LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Provenance, quality and craftsmanship are hallmarks of Clarke Auction Gallery’s sale on Sunday, March 10, which highlights the best of the best when it comes to varied collecting tastes with pieces hailing from several important estates. Fine art and jewelry are especially well represented in this auction, but the sale runs the gamut from mid-century furniture and traditional antiques to decorative arts and Asian art. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
“Among the fine estates featured in this sale is a well-known mid-century builder’s home in Pound Ridge. I went on a house call here and this house was literally filled top to bottom with important mid-century pieces from paintings to furniture,” said owner and auctioneer Ronan Clarke. “This looks to be a very strong sale across the board and after buyers have been cooped up all winter, this auction is a terrific way to beat the winter blahs.”
Paintings are a staple at Clarke auctions and always a strong performer. Expected to do well here this time is a concentration of artwork by African-American artists, led by a Bob Thompson (1937-1966) oil on Masonite, Fearful Insider (above) from 1958 ($20,000-$30,000), 60 by 48 inches. Originally from the estate of the renowned New York art dealer Alexander Raydon, the painting is part of a pivotal group of works the artist painted while in Provincetown, Mass. Known for his commanding artworks, he painted around 1,000 artworks during a very short career. In the summer of 1958, he added figurative elements to his abstract painting and these early works are painted in dark earthy tones on Masonite. The Provincetown paintings were all exhibited in the 1958 Provincetown Arts Festival sponsored by the Chrysler Museum with Walter Chrysler buying 13 of the works. Today, few works are known from this group.
Another key artwork, also with Raydon provenance, is by Charles Alston (1907-1977), a signed 1951 oil on canvas titled Summer Afternoon (below; $10,000-$15,000), 18 by 24 inches. A pioneering Harlem Renaissance artist, Alston paved the way for the African-American artists who would come after him. In the 1930s, he founded the Harlem Artists Guild and was the first African-American supervisor to work for the WPA’s Federal Art Project in New York. Known for his portraits and powerful murals, it was his socio-politically charged artworks in the Civil Rights era surveying themes like inequality, race relations and the black experience in the United States that ensured his legacy.
Also sure to attract attention is Ralph Chesse’s (African-American, 1900-1991) signed and dated oil on canvas, Lot’s Wife and Family (Escape from Sodom and Gomorrah), ($8,000-$12,000) from 1944, 34 by 40 inches. The New Orleans native first picked up a brush at age 17 and was largely self-taught, inspired throughout his career by his childhood here. Bible stories often found their way into his paintings also. He later moved to California and while he only created one work for the WPA there, his artworks from the 1940s are part of the California Labor School.
“Our March sale is significant for its strength across several centuries of fine art. I am happy to be able to present collectors with the opportunity to purchase such disparate works as a Georgian portrait by Lemuel Francis Abbott and a mid-1970s abstract by the African-American painter Daniel LaRue Johnson,” said Clarke’s fine arts specialist William Schweller. “It is exciting to offer paintings by several major African-American artists such as Bob Thompson and Ralph Chesse, especially as the understanding of their importance in the development of postwar painting continues to grow.”
Paintings by quintessential American artists will also cross the block, including Grandma Moses’ (1860-1961) 1945 signed oil on board, “The Old Oaken Bucket,” ($20,000-$30,000), 8 by 17½ inches, and a Charles Henry Gifford (1839-1904) oil on canvas depicting a coastal seascape ($4,000-$6,000) from 1885, 13 by 18 inches.
European artists are also featured from an oil on canvas by Pierre Patel the Elder (French, 1605-1676), A scene in the Italian lake country ($10,000-$15,000), 17¼ by 21 inches, to a Circle of Noel Nicholas Coypel oil on canvas, Triumph of Venus ($6,000-$9,000), 35 by 45½ inches.
Competing with fine art for bidders’ attention, the jewelry category will provide a huge draw featuring choice pieces among gold, gemstones and watches. Expected headliners include a GIA-certified natural, unheated 20-carat Ceylon sapphire centering a vintage 14K yellow gold cocktail ring (above; $8,000-$12,000) with a surround of 24 diamond accents; a 3.04-carat marquise diamond and platinum ring flanked by trillion cut diamonds ($20,000-$30,000); a men’s Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Explorer II watch with a black dial ($5,000-$7,000) and a Roberto Coin Appasionata 18K yellow gold and diamond woven necklace made in Venice ($4,000-$6,000).
“An interesting aspect of our jewelry selection in this auction is the inclusion of GIA reports not just for diamonds but also for colored gems such as the Ceylon sapphire,” said Whitney Bria, Clarke’s jewelry specialist. “That this stone was found in Sri Lanka, the country of origin, and the fact that its color has not been altered through heating is important information to our buyers.” Bria noted they are also obtaining certification for a jade cabochon, a possibly Colombian emerald measuring one carat and another lot that may include a 3.3-carat ruby.
Sterling silver will also be a bright spot of the auction, led by a six-piece Gorham tea service, mid-19th century, comprised of a teapot, coffeepot, hot water kettle, creamer, sugar and lidded waste vessel. The service is embellished with acorn finials, applied medallions and etched vignettes flanked by floral urns and a surround of scrolls and foliage. Two choice serving trays, each estimated at $2,000-$3,000, will also cross the block: a Marshall Field serving tray having a repousse floral border and vignettes of dancing putti, 25½ inches wide, and a Georg Jensen Blossom oval serving tray with blossom form handles, and slightly hand-hammered finish in the Blossom pattern, 22 inches wide.
Mid-century furniture is also well represented in the auction and highlights include a Philip and Kelvin LaVerne bronze and pewter coffee table ($3,000-$5,000) having a rectangular top with rounded edges and etched decoration of Roman figures, 17½ by 69 by 23¼ inches; a pair of Grete Jalk rosewood armchairs with the original cushions ($1,000-$1,500), 31 by 28 by 28 inches; and an Arne Vodder, Sibast rosewood console, made in Denmark in the 1960s, 29½ by 51 by 21¾ inches.
Rounding out the auction will be a Steinway & Sons Model O baby grand piano in an ebonized case with bench ($6,000-$9,000), an antique 14K gold mesh purse inlaid with diamonds and sapphires, Russian and possibly Faberge, with Art Nouveau openwork design, maker’s mark of AA most probably representing Andre Adler; accompanied by an original fitted Faberge hinged box ($4,000-$6,000); and a 10-arm glass chandelier attributed to Baccarat with fine cut on its arms and gilt decoration throughout ($4,000-$6,000) and a group of four Buddhist figural bronzes and Vajra bell ($800-$1,200).
The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
For details contact Clarke Auction Gallery at 914-833-8336.