Chinese bleu de Hue Porcelain Dish, $33,280

Chinese bleu de Hue dish made for the Vietnamese court, which hammered for $26,000 and sold for $33,280 with buyer’s premium at Oakridge Auction Gallery.

ASHBURN, Va. – A Chinese blue and white dish, recognized by bidders as a fine example of bleu de Hue porcelain, flew to a hammer price of $26,000 ($33,280 with buyer’s premium) at Oakridge Auction Gallery on January 12. The 6in dish, with buildings and landscape decoration, sold to a bidder via LiveAuctioneers way above its estimate of $100-$200. It was offered without reserve as part of the estate of a San Diego collector who had bought in the 1970s and 1980s.

Vietnamese buyers have sent the best works of art from the tumultuous Le-Trinh (1533-1789), Tay Son (1778–1802) and Nguyen (1802-1945) periods to unchartered territory in recent years. A particular area of collecting focus is the bleu de Hue porcelain that was made in China to Vietnamese designs from the 17th to the early 20th century. Often these pieces (named after Hue, the Nguyen capital and site of the Forbidden Purple City) include the bespoke marks of royal family members and court officials. An influential exhibition titled Signed Porcelains from the Le-Trinh and Nguyen Dynasties was held at the Museum of Royal Antiques of Hue in 2018.

This lobed octagonal dish has a six-character mark to the underside and the protective silver rims of the type that became popular on Vietnamese porcelain in the late 19th century.

The six-character mark to a bleu de Hue dish made for the Vietnamese court, which hammered for $26,000 and sold for $33,280 with buyer’s premium at Oakridge Auction Gallery.

Helen Frankenthaler, ‘East’, $292,100

‘East,’ a 1974 Color Field painting by Helen Frankenthaler, which hammered for $230,000 and sold for $292,100 at Le Shoppe Auction House.

KEEGO HARBOR, Mich. – There were 200 bidders watching on LiveAuctioneers when East, an original canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), was offered at Le Shoppe Auction House on January 14. The 1974 acrylic on canvas came with a full provenance, having been bought from the Robert Miller Gallery in New York in its founding year, 1977. Estimated at $70,000-$105,000, it hammered for $230,000 ($292,100 with buyer’s premium).

Measuring 20in by 2ft 4in, East was a textbook Color Field painting from the period. Starting in the 1960s, Frankenthaler – who began her career exhibiting large-scale Abstract Expressionist paintings in the early 1950s – switched from oil paints to acrylic and developed the technique she named ‘soak stain’. Working here on an unprimed canvas with heavily diluted paint, the dominant magenta splash has soaked fully through the canvas.

Signed and dated March 1974, East was sold with a December 1977 letter from Robert Miller, which stated that the painting was part of his personal collection and had come directly from Frankenthaler.

First Edition in Dust Jacket of Agatha Christie’s ‘Dumb Witness,’ $18,000

A 1937 Collins Crime Club copy in dust jacket of Agatha Christie's ‘Dumb Witness,’ which hammered for $15,000 and sold for $18,000 with buyer’s premium at Weiss Auctions.

LYNBROOK, N.Y. – An original dust jacket made all the difference when Weiss Auctions offered a first edition copy of Agatha Christie’s Dumb Witness on January 10.

First published in the U.K. by the Collins Crime Club on July 5, 1937, by which time any novel featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was guaranteed a substantial print run, the book itself in its orange cloth is not a great rarity. However, the rust and black pictorial jacket, with its semi-photographic image of an Airedale terrier that is central to the plot, rarely survives. A note on the back reads ‘Agatha Christie’s own dog, Peter, to whom this book is dedicated, posed for photograph on the jacket, but disclaims any connection with the events of the tale.’

The copy offered at Weiss had some small losses to the spine, but the price of 7 shillings and 6 pence remained unclipped. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it hammered for $15,000 and sold for $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

As a recent price comparison, the copy of Dumb Witness that formed part of Charlie Watts’ large holdings of Agatha Christie first editions sold at £8,500 ($10,825). It was in a dust-stained, price-clipped jacket supplied from another copy but was inscribed by the author to her secretary, amanuensis and close friend Charlotte ‘Carlo’ Fisher.

Dumb Witness was released later in 1937 in the U.S. by Dodd, Mead and Co under the title Poirot Loses a Client with the price set at $2.

René Lalique Bronze, ‘The Kiss’, $20,000

‘The Kiss’, a circa-1900 bronze by Rene Laliqué, which hammered for $16,000 and sold for $20,000 at Lion & Unicorn.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – This small 8in cast bronze relief or architectural element, dating to circa 1900, was designed by Art Nouveau and Art Deco master René Lalique. Titled The Kiss, it depicts a nude couple in a passionate embrace surrounded with deeply carved foliage. It was used as the model for a Lalique brooch cast in gold with the faces carved in ivory. An example can be found in Le Musee Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal.

This piece is one of many recently sold by Lion & Unicorn that were formerly part of the private collection of Marie-Claude Lalique (1935-2002). She was René Lalique’s granddaughter and the last member of the family to run the firm. Offered in Florida as part of a sale titled Opulent Art Glass, Crystal & Ceramic Décor on January 14 with an estimate of $5,000-$8,000, it took $16,000 ($20,000 with buyer’s premium).