Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos courtesy Heritage Auctions
DALLAS – Heritage Auctions conducted its Fine European Art Signature auction on December 8, followed by its Furniture & Decorative Arts Signature auction on December 9. Each sale exceeded $1,340,000, with the second sale having four times as many lots as the first.
The top lots of the European Art sale were dominated by Francophone artists, many of whom had multiple works of art up for auction. Le Pho (French-Vietnamese, 1907-2001) led the sale with two oil on canvas paintings: “Composition” for $131,250 and “Fleurs” for $75,000. The two paintings showed lush floral arrangements, with the higher selling of the two including a pensive young woman somewhat obscured by the bouquet on her table.
Earlier and far darker in color tone, were two paintings attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour (Flemish, 1671-1737) from the estate of Helen Louise Young Crowler, Fort Worth, Texas, that followed in the highest listings. Vanmour was active in the Ottoman Empire as the official artist of the French embassy during the Eighteenth Century and cataloged every aspect of Ottoman society. Visiting dignitaries commissioned and popularized his work in Europe, where an album of engravings after Vanmour was published in at least five languages, shaping the western perception of the empire through the modern era. His “Arrival of the English Ambassador Sir Robert Sutton, Constantinople” and the “Procession of the English Ambassador Sir Robert Sutton, Constantinople” each finished at $75,000.
It was no surprise that the best price for a landscape belonged to “Douarnenez, la baie, vue de l’Île Tristan” by Eugène Louis Boudin (French, 1824-1898), which bid to $62,500. One of the first plein-air painters of the impressionist movement, Boudin specialized in landscapes and especially marine or beach scenes in the resort towns on the Northern French coast. His work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, in 2013.
The cover photo of this auction’s catalog was “Sur le lac” by Jean-Pierre Cassigneul (French, b 1935). Signed and dated, the contemporary painting was reminiscent of Nineteenth Century impressionist and post-impressionist French portraits and bid to $55,000. Another Cassigneul, “Sur la plage,” also did well at $18,750.
Five canvases by Edouard-Léon Cortès (French, 1882-1969) were included in the sale, all showing different Parisian street scenes and all achieving at least $18,125. The highest of these was “Rue de la Paix, Place Vendème” at $53,750 from the collection of Dr Charles F. Geschickter, Va. Each painting offered came from a different private collection and “Rue Royale, le soir,” from 1965, which sold for $27,500, will be in Nicole Verdier’s upcoming third volume of Edouard Cortès, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. Cortès’ “Café de la Paix” led the same Helmut Stone auction that included Pho in October, selling for $52,460.
The Fine European Art auction’s lots were spread further across the continent, and even included an American interloper or two; one was in the form of a Louis XV-style Steinway & Sons grand piano and stool which was the second highest lot of the sale. The victors of the sale were two marble busts carved by Italian master sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), devoted to Greco-Roman deities Minerva and Mars. According to the plaques on their wooden bases, the pair were commissioned by Canova’s “friend & patron,” Walter Lawrence of County Lawrence in Galway, Ireland, who died in 1795. Canova almost exclusively sculpted neoclassical subjects that are treasures of leading international institutions, including “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” (1787), “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” (1804-06) and the “Venus Italica” (1819). The busts came from a Fort Worth, Texas, estate and sold for $93,750. Another pair of Italian paintings after Teodoro Matteini (1754-1831), depicting two scenes from the epic poem “Orlando Furioso” by Ludovico Arisoto (1474-1533) bid to $20,000.
Louis XV and Louis XV-style furniture was prominent in the top lots, with the latter curiously fetching higher prices than the former. Two gilt-bronze marquetry-decorated commodes with marble tops from the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century were the highest selling of this style at $27,500. Next was a gilt-bronze-mounted vitrine by Joseph-Emmanuel Zweiner (1848-1925) for $23,750 that came from the same Bel Air, Calif., collection as the commodes. This was followed by a pair of Nineteenth Century giltwood mirrors from a Palm Beach, Fla., collection that shone at $18,750.
Possibly the prettiest little trinket of the sale was a 14K varicolor gold, Guilloché enamel and diamond-mounted double-eagle box in the manner of Fabergé from the late Twentieth Century. Not much information was given about the box, yet it retained its original case that also showed the Imperial Russian eagle on the interior, accompanied by Cyrillic writing. The box glittered at $21,500.
The second lot of American decorative arts to be included in the sale was a seven-piece Reed & Barton silver tea and coffee service. Designed and crafted in Taunton, Mass., in 1907, the service showed the firm’s Francis I pattern and was in excellent condition. It was consigned from the collection of Mrs D. Wayne (Janice) Calloway, Dallas, whose husband was chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo from 1986 to 1996.
Prices are quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Heritage’s next Fine & Decorative Arts Showcase auction is on January 11. For more information 214-528-3500 or www.ha.com.