GENESEO, N.Y. – A bronze maquette for the sculpture Draped Reclining Figure by Henry Moore (British, 1898-1986) sailed past its high estimate of $150,000 to finish at $195,500 in Cottone Auctions’ annual Fine Arts & Antiques Auction, held March 25. It was the top lot in a sale that grossed $2.1 million. Absentee and Internet Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Henry Moore rose to prominence with his semi-abstract, monumental bronze sculptures that today are located around the world as public works of art. His forms are often abstractions of the human body, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures.
The maquette (above), a small-scale study, was one of many fine items up for bid that came from the Seymour H. Knox Collection out of Buffalo. The collection co-headlined the auction along with items from the Strong Museum in Rochester, the Rochester Museum & Science Center and the Everson Museum in Syracuse. Also sold was a major collection from Westbury, N.Y.
Seymour H. Knox Jr. (American, 1898-1990) was known as “the dean of American art patrons.” After graduating from Yale in 1920, he directed several prominent corporations, including Marine Midland Bank, the F.W. Woolworth Co., the New York Central Railroad and the American Steamship Co., all the while dedicating himself to the acquisition of fine art.
Shortly after being elected president of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy Board in 1938, Knox and other members of his family provided inaugural donations for the “Room of Contemporary Art” at what is now the Albright-Knox Museum. This resulted in the acquisition of masterworks by Henry Moore, Cezanne, Leger, Matisse, Joan Miro, Modigliani, Picasso and Chaim Soutine.
The Room helped facilitate the museum’s acquisition of Draped Reclining Figure, which Moore executed from 1935-1936. It was the first work by the British sculptor to enter the collection of an American art museum. The maquette is the original scale model created by Moore as part of a commission for the Time-Life building in London, where it is now positioned on the roof terrace.
About 150 people attended the auction live, in Cottone Auctions’ gallery, while about 2,000 others registered to bid online. Fifteen phone lines were kept humming throughout the auction and absentee bids numbered in the hundreds.
In all 418 lots came up for bid.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
A highlight of the painting category was a Norman Rockwell work (below) titled Bedtime, which sold for $109,250. The boy pictured on the lap of the woman is the son of John A. Chew. Chew and Rockwell were neighbors in New Rochelle, N.Y., in the 1920s and had become lifelong friends. During this time, Rockwell would sketch and illustrate advertisements for Chew’s company.
Rockwell had asked to use Chew and other family members in several paintings over the years, many of which became Saturday Evening Post covers. This particular painting was on the cover of Literary Digest (issue, Vol. 76, No. 13, March 31, 1923). After the painting was completed, Rockwell gave it to Chew as a gift. It has descended in the Chew family ever since.
A Tiffany Studios Greek Key lamp with a brownish-green patina, the 22-inch-diameter shade and Roman base both signed Tiffany Studios New York, 33 inches tall, illuminated the room for $89,700, while a Tiffany Studios Dragonfly table lamp with a signed shade showing purple dragonflies with a mottled green and rust-colored background hit $80,500.
An oil on board painting by William Matthew Prior (American, 1806-1873), titled Portrait of a Young Girl, 24 inches by 20 inches and in excellent condition, housed in the original rosewood frame, rose to $39,675. An oil on canvas by Joseph Floch (American/Austrian, 1894-1977), titled Women and Children with an Architectural Background (1958), 40 inches by 29 inches, fetched $37,950.
A monumental 19th century French Napoleon III gilt bronze mantel clock (below) with cherubs and “P. Ltr.” movement, 29 1/2 inches tall by 34 inches wide, achieved $35,650; and a late 19th century Vernis Marten decorated Continental desk with clock, lacquered and hand-painted with gilt bronze mounts, 49 inches tall by 60 inches wide and showing some wear, brought $28,175.
A fine free-form conoid rosewood bench with butterflies made by furniture designer George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990), purchased by the consignor from Nakashima and with his original artist’s sketch of the bench, sold for $49,450.
An early 20th century carved and painted elephant carousel figure, probably the work of Charles Looff, 35 inches tall by 49 inches long, made $27,600.
For details contact Cottone Auctions at 585-243-1000 or email 585-243-1000.