KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – 20th century art – particularly works by artists of color – has attracted strong pre-sale interest at the Summer Case Antiques Auction, set for July 24-25 at the headquarters of Case Antiques Inc. Auctions & Appraisals in Knoxville, Tennessee. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The 1200-lot sale is headlined by 20th century art by Beauford Delaney, William Edmondson and Elizabeth Catlett, along with an extensive number of paintings by women artists and an original George Rodrigue Blue Dog painting. Also featured are two Tiffany Studios lamps and a collection of Grueby Pottery; early Americana from the estate of Israel Sack patron Charles Krum Davis Jr.; a massive trove of Southern and other silver; several important Chinese objects; and noteworthy collections of Southern and Mid-Century Modern furniture and decorative arts.
Black art has become a focal point for Case. The company recently hit the $500,000 mark for a carved limestone Preacher sculpture by William Edmondson, a Nashville native who became the first Black artist to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The company also sold the Nurse sculpture in 2016 which now permanently represents Edmondson at MOMA. The July 24-25 auction will feature one of Edmondson’s animal sculptures, a carved limestone “Critter” from a private Southern collection.
Also represented is the abstract expressionist painter Beauford Delaney, who grew up in Knoxville and eventually found fame in Paris in the 1950s. The vivid abstract canvas in this auction was found in the estate of the artist’s niece.
Equally notable works on offer include The Family, a bronze sculpture of a man, woman and child by Elizabeth Catlett, and two paintings by recently deceased Kentucky artist Helen LaFrance. Paintings by Joseph Delaney, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T. Smith, Mose Tolliver, Greg Ridley, and Purvis Young are also up for bid.
The sale features a large (36 by 48in) oil on canvas by George Rodrigue, depicting his classic Blue Dog in a Louisiana landscape; it will be included in the Rodrigue catalog raisonne currently being compiled by the artist’s estate. Other contemporary works include an abstract canvas titled Summer by John Millard Ferren; abstracts by David Kapp, Bimal Dasgupta, Jorge Fick, Viktor Schreckengost, and Douglas Denniston; a surrealist scene by Aaron Bohrod; and two works by Leon Dabo: one a dream-like landscape and the other a still life with flowers.
Charles Hawthorne’s influential “Mudhead” portraits, depicting subjects devoid of facial features to focus the eye instead on light and color, rarely come on the auction market, but this sale includes one with personal inscription. Other notable portraits include a 17th century Italian school painting of a noblewoman in the manner of Carlo Ceresa, and an oil portrait, likely 18th century, after a 16th century Old Master painting of a young artist, traditionally attributed to Domenico Caprioli and currently owned by The Hermitage in Russia. There is also an 18th century American portrait of a lady attributed to Robert Feke; a large folio Currier and Ives print, titled American Forest Scene or Maple Sugaring; and an outstanding circa-1838 watercolor depicting workers in a field, titled The Harvesters, painted by Elizabeth George while a student at the Jonesborough, Tennessee Female Academy and possibly inspired by the work of Pieter Brueghel.
An historic portrait of East Tennessee Judge John McKinney by Tennessee artist Samuel Shaver leads the regional art offerings. McKinney built the famed McKinney Tavern House, which hosted three U.S. Presidents and eventually, under the name Hale Springs Inn, became the longest continuously run inn in the state of Tennessee. There are also three Smoky Mountain oil landscapes by Cliff Dwellers studio founder Louis E. Jones, as well as oil landscapes by Southern artists John Chumley, Louis Oscar Griffith, Matilda Lotz, Nell Choate Jones, Mayna Avent, Margit Varga, Carl Sublett, and Cornelius Hankins. There are also silhouettes by Carew Rice, a Carroll Cloar double-sided drawing, a Red Grooms lithographed Double Decker Bus and prints by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner.
The name of early Americana collector, Remington Arms chairman, and devoted Israel Sack patron Charles Krum Davis may be better known in the Northeast than in the South. However, Davis’s son, Charles K. Davis, Jr., settled in Nashville and lived there until his death in 2020. A few key pieces inherited from his father are now being sold to settle Charles Davis Jr.’s estate, including a New England Queen Anne lowboy in old dark surface, a two-drawer William and Mary gateleg table attributed to Pennsylvania, and a Windsor armchair, both acquired through Sack, along with a collection of early lighting.
The collection of Dr. Robert and Diana Marsh of Georgia yields a tempting array of Southern furniture, including a painted Hepplewhite painted huntboard attributed to Georgia and a cherry one attributed to South Carolina; a Southern walnut cellaret; a Shenandoah Valley painted pie safe; and a Southern brandy board. There are four outstanding furniture forms from Hawkins County, Tennessee: an exuberantly figured walnut serpentine Sheraton chest of drawers, a scarce East Tennessee inlaid tea table, a Jackson Press, and a banquet end dining table. Collectors seeking Southern sugar chests have four examples to choose from, including a Hepplewhite inlaid form attributed to Davidson County and formerly owned by legendary Tennessee collector Dr. Benjamin Caldwell. Also formerly from the Caldwell collection is a set of six Chippendale period chairs attributed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. European furniture includes a set of 12 English Regency paint decorated chairs, a Chinoiserie painted leather screen, and tall case clocks by John Pickford and John Gilkes.
There are a significant number of Asian antiques from Southern estates in this auction. The Edith Bass estate included a large Chinese bronze Luduan form censer and a Qing Dynasty doucai floor vase, which descended in the Childs family with import documentation from 1930. Another Tennessee estate yielded a 14K gold figural dragon on stand, a white jade Guanyin figure and a bronze Archaic style censer with white jade finial. There are also two small bronze open censers, one with high relief gilded decoration and the other plain, with bronze lotus form base; a large Siamese gilt Buddha figure; a pair of Famille Rose yellow ground vases with rooster decoration; and a pair of Asian bronze Guanyin figures, along with several antique Famille Rose and monochromatic vases, flasks, and plaques.
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.
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