Alfred Hutty oil painting sells for a shocking $67,200

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Alfred Hutty (1877-1954) is best known for his role in the Charleston Renaissance and for his drypoint etchings of Charleston. His oils on canvas, like “At Noon,” which sold at Brunk Auctions March 12, are not as well known. The 31 7/8-inch by 34-inch signed painting sold for $67,200 (estimate $5,000-$10,000), a price that might encourage others with Hutty oils to make a bee line for their nearest auction house. “At Noon,” which depicts a Southern landscape with cypress trees, is considerably larger than Hutty’s etchings. The Hutty painting was the top lot of the 750-lot, one-day, $1.53 million sale. All prices include 20 percent buyer’s premium. 

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While the single Hutty painting left its presale estimate far behind, no group did better at demolishing estimates than embroideries. There were 20 embroidery lots from the same private collection with most from late 19th to early 20th century Greece, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Estimates ranged from $300 to $3,000; 13 of the 20 embroideries exceeded their estimates – some by exceptionally large margins.

The most dramatic result came from an 86-by-49-inch fine embroidered silk three-panel cover from Turkey, possibly from the 19th century. With blue pinwheel flowers encircled by red serrated leaves, the panel opened at $600 (its high estimate); it sold to a persistent phone bidder for $45,600. The very next lot, four central Asian embroidered panels, also began at $600, the top of its estimate range. The four, all from the late 19th or early 20th century included one Suzani, two with floral sprays and one probably Greek. The quartet soared to $21,600.

Southern furniture may be undergoing an economic renaissance of its own. Of the 26 lots in the March sale, three placed in the sale’s top 10. The leader of the pack was a Queen Anne chamber table that descended in the Pringle family of Charleston. The mahogany and cypress table, dating from 1745-1755, South Carolina, had a single dovetailed drawer, molded top, turned legs and pad feet. It was deaccessioned from the Museum of Early Decorative Arts and was pictured in the classic text, “The Furniture of Charleston, 1680-1820.” The table opened at $10,000 and sold to the phones for $43,200 ($10,000-$15,000).

Close behind at $38,400 ($12,000-$18,000) was a fine Federal inlaid cellaret, probably from North Carolina or Virginia in the early 19th century. The mahogany and cherry cellaret with elaborate quarter fan, fan, line and bellflowers inlays was illustrated in the 1988 book, “Bayou Bend: American Furniture, Paintings and Silver from the Bayou Bend Collection.”

Among the sale’s 83 Asian lots, one was the clear and unexpected leader. It was a Chinese silvery bronze mirror from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Its $2,500 to $5,000 estimate belied its worth; with a scalloped border of birds around a central dragon, the mirror sold for $28,800.

Silver was one of the sale’s longest categories and there was one clear standout: 350 pieces of Tiffany chrysanthemum sterling flatware. The set was acquired by the family of Henry W. Oliver (1840-1904), founder of Oliver Iron Mining Company, Pittsburgh, Pa. From 1873-1891 silver pieces were added to the mostly monogrammed set. The entire collection sold within estimate for $33,600.

A smaller gilt set of 12 forks and 12 soup spoons in Tiffany chrysanthemum was consigned by an Oliver descendant; it realized $2,640 ($1,000-$2,000).

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