Clementine Hunter, Theora Hamblett, Berenice Abbott among women artists lauded at Neal May 30

Clementine Hunter, ‘Bouquet of Zinnias’, a 1973 work estimated at $6,000-$8,000 at Neal Auction Company.

NEW ORLEANS – Women artists are the focus of Through Her Eyes, a dedicated 100-lot sale taking place at Neal Auction Company on Thursday, May 30. It is the house’s second annual offering of this type, and showcases the work of dozens of women artists, some prominent, others less so. The catalog is open for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Having succeeded with works by Mississippi artist Theora Hamblett (1895-1977) as recently as March 14, when two of her paintings modestly exceeded their estimates, Neal has assigned a 1977 canvas of hers the highest estimate in the May 30 sale. Red Rooster Atop the Chicken Coop, painted in the year of Hamblett’s death, likely reflects one of her childhood memories of living on a chicken farm in Paris, Misssissippi. Works by Hamblett are in short supply as her will dictated that the University of Mississippi would receive the bulk of her output. This signed and dated oil on canvas is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

Another local self-taught artist in the sale is Clementine Hunter (1886-1988), who is represented by six lots. Chief among them is an oil on canvas that features one of her favorite subjects. Painted in 1973, Bouquet of Zinnias has an estimate of $6,000-$8,000.

Also featured are three black-and-white photographs by Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), each dating to the 1930s and printed decades later, and having identical individual estimates of $2,000-$3,000. These choice images are from the period when Abbott was documenting New York City, finding rich troves of subject matter in the vast cityscape. A standout among the trio is Advertisements, East Houston Street and 2nd Ave, which she took in 1937. The gelatin silver print on offer dates to 1982 and is number 13 from an edition of 40.

Qing vase made into a lamp commands $156K against $200-$300 estimate at Andrew Jones

Blue ground and gilt Qing vase, later converted to a lamp, which sold for $156,000 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $200-$300 at Andrew Jones.

LOS ANGELES – A Qing vase later converted to a lamp sailed beyond expectations at an Andrew Jones DTLA Collections & Estates auction. The highlight of the May 15 sale was a trompe l’oeil-style blue ground and gilt vase with a Qianlong (1735-1796) seal mark that was estimated at $200-$300 but hammered for $120,000 and sold for $156,000 with buyer’s premium. Full results for the sale can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

Vases such as this, decorated with knotted cloths, form a rare but known group that was cherished by the Qianlong emperor himself. The playful form was borrowed from the Japanese packaging tradition known as furoshiki – Japanese lacquers gave the illusion of an object wrapped in cloth. In Chinese, there was the added benefit of wordplay, as the term baofu (wrapping cloth) also means ‘wrapping up good luck.’

The idea was replicated at the Palace Workshops in various media, including painted enamel, cloisonné, glass, wood, and lacquer. This 12in vase with a powder blue and gilt ground assumes an archaic form, beribboned in a pink sash tied at the center. The price for the piece was remarkable, because although the vase had not been drilled, it had extensive restoration to the neck and rim that was visible both to the naked eye and under UV light.

James Ward sketch of the Falls of Clyde skyrocketed past estimates at Tremont

James Ward sketch of the Falls of Clyde, which sold for $18,000 ($22,860 with buyer's premium) at Tremont Auctions.

SUDBURY, MA — An early 19th-century ‘British School’ watercolor painting of a waterfall raced away from an estimate of $200-$300 to bring $18,000 ($22,860 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions on May 5. It is thought to be one of a series of sketches the English artist James Ward (1769-1859) produced of the Falls of Clyde in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1811.

The 14 by 10.5in image, worked in shades of green and gray with white highlights, was part of an eclectic single-owner collection consigned to Tremont. Two internet bidders, who had spotted a faint pencil title to the reverse and deciphered the artist’s monogram, competed for it via LiveAuctioneers, where complete sale results are available.

The Falls of Clyde is the collective name of three linn — Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, and Dundaff Linn — on the upper Clyde near Lanark in Scotland. The natural wonder was an attraction for tourists in the 18th century, and it was celebrated by British Romantic artists and writers as epitomizing the awe-inspiring qualities of the fashionable and patriotic ‘Sublime’ landscape. Turner first sketched there in the summer of 1801, and William Wordsworth immortalized Corra Linn, the largest of the waterfalls, in verse in 1802.

This watercolor is probably one of the many studies Ward made during a visit to the falls in 1811. The addition of the initials RA after the artist’s monogram are significant: Ward was only admitted to full membership of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1811.

The Lanarkshire studies were the prelude to the picture considered his masterpiece, the monumental oil of a bull from the Chillingham herd dwarfed by the limestone cliffs of Gordale Scar in Yorkshire, England. Commissioned by local landowner Lord Ribblesdale and painted during the last years of the Napoleonic War, it was shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1815 and is now at the Tate Gallery.

Late in his career, Ward also produced two finished oils of the Falls of Clyde based on his earlier sketches. Both The Hunted Stag Caught by the Rapids above the Falls of the Clyde, which was based on an episode the artist witnessed in 1811, and The Falls of the Clyde After a Flood were displayed at the Royal Academy in 1852, the artist’s last ever RA exhibition. The Falls of the Clyde After a Flood, measuring 4ft 2in by 3ft 3in, was sold twice at Sotheby’s in recent memory: for £55,000 (roughly $68,800) in 2000, and then for £24,000 (about $30,000) as part of the sale of pictures from the London dealership The Fine Art Society in 2019.

Commanding the sale’s highest estimate at $15,000-$18,000 was an early 19th-century oil on canvas laid on board depicting an imperial audience given by the emperor Jaiqing (1796-1820). It hammered at $20,000 ($25,400 with buyer’s premium). Measuring 4ft by 2ft 10in in its frame, it is thought to portray the pavilions in the Old Summer Palace, the main imperial residence of the Qing emperors and the center of state affairs. The compound was largely destroyed by French and British troops in the final act of the Second Opium War in October 1860.

Although relatively rare, the scene is well known. A body color on linen version is housed in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England, and it was brought back to the country circa 1800 by Richard Hill, who was employed as a supercargo by the British East India Company. It is pictured in the influential book Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century by Margaret Jourdain and Soame Jenyns, where it is attributed to the studio of Lam Qua (1801-1860), the Chinese painter from Canton who specialized in Western-style portraits intended largely for export.

Estimated at $14,000-$18,000 and sold at $24,000 ($30,480 with buyer’s premium) was a textbook White Mountain scene by Benjamin Champney (1817-1907). Signed and dated 1856, this 2ft 2in by 3ft canvas in its original frame shows Mount Chocorua, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range. It is likely the painting exhibited in 1856 at the Boston Athenaeum titled N.H. Lake Scenery, Mt. Chocorua in the Distance. Champney had bought a house in the Conway area of New Hampshire in 1853, using it as his summer home for more than 50 years.