KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— A Southern socialite’s jewelry, a collection of French paintings, and two sculptures by important outsider artist William Edmondson make for appointment bidding at Case’s July 13 auction. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
The 773-lot auction, to be held at the company’s headquarters in Knoxville, also stars American and Southern paintings, fine silver, Arts and Crafts era lighting, collections of Southern pottery, and early Chinese export porcelain. Also featured are Asian and military mementos from a globe-trotting author and decorative arts from the widow of a U.S. ambassador.
The dazzling array of jewelry is led by a GIA-certified 7.32 carat oval brilliant cut diamond with desirable color and clarity (G-VS1), flanked in a gold setting by two fancy intense yellow diamonds, each over 1 carat (above). The ring comes from the estate of a prominent Southern woman whose collection also included a pair of 8.34 carat diamond studs and a Buccellati 18K collar necklace containing 52 diamonds. Other designer jewelry includes brooches, bracelets and earrings by Tiffany, Gabriel Ofiesh, Craig Drake, Jose Hess and Ilias Lalouis. Lovers of antique jewelry will appreciate an Art Deco sapphire and diamond ring with three diamonds, each over a carat; an Art Deco sapphire and diamond platinum bracelet and two Edwardian diamond brooches.
Headlining the sculpture category are a carved limestone rabbit and a carved limestone female figure, both by William Edmondson, the Tennessee sculptor who in 1937 became the first African American to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. In January, Case sold a William Edmondson female figure titled Miss Lucy for $324,000; now, they are offering Miss Amy (below), a similar Edmondson sculpture from the same estate, but with a more extensive exhibition history. Miss Amy depicts a woman from Edmondson’s Nashville church who had been, in his words, “uplifted” to heaven. As part of a national Edmondson retrospective in 2000, it was exhibited at four museums, including the Museum of American Folk Art, and the High Museum in Atlanta.
“What makes ‘Miss Amy’ especially desirable is the preservation of Edmondson’s chisel marks and the original patina,” noted company president John Case. “She was always used indoors as a doorstop, rather than a garden sculpture, which is what happened to many Edmondson figures before his work became so highly collectible.”
A vivid Impressionist oil on canvas by Henry Moret of fishing boats clustered in a French cove (below) leads a single-owner collection of French paintings in the sale. It was recently added to the Moret catalog raisonné. Also offered, and listed in their respective artists’ catalogs raisonné, are a Henri Lebasque Fauvist portrait of a girl sewing, and two works by Leon Lhermitte: an oil of haymakers in a field and a pastel of two washerwomen.
Leading the American art offerings is The Pea Shellers by Tennessee Impressionist painter Catherine Wiley, recently exhibited at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Although Wiley’s career came to a tragic early end in 1925 and her work rarely comes on the market, this auction also includes one of her landscapes, a vertically oriented oil painting of a sun-dappled path through a forest. A portrait by Wiley’s teacher Lloyd Branson, depicting his young niece, is also expected to draw interest, along with with a farm scene dotted with black Angus cattle by Tennessee painter Carroll Cloar, and an oil painting by Adelia Armstrong Lutz after William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s charming child portrait Little Knitter. Southern landscapes by John Spelman, Rudolph Ingerle, Thomas Campbell and Edward Kellogg are also up for bid.
Also offered is a large, verdant landscape by William Wendt, “the dean of California painters,” It was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905 and was recently discovered in a Tennessee estate. Other American art includes a large Howard Chandler Christy watercolor illustration of Eve from the book Seven Darlings, and a large oil of mallards taking flight, from acclaimed wildlife artist Lee Leblanc.
Contemporary art includes two Perle Fine abstract collages and two Victor Schreckengost watercolors, along with oil paintings by Hector Julio Carybe and Kurt Larisch. Works on paper include lithographs by Alexander Calder, Thomas Hart Benton, Salvador Dali, Ursula Fookes, Toulouse Lautrec, and Charley Harper, along with a Reynolds Beal circus watercolor, an Alfred Hutty drypoint, Discussion Group in Carolina, and five Whistler etchings.
The sale also features decorative arts from the estate of Jane Dudley of Nashville, widow of former Ambassador to Denmark, Guilford Dudley, including Flora Danica porcelain, armorial porcelain, French and Italian clocks, bronze candelabra, and a 19th century double-action pedal harp made by the J.F. Browne Co.
The auction encompasses more than 75 lots of silver from important makers, including Tiffany sterling flatware sets in the Audubon, Flemish and Faneuil patterns and flatware sets by Puiforcat, Buccellati, Kirk and Gorham. Antique hollowware includes a rare American Aesthetic Movement tureen by John Vansant, a similar one is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A Tiffany Studios table lamp with leaded Lemon Leaf shade and Mock Turtle bronze base leads a selection of Arts & Crafts period lighting that includes a Handel floor lamp with “Cattail” shade, a Handel boudoir lamp, and four Handel table lamps with leaded and reverse-painted glass shades.
A single owner collection of Carolina and Tennessee pottery anchors the offerings of Southern Decorative Arts. One of the most interesting pieces is also one of the smallest: a 4¾-inch-high Edgefield, South Carolina face jug, made at the Thomas Davies Factory (1861-1864) by an unknown African American potter.
Southern furniture includes a Middle Tennessee Jackson press with distinctive veneered frieze and glazed doors, and a rare southwest Virginia pie safe sideboard press with glazed triple door top and exuberant flowering urn-punched tins.
Case’s auction begins Saturday, July 13 at 9 a.m. Eastern time. For more information or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at 865-558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at 615-812-6096 or email email@example.com.