James D. Julia Auctioneers is poised for a new year of quality auctions following a stellar season last year. The firm reached new heights company wide as well as setting several new records in each of their four specialty divisions, underscored by the firm’s astounding sale in October of a rare Colt Walker revolver that sold for nearly $1 million. Despite coinciding with the day the stock market plunged 10 percent and the world banking industry was on the verge of possible collapse, the pistol became the world’s most expensive firearm ever sold at auction.
With the current volatility of the stock market, investment in quality tangible assets continues to be enticing but also makes great sense as opposed to the incredible instability of the stock market. The upcoming two-day auction, scheduled for Feb. 6-7, will consist of over 1,200 lots including over 600 works of art, as well as an equal number of early and Victorian furniture items, folk art, nautical antiques, and all sorts of regional Americana. Included will be various estates such as those of the late Geraldine Gaba of Scottsdale, Az., Chad Richards of Camden, Maine, and other assorted private collections.
From one such private collection is an outstanding original bronze statue by the famed sculptor Auguste Rodin entitled L’Eternal Printemps, depicting two nude lovers in a passionate embrace atop a naturalistic base. This epic sculpture hasn’t seen the public marketplace since 1985 when it was sold to the present consignor through Christies of New York. It is now offered with a pre-auction estimate of $200,000-$400,000. Other fine bronzes include a rare bronze and ivory figure depicting a lady in draping skirts reading a book. Well rendered and exquisitely detailed, this signed Carrier-Belleuse piece from a Philadelphia estate is expected to sell for $8,000-$12,000. And a Sevres porcelain and bronze classical armored warrior figure wearing a plumed helmet comes from a South Carolina home with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.
The splendid offering of paintings covers a wide array of subjects by many of the collecting world’s more sought after American and European artists. A New England favorite and Julia staple, Emile Gruppe’s works are considered the finest of the Rockport Gloucester School. More prominently known for his harbor scenes, this sale presents a rare opportunity to own one of his less frequently visited subjects in Water Lilies. Believed to be one of only three known lily pond works by Gruppe, this work exemplifies his finest efforts. Gracing the cover of Julia’s exquisite catalog for this auction, this work is clearly influenced by Monet’s Impressionist works. It features a large pond filled with clusters of green lily pads and colorful flowering buds. Gruppe’s wonderful use of perspective in warm and cool colors achieves a realistic view of the scene. It comes to the block with a $30,000-$40,000 estimate. Other highlights from the great selection of Gruppe works include more characteristic examples such as Fishing Schooners Sadie Noonan & Wentworth in Smith’s Cove, a large oil on canvas Gloucester Harbor scene that comes with an estimate of $25,000-$35,000.
Works from other Rockport-Gloucester School artists include contemporary examples and this auction will present eight by Wayne Morrell. Included will be Sunlit Lily Pond, perhaps his complement to Gruppe’s above work. It comes with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Thomas Nicholas’ Clearing Storm, Essex provides the viewer a look across a snow-covered shoreline towards the Massachusetts village while clearing blue sky advances from the left. This delightful work carries an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. Five works by Ken Knowles are highlighted by his View from State Fish Pier, Gloucester, which captures the ageless fishing community under summery white clouds and blue skies. It comes with expectations of $5,000-$7,000.
Also quite exciting are several works by Earl Cunningham to be offered. An assortment of the artist’s wild, almost childlike, and mildly abstract works is currently on a nationwide tour organized by the Smithsonian. The selection here includes a variety of scenes such as a marvelous folk art rendition of a large red roofed covered bridge spanning two green land masses as canoes and schooners fill the foreground. It is expected to sell for $15,000-$25,000.
A beautiful mixed media on paper scene of numerous stylized figures in an ocean front park by Maurice Prendergast is worthy of attention. Housed in a magnificent gesso decorated gilt frame with title and artist plaque, it comes with a pre-auction estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
Julia’s upcoming sale will also satisfy the need for the ever-growing popularity of Western U.S. art. Don Kingman’s 17 Mile Drive, California, 1954 is an outstanding watercolor of a marshy area with trees, birds and grasses against a dusky sky. Illustrated in a book on the artist’s works, it carries an estimate of $10,000-$20,000.
Julia’s recently offered the first two of three collections from the Geraldine Gaba Estate of Scottsdale, Az., the proceeds of which are earmarked for charitable distribution to the American Cancer Society, the University of Arizona Medical School, and the Phoenix Zoo. Her massive and varied estate included exquisite dollhouses, miniatures, and glass (sold in November) as well as a select grouping of early Western art being offered now. Nineteenth century artist Thomas Hill’s Presidio, Early California is a marvelous coastal view of the San Francisco Bay area in its more infant stages. It comes with an estimate of $30,000-$50,000. Also included will be William Keith’s Western landscape showing a lake nestled among the foothills with rocky ledges in the foreground that is expected to finish up at $10,000-$15,000.
A fine oil on canvas scene by Edwin Deakin of a massive mountain range overlooking a waterfall and lake while a Native American woman tends to a campfire comes with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. And an early unsigned bay scene centered on ships sailing by Alcatraz Island (before the prison was built) comes with an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.
Joining Gaba’s collection will be a separate grouping of modern Western works from a private New Hampshire collection. Nelson Boren, who currently has works displayed at the Whitney Museum of Western Art in Cody, Wyo., and is considered one of the finest, most accomplished Western artists today is represented by Wrestling With My Saddle. The large watercolor shows a cowboy wearing a U.S. flag style shirt and leather chaps struggling with the weight of his saddle. This very realistic portrayal is expected to rope in $10,000-$15,000. Almost Quittin’ Time by Dan Mieduch, an outstanding oil on masonite scene of a cowboy crossing a shallow river on horseback while leading a small pack of horses, comes with an $8,000-$12,000 estimate. And winner of the “Says it All” title award goes to William Schenck’s Butch Hated to Cut His Stay in Jackson Hole So Short. Showing a cowboy riding at full gallop, looking over his shoulder with his six-shooter in hand cocked at the ready, the piece is fixing to rustle up $4,000-$6,000.
In the American illustration category, the original poster art for a circa WWI ‘Feed the Children’ campaign by Jessie Wilcox Smith is a wonderful example of her work. Depicting a young girl and boy slicing large loaves of bread for a long procession of starving urchins, it is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000. And a “mother” of a selection from famed American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler is led by his original etching entitled The Lime Burner. It pictures a man in a dilapidated factory leaning against a wall. It is expected to draw $3,000-$5,000.
These join a fine offering of European art, which is highlighted in part by Leon Bonnat’s Concert, an outstanding oil on canvas of a group of musicians serenading a young couple. Done after a work by Dutch Master Jacob Van Loo, Bonnat’s works are respected in their own right for their breathtaking quality and realism. Believed to have once been owned by Russian nobility, it is now offered to perhaps a member of the working class with $100,000-$200,000 to spend. But if you must have an actual Dutch Master, why not spring for an original etching of a self portrait of Rembrandt? Entitled Rembrandt in a Flat Cap with a Shawl about His Shoulders, it comes with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate. Two rare reverse oil on glass from the studios of Jean-Babtiste Leprince (each dated 1779) add to the excitement. The technique of reverse painting on glass requires a high degree of skill since the layers of paint are reversed. As such, the signature would be placed, and then the scores of layers to create the scene, no doubt requiring a major level of commitment. The first scene depicts a costumed gent pushing a most refined lady in an elegant single open sleigh and the second depicts three full figured maidens in various states of undress bathing by a stone fountain and pond. Both are outstanding examples of this technique and each is expected to bring $5,000-$10,000.
And a large selection of Russian artwork includes Ilui Boncha-Tomashevsky’s interior scene representing a scene from Moliere’s Tartuffe showing a gentleman in a black outfit conversing with a seated woman in a well-appointed room. This masterful work comes with an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.
The second session is a fabulous assemblage from various estates of early American and Victorian furniture, Oriental rugs, silver, nautical items, weather vanes and other folk art. The day starts with a terrific collection of historical Staffordshire in blue and white with desirable American scenes. Amassed over 50 years of collecting Mrs. Gaba took much pride in her rare ceramic plates, teapots, pitchers, sugars, and the centerpiece of the collection an important Belleville soup tureen with cover, under tray, and ladle. From Enoch Wood’s “Views of the Hudson” series, the set features brilliant scenes of historical New York and is sure to satisfy even the most advanced collector. It is expected to sell for $8,000-$12,000.
Other fine antiques include a medley of early American and Victorian furniture. An important Philadelphia carved Chippendale walnut armchair from the late 1700s with scrolling crest rail centering an asymmetrical carved shell cartouche, scrolled knuckled grips, and cabriole front legs terminating in ball-and-talon feet comes with an estimate of $18,000-$22,000.
A first-rate Philadelphia Sheraton tall case clock by Crowley & Farr in mahogany with molded swan’s neck pediment, rope twist colonettes, and a painted moon phase dial from the Geraldine Gaba Estate comes with a $6,000-$10,000 estimate. Other clocks include a rare New England jeweler’s astronomical regulator. This unusual timepiece in a Gothic beehive case with a circular upper door contains a large steel dial with separate hour and seconds dials. It comes with an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
And from a Bangor, Maine, estate an exceptional Renaissance Victorian carved walnut breakfront bookcase with a carved shield crest with a cluster of nuts and fruit and three arched glass panel doors is expected to sell for $1,500-$2,500. In addition, from the Gaba Estate is a wide variety of Victorian furniture including numerous marble top tables, stands, chests, commodes, and more.
For the seafarer, a diverse offering of nautical items will be available. A lot including two ships logs and three photo albums relating to the H.M.S. Leopard date as early as 1862. Included are maps showing a circular route of the ship through Asian waters, and an album containing 75 vintage photos of people and places including ships, crew members, and more. This historical lot sails in with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Ship portraits include an unsigned portrait of the schooner Water Lily, a two-mast black-hulled ship shown in full sail across a wavy sea. It is expected to bring $5,000-$10,000. This joins several ship models, unusual harpoons, and scrimshaw whale’s teeth. Though scrimshaw is commonly found on whale’s teeth and oftentimes depicts naval scenes, this folk art technique is also found elsewhere. An important British scrimshaw tusk from the Napoleonic Wars tracing two military campaigns pictures uniformed officers, soldiers, forts, and regal symbolism is a rare opportunity and comes with expectations of $8,000-$12,000.
Folk art for the landlocked includes numerous weather vanes such as a rare leaping stag attributed to Harris & Company of Boston. This molded copper example with zinc ears and antlers is caught leaping over a fallen tree and shrub. Fresh to the market from a Massachusetts estate having descended through the family, it is expected to bring $15,000-$25,000. Other vanes include horses, eagles, and more.
Masterful woodwork includes an American carved and painted tobacco store counter figure. It features full feathered headdress, tunic, robe, and moccasins. Retaining early polychrome paint, it carries an estimate of $8,000-$12,000. Carved carousel horses by German carver Frederick Heyn are known for their animated rendering and distinctive diminutive size. This example was acquired in Berlin, circa 1900, and is now offered with a pre-auction estimate of $3,000-$5,000. A unique opportunity comes with a lot of Willie Ross decoys. Renowned for quality full sized decoys Ross shows he was able to duplicate his talent in miniature. Given as a gift to a family member, they were passed down through and consigned by the family and until now unknown to exist. Ranging in size from two inches to four inches, one can’t help but be impressed by the craftsmanship. The lot of eight is expected to sell for $5,000-$8,000.
The auction will also feature numerous fine English and American silver pieces including a Paul Storr covered soup tureen with its original liner. This outstanding double handled vertically ribbed oval is decorated with grape clusters arranged in a basket connected by trailing vines of leaves, resting on claw feet with leaf and flower bud decoration. The epitome of elegance, it is expected to shine at $30,000-$50,000. From the same collection comes a pair of Paul Storr silver covered entrée dishes in rectangular form with scallop shell and leaf decoration. Elegantly engraved with stags and family crests the pair comes with an estimate of $25,000-$35,000. American silver includes a Tiffany & Company flatware service set for twelve in the “Shell and Thread” pattern. Having descended through the same Maine family since its creation in the early 1900s, the 96-piece set is expected to sell for $5,000-$7,000.
The sale is rounded out by a marvelous selection of over 30 Oriental rugs including antique and modern, room size and scatter, a selection of estate jewelry, quality smalls, and interesting miscellany such as a unique experimental Art Nouveau Roseville vase (estimate $3,000-$5,000), an extensive autograph album featuring actors, authors, and historical personages from the late 1800s (estimate $1,000-$2,000), and an outstanding Gendron Packard pedal car from the 1920s. With classic styling and all the bells and whistles, you would be the envy of all the kids on your block (estimate $7,500-$9,500).
Previews: Thursday, Feb. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and from 8-10 a.m. before each auction session. Auction commences at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For all the latest updates and for complete online version of the catalog, visit Julia’s website at www.juliaauctions.com.
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