New Year’s fireworks at Brunk Auctions’ sale Jan. 8-9
The smallest collection of the three is expected to be one of the loudest. It consists of only four items with each a clear and dramatic standout. All were consigned by the grandchild of Elizabeth Russell of Connecticut. Most came from a larger collection that originated with Samuel Wadsworth Russell, the founder of Russell & Co. That enterprise was the largest trading house in China from 1842 until its close in 1891. With that pedigree, these Asian antiques are sure to brighten the skies over Asheville.
Topping the Russell collection is View of the Bund at Shanghai (est. $60,000-$90,000), a large unsigned oil on canvas circa 1855. It was purchased in Hong Kong and transported to the United States. The consignor bought the painting, attributed to Chow Kwa (Chinese, active 1850-1885), in 1993 at Sotheby’s New York. The painting is a finely detailed and accurate depiction of ships in the harbor including an American steamer. In the background are the Customs House, the British Consulate and the Augustine Heard & Co. building.
The earliest items in the Russell collection are two 17th-century Kano School six-panel screens (est. $5,000-$10,000). The paper screens are Japanese and depict Chinese court scenes with officials, horses and attendants. Each screen has a custom-made cedar-lined transport case.
Then there are the two circa 1900 silk and metal thread carpets from the Russell collection. Both are Imperial rugs in excellent condition. One depicts Imperial dragons in the central medallion and four corners (est. $12,000-$18,000); the other (est. $15,000-$20,000) is elaborately decorated with cranes, sea serpents, waves and clouds surrounded by a Greek key border.
The largest collection comes from Philip and Charlotte Hanes of Winston-Salem, N.C. All 41 lots were consigned from the Hanes’ residence, Middleton House, a late Federal period home that was moved from Clarks Hill, S.C., in 1930. The Hanes gifted the home to Wake Forest University in 1991. Some Middleton lots were purchased by Mr. Hanes on trips to London; others were family gifts.
Two furniture items illustrate the quality and significance of the Hanes’ collection: eight Charleston Federal dining chairs and a Catawba River Valley secretary bookcase.
“The Charleston chairs are indeed extraordinarily rare,” said auctioneer and senior specialist Andrew Brunk. “I know of only one other intact set in the collections of Bayou Bend at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.” The set – six side chairs and two armchairs – was illustrated in the Raushenberg and Bivins classic, The Furniture of Charleston, 1680-1820. In mahogany with finely carved urn-formed central slats and fine modern horsehair upholstery, they carry the sale’s second highest estimate: $40,000-$60,000.
The largest Hanes lot at 115 inches tall is a cherry and poplar secretary bookcase from around the turn of the 19th century (est. $25,000-$35,000). The elaborate and flourishing inlays in its three drawers, its delicate sectioned glazed door and fluted pilasters, command attention from across the gallery. At its top is a tall original inlaid finial; on bottom are its original French feet.
Philip Hanes was CEO of Hanes Dye and Finishing from 1964 to his retirement in 1976. He and his wife are noted for their leadership and generous support of the arts in Winston-Salem.
The third bright light is the Bridge to Heaven jade collection accumulated by the late Pauline McCord Bishop in the late 1960s. The collection focuses on carvings extending from China’s Neolithic era through the Qing period. Included in the 29-lot collection are figures of buffalo, chimera, goats, deer, dogs, ducks and rabbits as well as various mythical beasts. Brunk devoted an entire page in the catalog and the catalog cover to a hu-form lidded vase (est. $15,000-$30,000). The flattened baluster form vase is in translucent “lychee white” with ducks, lotuses and flowering plants. Its walls are extremely thin with perforations on every surface except its pedestal base, handle rings and handle ends.
Four other lots deserve special attention:
- Possibly the earliest item in the sale is an attic red-figure krater from 450-440 B.C. attributed to the Painter of Munich 2335 (est. $12,000-$18,000). Each side has three figures: a woman between two bearded male figures on one side and three young men on the other. A letter from an official at the Metropolitan Museum of Art verifies the attribution.
- Dark Beauty (est. $10,000-$15,000), a signed and dated (1999) watercolor by Stephen Scott Young (Florida, South Carolina, b. 1957) depicts a young African-American woman looking directly at the viewer over a white board fence.
- A signed and dated (1854) stoneware jar by John Siegler of South Carolina’s famed Edgefield District is estimated to bring $3,000 to $6,000. The jar was crafted one year after Siegler established his pottery on Shaw’s Creek.
- A Harvey Littleton glass crown sculpture (est. $10,000-$20,000) is one of the few contemporary pieces from the Hanes collection. Created in 1984, the 12-part construction reflects pinks, yellows, blues and purples. Harvey Littleton was awarded the North Carolina Living Treasure award in 1993.
For more information, please call 828-254-6846 or visit www.brunkauctions.com.
View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE