Ballerina at Barre, a circa 1959 bronze and polished aluminum sculpture, 15" high, by Enzo Plazzotta (1921-1981) sold for $6000 (est. $2000/4000).
Nine works (one shown) by Edouard Leon Cortès (1882-1969) were offered. Flower Market at the Madeleine, a circa 1955 oil on canvas, sold above high estimate for $35,000.
Though not shown in the print catalog (it was pictured on line and estimated at $2000/4000), the watercolor Young Lady with Waterfall by Giuseppe Aureli (1858-1929) received a lot of advance interest and inquiries. Sold for $6875, it was “a great picture, masterfully done,” said Hall.
Bidders fell hard for A Campsite, a watercolor by John Whorf (1903-1959). It brought a surprising $10,000.
Ondeugende Katten (Mischievous Cats), an oil on board by Henriette Ronner-Knip (1821-1909), went for $92,500 to a Dutch museum. That amounts to $18,500 per cat.
From a Chicago collection, The Enchanted Hour, an oil on canvas by Frank Virgil Dudley (1868-1957), sold for $20,000.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, Illinois
Photos courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
Results from Leslie Hindman’s December 12, 2012, sale of American and European art were “better than expected,” according to fine art specialist Zachary Hall, who headed the sale.
It did seem that pretty ruled the day. Take the top lot, a Henriette Ronner-Knip oil on board of a mother cat watching her kittens at play on a piano. Estimated at $15,000/25,000, the 12¾" x 17¾" piece sold for $92,500 (with buyer’s premium). “It was an attractive nineteenth-century Dutch school painting and indicative of her work,” Hall explained. From a private collection in Chicago, the painting sold to a museum in the Netherlands. Estimating that 40% of the bidding for that work came from European bidders on the phones, Hall said, “The phones were packed for this lot; it was fun and exciting to watch this go.” Nine phone lines were jammed as bids escalated. “The European market is strong now, with Internet bidding making the industry global and accessible,” he added.
On the American side, an oil on board by illustrator Howard Pyle, The Good, Aged Doctor, showing Benjamin Franklin in Paris being greeted by passersby, climbed above a $12,000/18,000 estimate to bring $29,375.
The piece, with direct provenance, appealed to bidders and ultimately sold to a New York City buyer in the trade. The result was “a surprise” to Hall, as this image was not uniformly strong; there were some weak points in the painting.
Hindman, always to the point, heard us out on our “pretty” theory and remarked, “Pretty stuff sells well. Given the choice, people want a pretty painting on the wall.”
Point in fact: Two frothy oil on canvas paintings of pulchritudinous young women by Giuseppe Dangelico Daeni (Pino) brought $35,000 and $30,000. Both went to a trade buyer in California. Hall explained that the artist is known for creating a look and that the market for such “pretty and not offensive” paintings is “in that range.”
Scenic art was strong on the American side as illustrated by The Enchanted Hour, an oil on canvas ocean view sunset by Frank Virgil Dudley that sold for $20,000, above a $2000/4000 estimate. The result places the work in the all-time top ten Dudley sales and may well raise the bar for prices of Dudley works.
A beachfront dune scene, also by the artist, brought $12,500. Dudley produced several versions of dunescapes, a fact that may have affected the result.
In a totally different vein, the watercolor A Campsite by John Whorf proved a “great surprise,” selling for $10,000, over a $2000/4000 estimate. Hall reported “a lot of interest” for several Whorf watercolors that sold, with particular interest in two camp settings.
“When looking at Whorf you want to see campfire scenes,” he told us. With two pitched tents and a campfire meal in the work, A Campsite proved so irresistible that bidders flew in before the sale to look it over before they bid by phone.
American landscapes fared well: Albert Pinkham Ryder’s oil on board Fisherman at Dusk brought $12,500, as did Guy Wiggins’s Grey Weather on the Connecticut River.
Early in the sale, we spotted Chicago options trader Scott Nations pacing an American art showroom while talking enthusiastically on his phone. As the winning bidder for the oil on board Autumn River Valley by Charles Reiffel, Nations was notifying a friend in California, a Reiffel collector, of his $11,250 prize.
The painting, from the collection of a Walgreen family member, is a gift for Nation’s wife, Wendy, who is a descendent of the artist. Alerted to the upcoming sale by the friend, Nations bought the 28" x 34¼" painting despite condition problems. When we asked where it would hang, he knew exactly the spot. “Almost all our art is contemporary,” he told us. “This will be a departure.”
There were enough street scenes by French artist Edouard Leon Cortès for sale that we wondered if prices would be affected. Correction: Seven street scenes, one Washday, and one Breton Interior. In the end, pretty ruled, with Flower Market at the Madeleine, an oil on canvas, coming in at $35,000. Two Cortès works in oil on board, one being Washday, brought $5250 each.
Hall was pleased that the bronze Die Klage by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) sold. Achieving its low estimate, the $25,000 piece is a relief of a face with hands covering one eye and the mouth and came from “a wonderful collection,” that of Marjorie and Charles Benton of Evanston, Illinois. Direct descendents of the artist Thomas Hart Benton (a friend of Reginald Marsh), the couple also consigned two nude studies by Marsh that brought $1250 and $1125.
What Hall called a “rare, rare print” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler fetched $7500. The Wine Glass, an etching, tied for the top price for an American print in this sale. A lithograph by George Bellows, The Tournament (Tennis at Newport), sold for the same amount.
“We did have a great American print section,” added Hall. Many came from a Denver estate.
Thomas Hart Benton’s lithograph I Got a Gal on Sourwood Mountain sold for $3500. “I’d buy it for the title alone,” mused Hall.
Asked if any one trend characterized the sale, he told us that the big sellers “are things that if you see them on a wall, they are instantly identified. The markethas narrowed; great artists are achieving great prices. Lesser artists, less so. American art will continue to grow,” he predicted. “It was originally bought and sold primarily in America, and it tends to stay in the U.S.” European pieces, in contrast, are “more global. Most of our buyers abroad look for European pictures.”
For more information, visit the Web site (www.lesliehindman.com).
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest