CRANSTON, R.I. – Several weeks before Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers’ online-only Antiques & Fine Art auction on Thursday, July 23, a seller strolled into the gallery on a walk-in appraisal Tuesday holding what appeared to be a nice Chinese Qing Dynasty porcelain famille rose plaque with calligraphy. Bruneau slid it into the sale, assigning it a modest estimate of $2,000-$4,000. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
All that changed once the bidding began. “When lot 268 opened on my computer screen it was already up to $24,000,” said Travis Landry, a Bruneau & Co. auctioneer and the firm’s director of Pop Culture. “I knew I had a determined bidder and he ended up taking it home for $96,250, including buyer’s premium. The best part is, it was a walk-in. You never know what’s out there.”
Turns out, the Republic Period porcelain and enamel famille rose plaque (above) was exceptionally well painted by Wang Qi (Chinese, 1884-1937), a member of the renowned Eight Friends of Zhushan, a group of 19th and 20th century Chinese porcelain painters. Zhushan is near Jingdezhen, China’s former porcelain capital and site of the imperial kiln during both the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The plaque, 17½ inches by 10¼ inches, depicted two figures plus a calligraphic poem with signatures. It was also signed with a chop seal. It came from the estate of a Hope Valley, Rhode Island, woman and was by far the top lot of the auction, which featured more than 300 lots, collected from estates across New England. Everything was sold to the highest bidder, with no reserves.
“COVID-19 is certainly not slowing down the auction world, that’s for sure,” remarked Kevin Bruneau, the president of Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers. “Results were incredibly strong across all categories. Fine art, furniture, Asian arts, everything was selling strong. We had an incredibly active online bidding crowd and items were flying. The Chinese plaque was the cherry on top.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.
An Impressionist etching (below) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (Mass./U.K./France, 1834-1903) of sailing vessels at sea, 5 inches by 6¾ inches and housed in a 14¾-by-18¾-inch frame, artist signed with a monogram in the image and in pencil lower margin, brought $7,500. Whistler was active during the American Gilded Age. He’s best known for his painting Whistler’s Mother.
A resume and work portfolio for John B.G. Babcock, the coordinator of Interior Displays for Tiffany & Co. from 1969-1974 and the assistant to the director of Fashion Merchandise at B. Altman & Co. from 1974-1976, realized $5,938. The portfolio included a copy of his resume, his business card for Tiffany & Co., and over 50 examples of interior settings Babcock designed.
A vibrant blue, green, yellow and red depiction of Peter Max’s (Germany/N.Y., b. 1937) iconic Liberty Head image, artist signed, sold for $5,625. The acrylic on canvas on a TriMar stretcher was 24 inches all four sides. Peter Max’s works are associated with the visual arts and culture of the 1960s, notably psychedelic art and pop art.
A colorful egg tempera on paper depiction of an angelic figure in abstract by David Clyde Driscoll (Md./Washington, D.C., 1931-2020), titled Masked Angel on verso, 14½ inches by 12½ inches (22 inches by 20 inches framed), artist signed lower left, sold within estimate for $4,688. David Clyde Driscoll studied with James A. Porter, for whom he accredits his career.
Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers’ next online cataloged auction will feature limited live, in-gallery seating. It is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. Eastern. Seating and preview are by appointment only. Call 401-533-9980 or send an email to email@example.com.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/