Top money of the sale went for this 20" x 25Â½" (sight size) oil on panel of The Rape of Europa by Flemish baroque artist Hendrik van Balen (c. 1575-1632), signed and dated 1610. With a repaired and retouched crack in the panel, it sold for $21,850.
Zitan wood and carved jade ruyi scepter with a long silk tassel and form-fitting box, $12,650.
Each of these feather-shaped leaf paintings was only about 5" long. They were painted on the leaves of the Leucadendron argenteum tree, a species indigenous to South Africa. Titles on the backings identified one of the ships as the U.S.S. Lancaster, and the other two illustrations show Cape Town harbor in South Africa. Probably executed by an artist named C.D. Williams, the paintings first surfaced at Bruce Gamage's January 2012 auction. Here they brought $1380. For more about leaf paintings, see Paintings on Leucadendron Argenteum by A.J. Peluso, Jr. in the December 2010 M.A.D. Sisco photo.
A 25Â½" x 30Â½" oil on canvas by Walter Emerson Baum had two titles, Quakertown and Drifted Streets. It sold for $11,500.
Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Thomaston, Maine
by Mark Sisco
Photos courtesy Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
As we've seen so often in the past few years, Asian artworks are coming on strong. At the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries offering in Thomaston, Maine, on June 9 and 10, jade, bronzes, and other Orientalia dominated the high end, mixed in with some solid western artworks.
One of the sale's leaders was a snuff bottle in translucent white jade with a low-relief carving of a woman gazing into a hand mirror under a background of cherry blossoms. It was signed with four rows of Chinese characters and had a coral spoon top with an 18k gold pendant mount. Estimated at $6000/8000, it more than doubled that amount, finishing at $20,700 (includes buyer's premium).
Here also was the second ruyi scepter to break the five-figure mark at a Maine auction within the space of a few weeks. This one was made mostly of zitan wood (a highly valued subspecies of rosewood), probably late 18th or early 19th century, inset with white jade and precious stones. With a long silk tassel and a fitted box, it topped the $6000/8000 estimate at $12,650.
Some important artworks finished in the five figures as well. A 25Â½" x 30Â½" (sight size) oil on canvas by Pennsylvania artist Walter Emerson Baum (1884-1956) was signed lower left and titled Quakertown on the reverse. It also had a label from the Woodmere Gallery, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, that gave it a second title of Drifted Streets. Baum spent his entire life in the environs of Sellersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, painting landscapes and architectural scenes of the area. This one passed the $5000/7000 estimate by a solid margin, finishing at $11,500.
A watercolor and gouache by French artist Jehan Georges Vibert (1840-1902), signed "J.G. Vibert" lower right, showed a choir of monks serenading a red-robed cardinal, who appears to be either totally enraptured or bored to death by the music. Richly detailed and framed in a molded gilt gesso frame, it fell squarely within the estimate for $12,650. Around 1867, Vibert turned his attention to genre scenes, often featuring clergymen, usually in satirical or humorous situations such as this one.
A ship portrait in gouache had some solid Maine maritime history behind it. According to the catalog listing, the five-masted schooner Frank M. Deering was built at the G.G. Deering Company shipyard in Bath, Maine. She was wrecked in a heavy storm on February 6, 1923, and was the sister ship of the Carroll A. Deering, which mysteriously lost its crew and was wrecked in the Bermuda Triangle in 1921. This portrait of the Frank M. Deering sold well at $5462.50 (est. $1500/1800).
Bridging the Orientalia and the art sections was a Chinese watercolor on paper by Xu Beihong (1895-1953) of a cat perched on a rock or wood outcropping. Beihong was born in Yixing, China. He was highly skilled in western art, producing large-scale oil paintings with Chinese themes. He was also known as a master of shuimohua or Chinese ink paintings, often combining Chinese ink techniques with western style and methods.
One of his most important works was a 1939 oil painting, Put Down Your Whip. It was inspired by a street drama about a young girl who escapes from Japanese-occupied northern China and earns her living as a street performer. He painted a life-size work of the actress Wang Ying in the role, and it was exhibited many times during Beihong's life. Eventually it sold at a Sotheby's Hong Kong auction in 2007 for about $9.2 million. The work sold here was one of his shuimohua paintings, and it sold for just over half the low estimate at $14,375.
For more information, call (207) 354-8141 or visit the Web site (www.thomastonauction.com).
This ship portrait in gouache of the ill-fated five-masted schooner Frank M. Deering, wrecked in 1923, sold for $5462.50.
This 19" tall Chinese wucai lidded jar painted with immortal figures in flight, estimated at a mere $1000/1500, sold for $13,800.
Chinese shuimohua ink and watercolor painting of a cat contemplating a butterfly by Xu Beihong (1895-1953), $14,375 (est. $25,000/30,000). Sisco photo.
Snuff bottle in translucent white jade, low relief-carved with the figure of a woman peering into a mirror, $20,700.
A ponderous 19th-century Chinese partners' desk easily crushed the $3000/5000 estimate to finish at $14,950. It had three large stone panels set into the top surface. It was bordered in mitered trim, had eight drawers per side, and had flush-mounted brass hardware. Sisco photo.