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Lady Fitzwilliam, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke by Sir Thomas Lawrence, which sold for $74,000 ($92,500 with buyer's premium) at Cottone Auctions.

Louis Comfort Tiffany and Sir Thomas Lawrence triumphed at Cottone

GENESO, N.Y. – An oil by Louis Comfort Tiffany that probably hung in his Long Island home hammered for $50,000 ($62,500 with buyer’s premium) at the March 20 Fine Art and Antiques sale at Cottone Auctions.

Gossipy Market Women at Nuremberg, an oil on canvas housed in its original carved and giltwood frame attributed to Stanford White, was estimated at $20,000-$40,000.

Likely painted during a summer trip in 1889, when Tiffany traveled to the Exposition Universelle in Paris and then on to Germany and northern Italy, this picture of three market traders in conversation was exhibited in 1891 in both New York and Chicago. By repute, it was among the furnishings at Tiffany’s Oyster Bay, Long Island home Laurelton Hall, where a study of the subject was kept until the house and contents were sold in the 1940s. It was given by Tiffany’s daughter, Louise Comfort Tiffany Gilder, to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida.

Two portraits of Regency beauties by the virtuoso English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) came by descent from the industrialist Colonel Charles Clifton (1853-1928) of Buffalo, New York. Clifton was an important figure in the early years of the automotive industry, overseeing the evolution of a bicycle wheel manufacturer into the Pierce-Arrow Motor Company. A recipient of the legion d’honneur for his work with the Allied war relief effort in France, he served on the board of the Albright Knox Art Museum (now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum) from 1914 until his death in 1928.

He collected English portraiture at that extraordinary moment in the first quarter of the 20th century when prices were at their peak. The 1818 portrait of Lady Elizabeth Mary, Countess of Belgrave, who later became Marchioness of Westminster, comes with full documentation, including a copy of a 1923 receipt from Fearon Galleries in New York. Then, it had cost a mighty $20,000 (equivalent in purchasing power to around $400,000 today). Precisely 101 years later, the picture was consigned with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000, but hammered at $16,000 ($20,000 with buyer’s premium).

A second (unfinished) Lawrence oil depicting the face of Lady Fitzwilliam, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke, performed much better. This picture was part of the Bretby Heirlooms auction that was held for the 7th Earl and the Dowager Countess of Chesterfield by Christie’s in London in June 1918. It was acquired by Clifton from Knoedler & Co. of New York in 1923 at a cost of $9,000 (about $163,300 in modern dollars). This time out it was estimated at $15,000-$25,000 and made $74,000 ($92,500 with buyer’s premium).