ASHEVILLE, N.C. –Alfred Hutty (1877-1954) is best known for his role in the Charleston Renaissance and for his drypoint etchings of Charleston’s architecture, its moss draped trees and African-American residents. His oils on canvas, like At Noon which sold at Brunk Auctions on March 12, are not as well known. The signed painting, 31-7/8 inches x 34 inches, sold for $67,200 (est. $5,000-$10,000), a price that might encourage others with Hutty oils to make a beeline for their nearest auction house.
At Noon, which depicts a Southern landscape with cypress trees in considerably larger than Hutty’s etchings. Hutty’s lush painting graced the cover of the sale catalog and was the top lot of the 750-lot, one-day, $1.53 million sale. All selling prices contain a 20 percent buyer’s premium.
While the single Hutty painting left its estimate far behind, no group did better at demolishing estimates than embroideries. There were 20 embroidery lots from the same private collection with most from late 19th to early 20th century Greece, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Estimates ranged from $300 to $3,000. Thirteen of the 20 exceeded their estimates, some by exceptionally large margins.
The most dramatic was for a fine embroidered silk three-panel cover, 86 inches x 49 inches, from Turkey, possibly in the 19th century. With blue pinwheel flowers encircled by red serrated leaves, the panel opened at $600, its high estimate. Eighteen phones were active with bidders quickly answering the competition. It sold to a persistent phone bidder for $45,600. The next lot, four central Asian embroidered panels, also began at $600, the top of its estimate range. The four, all from the late 19th or early 20th century included one Suzani, two with floral sprays and one probably Greek. The quartet soared to $21,600.
Southern furniture may be undergoing an economic renaissance of its own. Of the 26 lots in the March sale, three were in the sale’s top 10. The leader was a Queen Anne chamber table that descended in the Pringle family of Charleston. The mahogany and cypress table, dating from 1745-1755, South Carolina, had a single dovetailed drawer, molded top, turned legs and pad feet. It was deaccessioned from the Museum of Early Decorative Arts and was pictured in the classic text, The Furniture of Charleston, 1680-1820. The table opened at $10,000 and sold to the phones for $43,200 (est. $10,000-$15,000).
Close behind at $38,400 (est. $12,000-$18,000) was a fine Federal inlaid cellaret, probably from North Carolina or Virginia in the early 19th century. The mahogany and cherry cellaret with elaborate quarter fan, fan, line and bellflowers inlays was illustrated in the 1988 book, Bayou Bend: American Furniture, Paintings and Silver from the Bayou Bend Collection.
The third Southern furniture standout was a fine Queen Anne walnut table attributed to 18th century Virginia. The table with a two-board top, single dovetailed drawer, turned legs and pad feet was acquired by MESDA in 1956 and recently deaccessioned. In overall excellent condition it brought $26,400 on a presale estimate of $2,000-$3,000.
With a fierce, but friendly face that children must have loved was a carved wooden carousel tiger attributed to master carver Daniel Muller (active 1903-1917). Said to have been from the now-closed West View Park, Pittsburgh, the finely repainted tiger sold within estimate for $25,200.
Among the sale’s 83 Asian lots, one was the clear and unexpected leader. It was a Chinese silvery bronze mirror from the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). Its $2,500-$5,000 estimate belied its worth. With a scalloped border of birds around a central dragon, the mirror sold for $28,800.
Silver was one of the sale’s longest categories and there was one clear standout: 350 pieces of Tiffany Chrysanthemum pattern sterling flatware. The set was acquired by the family of Henry W. Oliver (1840-1904), founder of Oliver Iron Mining Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. From 1873-1891 silver pieces were added to the mostly monogrammed set. The entire collection sold within estimate for $33,600. A smaller gilt set of 12 forks and 12 soup spoons in Tiffany Chrysanthemum was consigned by an Oliver descendant. It realized $2,640 (est. $1,000-$2,000).
The next catalog sale will be May 28-29, at the Asheville gallery. For more information, call 828-254-6846 or visit www.brunkauctions.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE