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Clocks, cellos have lead roles in Fontaine’s auction March 24

A handcrafted cello by Leandro Bisiach (Italian, 1864-1946) is one of two Italian cellos in this sale. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Surprises and choice items will abound in Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s antiques and fine art auction on Saturday, March 24, at 11 a.m. From not one but three handcrafted Italian cellos to a rare French industrial animated cyclist mantle clock, a wealth of fine offerings will tempt buyers. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The auction will offer 275 lots, including bronze and marble statuary, art glass and cameo glass, fine clocks and watches, Royal Vienna and KPM porcelains, gold and diamond jewelry, fine silver, rare Italian cellos, 19th- and 20th-century lighting, American figural carved and Victorian furniture, Black Forest items, Asian and Russian items as well as Oriental rugs.

“People know us for clocks and this sale does not disappoint with several fine examples, including a charming and rare French industrial animated cyclist mantel clock but this auction has so much more to offer,” said owner/auctioneer John Fontaine. “The Italian cellos are absolutely beautiful — works of art in their own right — and leading fine art is a wonderful bronze sculpture by Ludovic Lucien Madrassi. Jewelry is also well represented with a pair of Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and turquoise pendant earrings.”

The expected headliner in the auction will be a handcrafted Grand Pattern Amati-style cello by Leandro Bisiach (Italian, 1864-1946), having some “Testore” influence. This important and early example, circa 1890, was built when the cello maker was working in Milan. It retains its original varnish; there is no evidence that the cello’s top was ever removed and the finish is mostly untouched. The cello (above) was stored in its accompanying case for nearly 60 years, was rarely used and is fresh to the market. It is estimated at $50,000 to $75,000.

Another attractive and handmade cello from 1926 is by Luigi Digiuni (Italian, 1878-1937), a product of the Cremonese school of violin making. The sound holes (f-holes) pay homage to Stradivarius’ early period design while the remaining features are much more exaggerated. The varnish formulated by Digiuni is original and untouched.

Fontaine’s enjoys a solid reputation for achieving strong, even record-setting, prices for fine clocks. This auction will feature the rare French industrial animated cyclist mantel clock in a rouge marble case (below). A bronze sculpture on top depicts a man standing with and walking his penny-farthing (high-wheel bicycle); the wheels are animated and driven by an individual heavy spring driven brass movement contained in the base. Signed “S. Marti & Cie,” the clock measures 15 by 11 ½ by 6 ¾ inches.

A French Industrial animated cyclist mantel clock has a marble case surmounted by a bronze sculpture of a man walking his bicycle, which has wheels that turn by an individual heavy spring-driven brass movement. It is 15 in. tall. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Other fine clocks crossing the block include a rare Benjamin Ward triple fusee bracket clock with black incised Roman hour numerals, pierce filigree corner spandrels, signed “Ben’j Ward, London” and silvered dial labeling four tunes: Minuet, Jigg, Cotillion and Cavot,  26 by 14 ½ by 8 ½ inches, and a rare Atmos-Reuter perpetual crystal regulator clock having a 4 ½-inch porcelain dial signed “Atmos, Pendule Perptuelle, Brevetes J.L. Reutter,” black Roman hour numerals and black open moon hands, 13 by 8 by 6 ¼ inches.

A rare Benjamin Ward triple fusee bracket clock. Signed, having a silvered dial with black incised Roman hour numerals, pierce filigree corner spandrels, 26 by 14 ½ by 8 ½ in. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

This sale has plenty of bling factor also, including a pair of 18K Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and turquoise pendant earrings, 3 ¼ inches long, and a Van Cleef & Arpels 18K white gold ring in with a floral bypass form with split shank.

This signed pair of 18K yellow gold, Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and turquoise pendant earrings is 3 ¼ in. long. Each has seven large prong-set turquoise cabochons and 80 diamonds. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Furniture offerings will be led by a walnut extra grade Wooton desk, a carved renaissance revival desk having a carved gallery with ornate corner pieces, large burled panels with incising throughout, and oversized doors curved at the top, 76 by 43 by 29 inches.

A furniture highlight in the sale is this walnut extra-grade Wooton carved renaissance revival desk, 76 by 43 by 29 in. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Also on offer is an R.J. Horner carved mahogany crystal cabinet with a pierced carved crest with figural winged putti, mountain men, medallions, filigree and scrollwork, 70 by 78 by 28 inches.

Leading a compact but choice selection of fine art is a bronze sculpture, Fortunatina, by Ludovic Lucien Madrassi (French, 1881-1956), depicting a nude figure of a woman standing on a conch shell with butterfly wings, medium dark brown patina, 52 by 15 by 17 inches.

Rounding out the sale is a 35-piece grouping of Yuchang Chinese Export sterling silver, including a  tray with open handles, a tilter teapot with stand and burner, two other teapots, and candlesticks for a total weight of about 28.4 pounds.

For details contact Fontaine’s Auction Gallery at 413-448-8922 or

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