Mexico City’s’ Metropolitan Cathedral’ painting brings ten times its estimate

THOMASTON, Maine – Aggressive bidding for a group of fine paintings, sculptures and oriental artworks elevated the results of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ first 2011 auction on February 5 and 6.   There was frequent applause from the floor as many of these pieces soared past their presale estimates.     

A beautiful oil on panel painting depicting Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral attributed to artist Mariano Rodriguez Pelaez (Mexican, active 1833-1850) sold for $32,200, greatly exceeding its presale estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. 

“This wonderful painting came from a collection of important Mexican art owned by 19th Century legislator and diplomat Caleb Cushing of Newburyport, Massachusetts," Thomaston Place owner and auctioneer Kaja Veilleux said. "He was situated in the US ambassador’s office in Mexico City during the 1850s, which gave him the opportunity to acquire this and other important works.”

An important painting by South Carolina artist William Aiken Walker (1838-1921) also performed well, selling for $26,450.  William Zorach’s watercolor work, ‘Bay Point, Georgetown’, brought $18,400, and Davlov Ipcar’s oil on canvas painting, ‘Four Winter Stallions’, sold for $9,775.  A 1910 painting by Charles Edward Dixon (UK, 1872-1934) of the Cunard White Star Ocean Liner RMS ‘Olympic’, sister ship to the RMS ‘Titanic’, achieved $11,500. 

A bronze sculpture, ‘Form Sospese’ (Suspended Forms), by Dimitri Hadzi (MA, 1921-2006) overtook its presale estimate of $3,000 to $5,000 and sold to a telephone bidder for $18,400.   A figural bronze centerpiece and pair of candlesticks by Valerie Harisse Walter (MD, 1892 – ?) created strong interest, and sold for $7,187 and $9775, respectively. A large free-form sculpture ‘ Inside Out’ by Clark B. Fitz-Gerald (ME, 1917-2004) raised $6,037.50.

Although it was past 2:00 a.m. in east Asia, there was strong international participation when the group of Far Eastern objects came to the block.  Leading the collection was an early Nepalese bronze alter deity that brought $28,750.00, after an opening bid of $22,500 from the internet.  Other high flying works of Oriental art included:  an early 18th c Chinese biscuit snuff bottle, superbly decorated with a landscape of trees and buildings, that sold for $17,250; a deeply carved Ch’ien Lung period cinnabar lacquer box and cover decorated with a scene of children at play that reached $17,250; a 19th c. Jade Snuff Bottle in the form of a gourd with reticulated branches and cicada on underside that achieved $9,200.  Chinese furniture was in high demand, such as a Chinese altar table that sold for $7,475 and a 19th Century Chinese export desk that brought $6,325.

The sale also included a variety of Japanese and Korean items, such as:  Russo-Japanese War triptych woodblock print, ‘Our Destroyers Fought the Enemy Ships Fiercely Outside Port Arthur, and Whipped the Enemy Fleet at Dawn on April 13, 1904’, by Kokyo that sold for $6,440; a 17th c Japanese Mukozuke Tea Ceremony Shigaraki Plate in rounded square form that brought $7,475; and a framed early Korean silkwork panel depicting two Leopards circling in landscape that achieved $2,070.

An outstanding group of Russian objects also performed exceedingly well in the sale, led by an enameled cloisonne kovsh by Moscow silversmith Nikolai Vasilievich Aleksejev that sold for $19,550; two Russian silver tea glass holders and spoon that brought $3,738; a cut glass silver lidded caviar server with swing handle and 1895 Moscow hallmarks that reached $2,415.

Several folk art pieces also attracted strong interest and brought correspondingly high prices, including: a carved wooden menagerie carousel figure of a leaping goat by Charles I.D. Looff (1852-1918), circa 1880-85, that sold for $17,250; a 94 inch square quilt depicting a stylized version of the American flag with 13 stripes, 33 stars and an eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch that raised $9,200; a pair of 19th Century carved Merganser male and female decoys that brought $7,475;  a 19th c. pine profile rooster weathervane top with nailed sheet copper over edge that exceeded its $600 to $800 presale estimate and achieved $3,220; and a mid 19th Century American store sign for ‘Harris & Cole Bros’ that sold for $2,875.
A remarkable original leather bound photo album of the 37-member Cornell University Class of 1871, plus the entire faculty of 13, including Ezra Cornell himself, shattered its presale estimate of $700 to $900 and sold for $6,900.  A circa 1915 Louis Vuitton Steamer Trunk brought $4,887.50. 
A complete list of auction results can be found at the Thomaston Place website


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