Manet's 'Olympia,' 1863, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Manet’s ‘Olympia,’ 1863, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

VENICE, Italy (AFP) – Two naked seductresses separated by three centuries of history went face to face for the first time in Venice on Wednesday in an exhibition devoted to French painter Edouard Manet with his Olympia alongside Titian’s Venus of Urbino.

Manet completed his painting of a prostitute being waited on by a black maid in 1863—a controversial masterpiece that caused a stir at the time but was largely inspired by old master Titian’s own ground-breaking work from 1538.

Olympia usually hangs in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the painting has never left France. It was driven to Italy for the show and then ferried across the Venice lagoon to St. Mark’s Square on a barge to be exhibited in the Ducal Palace.

The works were “scandalous” in their times, said Guy Cogeval, head of the Musee d’Orsay.

And they still have the capacity to shock.

Olympia was not used in publicity posters because of local sensitivities in Venice.

“I didn’t want to put Olympia next to St. Mark’s Basilica, out of respect,” said Gabriella Belli, director of Venice’s museums and a co-curator of the show together with the Musee d’Orsay.

The exhibition titled: “Manet: The Return to Venice” is organized by the city in conjunction with the Musee d’Orsay and features 23 paintings and 20 sketches by the French painter (1832-1883).

They are hung alongside 80 works by Italian Old Masters including Carpaccio, Guardi and Lotto—a way of underlining Manet’s Italian inspiration, which is only now being fully appreciated.

“Italy was a fertile, stable and permanent inspiration for Manet’s genius,” said Stephane Guegan, a consultant for the show.

“It was impossible to say this for a long time since his influence by Spain is always put forward,” Guegan said.

The exhibition lasts until Aug. 18.

During a trip to Florence in 1857, Manet painted a reproduction of Titian’s Venus of Urbino, which still hangs today in the Uffizi Gallery.

Bringing the Titian to Venice “required the help of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius”, Belli said.

She said the loans of Olympia and the Venus of Urbino from their respective museums were linked.

“One would not have come without the other.”

Cogeval said that to avoid controversy on the departure of Olympia from France for the first time he “got permission from French President Francois Hollande”—even though an authorization from the culture ministry would have sufficed.

The moment the painting was lifted with a crane from a barge moored at St. Mark’s Square was particularly stressful, said Jean Naudin, in charge of international exhibitions at the Musee d’Orsay.

Belli said she appreciated Olympia—”a modern woman, petite but full of energy and character.”

But Cogeval said he had been “overcome” by Titian’s work.

“It is one of the most beautiful paintings in the world,” he said.

Guegan said the Venus of Urbino, which was commissioned by the duke of Urbino following his marriage, had more than a purely aesthetic intent.

“The painting was meant for the bedroom and was intended as a stimulation for the couple,” he said.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Manet's 'Olympia,' 1863, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Manet’s ‘Olympia,’ 1863, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Titian's 'Venus of Urbano,' 1538, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Titian’s ‘Venus of Urbano,’ 1538, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mark Rothko 'No. 14 White and Greens in Blue' lithograph poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and UniversalLive.

Mark Rothko museum opens in artist’s Latvian hometown

Mark Rothko 'No. 14 White and Greens in Blue' lithograph poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and UniversalLive.

Mark Rothko ‘No. 14 White and Greens in Blue’ lithograph poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and UniversalLive.

DAUGAVPILS, Latvia, (AFP) – A museum dedicated to painter Mark Rothko opened in his Latvian hometown Wednesday, a century after the abstract artist left and found fame and fortune in the United States.

“It’s a wonderful homecoming for my father,” the late artist’s son, Christopher Rothko, told AFP at the opening in Daugavpils, Latvia’s second largest city.

“But it’s also very exciting that this is a living art center that will promote new art from the region.”

Mark Rothko was born Marcus Rothkovitz in 1903 in the southern city—then known as Dvinsk and in the Russian empire—but his family fled a decade later fearing rising anti-Jewish sentiment.

“He is so much identified as an American artist, and his American experience was very important as well, but his roots were here and I’m sure it had a major part in his formation,” his 48-year-old son said.

Daughter Kate Rothko Prizel, 62, meanwhile recalled how the painter “would sit down with me with a map and point out where he was from and why you could no longer see Dvinsk on a map.”

Rothko, who died in 1970, became a giant of the modern art world through his characteristic style—a seemingly simple, but arresting juxtaposition of blocks of color.

Last year, a large-scale painting of his fetched $86.9 million at a New York auction, setting a record for any contemporary work of art.

That canvas—Orange, Red, Yellow from 1961—bears some resemblance to one of the six original works that make up the centerpiece of the museum collection, all owned by the Rothko family.

The powerful Untitled No 7 (Orange and Chocolate) from 1957 features Rothko’s characteristic fields of intense color and inspired the museum’s logo.

The Mark Rothko Art Center, which also contains lecture rooms and spaces for artists to work on their craft and to exhibit, is housed in part of a giant Tsarist-era fort complex that was renovated at a cost of around four million euros, mostly funded by the European Union.

The European Commission’s Latvian representative, Inna Steinbuka, said the center “could drive not only tourism but also investment into the region and inspire the improvement of infrastructure.”


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Mark Rothko 'No. 14 White and Greens in Blue' lithograph poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and UniversalLive.

Mark Rothko ‘No. 14 White and Greens in Blue’ lithograph poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com and UniversalLive.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin wing designed by architect Rick Mather. ©VMFA Photo: Travis Fullerton.

In Memoriam: American-born architect Rick Mather, 75

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin wing designed by architect Rick Mather.  ©VMFA Photo: Travis Fullerton.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin wing designed by architect Rick Mather. ©VMFA Photo: Travis Fullerton.

RICHMOND, Va. – Rick Mather, architect of the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing and the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has died at age 75 after a short illness.

“Rick Mather had a remarkable vision that made real our goal for an elegant, yet friendly and accessible art museum that also functions beautifully,” said Alex Nyerges, director of the VMFA. “A lifelong gardener, it was Rick’s idea to locate the sculpture garden atop the new parking deck, creating a new and dramatic outdoor space. Particularly talented at integrating the old and new, Rick brilliantly used existing windows in our 1985 building as doorways which now serve as bridges connecting the galleries. The expansion added 50 percent more gallery space for the museum’s permanent collections and doubled the space dedicated to changing exhibitions.”

Mather, whose office is based in London, was nominated for the Stirling Prize in 2010. He completed expansions for the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 2009 and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2010. In 2011, Mather’s design for the VMFA project garnered a prestigious International Award for architectural excellence from the Royal Institute of British Architects and was shortlisted for the RIBA’s Lubetkin Prize. The International Award jury commented, “This is Mather at his best: making sense of what is there but adding his own finely honed stamp. The museum, which used to turn its back on the city with its blind facades, now addresses the grand boulevard on which it is sited in a very civic manner with a 40-foot-high window of low-energy glass. Materially the building takes its cue from the old in its use of limestone. This is masterful city-making.” For the VMFA project, Mather’s office teamed with the Richmond firm SMBW, forming the partnership Rick Mather + SMBW.

The Virginia Museum was his first U.S commission, and is one of the largest works of his career. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., currently has a Mather expansion in progress, scheduled for completion in 2017. Among numerous other noteworthy projects, Mather worked on the master plan for London’s South Bank Centre and expansions to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Wallace Collection in London.

The American-born architect founded his practice in 1973. He came to the UK from Oregon to study urban design at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Mather served on the RIBA and AA councils and is a former trustee of the V&A Museum. The University of Oregon awarded him the Ellis F. Lawrence Medal, its higher award for an alumnus.

 

 

‘Self Portrait’ by Dame Laura Knight, oil on canvas, 1913 © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, [2013].

National Portrait Gallery plans Dame Laura Knight exhibit

‘Self Portrait’ by Dame Laura Knight, oil on canvas, 1913 © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, [2013].

‘Self Portrait’ by Dame Laura Knight, oil on canvas, 1913 © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, [2013].

LONDON – The National Portrait Gallery will be holding a major exhibition of portraits this summer by Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970), one of the leading British artists of the 20th-century.

The exhibition spans her life-long career and celebrates the centenary of the creation of Knight’s innovative Self Portrait. The exhibition will include commissioned portraits alongside those made with members from specific social groups such as circus performers and Gypsies. Other highlights will include works from Cornwall, the ballet and war portraits. Together these portraits will show a distinctive picture of 20th-century Britain.

Born Laura Johnson, she became the youngest pupil to attend the Nottingham School of Art aged just 13. In 1903 she married the artist Harold Knight and moved to the artists’ community at Newlyn, Cornwall during 1907-8. Here the Knights found early success with their works. Laura found the light and landscape inspiring and worked en plein air in an Impressionist style. Sitters from this period include the artist Lamorna Birch and poet W.H. Davies. She also produced her important Self Portrait at this time, which includes her friend, the ceramicist and enamelist Ella Naper, posing as the model. As a student she had been denied access to nude models and in this painting Knight asserts herself as a serious professional artist committed to painting the figure.

In the 1920s Knight became famous for her backstage depictions of actors and dancers at the Ballets Russes during the postwar London season. She also gained privileged access backstage at London’s theaters. Sitters from this period include prima ballerina Lydia Lopokova and the actress Dame Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies. In 1926 Laura and Harold traveled to Baltimore, where Harold was invited to undertake several commissions at the John Hopkins Memorial Hospital. Laura obtained permission to work in the hospital wards making drawings of the patients, including highly sensitive drawings of the children she met there. In the following decade she traveled for several months with Bertram Mills and Great Carmo’s touring circus painting the performers in and out of the ring.

Laura Knight was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1929, and in 1936 was the first woman to become a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts since its foundation in 1768, when founder members had included Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman (in 1965 her retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts was the first accorded to a female artist).

Knight registered her support for the aims of the Artists International Association and contributed to the Artists against Fascism and War exhibition in 1935. In the mid-1930s she spent a number of years painting Gypsies at the Epsom Races and, through the friendships she established there, was invited to a Gypsy settlement in Iver, Buckinghamshire. She visited every day for several months producing some of her most psychologically penetrating portraits, which represent several members of the same family. The romance of the Gypsies had been explored earlier in the century by artists including Sir Alfred Munnings and Augustus John. Knight sought to understand and portray the individual characters of her sitters and to depict their experience with particular sympathy having spent time within this close-knit community.

During World War II Knight produced a remarkable group of portraits of female members of the auxiliary air force and munitions workers for the War Artists Advisory Board. These works were aimed to attract further female recruits and her subjects were women who had achieved particular distinction in their field or decoration for great acts of courage. One of Knight’s most famous works from this period Ruby Loftus screwing a breech-ring (Imperial War Museum) will be on display. Knight’s painting of the Nuremberg Trials is one of her most remarkable achievements. Painted when she was in her late 60s, when she had been appointed war correspondent, the multifigure scene represents the view from the press box in the courtroom.

Dame Laura Knight’s works are held in major UK public collections including: Nottingham Castle Museum, Museum of London, Imperial War Museum, North and Imperial War Museum, London, National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate Gallery.

“Dame Laura Knight created superb portraits which are a key part of 20th-century British art. I am delighted that the National Portrait Gallery is staging the first exhibition dedicated to this work and would like to thank the Dame Laura Knight Estate for helping make this possible,” said Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The exhibition is curated by Rosie Broadley, associate curator of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

“Laura Knight was one of the most famous and popular painters in Britain in the 20th century. She rose to the top of her profession, becoming a role model for many career-minded women. Tirelessly seeking new challenges, Knight tackled a diverse range of subjects including ballet and circus performers, factory workers and Gypsies. Her portraits demonstrate her great technical range and sympathetic approach to subjects, who were often on the margins of conventional society,” said Broadley.

The exhibition runs from July 11 until Oct. 1. at the National Portrait Gallery, London

www.npg.org.uk


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


‘Self Portrait’ by Dame Laura Knight, oil on canvas, 1913 © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, [2013].

‘Self Portrait’ by Dame Laura Knight, oil on canvas, 1913 © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA, [2013].

Siena Catheral in Italy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Stairway to heaven: Siena Cathedral opens roof tour

Siena Catheral in Italy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Siena Catheral in Italy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

SIENA, Italy (AFP) – Secret passages high up in the rafters of Siena Cathedral have opened for the first time after decades of restoration, offering a rare view of midnight-blue ceilings and the Tuscan panorama.

The famous 13th-century black-and-white striped cathedral has opened a series of spiral staircases and covered internal walkways to the public—all some 50 feet from the marble floor.

Visitors climbing up can peep down through small windows onto the mediaeval and Renaissance mosaics showing biblical scenes which line the nave and transepts and the golden stars of the ceiling.

“The roof of Siena Cathedral had never been considered a place that could be suitable for tourists,” Mario Lorenzoni, curator of Siena Cathedral, told AFP.

“We went up into the lofts to clean them and it was a mammoth task. And while we were there, we realized that the roof could offer amazing things,” he said.

Beyond the covered walkways, open only to 15 people at a time, is another succession of spiral steps leading to the cathedral’s parapet, and a view across the red-tiled roofs of Siena.

Hidden from sight from tourists below admiring the cathedral’s collection of artworks by Bernini, Donatello and Michelangelo, navigating the passages is like being backstage in a theater.

Here, poised between earth and sky, the methods and technical challenges involved in building the cathedral, which was designed and completed by 1263, are laid bare.

The idea is to give visitors a glimpse of what it takes to raise from marble blocks a towering house of prayer, decorated both inside and out in the city’s black and white stripes in a reference to the colors of the horses ridden by the city’s founders, Senius and Aschius.

“How did they raise the tons of marble? How did the sculptors work? How did the architects explain to them what they had in mind?” said Lorenzoni, outlining some of the concepts tackled.

“On the one hand there is the visual aspect, with sublime views, and on the other there’s the more technical aspect—no less moving—on how the works of art which we so love today were made,” he said.

The walkways were opened to the public in collaboration with the town’s religious authorities, headed up by Archbishop Antonio Buoncristiani.

“In a town which was fundamentally poor, it was possible to build extraordinary monuments, of an indescribable beauty. How? Because they had a sense of the common good,” he said.

“I think that the most important aspect of the visit is to understand what the cathedral construction site meant, how it mobilized the whole town,” he added.

While scaling the steps to the hidden pathways may bring some closer to heaven, the experience is not for the faint of heart.

It is “a fascinating experience, but of course not for everyone: an elderly person is not going to climb that spiral staircase,” the 69-year-old archbishop said.

The walkways are open to the public until Oct. 27, and visitors must

reserve tickets in advance.

(www.operaduomo.siena.it)


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Siena Catheral in Italy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Siena Catheral in Italy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Man gets 6-months in jail for stealing antique Bible

ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) – A college student has been sentenced to six months in jail for stealing and destroying a 19th century Bible from a Masonic Temple in southern Michigan

An attorney for Ronald Huskins II says he was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol when the Bible was stolen in 2011. The Daily Telegram in Adrian reports the Bible was printed in 1859 and had been used by the Palmyra Masonic Temple since 1866.

Lenawee County Judge Margaret Noe told Huskins that the loss has caused “irreversible sadness and pain.” Huskins didn’t speak in court.

Huskins won’t start his six-month sentence until he completes his current classes at Monroe Community College. He must pay $545 for the Bible and $1,250 in other legal costs.

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Information from: The Daily Telegram, http://www.lenconnect.com

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-19-13 2313GMT

 

 

 

Man’s Rolex Oyster watch. Government Auction image.

Emeralds, gold coins reign at Government Auction, Apr. 28

Man’s Rolex Oyster watch. Government Auction image.

