Publishers’ estates featured in Nye & Co. auction July 8

Nye & Co. auction

Ink on paper ‘Studies of Animals’ by Eugene Delacroix (French (1798-1863). Nye & Company image

BLOOMFIELD, N.J. – Nye & Company Auctioneers’ online-only Estate Treasures auction on Wednesday, July 8, will offer a variety of fine and decorative arts. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

“In accordance with the New Jersey State mandate, we cannot open our doors to the public,” said Andrew Holter of Nye & Company Auctioneers. “However, we plan to deliver clients a seamless online experience and will strive to deliver accurate condition reports and images for all items we offer.”

The auction will be headlined by a wonderfully rich, diverse and eclectic collection from the estates of Cornelia and Simon Michael Bessie of Lyme, Connecticut. The Bessies are well-known and respected in the literary publishing world. In particular, Michael left a top editorial position at Harper & Brothers in New York City to help found Atheneum Books (New York) in 1959.

About a year later, Cornelia joined the firm in an editorial capacity.  Michael served as president of Atheneum from 1963-1975, having co-founded the company with Alfred A. Knopf Jr. and Hiram Haydn. In 1975, Bessie parted ways with Atheneum and rejoined Harper as a senior vice president with an agreement that Harper would finance Cornelia and Michael Bessie Books.

The estate is the epitome of a refined collection steeped in the classic and traditional aesthetic. Works include an ink study of animals (above) by the French artist Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Another exciting piece is a pencil self-portrait by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901).  The decorative arts are also well represented with not one, but two 17th/18th century Italian walnut cassones and a superb pair of North German bronze lions (below), possibly from the 15th/16th century.

Nye & Co. auction

Pair of North German bronze lions from the late 15th century. Nye & Company image

Fine items from a private Ocean City, New Jersey, collection were from the family’s worldwide travels. Defined by numerous cultures and time periods, this group includes a pair of Chinese Buddhist porcelain temple lions, Japanese Satsuma pottery, fine European paintings and bronzes. In particular there is an exceptionally nice bronze titled Combat de Coqs by the noted sculptor Paul Chevre (1866-1914), who was born in Belgium but was active in Paris, France.

Nye & Co. auction

Pair of porcelain Buddhist temple lions, Chinese. Nye & Company image

The sale also features modern Arts & Crafts figured oak furniture by Stickley, stamped Stickley and bearing the company’s metal tag. Highlights include a seven-drawer chest, a glazed door bookcase, a rocker and a pair of side cabinets. This furniture is the perfect blend of traditional Arts & Crafts with an eye toward modernism, with lighter finishes and clean, rectilinear lines.

Earlier furniture includes a superb Chippendale reverse-serpentine chest of drawers, made in Massachusetts between 1760-1790. There is also an exceptional George III inlaid mahogany linen press, a surefire attention grabber with its sharply contrasting veneers, tall, vertical proportions and elaborate inlays.  There is also an exceptionally crafted Classical ormolu-mounted marble-top pier, made in New York by a talented and highly skilled cabinetmaker.

Nye & Co. auction

George III inlaid mahogany linen press, English, late 18th century. Nye & Company image

The sale will also feature Part II of the estate of William Hodgins, the renowned Boston-based interior designer.  Hodgins was an Architectural Digest, AD100 decorator once described as “a beacon of American Classicism.” He learned his craft working for the leading design firm of Sister Parish and Albert Hadley, then went on to establish his own Rolodex of clients, including Annette de la Renta’s three sisters, financier Felix Rohatyn, members of the Washington Post’s Graham family, Linda and Robert Taubman and a Saudi prince. His work has been published in Architectural Digest, House and Garden, Vogue, Town and Country and the New York Times.

Nye & Co. auction

Oil on Canvas by Herbert Bayer (American, 1900-1985) titled ‘Convolutions in Grey.’ Nye & Company

The sale will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time. For details contact Nye & Company at

Please note that company offices will be closed from June 27-July 5 in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

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