Renowned Ernest and Ella Brummer antiquities collection topped $2M at Hindman

Roman marble head of a youth wearing a laurel wreath, which sold for $400,000 ($504,000 with buyer’s premium) at Hindman.

CHICAGO – Antiquities from the collection of famed art dealer Ernest Brummer (1891-1964) more than quadrupled their presale estimate, commanding a combined total of more than $2 million at Hindman on December 5. All 38 lots from the legendary collection sold, with lots achieving as much as 25 times their estimates. The pieces came by descent from Brummer’s widow Ella Bache Brummer and then to her nephew John Laszlo of Atlanta, Georgia.

Ernest Brummer was a renowned art dealer who, along with his brother Joseph, founded the historically significant Brummer Galleries, which held paramount importance in both New York and Paris during the early to mid-20th century. The galleries played a pivotal role in shaping the tastes and collections of art enthusiasts and museums alike.

The top lot of the day was a Roman marble head of a youth wearing a laurel wreath, which sold for a staggering $400,000 ($504,000 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $40,000-$60,000. The head depicted a youth with uniformly idealized features and classic proportions, suggesting it was inspired by the famed fifth-century BCE works of Polykleitos. Variants of well-known Greek originals became fashionable during the Republican period with the Roman elite, who utilized these loose so-called ‘copies’ to create mythological ensembles to decorate their gardens and villas. The marble head had been in the U.S. for more than a century, having been owned by the New York architect Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes (1867-1944) from the 1920s.

Another Roman marble head that drew significant attention was a second century CE head of a triton that sold for $180,000 ($226,800 with buyer’s premium), easily surpassing its $80,000-$120,000 estimate. The head closely resembles the pair of tritons at the Musei Capitolini that originally flanked the famed Commodus portrait of Horti Lamiani, leading to the logical conclusion that the head is also meant to belong to a mythological creature with the torso of a man and an elaborate fishtail.

A deep provenance was key to the performance of many lots. Leading the Egyptian category was a 19in wood sculpture depicting the head of Osiris, which sold for $250,000 ($315,000 with buyer’s premium), more than 10 times its presale estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Not only had this 26th Dynasty piece survived more than two millennia in remarkable condition, it had a modern-day ownership history dating back to the German missionary and collector Rev. Johann Lieder (1798-1865) and then, from 1861, to the great Egyptology collection of William Tyssen-Amherst (1835-1909).

The Brummer collection was offered as a single-owner session to begin Hindman’s Antiquities & Ancient Art auction, which achieved a sales total of $2.95 million.

“The results today show just how impactful the Brummer legacy remains even decades after their legendary gallery closed its doors,” said Hindman’s Director and Senior Specialist of Antiquities & Ancient Art, Jacob Coley. “The carefully curated collection, spanning various artistic periods and styles, embodied the Brummers’ discerning taste and passion for art.”

Additional property from the Brummer collection will be offered in various Hindman auctions during 2023 and early 2024, including a mid-15th-century French limestone figure of the Foolish Virgin, which will appear in the February 2024 European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction.

High expectations for Neoclassical boule-inlaid table in May 23 sale

Circa-1920s Neoclassical boule inlaid center tilt table, estimated at $110,000-$132,000
Circa-1920s Neoclassical boule inlaid center tilt table, estimated at $110,000-$132,000
Circa-1920s Neoclassical boule inlaid center tilt table, estimated at $110,000-$132,000

NEW YORK – On Tuesday, May 23, starting at 6 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will hold a sale titled Exquisite Decorative Arts & Furniture. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Art Nouveau pocket watch among winners at Hermann Historica series

Left, 18K gold Art Nouveau pocket watch with rose-cut diamonds, €4,750; Right, Willi Engelhardt design for a poster advertising Munchen - Sommer 1930, €1,875
Left, 18K gold Art Nouveau pocket watch with rose-cut diamonds, €4,750; Right, Willi Engelhardt design for a poster advertising Munchen – Sommer 1930, €1,875

MUNICH – Hermann Historica enjoyed strong results for sales it held on January 31 and February 1. Highlights included jewelry, precious stones and an extensive poster collection acquired by commercial designer Willi Engelhardt, which proved to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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