GENESEO, N.Y. – An outstanding Cycladic marble head dating from 2,500 B.C. with impeccable provenance soared to $188,800 and an elegant sculpture of black-and-red-painted sheet metal by Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976), titled Crayfish, sold for $153,400 at a two-session auction held Sept. 22-23 by Cottone Auctions. Absentee and Internet bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Day 1 featured the lifetime collection of Annette McGuire (1923-2017), a lifelong philanthropist and patron of the arts. Cravens dedicated her time to the expansion and diversification of her collection of archaeological and ethnographic items and the allocation of artifacts for the benefit of the continued education of others. Following the example of her stepfather, Thomas B. Lockwood’s donation and benefaction of the Lockwood Library at the University of Buffalo, Cravens went on to donate over 1,100 items, some dating to 4500 B.C.
The creation of “Cravens World: The Human Aesthetic” reflects the 40 years of travel and acquisitions of Annette and her husband, and her passion for art ranging from prehistoric to modern day. She also founded the Edgar R. McGuire Historical Medical Instrument Collection, after her father, Dr. Edgar McGuire, a protégé of Dr. Roswell Park and his successor as a professor of surgery and medicine at UB.
Both the ancient marble head and the Calder stabile were from Cravens’ estate. “It was a privilege to work with the Cravens family in marketing this outstanding collection,” said Matt Cottone of Cottone Auctions. “Carrying on her great philanthropy, the proceeds will go directly to the Cravens Foundation to support the families philanthropic goals.”
The Cycladic marble head (above), a prime example of the elegance achieved by Cycladic sculptors of the 3rd millennium B.C., was easily the top-selling lot in an auction grossing around $2.6 million. These so-called Cycladic figurines or idols come from the homonymous Greek island chain in the Aegean Sea, where they were discovered in select graves. They almost certainly fulfilled a religious function that largely eludes us today, but probably involved fertility and rebirth as the figurines are often pregnant. In the early 20th century, artists such as Picasso, Modigliani and Brancusi admired and were deeply influenced by the Cycladic aesthetic in their work.
The Calder stabile (below) is diminutive at just 3½ inches, but it was a giant lot in the sale. The elegant sculpture was shown at the Galerie Carré in Paris in the exhibition “Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Stabiles, Constellation,” which opened on Oct. 25, 1946. The following year it appeared in group shows at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Cravens acquired the work from Perls Gallery, New York in 1984.
The Cravens collection of modern design, contemporary ceramics and antiquities represented session I on Sept 22. Notably Cravens’ extensive collection of British Studio Pottery, which included numerous pieces by famed Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. They are considered the most important ceramic figures of the 20th century. Sept. 23, session II, featured fine art, antiques and modern design, that included offerings from various estates, museums and private collections.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
A pair of Chinese porcelain bowls bearing the Ch’en Lung mark and decorated with fruit and bamboo, 4¼ inches in diameter, brought $67,850; a large acrylic on canvas with rope artwork by Angelo Savelli (Italian, 1911-1995), titled Ascent #51 (1969), 74 ½ inches by 50 ½ inches, artist-signed, realized $40,120; and an early, all-original 19th-century watercolor portrait of a young lady, shown seated in a federal sofa with drapery, in an original grain painted frame, hit $7,670.
Tiffany Studios lamps always do well at auction. A curtain border leaded glass floor lamp with the shade and bronze senior base both signed Tiffany Studios, with a 24 ½-inch diameter shade and brownish green patina, lit up the room for $66,080; while a Peony table lamp, with the shade and base with gold brown patina also Tiffany signed, 22 inches tall, garnered $59,000.
A mixed media on paper study by Joan Mitchell (American, 1925-1992), rendered circa 1960 and artist signed lower right, measuring 14 ½ inches by 9 inches, went for $38,350. Also, a large watercolor painting by renowned Provincetown artist John Whorf (American, 1903-1959), titled Provincetown Harbor, signed lower right and in the original frame, finished at $25,960.
A stoneware spear sculpture with copper flashing by John Mason (American, b. 1927), circa 1963, artist signed and 20 inches in height, changed hands for $50,740.
Tops in the furniture category was a stack laminated mahogany cloud-form desk in steel gray, signed “WC 1979” by Wendell Castle (American, b. 1932), on an aluminum base with a black mirrored glass top. It sold for $28,320.
Two exemplary pieces of British studio pottery got paddles waving. One was a hand-thrown and decorated bowl (below) with manganese edge and foot by Lucie Rie (1902-1995), artist signed ‘LR’ with fine inlaid turquoise sgraffito, 7 ½ inches in diameter ($56,640). The other was a white spherical pot with disk top made circa 1965 by Hans Coper (1920-1981), signed ‘HC’ and 6 ½ inches in height ($40,120).
Two Georg Jensen lots sat atop the sterling silver category. The first was a six-piece tea set with tray, designed by Johan Rhode #251, weighing 264 troy silver ounces ($17,700). The second was a covered box, circa 1930, signed and #30B with an amber finial, 5 ½ inches in height ($12,980).
For more information contact Cottone Auctions: 585-243-1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.