Clementine Hunter, an artist pure and true

Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’ features a favorite motif of the artist: zinnias. It sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK – Sometimes described as the Deep South’s version of Grandma Moses, Clementine Hunter (1886 or 1887-1988) took up painting late in life, in the 1940s, when she was a grandmother. By then, she had seen many changes, living under Jim Crow laws and with the prolonged aftermath of slavery in the South.

Hunter was born and raised on the Hidden Hill Plantation near Natchitoches, Louisiana, and was the granddaughter of Creole people who had been enslaved. Hidden Hill is said to be the inspiration for the famed anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and it was later renamed Little Eva Plantation after a character in the book. At age 15, Hunter’s father was hired as a laborer at Melrose Plantation down the road. She followed him there to pick cotton, and saw that plantation devolve from a functional farming operation to surviving only by welcoming artists in residence.

One of Clementine Hunter’s earliest paintings was ‘Early Funeral’, which she painted on a window shade. The work achieved $70,000 in September 2021 and holds the world record for the artist at auction. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
One of Clementine Hunter’s earliest paintings was ‘Early Funeral’, which she painted on a window shade. The work achieved $70,000 in September 2021 and holds the world record for the artist at auction. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Like many self-taught Southern folk artists, Hunter made her art with found materials. According to the National Museum for Women in the Arts, she rendered her first painting, depicting a baptism in the river, on a window shade with paints discarded by one of the Melrose Plantation artists. “She used whatever surfaces she could find, drawing and painting on canvas, wood, gourds, paper, snuff boxes, wine bottles, iron pots, cutting boards, and plastic milk jugs,” the museum’s website states.

‘Doctor Comes A’ Callin’’, a circa-1940s work by Clementine Hunter, went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
‘Doctor Comes A’ Callin’’, a circa-1940s work by Clementine Hunter, went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Describing her as a memory painter, Steve Slotin, co-owner and operator of Slotin Folk Art Auction in Buford, Georgia, said Hunter portrayed the plantation and its rural setting and culture, which was fast disappearing. “She saw a whole different lifestyle than most people would ever have the opportunity to see – cotton picking, harvesting of pecans, the [river] baptisms, and the simple life of living in this rural existence,” Slotin said. “She documented it all and did it in a very pure and simple way that still resonates.” One such documentary work by Hunter is Doctor Comes A’ Callin’, recording an era when doctors would routinely make house calls to see patients. The circa-1940 oil on cardstock went for $15,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020 at Slotin.

Hunter’s gift emerged when the Melrose Plantation curator-artist Francois Mignon gave her some art materials, and she returned the next morning with a finished painting. “He recognized it as her having a lot of talent and encouraged her to continue,” Slotin said. Her work improved after she received a steady stream of better materials, freeing her from scavenging nearly empty paint tubes from the artists’ trash. “That’s really how she got started,” he said.

Detail shot of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail shot of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Her fame truly spread when Look magazine ran a feature story on her in 1953 and the Delgado Museum (now known as the New Orleans Museum of Art) mounted a solo exhibit of her work in 1955, the first time a Louisiana museum did so for an African American artist. Segregation laws barred Hunter from seeing it during the museum’s public hours, however.

Neal Auction Company in New Orleans has witnessed a lot of interest in paintings by the Louisiana artist from collectors both near and far. “The market for Clementine Hunter’s work has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years, with new collectors continually joining the fray. Her works are consigned to us primarily from the South, but are increasingly going to collections both private and public nationwide,” said Marney N. Robinson, the firm’s director of fine art.

Detail of Clementine Hunter’s signature on ‘Early Funeral’, which achieved $70,000 in September 2021. It represents the world auction record for the artist. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail of Clementine Hunter’s signature on ‘Early Funeral’, which achieved $70,000 in September 2021. It represents the world auction record for the artist. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

The top price on the LiveAuctioners platform for Clementine Hunter is Early Funeral, the aforementioned oil painting on a window shade laid on Masonite, which attained $70,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021 at Neal Auction Company. “This work is a particularly early example from Hunter,” Robinson said. “It came from the estate of Iris Brittain Rayford, who amassed one of the most important collections of early Hunters seen to date.”

‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, an oil on board by Clementine Hunter, made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, an oil on board by Clementine Hunter, made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

Clementine Hunter’s oeuvre draws its appeal from its subject matter and its honesty. “Entirely self-taught, she disregarded formal perspective and scale to create vibrant scenes that were both autobiographical and universal in many ways,” Robinson said. Hunter realized a vivid tableau of plantation activities in Woman Carrying Gourds, an oil on board that made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Neal Auction Company in September 2021 and also came from the Iris Brittain Rayford collection.

Detail of Clementine Hunter’s ‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, which made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.
Detail of Clementine Hunter’s ‘Woman Carrying Gourds’, which made $68,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2021. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company and LiveAuctioneers.

“Collectors value genuineness, a strong quality in Hunter’s and many other self-taught artists’ works. I see collectors gravitating toward this rawness and also looking to strengthen their collections with works by women artists and those previously overlooked in the traditional canon,” Robinson said. “Hunter not only became a successful female Black artist, but her work also largely featured strong women undertaking the tasks of traditional country life.”

Slotin has watched the market for Hunter’s work soar to unprecedented heights. “It’s a little mind-blowing for us, because in the ‘80s we were trying to present her work to the public, and we were getting $1,000 to $2,000 for a painting,” he said. “Now you see them at $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000, and the market has tightened up a bit as more collectors get in and there are fewer works available.”

An untitled circa-1980s oil on board by Clementine Hunter showing Melrose Plantation, her home starting when she was a teenager, realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.
An untitled circa-1980s oil on board by Clementine Hunter showing Melrose Plantation, her home starting when she was a teenager, realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

He has also seen Hunter’s work attract the attention of art forgers. Bogus Hunters were prevalent enough in the late 2000s to prompt an FBI investigation. Robinson said her auction house defended itself against this grim fact by developing a relationship with Tom Whitehead, a longtime friend of the artist, to authenticate all Hunter paintings it offers. Among the works authenticated by Whitehead is an untitled Hunter painting of Melrose Plantation, her home as of her teenage years, which realized $18,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2024 at Swann Auction Galleries.

This 1950 oil on canvas board painting by Clementine Hunter, ‘Baptismal Procession’, earned $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2023. Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers.
This 1950 oil on canvas board painting by Clementine Hunter, ‘Baptismal Procession’, earned $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2023. Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers.

Hunter’s religious-themed works rank among her most sought-after subjects. Baptismal Procession, an oil on canvas board dating to 1950, sold for $17,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Auctions at Showplace in May 2023. The epitome of folk art, this energetic painting depicts people holding parasols outside a church while others gather in the river to be baptized. As is typical for Hunter, she paints her figures in bright colors.

Another detail of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.
Another detail of Clementine Hunter’s circa-1970s painting ‘Uncle Tom & Eliza in the Flower Garden’, which sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021. Image courtesy of Slotin Folk Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Another of Hunter’s favorite things were zinnias, a flower that loves warm weather and blooms across the South. Uncle Tom & Eliza in Flower Garden, an oil on canvas panel seemingly teeming with zinnias, sold for $16,500 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2021 at Slotin.

Clementine Hunter was both an artist and an archivist, documenting a bygone era with clarity and color. Driven to capture visions of the life she knew, she shared her art with countless others who saw its power and its grace. Though it might look unstudied and even crude, the fundamental purity and the truth of her work shines forth and moves viewers, regardless of where and when they were born.

‘Gone With The Wind’ shooting script could exceed $25K at Piece of the Past April 28

'Gone with the Wind' original shooting script bound by producer David O. Selznick, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Piece of the Past.

TEMPE, AZ — An original shooting script for Gone with the Wind is among the many stars of stage and screen that come under the hammer without reserve on Sunday, April 28. The script, one of the few that escaped destruction during the rewrites, is estimated at $15,000-$25,000 in the Piece of the Past auction now open on LiveAuctioneers.

Bringing Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic to the big screen proved a famously herculean task, replete with countless changes and revisions. Gone with the Wind is a Holy Grail of film-script collecting because most of them were gathered up by producer David O. Selznick and burned. Only a handful of the January 24, 1939 shooting scripts are known to have survived, with this example (numbered 00111) having been professionally bound and given as a gift by Selznick himself. The inscription in ink reads For Yvette Curran, The Champion fan of GWTW David O. Selznick Twenty-five years later! It was last sold by Profiles in History in the 1990s.

Also offered in this no-reserve sale is an umbrella signed by Singing in the Rain star Gene Kelly (1912-1996) in the year before he died. The catalog entry records that Kelly was signing 100 photos for charity when Piece of the Past specialist Kevin Martin said, “I bet people ask you to sign their umbrellas all the time.” When Kelly said he could not recall ever signing one, he boldly signed his own umbrella and gave it to Martin as a souvenir. In his personal collection for more than 25 years, it will be offered with an estimate of $1,750-$3,500.

Expected to lead the line at the ‘1 of a Kind’ auction is a Babe Ruth-signed league ball that features ‘the best darkest signature to come to market in some time’, together with faded ink notes detailing how it was acquired. Offered with full credentials, it is estimated at $50,000-$100,000.

Pair of 18th-century side tables from Scottish country house exceed $289K at Lyon & Turnbull

Circa-1770 pair of Italian giltwood tables with brecce pernice marble tops, which hammered for £220,000 ($278,675) and sold for £288,200 ($289,060) with buyer’s premium at Lyon & Turnbull on March 27.

EDINBURGH, UK – A pair of 18th-century Italian giltwood side tables from a Scottish country house hammered for £220,000 ($278,675) and sold for £288,200 ($289,060) with buyer’s premium at Lyon & Turnbull on March 27. They were consigned from Penicuik House in Midlothian, where they had likely been since the 18th century. Full results for the auction can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

The pair of giltwood side tables, with their somewhat menacing dolphins or sea serpents carved to the frieze, do not appear in the Penicuik papers or invoices, but they were recorded among the pieces saved from a fire at the house in 1899. It is believed that the impressively thick 4ft 11in by 2ft 9in (1.57m by 82cm) brecce pernice marble slabs may have been part of the shipment of marble slabs sent to Penicuik from Rome in the late 1760s. The transaction was arranged by John Baxter the Younger, the son of Penicuik’s chief architect, John Baxter.

Following interest from all across the US, Europe, and the UK, and following a long bidding battle between the internet and the phones, the tables sold to an international buyer some distance above the £40,000-£60,000 ($50,665-$75,995) estimate.

Penicuik Estate, situated to the southwest of Edinburgh at the foot of the Pentlands in Scotland, has been owned by descendants of the merchant John Clerk (1611-1674) since the middle of the 17th century. Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet of Penicuik (1709-1783) built a neo-Palladium house there in the 1760s, appointing John Baxter as the architect and James Blaikie as his master carpenter.

In June 1899 a fire gutted the building, although most of the original furniture and works of art were saved. After the 18th-century house was demolished, the adjacent Georgian stable block was converted into the family home. As the property is now being used for leisure and hospitality, the Clerk family offered 69 lots of furniture and works of art at the Lyon & Turnbull sale titled Home & Heritage: Property from Three Historic Houses.

PEZ dispensers bring sugary action to Bruneau & Co. April 27

PEZ No-Feet Truck Dispenser Group, estimated at $100-$200 at Bruneau.

CRANSTON, RI — Fourteen highly curated lots of vintage PEZ dispensers will be offered Saturday, April 27 at Bruneau & Co.‘s Comics, Sports, TCG and Toy Auction. The 393-lot catalog is now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Created in 1927 in Austria by Eduard Haas III, PEZ candy has almost taken the back seat to the worldwide mania to its colorful and ingenious line of dispensers. Everything from Disney characters to Looney Tunes stars have adorned the ‘headed’ dispenser variant, stoking demand from collectors everywhere.

One of the most interesting lots in the sale is a grouping of six PEZ ray gun shooter dispensers. Created between 1956 and 1982, the dispensers ‘shoot’ the candy into the hand or mouth of the recipient. The stylized ray gun designs emulate Buck Rogers blasters of the 1930s and the Colt 1908 Vest Pockets that chamber .25 ACP. The lot has already reached its high estimate of $400 and will certainly go higher.

In 1970 PEZ rolled out Mr. Ugly and his Friends, a line of ‘alternative’ characters for which the company would not have to pay any license fees. Today they are highly desirable among collectors of what are known as ‘footed’ dispensers. The sale includes a group of 13 color variations of Mr. Ugly, with an estimate of $200-$400 and a current bid of $350, ensuring the high estimate will be eclipsed.

Owing to the 1960s popularity of Matchbox toys, PEZ marketed vehicular no-feet truck dispensers very similar in appearance to the die-cast toys. This group of trucks totals 28 different color variations, and is estimated at $100-$200.

Two 1955 PEZ full-body robot dispensers date to 1955. They are marked MADE IN AUSTRIA, stand 3.75in in height, and carry an estimate of $200-$400.

Louis Vuitton custom luggage for a rubber duck travels to Sworders April 30

Bespoke Louis Vuitton traveling trunk for a rubber duck called Canard Willy, estimated at £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935) at Sworders.

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET, UK – An extraordinary single-owner collection of more than 30 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage – including a bespoke trunk made for a large rubber duck – comes to auction this month. The array of luxury travel accessories, all covered in the iconic LV monogram canvas, form part of SwordersDesign sale on Tuesday, April 30. The catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The duck trunk, measuring 13.3 by 9.4 by 10.6in (34 by 24 by 27cm), is the only one in existence – the design and manufacture a collaboration between its owner, a British gentleman who chooses to remain anonymous, and the senior design team at Louis Vuitton in Paris. It was made to house ‘Canard Willy’, a favorite 10in (26cm) yellow rubber duck, to ensure it traveled in the style to which it had become accustomed. Wearing his sou’wester hat, Willy was a frequent flyer on the Concorde between London and New York and has visited an estimated 35 countries.

The trunk, Canard Willy, and a miniature rubber duck with its own Louis Vuitton carrying case was given to the owner by the French firm following its production. All will be traveling to a new home with bids invited between £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935).

In the world of haute couture, few patterns or motifs can rival the instant recognition of the Louis Vuitton monogramed canvas. The design originated in 1896 under George Vuitton. He hoped a copyrighted design that paid tribute to his late father would put a stop to counterfeiting of the firm’s state-of-the-art luggage. The canvas soon became a frequent sight on the glamorous ocean liners on which the social elite traveled the world.

The collection of modern LV luggage and paraphernalia offered at Sworders dates primarily from the 1980s and has been professionally cared for by Louis Vuitton in Paris when not in use. In addition to classic Alzer and Super President cases in a multitude of sizes, estimated at prices from £700-£1,800 ($890-$2,285) each, are a series of bespoke items.

A traveling bar is particularly smart: the vendor used it frequently on transatlantic flights when craving a gin and tonic. The case opens to reveal a full complement of silver components custom made by Christofle of Paris. Four beakers, an ice bucket, ice cube tongs, a decanter, and a garnish pot all carry the unique stamping ‘Christofle Pour Louis Vuitton’. Like many of the pieces in the sale, it comes with its luggage tag and dust bag. Sworders expects this exclusive one-off will command £18,000-£22,000 ($22,855-$27,935).

Also made-to-order is a canvas valise à chaussures ‘Géminé’ shoe trunk, with compartments for 12 pairs of shoes, estimated at £7,000-£10,000 ($8,900-$12,695), and a trunk for wristwatches, estimated at £12,000-£15,000 ($15,235-$19,040). Inside the latter are three mechanized watch displays, two pull-out trays with cushions and compartments, and a hidden compartment containing a leather pouch for watch tools.

Horror comic that scandalized a senator could scare up $9K at PBA April 25

EC Comics, Crime Suspenstories No. 22, estimated at $6,000-$9,000 at PBA.

BERKELEY, CA — PBA Galleries will present an EC, MAD, Pre-Code Horror and R. Crumb sale on Thursday, April 25 featuring scandalous horror comics of the 1950s, early MAD comics featuring the work of legendary illustrator Harvey Kurtzman, and a selection of Robert Crumb and countercultural Underground comix. The 429-lot catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Leading the sale is the infamous EC Comics CrimeSuspenStories April-May 1954 issue that landed publisher William Gaines (1922-1992) a date with the Senate Subcommittee On Juvenile Delinquency, which was investigating whether and how comic books might be warping the minds of America’s young people. With cover art by Johnny Craig (1926-2001), the issue caused a sensation with the depiction of an axe murderer holding the severed head of his female victim. Gaines was always overweight, and was dieting at the time of the hearing by taking dexedrine, then a popular diet drug better recognized now as an amphetamine. Flying high initially, Gaines later said he “crashed and burned” as the hearing dragged on, becoming unable to offer coherent answers to senators on the subcommittee. His most famous interchange where he was still amped on speed was with Senator Estes Kefauver (1903-1963) of Tennessee:

SENATOR KEFAUVER: “Here is your May issue. This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman’s head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that’s in good taste?”

GAINES: “Yes, sir, I do – for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the blood could be seen dripping from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.”

The example of the comic book on offer at PBA is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.

Just two years earlier, Gaines launched what would become his star franchise, MAD Magazine. Dated October-November 1952, MAD Magazine #1 is coveted by all comics collectors. Its cover was penned by Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993), who had been upset that fellow EC illustrator Al Feldstein was making more than he was. To allay the situation, Gaines suggested a solution: EC would launch a new title for Kurtzman to edit, boosting his pay by 50%. As the lot notes attest, ‘The result was sheer MADness.’ The book is estimated at $2,500-$3,500.

The sale also includes a Charles Plymell first printing of ZAP COMIX No. 1. Released in November 1967, this was the publication that exploded the Baby Boomer “counterculture comix” revolution. With an initial printing of 5,000, this is “the Action Comics #1 of the underground,” according to Jay Kennedy’s Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide. Original-run copies have a 25¢ cover price and bear the words ‘Printed by Charles Plymell’ on the back cover. It is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.

John Swisegood Inlaid Walnut Corner Cupboard leads our five auction highlights

Inlaid walnut corner cupboard made by John Swisegood, which hammered for $33,000 and sold for $41,250 with buyer’s premium at Leland Little on March 15.

John Swisegood Inlaid Walnut Corner Cupboard, $41,250

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – John Swisegood (1796-death date unknown) lived in the Zink family’s log cabin constructed by John Jacob Zink (1788-1866) while building this inlaid walnut corner cupboard from timber milled on the farm around 1814.

The cupboard was bequeathed to John Jacob’s son, who went by the name Joseph Sink (1827-1892) and lived in the cabin his entire life, aside from the years he was in the Confederate Army. Subsequently, the cupboard passed to Joseph’s son, David Henderson Sink (1860-1934), who lived at the cabin until he married at age 20. The cupboard then passed to David’s son, Odell Sink (1902-1966); and then to Odell’s son, Jimmie Sink (1930-2007); and finally to Jimmie’s son, Keith Sink, who consigned it to Leland Little for its March 15 Decorative Art Auction.

Starting at just $150, bidding immediately jumped to $19,500 and continued to a final hammer of $33,000, selling for $41,250 with buyer’s premium.

Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder Camera With 53mm Xpres Lens, $37,780

Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder camera with a 53mm Xpres lens by Ross of London, which hammered for £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium at Chiswick Auctions on March 21.
Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder camera with a 53mm Xpres lens by Ross of London, which hammered for £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium at Chiswick Auctions on March 21.

LONDON – Austin Farahar, head of cameras and photography at Chiswick Auctions, was recently contacted by a budding documentary photographer in Vienna who had received a collection of old cameras from his in-laws. Staying up into the early hours to research his new acquisitions, at around 4 am in the morning he had come across a rare British pre-war precision camera that matched one of his new acquisitions. Farahar was delighted to confirm his hunch and suggested an auction estimate of £20,000-£30,000 ($25,280-$37,925).

The Ensign Multex Model O Rangefinder was made in two models between 1936 and 1938. It was described in Ensign catalogs as ‘a precision miniature camera of unrivaled merit without any of the disadvantages of extreme long length of film, necessitating a large number of exposures before developing.’ Costing as much as many Leica cameras at the time, it was sold with a range of five lenses ascending in price from 19 pounds, 10 shillings to 40 pounds. The Ross Xpres f/.9 lens included with this example was among the most expensive additions, and it is highly prized today.

Farahar says that fewer than five similar cameras had been offered at auction in the last 20 years, and estimates that fewer than 50 were ever made. Prices for cameras with this lens have rocketed as a result. One of these made £31,000 ($39,200) at Flints in Berkshire, England in November 2022. The estimate for Chiswick’s new discovery was spot on: it took £23,000 ($29,060) and sold for £29,900 ($37,780) with buyer’s premium as part of the March 21 sale titled The Bigger Picture: Fine Photographica & Panoramas. The vendor plans to use some of the proceeds from the sale to fund a photography trip to Ukraine, and is considering eye surgery so he can use his camera without the need for glasses. 

J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ $58,470

J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ which hammered for £37,000 ($46,775) and sold for £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium at Cheffins on March 20.
J. M. W. Turner, ‘The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan's Chapel, St David's Cathedral, Wales,’ which hammered for £37,000 ($46,775) and sold for £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium at Cheffins on March 20.

CAMBRIDGE, UK – A previously unknown watercolor by Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner (1775-1851) emerged at Cheffins on March 20 as part of the first day of its Fine Sale.

Titled by the artist on the reverse as The Entrance to Bishop Vaughan’s Chapel, St David’s Cathedral, Wales, it was identified from a preliminary illustration from Turner’s own sketchbooks and had been hanging in a Suffolk, England country house collection since at least 1990.

According to Cheffins, the composition draws upon Turner’s 1795 tour of South Wales and is the only fully worked up watercolor of St. David’s in Pembrokeshire. His South Wales Sketchbook includes four architectural studies which relate to his visit to St. David’s, two of which are inscribed with Turner’s own title in his hand – St David’s: Part of the Ruins of the Bishop’s Palace; Bishops [sic] Throne, St. Davids Cathedral; Bishops Vaughan [sic] Chapel and St. David’s: Porch of the Great Hall of the Bishop’s Palace.

Estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,205-$37,810), bidders determined to own the work sent the final hammer to £37,000 ($46,775) or £46,250 ($58,470) with buyer’s premium.

Early 19th-century Enamel Lorgnette by Lacloche of Paris, $4,225

Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium at Selkirk Auctioneers on March 15.
Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, which hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium at Selkirk Auctioneers on March 15.

ST. LOUIS – Dr. J. William Rosenthal (1922-2007) was a prominent ophthalmologist in New Orleans who enjoyed collecting, documenting, and studying antique eyewear. So accomplished in this realm did he become that he authored the 1994 book Spectacles and Other Vision Aids: A History and Guide to Collecting, the most comprehensive history written on the development of eyeglasses from Europe, America, Japan, and China.

Optical devices from his collection can be found in more than 16 museums, including the Museum of Vision of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. His family has taken the remaining items from his estate and placed them at auction. Selkirk Auctioneers featured this Napoleonic-era enamel lorgnette, eyewear that employs a handle rather than arms to go behind the ear. Marked Lacloche – Paris, the presale estimate was a modest $200-$500. After nearly 40 bids, the eyewear hammered for $3,250 and sold for $4,225 with buyer’s premium, making it the top lot from the Rosenthal collection that appeared at the March 15 Spectacles & Other Vision Aids sale.

Jean-Michel Frank Pedestal Tables, $211,435

CAPTION: Pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank, which hammered for €150,000 ($162,630) and sold for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.
Pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank, which hammered for €150,000 ($162,630) and sold for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.

PARIS – A 1930 pair of pedestal tables by Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) are moving to only its third home in nearly 100 years after hammering for €150,000 ($162,630) and selling for €195,000 ($211,435) with buyer’s premium at Piasa on March 20.

Tucked into a 208-lot French design catalog, the gilded bronze tables had received a €30,000-€40,000 ($32,530-$43,370) estimate from Piasa’s catalogers. Nearly two dozen bids pushed the price well beyond that range to the final hammer. Originally purchased from Frank by Juan Tolosa of Argentina, the set eventually was sold to a private London collector, who consigned them to Piasa.

Frank’s minimalist designs continue to flood the market in response to recent high prices realized. Many items require investigation, as many houses now refer to them as being ‘in the manner/style of Jean-Michel Frank.’

Second tranche of the Prince Collection comes to Apollo April 27-28

New Kingdom Egyptian Tall Wooden Ushabti Of Sethi I, estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,000-$38,000) at Apollo.

LONDON – Following a January auction that introduced The Prince Collection of antiquities, more objects from this aristocratic assemblage are included Apollo Art Auctions’ Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28 sale. Formed from the 1990s through 2014, most pieces were acquired through leading European dealers.

A highlight of the ancient Egyptian category is an Amarna-period sandstone relief that depicts a pharaoh worshiping rays emitted by the god Aten. Its subject is probably Akhenaten, the radical pharaoh who is among the most compelling fully documented figures from the ancient world.

His 17-year reign from circa 1352-1336 BC during the 18th Dynasty marked an important break from tradition. At the death of his powerful father Amenhotep III, he changed his name to Akhenaten, moved the capital from Thebes to the new city of Akhetaten (which is modern-day Tel el-Amarna) and substituted the traditional polytheism for a new monotheistic cult centered around the deified sun disc, Aten. He ruled with his wife, Queen Nefertiti.

The styles that flourished under Akhenaten, known as Amarna art, are unique in the history of Egyptian royal art. Representations are more expressionistic, exaggerated, and stylized. The often ‘unflattering’ portrayals of Akhenaten with a sagging stomach and broad hips are hinted at in this small relief that is estimated at £40,000-£60,000 ($50,000-$75,000).

The ancient Greeks viewed snakes as benevolent creatures with the power to heal. The association endured for centuries, with the image of a snake later being included in the caduceus, the international symbol of medicine and toxicology. A circa-500-300 BC black-glazed terracotta snake figurine from the Prince collection displays impressive realism and at 18in is life-size. Bought from dealership Jean David Cahn at TEFAF in 2020, it is estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($25,000-$38,000).

A pair of sensational Sumerian copper cups with conical bodies are adorned with protomes of bulls and rosettes, and spread-winged birds of prey, respectively. Created circa-2600-2200 BC, they display a level of sophistication that was well ahead of its time. The cups were acquired for the Prince collection in 2010 from a UK private collection that was formed in the 1970s-1990s and are estimated at £40,000-£60,000 ($50,000-$75,000).

Also from the Prince collection are antiquities formerly in the possession of The Hans Goedicke Foundation of Egyptology unearthed during the famous excavation at Abu Simbel, and the family collection of Dr. Rudolf Schmidt (1900-1970), much of which had previously been acquired from the Barbier-Mueller family. They include an Egyptian greywacke bowl from the Early Dynastic period, dating to circa-3100-2700 BC and estimated at £6,000-£9,000 ($6,400-$9,600).

From a different source are a series of Egyptian objects collected by Mrs. B. Ellison, a former member of the Egyptian Exploration Fund (EEF), a Victorian organization founded in 1882 with the primary objective of exploring, surveying, and excavating Egyptian locales. This array of 37 small finds were bought during the 1940s in Cairo and London. Typical are a series of Late Period faience amulets estimated at £750-£1,500 each.

The auction also offers the opportunity to bid on a complete set of Egyptian stone and wood pseudo-canopic jars, which were designed to safeguard the organs of the deceased during the mummification process. This set, estimated at £12,000-£20,000 ($15,000-$25,000), date to the Ptolemaic Period, with each stone jar topped with a carved wooden head embodying the protective spirit of one of the four sons of Horus.

Similar to an example in the Met Museum collection is a wooden ushabti of Sethi I (New Kingdom, circa 1408-1372 BC). Rarer than its stone or faience counterparts, decades ago it belonged to the American artist Arthur Bowen Davies (1860-1928). Its estimate is £20,000-£30,000 ($25,000-$38,000).

A Roman white marble head depicting Dionysus, the god of wine and pleasure, is carved in archaic style with idealized fixed features and dates to circa 200 AD. It was probably part of a herm, the squared stone pillars topped by a carved head and used in ancient times as a boundary marker or signpost. Most recently the property of a London gentleman, it was previously in a Paris collection. Its estimate is £40,000-£60,000 ($50,000-$75,000).

Anyone wishing to party like it’s 450 BC might draw inspiration from an Attic red-figure kylix, an ancient form of wine vessel for social events. Painted with a departure scene, it is thought to have been decorated in the workshop dubbed by art historians as ‘Brussels R330.’ Its provenance marks it among the antiquities once held at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire, England, and it has an estimate of £7,500-£15,000 ($9,000-$19,000).

Two influential European botanical plate books featured at Jeschke Jadi April 27

One of the 100 plates from Christoph Jacob Trew’s book 'Plantae Selectae', estimated at €24,000-€30,000 ($26,000-$32,000) at Jeschke Jadi Auctions in Berlin.

BERLIN — First editions of two influential European botanical plate books lead the offering of Rare Books, Prints and Art at Jeschke Jadi Auctions on Saturday, April 27. Copies of Christoph Jacob Trew’s Plantae Selectae and Frederick Sander’s Reichenbachia are estimated at €24,000-€30,000 ($26,000-$32,000) and €6,000-€7,500 ($6,000-$8,000), respectively.

Published between 1750 and 1773, Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortis curiosorum (A selection of plants from natural specimens nurtured in London’s curious gardens) is considered the most important botanical work ever printed in Germany.

Christoph Jacob Trew (1695-1769), a wealthy doctor and amateur botanist from Nuremberg, hired local engravers Johann Jacob Haid and Johann Elias Haid to produce the 100 plates that were based on drawings he had purchased piecemeal from the great flower painter Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-1770). Beginning his working life as a gardener’s apprentice near Heidelberg, Ehret lived and worked in London in the 1740s when he associated with both Sir Hans Sloan and Phillip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

As Trew died before the last of the three parts had been finished, the project was only completed with the help of Benedict Christian Vogel, a professor of botany at the University of Altdorf. The copy of the book on offer is described as ‘extremely well-preserved with contemporary coloring of the plates.’

One of the more extravagant publishing projects of the late 19th century was Frederick Sander’s Reichenbachia: Orchids illustrated and described… published in London between 1888 and 1894.

Named in honor of the celebrated orchidologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1824-1889), it features 192 chromolithographic plates by the artist Henry Moon (1857-1905) that were fashioned from hand-cut wooden blocks and used as many as 20 different colored inks. The cost to Sanders, the owner of a successful nursery in St. Albans, was well above £7,000 (something like £1 million or $1.25 million in today’s money), and the project almost ruined him. This copy comes in a contemporary half-leather binding, with each plate protected by a tissue guard.

Spectacular 19th-century Steinway concert grand piano takes center stage at Nadeau’s April 27

Steinway Rosewood Inlaid Model D Centennial Concert Grand Piano, estimated at $100,000-$150,000 at Nadeau's.

WINDSOR, Conn. — A spectacular 19th-century Steinway concert grand piano will be offered at Nadeau’s Auction Gallery on Saturday, April 27. Leading the Annual American and Chinese Spring Auction is an instrument that won best in class at the 1876 World’s Fair. It is estimated at $100,000-$150,000. The sale catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Debuted at the Philadelphia Expo, where it won the gold medal for ‘best concert grand piano,’ it is thought that 424 Model D Centennial pianos were manufactured by Steinway between 1876 and 1883. This one, carrying the serial number 47889 that dates it to circa 1881, is housed in a monumental rosewood and marquetry rococo-style case. Only four of these so-called ‘no expense spared’ cases are known, with this one the sole example to include a newly patented action with 88 keys and A440 tuning.

It was owned by pharmaceutical pioneer Kenneth Alan Hill (1941-2020) of Fort Worth, Texas, who treasured it as a focal point of his mansion, the historic Baldridge House. Restored by Precision Piano Services in California, the piano has recently received a full concert service and maintenance.