Unusual British portrait sells for $27K at Heritage Auctions

English School, 18th century, portrait of a gentleman in Turkish dress, traditionally thought to be Edward Wortley Montagu (1713-1776), oil on canvas, 56 x 43 inches. Price realized: $27,5000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – More than a dozen competitive bidders pursued a British portrait of a gentleman in Turkish dress, traditionally thought to be Edward Wortley Montagu (1713-1776) to $27,500 to claim top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions’ Fine & Decorative Arts Including Estates Auction Dec. 7-9. The strong return helped lift the total for the sale to $1.26 million. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

The final price for the top lot was more than four times its high estimate, a total driven by bids from 13 collectors. Coming to auction from a titled family, the portrait likely depicts Montagu, a fine linguist and eccentric figure. Montagu settled in Venice in 1773 after years of adventuring in the Middle East, where he lived in the Oriental style, and pretended he was the illegitimate son of the Turkish Sultan, which entitled him to wear the saffron turban of a prince of the Ottoman Empire.

Leading the lots from the Estate of Colletta Ray McMillian of Houston was a large French 13-panel chinoiserie grisaille wallpaper room screen, 19th century later mounted canvas, which tripled its low estimate when it climbed to $15,000.

Large French 13-panel chinoiserie grisaille wallpaper room screen, 19th century mounted to later canvas. Price realized: $15,000. Heritage Auctions image

A seven-piece Reed & Barton Francis I pattern silver tea and coffee service, Taunton, Massachusetts, drew $13,750, nearly doubling its high estimate. The set included a hot water kettle and stand, coffee pot, teapot, covered sugar, partial gilt open creamer, a partial gilt waste bowl and a tray.

With meticulously hand-painted florae drawn from an 18th-century botanical encyclopedia and sumptuous gilt details, the 20 lots of Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica pattern porcelain featured in the auction attracted the attention of multiple bidders. A 32-piece Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica pattern porcelain table service for eight, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1979-1983, and the 14 Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica pattern porcelain table articles, 20th century each closed at $16,250, more than double their low estimates.

Thirty-two piece Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica. Price realized: $16,250. Heritage Auctions image

Another highlight of the section was a 121-piece Christofle Cardeilhac Brienne pattern silver flatware service, Paris, designed 1991. The service closed at $5,000, within the estimate.

Nine collectors made bids on Guilloché Enamel, 14K vari-color gold, and diamond snuffbox in the manner of Fabergé, late 20th century until it climbed to $12,500, more than double its high estimate. Measuring 3 7/8 by 3 by 1 5/8 inches, and weighing 14.3 ounces, the snuffbox was housed in a fitted box.

A Spinach jade, 14K vari-color gold, diamond, guilloché enamel and cabochon-mounted egg on stand in the manner of Fabergé, late 20th century, sparked bids from more than a dozen collectors before finishing at $10,625, exceeding its high estimate by more than 77 percent. Standing 9 1/8 inches tall and weighing 30.4 ounces, with a hinged opening that reveals an integral bouquet surprise, the egg and stand were housed in a fitted box.

A dozen collectors drove the final price for Stanley Wanlass Spirit of the Automobile, 1986 to $8,125. The 27-inch bronze, with green patina, was editioned 14 of 30, and inscribed “Wanlass / 86 14/30” on the base.