The Potomack Company, Alexandria, Virginia
Photos courtesy The Potomack Company
The Potomack Company held its final sales of the spring season on June 10 and 13. The live sale of approximately 350 lots, offered at the firm’s gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, included an excellent mix across all traditional categories. An online-only sale followed three days later, offering over 400 lots of similar distribution.
The high lots of the sale came from the fine arts category. Two large paintings by Wally Bill Hedrick (1928-2003) provided a one-two punch. Hedrick was a California artist who personified the West Coast counterculture art world. Beginning in the 1950s, Hedrick embraced all forms of artistic expression, including so-called “junk” assemblages and psychedelic light shows, and he was the chief organizer of San Francisco’s artists cooperative the Six Gallery. A Korean War veteran, Hedrick was a lifelong antiwar advocate, and much of his work reflected those sentiments during the 1960s and after.
Wally Bill Hedrick (1928-2003) was an iconic California counterculture artist. He was involved in and championed all forms of visual artistic expression from painting to sculpture to assemblage to light shows. He sometimes created paintings while jazz musicians played in response to his movements. Examples of Hedrick’s paintings earned the top two spots at the Potomack sale. On the back of both paintings, Hedrick inscribed an arrow to indicate which way is “up.” High lot was The Spirit. This 38" x 38" oil on canvas is inscribed on the back “Hedrick / The Spirit / 58.” The image consists of a field of beige-golden ocher concentric circles laid down in impasto strokes. The Spirit sold to a telephone bidder for $37,500 (est. $700/900).
This Wally Bill Hedrick painting is inscribed on the back “Hedrick/ 5/57 / O ptg #4,” read as Circle Painting #4. The large (65½" x 58") oil on canvas is a complex geometric compass design. The dark thread-like lines are not painted onto the field; rather, the voids between the threads are painted in beige-golden ocher on a dark field. This painting sold for $34,375 (est. $800/1200) to a different telephone bidder than the buyer of The Spirit.
The two paintings offered at Potomack were from the late 1950s. The Spirit, 1958, presents an overall field of concentric circles laid down in golden beige impasto. Estimated at $700/900, it sold for $37,500 (includes buyer’s premium). The second offering, Circle Painting #4, 1957, a complex compass-drawn design, sold for $34,375 (est. $800/1200).
Among the noteworthy Asian lots was an 18th-/19th-century 15¾" high Chinese sang-de-boeuf glaze vase from the Qing Dynasty. Its vibrant strawberry coloring shades to darker, irregular striations toward the base. The vase sold for $2500 (est. $600/800). An ink on silk painting, after Japanese artist Hashimoto Gaho (1835-1908), depicts a cat curled under a tree momentarily accepting verbal abuse from several birds perched above. The painting brought $5000, well over its $600/800 estimate.
This Chinese miniature famille rose vase stands only 3½" high and was offered in what appears to be its original fitted case. The baluster-form eggshell porcelain vase dates from the Hongxian period (1915-16). The body displays an overall intricate scrollwork design with decorative banding at the rim, neck, shoulder, and base. There are two rectangular panel scenes depicting figures at leisure. The vase sold to a telephone bidder for $3125 (est. $600/800).
This 15¼" square Chinese famille rose plaque from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) depicts what appears to be a tournament or battle among elaborately dressed figures on horseback. There is a small pavilion in the background. The plaque, presented in a wooden frame (not shown), sold to an Internet bidder for $7500 (est. $2000/3000).
A large repoussé sterling silver racing trophy by Baltimore silversmiths Jenkins & Jenkins did very well. The trophy had been awarded to a horse named Juggler, the winner of the 1909 Belvedere Cup. The cup sold for $4062.50, a bit over its estimate.
This lot consists of two pieces of silver hollowware. The Baltimore coin silver teapot is by Standish Barry (1763-1844). The ovoid pot with a wooden handle is raised on a pedestal base. The lid displays an urn and leaf-form finial. The piece is twice marked “BARRY” in an incuse rectangle under the base. The cream pitcher is by a Boston silversmith, Jesse Churchill (1773-1819). The creamer exhibits a rectangular form and displays bands of floral decoration with a row of roses around the base. The creamer is marked “CHURCHILL” on the underside in an incuse rectangle. Both have been monogrammed by former owners and sold to a telephone bidder for $5312.50 (est. $1500/2500).
High-quality reproductions are realizing strong prices. This Henkel Harris Queen Anne-style mahogany highboy with swan’s-neck pediment and a flame finial is a good example. The upper case features three small drawers over three graduated drawers. The lower case has one long drawer over three small drawers. Each of the small center drawers features a deeply carved shell design. The highboy is raised on cabriole legs. It brought $1750 (est. $800/1200) during the online-only portion of the sale.
Furniture continued to show signs of life. A set of ten English country Chippendale chairs, eight sides and two armchairs, brought $4375 (est. $1200/1800). A circa 1800 Federal tall-case clock in cherry by David Wood of Newburyport, Massachusetts, brought $5625 (est. $1500/2500). A Bösendorfer ebonized grand piano, model B220, sold for $23,750 (est. $15,000/30,000).
For additional information, contact The Potomack Company at (703) 684-4550 or visit its website (www.potomackcompany.com).
This oil on panel is by Camille Leontine (Lea) von Littrow (Austrian/Italian, 1856-1914). The painting depicts a young woman in peasant dress, standing on a balcony or terrace overlooking a seascape. Signed lower left, it measures 14½" x 10¾" (sight size) and sold to a telephone bidder for $17,500 (est. $10,000/15,000).
Cataloged as Fishermen on the Shore and possibly by Alessandro Magnasco (Italian, 1667-1749), this large (44" x 62") oil on canvas depicts several men hauling on a line, apparently attempting to pull something from the rough seas. There appear to be barrels and bundles of cargo on the near shore, the skeleton of a vessel at the shoreline, and ruins of several buildings in the distance. The painting sold to a telephone bidder for $22,500 (est. $20,000/40,000).
This colorful Riviera beach scene by János Vaszary (Hungarian, 1867-1939) depicts a group of sunbathers at leisure and in conversation along the shore with cabanas in the background. The oil on canvas measures 28" x 35¾" and is signed lower right. An Internet bidder won the painting for $29,375 (est. $20,000/30,000).
This 24" x 48" oil on canvas painting of Niagara Falls by John J. Mooney (1843-1918) is signed by the artist lower right and identified as his copy of a work by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). Mooney’s depiction is from the same vantage point but is a much more turbulent image than the one by Church. Mooney was a Virginia native, best known for his trompe l’oeil images. This rendering of the iconic falls sold to a telephone bidder for $9375 (est. $5000/7000).
This 18k yellow gold Alhambra necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels sold during the online-only portion of the Potomack sale. The 32" necklace displays 20 deep green chalcedony quatrefoils, evenly spaced along the chain links. The necklace brought $10,000 (est. $7000/9000).
Here is a watercolor on paper by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991). The title of the painting translates to Kneeling Woman with Child. Signed and dated lower right “Tamayo 38,” the watercolor sold to a telephone bidder for $18,750 (est. $18,000/22,000).
Here is a hand-colored and very detailed map of the state of California by Charles Drayton Gibbes. The map is dated 1852, two years after California statehood and at the height of the great California Gold Rush of 1848-55. The northern third of the state, the general area of gold prospecting activity, shows signs of significant political subdivision, while in the southern parts of the state, vast areas of today’s metropolises are virtually barren. The map sold for $2812.50 (est. $800/1200) during the online-only portion of the sale.
The oil on canvas still life by Andrew John Henry Way (1826-1888), 15" x 18", shows a melon, a plum, an apple, a cluster of grapes, and a chalice, all resting on a mirrored server. The image is signed on the lower left and sold to a telephone bidder for $8125 (est. $2000/3000).
This bright oil on canvas is by Manfred Schwartz (Polish/American, 1909-1970). The painting is listed as Woman with a Vase of Caladiums, and it is signed and dated “’48” on the lower right. Offered framed, the 40" x 32" painting sold for $6875 (est. $1000/1500).
Originally published in the August 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest