Skip to main content

Early Black Forest carved wood canine sculpture may fetch $12,000

An intricate Black Forest wood carving of a mother dog and her pups, by master Swiss carver Walter Mader will come to auction June 18, and may realize $12K.
Mader sculpture

Walter Mader (Swiss, active late 19th/early 20th century), Black Forest carved wood sculpture of mother dog with pups, est. $8,000-$12,000. (All photos courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Virginia’s most respected estate-auction specialists, family-owned Quinn’s Auction Galleries, will conduct a 433-lot sale of fine and decorative art on Saturday, June 11, 2016. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet.

The top-estimated artwork in the sale is Lot 104, a signed acrylic-on-canvas artwork by revered Australian aboriginal artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002), also widely known by the abbreviated name “Clifford Possum.” The 48 by 32-inch artwork titled “Leura Leura Dreaming” is a compelling and complex creation of dots commingled with a curved, multicolor pattern. The 1996 work comes with particularly strong provenance that consists of a gallery certificate of authenticity with a photo of the artist holding the actual painting, plus a videotape and artist’s tools.

“We are honored to present this painting at auction,” said Quinn’s Auction Galleries Executive Vice President Matthew Quinn. “Clifford Possum is one of the most collected and renowned of all Australian Aboriginal artists. He is considered one of the trailblazers of the ‘dot-and-circle’ movement, and his paintings are in the permanent collections of many museums and galleries.” The artwork is expected to exceed it $60,000-$80,000 estimate.

Other Australian Aboriginal art in the sale includes Lot 105, an acrylic-on-canvas painted and signed on verso by Possum’s daughter Gabriella (b. 1967-), titled Grandmother’s Country. It is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Lot 106, a painting by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian Aborigine, 1916-1996) titled My Country 1994, is signed on verso and estimated at $2,500-$3,500; while Lot 107, a signed circle painting by Debra Nangala McDonald (Australian Aborigine, b. 1969-) called Two Women Dreaming, is offered with a $600-$900 estimate.

No one will be asking, ‘Who let the dogs out?’ when Lot 101 crosses the auction block. The distinctive carving and fastidious attention to detail on the wood sculpture of a mother dog and her pups could only be the work of Swiss artist Walter Mader. Around the turn of the 20th century, there were some 2,000 carvers active in the town of Brienz, Switzerland, and Mader was unquestionably one of the premier names to arise from the group.

“You can look at a Mader dog carving and tell immediately that it is his work. Mader carved only

My Country painting

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Aboriginal Australian, 1916-1996), ‘My Country 1994,’ acrylic on canvas, est. $2,500-$3,500

canine images and his attention to detail was second to none. Any of his dog sculptures are very desirable to collectors of Black Forest art,” said Quinn.

The circa-1900 tableau offered by Quinn’s has hand-colored characteristics and inlaid glass eyes, which are typical of Mader’s fine hand. It is conservatively estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Another high-quality late-19th-century carving, Lot 102 depicts a young woman, probably a household worker, returning from the market with a basket containing fruit, vegetables and coffee. With her left hand she daintily lifts her skirt as she descends a couple of steps. The pre-auction estimate for this well-executed folk-art carving is $12,000-$16,000.

Two signed oil-on-canvas landscapes by Edouard Leon Cortes (French, 1882-1969) will be auctioned consecutively as Lots 264 and 265. The former, titled Moulin a Arey, is a provincial mill scene that measures 18 5/8 by 23¾ inches, framed. Estimate: $1,000-$2,000. Identically sized, Lot 265 also depicts a waterside mill, but with a mother and child walking down a lane in the foreground. Titled simply Moulin, it carries a pre-sale estimate of $800-$1,200.

Lot 146 is a framed Louise Nevelson (American, 1899-1988) lead intaglio collage print executed in 1972 and titled Night Tree. Framed, its size is 30¼ inches by 25¼ inches, and its pre-sale estimate is $1,500-$2,000.

Two distinctive polished-steel sculptures by John Safer (Maryland/Washington, DC; b. 1922-) are also among the June 11 highlights. Lot 108, a 113-inch elongated and twisted-metal work, is similar to a Safer piece that patrons see outside as they exit the new Udvar Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The pre-auction estimate is $6,000-$8,000. Lot 109 is of polished steel and supported by a granite base. Signed and dated on the bottom edge of the steel portion, the 53-inch-tall sculpture is entered with a $2,000-$3,000 estimate.

Several beautiful examples of Asian art have been included in the sale. Lot 399, a 19th-century white jade bi, is decorated with a chi dragon motif and swirl patterns, and is estimated at $800-$1,000. Lot 415, an attractive Chinese peachbloom red porcelain water pot, is a late Qing Dynasty production after a Kangxi-Period design. It has an under-glaze blue mark beneath the base and is expected to make $500-$800.

Safer sculpture

John Safer (Md./Washington D.C., b. 1922-), polished steel sculpture on granite base, signed and dated 1983, est. $2,000-$3,000

Americana is featured in the form of Lot 103, a gilt polychrome carved-wood American folk-art eagle and snake inscribed Don’t Tread on Me. A 19th-century production, it is estimated at $400-$600.

The June 11, 2016 auction will be held at Quinn's Auction Galleries, 360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046. Start time: 11 a.m. Eastern. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers, eBay or Invaluable. View the fully illustrated catalog online at, or

For additional details on any lot in the sale, to reserve a phone line or leave an absentee bid, call 703-532-5632 or e-mail Visit Quinn's Auction Galleries online at

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!