Man’s Rolex Oyster watch. Government Auction image.

TEHACHAPI, Calif. – Government Auction’s auction on Sunday, April 28, will feature emerald jewelry, antique gold coins, designer handbags and Rolex watches worthy of an ancient Egyptian ruler or modern-day trendsetter. The auction will begin at 5:45 a.m. Pacific time, and Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

Cleopatra was perhaps the first celebrity ruler associated with the enigmatic emerald. The Egyptian queen had a fascination bordering on obsession with the brilliant green stone and even owned an emerald mine. To those in ancient Egypt, the stone represented wealth and power, and was the symbol of fertility. Cleopatra’s hoard of gemstones has never been found, but her association with the rare gemstone endures. A piece that the last pharaoh surely would have coveted is a 14.97-carat emerald with 10.25-carat diamond necklace. This stunning piece is composed of 14K yellow gold. It is a drape motif that is sure to be the crowning touch of elegant evening wear. The 18-inch necklace features 20 graduating emerald and diamond bezel pendants supported by an emerald and diamond lattice with numerous prong- and bead-set round brilliant-cut diamonds. The piece is topped off with matching yellow gold links and a concealed box clasp with twin safeties.

Another piece Cleopatra would have been proud to add to her collection is a 12-carat emerald and diamond ring. The ring is composed of 14K white gold, with the featured large emerald set within a diamond lattice gallery supported by diamond set shoulders and completed with a 2 1/2-millimeter wide band. There are approximately 28 prong- and bead-set diamonds in the ring weighing 1.70 carats.

In keeping with our theme of powerful and sophisticated women, a designer bag reported to have been owned by Chris Jenner of Keeping with the Kardashians is also featured in this auction. The Louis Stewart line is fast becoming the latest trend and is popular with the celebrity set due to the company’s product quality and style. Louis Stewart is a designer who worked for Louis Vuitton before launching his own brand. This brand has not made it to the stores yet, but is receiving high visibility from celebs such as Rhianna and Nicki Minaj. The Louis Stewart handbag featured on April 28 is black patent leather with a small crystal bling lock and the Louis Stewart logo is displayed on a front silver badge.

Also offered for auction in the coin category is a highly sought-after piece—an 1894-S $20 U.S. Liberty Head gold coin. The Double Eagle, as the coin is also known, was minted from 1850 during the height of the California gold rush until 1907. Of all the U.S. gold coins minted before 1907, the Double Eagle had the highest gold content, almost one full ounce of pure gold. Designed by James B. Longacre, the coin weighs 33.43 grams and is composed of 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper.

Another collectible coin for auction is the 1925-D $2.5 U.S Indian Head type gold coin. The Indian Quarter Eagle, as the coin is also known, was minted in Denver. Designed by Bela Lyon Pratt the coin features an incuse, or sunken, design of an American Indian with full feather war headdress on the obverse and the American eagle on the reverse. The piece is 18mm in diameter, weighs 4.18 grams, and is comprised of .900 fine gold and .100 copper.

An exceptional Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch is an auction highlight in the elite timepiece category. This man’s watch is crafted in stainless steel with silver sunray finish dial, steel hour posts and band.

Additional auction highlights include a 5.00-carat princess-cut diamond, Chanel sunglasses, Louis Vuitton leather bag, Formula 1 Hublot Watch and much more.

For additional information on any lot in the sale, call Debbie at 661-823-1543 or email info@governmentauction.com.

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

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Man’s Rolex Oyster watch. Government Auction image.

Man’s Rolex Oyster watch. Government Auction image.

14.97-carat emerald and 10.25-carat diamond necklace. Government Auction image.

14.97-carat emerald and 10.25-carat diamond necklace. Government Auction image.

12-carat emerald and diamond ring. Government Auction image.

12-carat emerald and diamond ring. Government Auction image.

1894-S $20 U.S. Liberty gold coin. Government Auction image.

1894-S $20 U.S. Liberty gold coin. Government Auction image.

