CRANSTON, R.I. – A Spanish street painting titled Palma De Mallorca Street Scene by the French-American artist Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962), best known as the illustrator for the popular Madeline children’s book series, sold for to take top lot honors at Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers’ Antiques & Fine Art Estate Auction conducted on April 14. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
“I was pleased to see the Bemelmans painting exceed our expectations,” said Kevin Bruneau, president and auctioneer of Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers. “In fact, there was strong bidding all around, with some prices making it feel like it was 15 years ago. It was overall a great sale.”
The casein paint, ink and pencil on board (above) by Bemelmans measured 26 by 30 inches in the frame and depicted a quaint strip of homes in Palma, the capital of the Balaeric Islands of Spain. It was signed and dated 1956. Bemelmans was truly an international artist. He was born in what was then Austria-Hungary (now Italy) to a Belgian father and German mother. His first language was French, his second was German. He emigrated to the U.S. and became a citizen in 1918.
The rest of the sale was an eclectic mix of merchandise from a diverse array of categories. “Strong results were seen for French furniture and decorative arts when compared to years past,” said Travis Landry, a Bruneau & Co. specialist and auctioneer. “Competitive bidding brought the French Neoclassical bronze figural group to a private collection in Egypt, followed by a pair of parquetry inlaid bombe chests to Canada. You never know where things are going to end up.”
The fine and large French Neoclassical bronze figural group showed a courting couple separated by a plant stand. The couple stood 26 inches tall but, when added to an ormolu bronze mounted rouge marble base, the overall height was 36 inches. The piece was signed “Dumege” and stamped “Made in France” and, at $5,625, was one of two other lots to top the $5,000 mark.
The other was a 19th century Italian Carrera marble fountain bowl base, which fetched $5,312. It was part of a delightful selection of exterior architectural antiques in the auction. The bowl, 38 inches in diameter and 22 inches tall, was quatrefoil form, with foliate ornamentation in relief, decorated with birds on either side. It was supported by four marble pedestals, all later added.
Another exterior architectural antique that drew much bidder attention was an 18th century (or older) Indian carved stone temple doorway, about 7 feet tall by 4 feet wide, which sold for $3,438. It consisted of upright columns, two overhead lentils and a footer stone, with carvings of deities throughout.
A large circa 1880 Japanese Meiji period carved wood etagere, 96 inches tall, found a new owner for $3,835. The etagere was profusely carved hardwood with multiple hand-decorated impasto painted panels of landscapes, with several shelves on a Kang form base. Also, a late 19th century jade rock crystal bronze shelf clock, made in China and Switzerland, with a rock crystal bangle embellished dial flanked by opposing birds clutching branches with two peaches, made $2,812.
An oil on canvas impressionist landscape painting signed by Gustave Cimiotti Jr. (American, 1875-1969), possibly depicting the Bear Mountain region of New York and housed in a period Arts and Crafts frame measuring 24 inches by 20½ inches, changed hands for $1,375.
A Queen Anne stained tiger maple highboy, made in New England in the 18th century, 76 inches tall, having five graduated drawers over two vertical over three drawers with a fan-carved center, supported by stout cabriole legs with a shapely skirt, finished at $2,500; while a fine 18th century American Chippendale carved gilt and gesso mirror with Aesthetic chinoiserie design, having a full-figured phoenix bird crest adorning a shapely pierced foliate frame, 54 inches tall, hit $4,688.
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