1493 Christopher Columbus letter returned to Italy

A 19th century lithograph depicting Christopher Columbus and his crew leaving the port of Palos, Spain, for the New World. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

A 19th century lithograph depicting Christopher Columbus and his crew leaving the port of Palos, Spain, for the New World. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

 

ROME (AP) – The U.S. has returned to Italy a letter written by Christopher Columbus in 1493 announcing his discovery of the New World that was stolen from a Florence library and unwittingly acquired by the Library of Congress.

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Mechanical marvels on parade at Breker auction May 21

Lot 149 – Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, 1867. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 149 – Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, 1867. Auction Team Breker image

 

COLOGNE, German – Auction Team Breker’s sale of May 21 includes fine examples of two historic mechanical writing machines, the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball (Lot 149, estimate: €70.000–€90.000 / $78,000–$100,000) and the Sholes & Glidden (Lot 148, €15.000–€22.000 / $17,000–$25,000).

Lot 148 – Sholes & Glidden, 1873. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 148 – Sholes & Glidden, 1873. Auction Team Breker image

 

Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com

The auction captures mechanical complexity in many forms, from calculation and cryptology to instruments of science and philosophy.

Sometimes a function of time and navigation is indicated, for example in the equinoctial dial by Andreas Vogler, which combines a compass, sundial and the engraved latitudes of six European cities in a form of late 18th century pocket navigation system (Lot 201, below, estimate: €2.000–€3.000 / $2,200–$3,300).

 

Lot – 201 Equinoctial Sundial by Andreas Vogler, c. 1770. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 201 –  Equinoctial sundial by Andreas Vogler, c. 1770. Auction Team Breker image

 

At other times a complete universe is created in miniature. In an English table orrery attributed to John Newton & Sons, a geared brass mechanism keeps the Earth, Moon and five carved planets in perpetual motion around a 5-inch brass ball representing the Sun, (Lot 200, estimate: €25.000–€30.000 / $28,000–$33,000).

 

Lot 200 –English table orrery, early 19th century. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 200 –English table orrery, early 19th century. Auction Team Breker image

 

Meanwhile in Geneva, the Bruguier family had perfected the creation of miniature singing bird automata in princely boxes, such as this silver-gilt example decorated with enameled garlands of wild flowers and an Alpine scene on its lid (Lot 399, estimate: € 25.000–€30.000 / $28,000–$33,000).

 

Lot 399 – Fine silver-gilt and enamel singing bird box automaton. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 399 – Fine silver-gilt and enamel singing bird box automaton. Auction Team Breker image

 

Artificial life was not only born in Switzerland. Parisian maker Blaise Bontems was prolific in the creation of singing bird automata in cages. Whereas the majority of his cages had lightweight gilt-wood bases, he also produced a small series in ormolu (bronze doré) and porcelain in reverence to the work of the 18th century master Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Breker’s auction presents a particularly fine model of an architectural cage that resembles an aviary, its base with four Sevres porcelain panels depicting courting couples (Lot 395, below, estimate: €15.000–€25.000 / $17,000– $28,000).

 

Lot 395 – Singing bird automaton in gilt-bronze and porcelain. Auction Team Breker image

Lot 395 – Singing bird automaton in gilt-bronze and porcelain. Auction Team Breker image

 

These and more than 600 other high-quality items will be sold at the Auction Team Breker event.

 

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.

High quality runs throughout Hill Auction Gallery sale May 25

Pair of Chinese urns crafted of silver silver and carved white jade. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Hill Auction Gallery image

Pair of Chinese urns crafted of sterling silver and carved white jade. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Hill Auction Gallery image

 

SUNRISE, Fla. – Hill Auction Gallery will sell the high-end collection of a Hollywood, Fla., socialite on Wednesday, May 25.

Absentee and Internet live bidding on the more than 400 lots will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com.

Merchandise includes Tiffany & Co. jewelry, Rene Lalique crystal, Buccellati sterling, Bergman bronzes, Meissen porcelain and many listed pieces of estate artwork ranging from contemporary to antique oil paintings.

Asian pieces are highlighted by a pair of Chinese urns or censors (above) of sterling silver and carved white jade. They stand 11 inches high and are estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

Another highlight is a signed LaVerne “Chan” occasional table (below) by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne (below), which is pictured on page 17 of the Philip LaVerne Galleries catalog. The small table of bronze and pewter features polychrome detailing and an outstanding etched surface.

 

Philip and Kelvin LaVerne Chan occasional table of bronze and pewter with polychrome detailing. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Hill Auction Gallery image

Philip and Kelvin LaVerne ‘Chan’ occasional table of bronze and pewter with polychrome detailing. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Hill Auction Gallery image

 

An authentic Bill Mack (Minnesota, b. 1949) bonded sand sculpture depicts a reclining female nude, whose hand and hair extend beyond the stepped frame. This large work (below) has a $1,200-$1,500 estimate.

 

Signed Bill Mack bonded sand sculpture, 40 x 72 x 8 inches. Estimate: $1,200-$1,500. Hill Auction Gallery image

Signed Bill Mack bonded sand sculpture, 40 x 72 x 8 inches. Estimate: $1,200-$1,500. Hill Auction Gallery image

 

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.

Heritage devoting auction to modern & contemporary art May 24

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), ‘$ (9),’ 1982, unique screenprint in colors on Lenox Museum Board, 40 x 32 inches (sheet), ed. 12/35, signed and numbered in pencil lower left. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000. Heritage Auctions image

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), ‘$ (9),’ 1982, unique screenprint in colors on Lenox Museum Board, 40 x 32 inches (sheet), ed. 12/35, signed and numbered in pencil lower left. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000. Heritage Auctions image

 

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions will present its first fine art auction dedicated exclusively to modern & contemporary prints and multiples on May 24.

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Harley-Davidson Museum steps on the gas for special summer exhibit

The Burbank Road Kings originally started as a racing club. Famed drag racer Tommy Ivo joined the club in 1952. Ivo’s Burbank Road Kings car club jacket, c. 1955. Credit: On loan from Michael Goyda, courtesy of Harley-Davidson Museum

The Burbank Road Kings originally started as a racing club. Famed drag racer Tommy Ivo joined the club in 1952. Ivo’s Burbank Road Kings car club jacket, c. 1955. Credit: On loan from Michael Goyda, courtesy of Harley-Davidson Museum

 

MILWAUKEE – The year of racing at the Harley-Davidson Museum continues to burn rubber this summer when “Drag Racing: America’s Fast Time” blows open its doors on June 17. Hot on the heels of the museum’s earlier exhibit openings – “Racing Machines from the KR to the XR” and “Photos from the Flat Track – Drag Racing” will go under the hood with the mad scientists of speed to see just how much blood, sweat and elbow grease hot rodders pour into their machines, two wheels or four, in their race against time.

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High Museum exhibit examines Basquiat’s 1980s notebooks

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Cadmium), 1984, oil, oil stick, and acrylic on canvas. High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Basquiat drew his cryptic visual vocabulary from numerous sources ranging from ancient Egyptian art to books to the symbols of the Depression-era hobo code. Images of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic symbol of pain and suffering, symbolize personal anguish and the artist’s Haitian heritage. Basquiat continually juxtaposed such emblems in different combinations as if they were phrases of a personal language, like a visual diary.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Cadmium), 1984, oil, oil stick, and acrylic on canvas. High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Basquiat drew his cryptic visual vocabulary from numerous sources ranging from ancient Egyptian art to books to the symbols of the Depression-era hobo code. Images of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic symbol of pain and suffering, symbolize personal anguish and the artist’s Haitian heritage. Basquiat continually juxtaposed such emblems in different combinations as if they were phrases of a personal language, like a visual diary.

 

ATLANTA – “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks” will close at the High Museum of Art on May 29. This exhibition features rare notebooks created by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988), offering an intimate look at the life of the influential contemporary artist who died tragically at age 27.

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‘Women Modernists in New York’ to spend summer in Maine

Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986), ‘Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose,’ 1931, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, AC1994.159.1

Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986), ‘Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose,’ 1931, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, AC1994.159.1

 

PORTLAND, Maine – “O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York” examines the art and careers of four pioneering artists and their contributions to American modernism in parallel for the first time.

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China barely notes start of Cultural Revolution 50 years ago

Andy Warhol, 'Mao,' 1972, screenprint in colors. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips

Andy Warhol, ‘Mao,’ 1972, screenprint in colors. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips

 

BEIJING (AP) – Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a “catastrophe.”

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Israeli divers uncover trove of shipwrecked Roman treasure

Roman high-level aqueduct north of Caesarea. Image by Berthold Werner, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Roman high-level aqueduct on the beach at Caesarea. Image by Berthold Werner, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

CAESAREA, Israel (AP) – A chance discovery by two divers uncovered Israel’s biggest find of underwater Roman-era artifacts in three decades, archaeologists said Monday as the priceless objects were showcased for the first time.

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Museum artifacts highlight Ancient Resource auction May 22

An oversized Roman Imperial marble portrait head, Neronian–Flavian Period, circa mid to late first century, most likely of the Emperor Nero with a partial ancient recut to more closely resemble the Emperor Otho. While portraits of Nero are rare those of the short-lived Otho, who ruled for only three months, are rarer still. Estimate: $50,000-$75,000. Ancient Resource LLC image

An oversized Roman Imperial marble portrait head, Neronian–Flavian Period, circa mid to late first century, most likely of the Emperor Nero with a partial ancient recut to more closely resemble the Emperor Otho. While portraits of Nero are rare those of the short-lived Otho, who ruled for only three months, are rarer still. Estimate: $50,000-$75,000. Ancient Resource LLC image

 

MONTROSE, Calif. – Ancient Resource LLC will conduct a major sale of high-quality Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Near Eastern, Holy Land, Asian and Pre-Columbian artifacts on Sunday, May 22.

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