1925-D $2.5 U.S Indian Head type gold coin. Government Auction image.

1925-D $2.5 U.S Indian Head type gold coin. Government Auction image.

Louis Stewart handbag. Government Auction image.

Louis Stewart handbag. Government Auction image.

 

 

 

One of three carved-wood pedestals replicating contortionists, this one being 4ft tall. Ross Art Group image.

NYC gallery to host Coney Island Sideshow exhibit May 2-25

One of three carved-wood pedestals replicating contortionists, this one being 4ft tall. Ross Art Group image.

One of three carved-wood pedestals replicating contortionists, this one being 4ft tall. Ross Art Group image.

NEW YORK – The heart-stopping whoosh of a roller coaster on its downward trajectory, the sugary smell of cotton candy and salt water taffy, the sideshow barker’s incessant chant to “step right up and see the strangest sights on earth.” All played their roles in creating indelible memories for the millions of people who visited Coney Island over the last century.

While the golden era of New York’s most beloved amusement park has come and gone, relics of Coney Island’s colorful history and photos of its amazing cast of performers move back into the spotlight in “Sideshow,” an exhibition running May 2-25 at The Ross Art Group’s Manhattan gallery. Sideshow’s featured collection belongs to Dr. Robert M. Lerch, a New York City physician and longtime collector of the bizarre and unusual. The exhibition chronicles roughly the first 50 years of Coney Island – whose first enclosed amusement park area opened in 1895 – with additional pieces from other early 20th-century carnivals and circuses.

The “backbone” of the show, said Ross Art Group’s owner, Mickey Ross, is the collection of 28 original architectural drawings and blueprints that conceptualized Coney Island carnival rides and structures.

“The drawings were created by amusement park ride inventor and manufacturer William F. Mangels (German/American, 1867-1958) and depict such classic rides as the ‘Whip,’ Loop roller coaster, and carousel horses with a mechanical function,” Ross said. Like all other items in the exhibition, the architectural designs will be available for purchase.

One of the most remarkable inclusions in the collection is the assemblage of circus photos by itinerant photographer Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967). The grouping includes a number of Kelty’s inimitable 11 by 20in panoramic shots of performers known collectively as “the Congress of Freaks.”

“Kelty had a fascination for human oddities and spent 20 years following and photographing circus troupes. Once a year, the entire Ringling Brothers ‘Freak Show’ cast would gather for a group shot. It was a big event,” said Ross. “The pictures include every imaginable type of performer – sword swallowers, snake charmers, bearded ladies, fire eaters, and ‘giants and midgets,’ plus aerialists and clowns.” Kelty’s Congress of Freaks photos, which originally were sold to the performers themselves as mementos, are highly sought after by today’s collectors.

Other iconic photos featured in Sideshow were taken prior to the end of World War I by Arthur S. Mole & John D. Thomas. Their technique consisted of mustering thousands of people to form aerial views of iconic symbols, such as The Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam. Most of the photos’ participants were army troops who took part with the US Government’s permission.

Robert Lerch’s fascination for Coney Island memorabilia, arcade machines and quirky figural folk art dates back to his 1960s childhood in New York City, when he was introduced to the vast archive of pioneer collector, author and historian Frederick Fried.

“I spent most of my youth living with my grandparents on West End Avenue. A kid I used to play with who lived two stories above us was Frederick Fried’s son. I spent endless time in that apartment, which was so full of stuff it was barely navigable. I remember it like it was yesterday,” Lerch recalled. “Being around so many fascinating curiosities – from carnival objects to cigar store figures – had a profound effect on me.”

In fact, the Fried collection not only inspired Lerch to set off on a 40-year quest for the offbeat, it also eventually ended up, in part, in his own personal collection. “When Mr. Fried died, his daughter inherited his collection. I later acquired a portion of his Coney Island archive, which was considered the ultimate of its type, through a person who knew his daughter,” Lerch explained.

Selected highlights from the 75-piece Sideshow exhibition include:

• Coin-op machines, including “Witch,” a rare 1st-quarter 20th century 3-wheel slot

• Cast-iron amusement park jester head and four clown shooting gallery targets

• Three antique carved-wood contortionist figures on pedestals

• Circa-1920 coin-op baseball trade stimulator, one of perhaps three known

• Pair of 21in tall cast-iron Coke bottles, 1923, from Atlanta bottling plant’s fence

• Game that creates figure of pig with successive rolls of dice

• Rare French carnival knock-down figures

• Circa-1920 electric trade stimulator of chirping, moving birds in formal wedding attire

• 17 x 6in salesman’s sample of metal-trimmed glass coffin

• Circus and other posters, including an original for the Belgian release of the 1932 film “Freaks”

• Polychrome-painted convex carnival mirror

• Carousel memorabilia and figures including carved camel

• Unconventional vending machine that delivers a piece of pre-sealed cake

• Anatomical aluminum model of pig with hinged opening for view of internal organs

Sideshow – Exhibition and Sale featuring the collection of Dr. Robert M. Lerch (email manmoon6@aol.com) with other select additions will be held May 2-25 at the Ross Art Group’s gallery, 532 Madison Ave., 4th Floor (entry on 54th Street), New York, NY 10022.

Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. May 2nd opening-night hours are 5-8 p.m., and as a special added attraction, several performers from Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore will be there at the gallery to entertain, pose for pictures and help raise awareness that Coney Island is back in business following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The performers include Leo the Human Gumby (contortionist), Insectavora (tattooed lady and human blockhead), and Scott Baker (magician and master of many sideshow feats). Additionally, sideshow banner painter Marie Roberts, who grew up around many famous sideshow performers, will be on hand to speak with the press about Coney Island’s unique history.

Dr. Robert Lerch has pledged to donate the sale proceeds from one of his rare Coney Island photographs to the nonprofit Coney Island Museum.

For additional information call 212-223-1525 or email sales@rossartgroup.com. Online: www.rossartgroup.com.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


One of three carved-wood pedestals replicating contortionists, this one being 4ft tall. Ross Art Group image.

One of three carved-wood pedestals replicating contortionists, this one being 4ft tall. Ross Art Group image.

Original poster promoting the Belgian release of the 1932 film ‘Freaks,’ which was renamed ‘Barnum’ for that market. Ross Art Group image.

Original poster promoting the Belgian release of the 1932 film ‘Freaks,’ which was renamed ‘Barnum’ for that market. Ross Art Group image.

Very rare cast-iron clown-shape carnival targets. Ross Art Group image.

Very rare cast-iron clown-shape carnival targets. Ross Art Group image.

Animated, electric-powered store window display of birds in bridal attire. Ross Art Group image.

Animated, electric-powered store window display of birds in bridal attire. Ross Art Group image.

Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967) panoramic photo of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey ‘Congress of Freaks.’ Ross Art Group image.

Edward J. Kelty (American, 1888–1967) panoramic photo of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey ‘Congress of Freaks.’ Ross Art Group image.

Mole & Thomas ‘Human Statue of Liberty’ photograph formed by 18,000 officers and enlisted men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Ross Art Group image.

Mole & Thomas ‘Human Statue of Liberty’ photograph formed by 18,000 officers and enlisted men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Ross Art Group image.

Mole & Thomas ‘The Living Uncle Sam’ photograph formed by 19,000 officers and enlisted men at Camp Lee, Virginia. Ross Art Group image.

Mole & Thomas ‘The Living Uncle Sam’ photograph formed by 19,000 officers and enlisted men at Camp Lee, Virginia. Ross Art Group image.

Extremely rare Jennings witch with black cat 3-reel slot machine from 1st quarter of 20th century. Ross Art Group image.

Extremely rare Jennings witch with black cat 3-reel slot machine from 1st quarter of 20th century. Ross Art Group image.

Original architectural plan delineating the track for Coney Island’s famous Loop roller coaster. Ross Art Group image.

Original architectural plan delineating the track for Coney Island’s famous Loop roller coaster. Ross Art Group image.