Southern furniture, pottery to shine at Brunk Auctions, Nov. 13-14.
Some of their painted furniture was included in the 2008 Georgia Museum of Art exhibition New Discoveries in Georgia Painted Furniture. In early 19th-century Georgia, painted furniture was a sign of civility and refinement. Paint was expensive and the lack of it implied that a home’s inhabitants were rough, unpredictable country folk.
The Registers consigned 14 lots of painted furniture to the Brunk sale. Twelve are made by or attributed to Georgia makers. The standout is a late 18th- or early 19th-century corner cupboard attributed to the Craven family in what was then Franklin County, Ga. In its original blue and white paint, the tall single-case cupboard with scalloped cornice and two triple paneled doors was constructed completely of yellow pine. Conserved by Hayden Allen, it is expected to sell for between $12,000 and $18,000. The other 11 painted lots from the Register collection include blanket chests, corner cupboards, a step-back cupboard, a hunt board, a quilt rack, a Windsor armchair, a footstool and a table and chair.
Consignors other than the Registers added to the supply of painted furniture. Crossing the auction block Saturday will be a 19th-century North Carolina center table (est. $500-$1,000), an 1824 Virginia blanket chest (est. $3,000-$6,000), an 1820-1850 North Carolina pewter cupboard, a North Carolina tabletop cabinet (est. $2,500-$5,000) and a 19th- century North Carolina dish dresser (est. $10,000-$15,000) – all paint decorated. For sheer patriotic fervor few could equal a painted 19th-century Georgia folk art jelly cupboard (est. $3,000-$6,000) decorated with mustard yellow stars and fylfots over brown paint.
Varnished and painted Southern furniture is only one of a dozen categories in this eclectic sale.
Even those who consider themselves avid Southern pottery collectors may have never seen political jars by Alabama master potter John Lehman (circa 1825-1883). The Registers consigned two of Lehman’s monumental jars – one with likeness of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in relief (est. $40,000-$60,000) and the other with relief portraits of Jefferson and Andrew Jackson (est. $30,000-$50,000). Both are stamped “JL” below the handle with Lehman’s typical applied sprig-molded and grapevine decoration on the wide shoulders and handles. Director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture Joey Brackner in his book Alabama Folk Pottery said this about the Lehman jars: “Noted pottery collector Levon Register believes that they celebrate the restoration of political power to the Democratic Party that marked the end of Reconstruction.”
Among the nonpainted Southern furniture in the sale, possibly the most dramatic is an 1840s sideboard attributed to the Burgner family of Greene County, Tenn. Even from across the wide Brunk gallery one cannot miss its boldly cut dovetailed splash panel. It resembles crashing waves or large animal ears. The surface of the walnut and poplar sideboard (est. $20,000-$30,000) is original untouched varnish. Another is a 100 1/2 inches high inlaid tall-case clock from Northern Virginia or Baltimore (est. $20,000-$30,000). What makes this clock so clever are the birds that are painted in the arched dial and the bird figure inlaid in the tympanum. Its wood is figured walnut with poplar and yellow pine secondary.
The sale’s second day, Nov. 14, includes large collections of European, Chinese, Asian and Indian antiquities.
The range of Chinese antiques is wider than in previous sales. Look for fine carved jade, kesi panels (pictorial silk tapestries), wooden screens, rootwood tables and a most unusual painting attributed to Yeuqua. The Hong Kong artist active from 1850 to 1885 painted W.T.C. Wilton, a Westerner, at table in his quarters being sketched by Dr. Snow. In its original Chinese Chippendale frame, the Yeuqua painting is expected to open at $12,000 and sell between $15,000 and $25,000.
Among the Chinese porcelain, two from Princeton, N.J., are of special interest. Each is estimated at $6,000 to $12,000. The interior of a 21 1/4-inch 18th-century Hu vase is white; its exterior a gorgeous sky blue. Look carefully and find subtle figures of bats flying among the clouds in the sky with a leaf border around the neck. Also from the same Princeton collection is a Chinese yellow-ground porcelain bottle vase. Possibly from the 18th century or earlier, the unmarked vase is etched with sinuous green dragons among numerous clouds. The same yellow glaze continues on the vase interior.
One of the sales oldest lots is an English or French wool and silk embroidery panel from the late 16th or early 17th century (est. $4,000-$8,000). Colors are especially strong; blues, greens and yellows are sharp and vivid and it is in remarkable condition. Nine women representing Christian and mythological figures appear across the 77-inch canvas panel that was possibly a valance.
Anyone who survived high school chemistry knows of Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry. His pioneering experiments helped distance chemistry from alchemy. A painted plaster bust (est. $5,000-$10,000) of the great French scientist is surrounded by intrigue. It may be the plaster cast for a marble bust in the possession of the American Philosophical Society and a terra-cotta bust in the Musee du Louvre. The plaster is signed “Houdon” after Jean-Antoine Houdon (French, 1741-1828), a sculptor who made a gypsum bust of Lavoisier in 1779.
For a complete catalog with photos, descriptions and estimates, please visit www.brunkauctions.com. For more information please call 828-254-6846.
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