LARCHMONT, N.Y. — Important paintings, fine jewelry and striking decorative objects drove Clarke Auction Gallery’s October 29-30 auction to a grand total of more than $1.5 million. There was no one superstar lot, but many lots outperformed their estimates and 16 of them hammered for more than $10,000 apiece.
The top lot made itself known early in the October 29 session: a signed Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911-2020) oil on canvas, Se Conduire, which attained $57,500. It came out of a Greenwich estate and sparked a sharp contest between five phone bidders before the field narrowed to one.
The parade of fine paintings continued with a signed Ivan Fedorovich Choultse (Russian, 1874-1939) oil on canvas, Garden, which earned $35,000; and an Orville Bulman (American, 1904-1978) oil on canvas, Les Tres Bon Jour, which brought $30,000.
Some say the market for furniture and so-called “brown wood” is soft, but rare and unusual pieces will always perform well. Such was the case with an Arthur Espenet Carpenter mushroom chest that more than doubled its high estimate to achieve $17,500. The rare piece, standing 42in tall, dated to circa 1970 and was signed twice. “It was beautiful in person and did super,” said auctioneer Ronan Clarke, adding that his namesake auction house previously auctioned a pair of Carpenter stands from a consignor who offered the chest in this auction.
The Asian arts category was small but select, led by a pair of signed Japanese Ando Jubei enamel vases that was conservatively estimated at $300-$500 but which bidders elevated to $11,250.
The October 30 session was dominated by fine jewelry, especially diamonds. Clarke organized the two-day event specifically to make the second session a jewelry auction, accented by silver and a few decorative small objects such as snuff bottles and gold boxes. Whitney Bria, Clarke’s jewelry specialist, was excited to curate her first dedicated jewelry auction. “It was very successful for us, and what’s even more notable is the vast majority of this collection was antique jewelry, and I was seeing the bidding trending to this,” she said. She explained that contemporary and couture jewelry always attracts a strong following, so it was great to see buyers respond to the antique pieces. “Several lots flew past estimate and a lot of colored stones did well in addition to diamond jewelry,” she said, describing the bidding as slow and steady.
The top lot on day two was a nearly five-carat diamond and platinum ring that achieved $30,000. It was followed by a 14K gold, diamond, ruby and emerald floral spray brooch that surpassed its $2,000-$3,000 estimate to bring $22,500.
Enameled gold boxes always draw healthy sums, but the ones offered in the sale exceeded Bria’s expectations. Highlights include a Swiss 18K gold and enamel snuff box with cut corners and enamel decoration throughout, among them an image on the lid showing a woman wearing a floral crown, lounging in a garden near a cherub. It swept past its estimate to realize $10,625.
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