SAVANNAH, Ga. — An Old Master drawing – a fine copy of one of the greatest treasures of the Courtauld Institute in London – sailed away to bring $21,000 ($26,880 with buyer’s premium) at Everard Auctions. The unsigned drawing by a professional 17th- or 18th-century hand is based on the famous circa-1532 Michelangelo drawing Il Sogno (The Dream), in which an angel, surrounded by representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, awakens the perfect youth. The picture had attracted 52 watchers on LiveAuctioneers at its appealing $400-$600 estimate.
Three days of selling from October 17-19 were dominated by works on paper.
Manuscripts, photos and ephemera focused on European royalty was consigned from the estate of William H. Rasch. Much presale attention focused on an autograph letter penned by Elizabeth, Duchess of York (the future Queen Mother) to the Peter Pan author Sir James Barrie (1860-1937).
Writing from the London address of 145 Piccadilly, site of the townhouse overlooking Green Park, where the Yorks lived until 1936, her letter included a red crayon drawing of a house done by a young Princess Elizabeth together with instructions on how it may be used in a forthcoming charity appeal. She was less than complimentary about the future Queen Elizabeth II’s artistic talents in the letter, stating, “I hope that this very poor drawing may be of little use. I am yours sincerely, Elizabeth.” She then added the marginal note ‘If you can manage it – will you not let the Press photograph this.’
The letter and drawing were offered together with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 and hammered for $3,500 ($4,480 with buyer’s premium).
Estimated at $800-$1,200 but hammered for $4,250 and sold for $5,440 with buyer’s premium was an autograph letter written in German by Alexandra Feodorovna, Princess Alix of Hesse and the wife of Tsar Nicholas II. She was murdered along with other members of the imperial family at Ekaterinburg in 1918. Dated March 27, 1911, and signed ‘Alix,’ this letter was written to Princess Maria Saxe-Altenburg on her leaving St. Petersburg to marry Heinrich of Reuss-Schleiz-Kostritz.
As expected, a copy of the first printed view of Savannah topped the sale. The ‘Peter Gordon’ View of Savannah as it Stood the 29th of March 1734 illustrates Georgia colony founder General James E. Oglethorpe’s original plan of the city. Known from almost every reference book on Georgia history, the bird’s-eye view differs from other colonial maps in its detailed interpretation of the American wilderness that surrounds the settlement.
Five men were involved in its production, including Oglethorpe, the surveyor Noble Jones and Peter Gordon (1697-1740), who was chosen to deliver it to George Jones in London, where it was engraved by Paul Fourdrinier.
Only 11 such maps are known to exist in public museums, with a few others in private hands. It was offered with a starting bid of $50,000 from the estate of local collector Elizabeth Oxnard (1955-2022). It hammered just below estimate at $62,500 and sold for $80,000 with buyer’s premium.
Among the best-known mid-19th-century views of the city of Savannah is the 1855 lithograph printed by Endicott & Co. after a drawing by John William Hill. The view shows Robert Launitz’s Pulaski monument in Monterey Square and the surrounding area and carries the inscription To the Citizens of Savannah This Picture is Most Respectfully Dedicated by the Publisher. A copy, with an original sales receipt for $500 dated 1969, was estimated at $15,000-$25,000, hammered for $27,500 and sold for $35,200 with buyer’s premium.
Of special interest to motoring enthusiasts was a 1937 ‘test drive manuscript’ produced for the original Volkswagen. This report regarding one of the first prototypes of Ferdinand Porshe’s Beetle includes 31 mounted photographs and numerous illustrations and diagrams. From a run of only 50 numbered copies, it doubled its mid-estimate to hammer for $5,000 and sell for $6,400 with buyer’s premium.