For emphasis, Brunk chose Cody’s Chinese Imperial bowls for the cover of the sale’s color catalog. The pair, differing slightly in height and diameter, is decorated with nine blue peaches on a yellow ground with Qianlong (1736-1795) seal marks. Presale estimate on the pair is $50,000-$80,000.
Also of note from the Cody collection: a Chinese lidded jar in yellow glaze with an impressed seal for Daognang (1821-1850) and a Chinese aubergine-glazed bowl with a blue six-character mark for Yongzheng (1723-1735). The 11½-inch jar is expected to bring $6,000-$12,000; the 1 5/8-inch by 8 1/8-inch bowl, $5,000-$10,000.
For good measure, Brunk added 70 lots of Chinese art from other private collections that would, quite possibly, attract the attention of antique dealers from China. Midway through the collection of porcelain, pottery, bronze censors and carved stones is a 7 5/8-inch by 3 3/4-inch blue and white meiping (human form) vase. In blue underglaze are rocks, bamboo, roses, saplings, butterflies and a blooming prunus tree. Four lug handles are at the top; two horizontal slots at the bottom. The vase, estimated at $15,000-$30,000, descended in the family of Ferdinand Howard, an Ohio benefactor to the Columbus Museum of Art.
There’s a strange bull loose in the Brunk Auctions’ china shop. The beast shatters estimates, not Chinese porcelain. Last year, an Imperial vase skyrocketed from an estimate of $400 to $1,236,250. A bowl from the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (1723-1735) began humbly at $150 and finished at $115,000. A $300 lavender blue vase ended honorably at $12,650. With estimates higher this time and porcelain fresh-to-the-market from noted collections, anything could happen.
The sale also includes more than 80 paintings dating from the early 18th century to the mid-20th century.
The earliest painting will reach the auction block within the first hour of the opening day. Thomas Broughton (1668-1737), a wealthy Indian trader and landowner, served as speaker of the 15th Assembly, lieutenant governor and governor of the South Carolina colony. He was the ideal candidate for a portrait during the early painting career of Henrietta Johnston (1670-1728), this country’s first-known female professional pastelist. Her pastel portrait of Broughton on blue laid paper with signature label verso is expected to bring $15,000-$25,000.
Three 20th-century paintings are expected to do well: Andrew Wyeth’s watercolor, The Road to Holiday’s Barn and Serge Poliakoff’s Composition and another abstract composition dated “5.1.60” (1960).
Poliakoff (1900-1969), a Russian abstract expressionist, was a major influence in post-World War II School of Paris and in the Tachisme art movement. The latter, also known as Art Informel, was described as “a lack or absence of form itself.” Both paintings are oil on wood panel, signed lower right and reflect Poliakoff’s mature style. Composition is earlier, 1955-1956, and brighter; the later composition is more somber and dark. A letter signed by the artist attesting to the painting’s authenticity, accompanies Composition. Each painting is estimated at $200,000-$300,000.
The Wyeth watercolor of a figure on a dirt road walking toward a barn is early and personal. Completed when he was only 18, Wyeth dedicated it to Miss Jessica Wallwork, a nurse who worked for the Wyeth family. He signed and dated (1935) an inscription to her lower right. The 16 1/2-inch by 21 1/2-inch watercolor carries an estimate of $25,000-$35,000.
A Brunk Auctions sale would not be complete without Southern furniture. Two pieces are important and of special interest. The Swisegood School is one of North Carolina’s premier furniture shops, and the sale’s walnut circa 1820 Swisegood corner cupboard, estimated at $40,000-$60,000, is excellent and original in all respects. In single case construction and towering 96 1/2 inches, it descended in a Forsyth County, N.C., family, not far from where it was crafted. At 91 1/2 inches, an early 19th-century cherry tall case clock from Kentucky, is almost cupboard height. Highly decorative with star and fylfot inlay and painted wooden dial with pink roses, it is expected to sell for $10,000-$20,000.
Brunk Auctions is located at 117 Tunnel Road, Asheville.
For details call 828-254-6846.
To view the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the sale at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE