LARCHMONT, N.Y. — A trend in auctions these days is that the best is the best and the rest is the rest but for Clarke Auction Gallery’s December 2 sale, strong performers going well above estimate was the norm, especially for fine art and followed closely by robust results in jewelry and decorative arts. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
“Prices on most of our top lots were through the roof with paintings and sculpture doing very well,” said owner and auctioneer Ronan Clarke. “We were thrilled that this was a very strong sale that performed well above expectation.”
Among the lots surpassing their estimates was the auction’s top lot — a marble sculpture, “Odalisca,” by renowned Italian sculptor Cesare Lapini (1848-1893). Lapini’s female figures, for which he is perhaps best known and admired for his delicate technique, are highly coveted by collectors.
The 53½-inch tall sculpture easily soared past its $6/9,000 estimate, and caused a bidding war between eight phone bidders, three in the room and several determined online buyers. “The action was hot and heavy on the floor and the phones until about $30,000, then it moved to the phone and Internet till $40,000,” Clarke said. “After that, two Internet bidders fought it out, with the lot finally hammering at $50,000, which is $62,500 with the buyer’s premium.” All prices quoted in this report include a 25 percent buyer’s premium.
The parade of marble sculptures continued with an ancient marble torso, 51 inches tall, that performed above estimate at 11,250; a Niccolao Marchetti signed marble sculpture of Cupid, 31½ by 15¼ by 16 inches and dated 1838, that outdid its $2/3,000 estimate to achieve $9,375 and a large and impressive sculpture of a boy riding a swan by Professor Pasquale Romanelli (1812-1887) going out at $10,625.
Another fine art standout that left its pre-sale estimate in the dust was an important oil-on-canvas painting by Gustave Jean Jacquet (French, 1846-1909), circa 1869-70, titled “Normande Young Girl Holding Chalice,” that brought came out a Connecticut estate. The 39½-by-28-inch painting was estimated at $8/12,000 but eager buyers pushed the lot to its final price of $31,250.
Also soaring over estimate was a Tiffany Studios Crocus table lamp, signed on the base and shade, having a 16-inch diameter, that earned $33,750, double its high estimate.
French cameo glass is a favorite among buyers here and routinely performs well; this sale being no exception. Leading this category was a choice 11-inch tall vase signed Galle, thought to depict Switzerland’s Lake Como and coming from a Long Island estate. It more than doubled its high estimate to bring $9,375. A 14-inch tall Daum Nancy vase having a landscape scene also performed well above estimate, earning $6,250.
Jewelry is a perennial strong seller at Clarke Auction Gallery and with the holidays mere weeks away at the time of the auction, perhaps bidders were considering gifts for that special someone. A platinum bracelet featuring ten marquis cut emeralds flanked by 12 bow-form pendants attained $11,875 and would certainly top anyone’s wish list. Clarke’s jewelry specialist Whitney Bria noted this piece had attracted much pre-sale attention.
“Emeralds and diamonds are timeless and this bracelet has that retro-yet-modern look,” she said. “The bracelet traces its provenance to a baroness and since it’s fit for royalty, it will certainly look great on the arm of a woman today.” Another top performer was a GIA-certified red coral beaded necklace with vintage graduated and knitted coral beads that more than tripled its high estimate to fetch $8,750.
Rounding out the auction were a pair of 19th-century S. Kirk & Son coin silver ewers with heavy repousse decoration of churches and castles with figures and having ram’s heads to handles, which sold for for $8,125; and a midcentury Bakalowits & Sohne “Miracle” chandelier, $5,750; and a 1952 Pablo Picasso Madoura pottery fish pitcher, $5,500.
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