BOULDER, Colo. – On Thursday, January 28th, Artemis Gallery will present at auction one of the most prestigious consignments the company has ever handled: the antiquities collection of the late
Paul and Louise Bernheimer. The lifetime assemblage includes highly important pottery and Japanese netsukes, among other fascinating cultural treasures.
The Bernheimers devoted their lives to collecting and dealing in antiques. Paul was the scion of the family that, in 1864, founded the world-famous Bernheimer-Haus on Lenbachplatz in Munich, Germany. By 1900, the Bernheimer family had become official purveyors to the Court of Bavaria. Their clients included members of European aristocracy and wealthy American magnates. Louise was led to antiques, and later to the trade, via her professional training as a costume designer.
After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939, Paul and Louise settled in the United States. Over time, they established antiques concerns in Boston, as well as Cambridge and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In addition to selling fine antiques through their own stores, they also frequently exhibited their exquisite wares at better antiques shows around the country. Teresa Dodge, managing director of Artemis Gallery, noted that the couple’s impeccable reputation and superior knowledge of cultural artifacts “lives on through their son, Max Bernheimer, who is International Head of Antiquities at Christie’s.”
The Bernheimer collection is the source of the single most important piece of Asian art ever to be auctioned by Artemis Gallery. Dating to circa 12th-13th century CE China (Jin to Yuan Dynasties), Lot 21 is a large, scallop-edged Jun-Ware/Junyao bowl executed in a stunning sky-blue glaze with violet splashes. Similar to vessels that have realized in excess of $100,000 at major auction houses, it is entered in the sale with a reasonable $20,000-$30,000 estimate. “The Bernheimer family instructed us to price the estate at levels that would generate interest and ensure that most of the lots were sold,” Dodge explained. “Discriminating collectors will know the importance of this bowl, as well as everything else in the sale. We have every confidence that they’ll bid to win.”
Many unusual Japanese carved netsukes are found within the Bernheimers’ Asian holdings. Two charming examples are Lot 48, a monkey holding up a mask with a menacing face, $300-$500; and a cat protectively hovering over her kitten, $300-$450. Another appealing animal form in the collection is a circa-18th-century CE bizenware sake bottle in the form of a tanuki (raccoon dog) holding a bottle or canteen, $300-$500.
Reflecting the Bernheimers’ Bavarian heritage, Lot 78 is a German glazed ceramic inkwell dated
1825 that most likely came from Bernheimer Palace. It depicts three lions standing on their hind legs and leaning against two inkwells and a candleholder, respectively. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Lot 80, a 16th-century CE German carved wood Pieta carries a $2,000-$4,000 estimate.
A fine terracotta Chinese Tang Dynasty molded horse, circa 618-906 CE, was probably a funerary object. The 16.5-inch equine displays a stocky, muscular build and stands squarely on all fours with his head cocked to the side. TL tested and with provenance from a private New Orleans collection where it resided since the 1960s, the horse is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.
Ex H. Knowes collection, New York, Lot 58F is a massive circa 6th to 5th century BCE bichrome funnel krater with “hand-shape” handles. Originating in the extremely wealthy Daunia region of Magna Graecia, southern Italy, the 11.25-inch-high by 15.25-inch wide earthenware vessel is cataloged with a $3,500-$7,000 estimate.
Lot 68A, an Ancient African bura bone funerary head, circa 1000-1500 CE, is carved at the top to resemble a three-dimensional man’s head. “Not much is known about the culture that developed in the region now known as Niger and Burkina Faso, where the funerary piece was made, but judging from the impressive tomb monuments in cemeteries there, it would appear that the area was once inhabited by a wealthy, complex society,” Dodge said. With provenance from the Estate of Dr. Peter Arnovick of Los Altos, Calif., the lot is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.
Pre-Columbian highlights include Lot 65B, a circa 400-600 CE Moche (northern Peru) bichrome portrait vessel depicting an elite member of a tribe with turban-form headdress, $1,400-$2,500; and Lot 59D, a 900-200 BCE Chavin culture (central coastal Peru) volcanic carving of a personage with elongated nose and hands held close to the chest, $5,600-$8,400.
Bidders may participate in Artemis Gallery’s Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 auction live online, by phone (please reserve phone line in advance) or by leaving an absentee bid that will be lodged confidentially and competitively on their behalf. The sale will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern Time and will be conducted simultaneously on three bidding platforms: ArtemisGalleryLIVE.com, LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com.
For additional details about any item in the auction, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email email@example.com. Visit Artemis Gallery online at www.artemisgallery.com.