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Cycladic marble head sculpture soars to $188K to top $2.6M sale

A marble head sculpture created by Cycladic sculptors of the 3rd millennium BC finished atop all lots in Cottone Auctions' $2.6 million Sept. 22-23 auction.

GENESEO, N.Y. – An outstanding Cycladic marble head dating from 2,500 BC with impeccable provenance soared to $188,800. An elegant sculpture of black-and-red-painted sheet metal circa 1946 by Alexander Calder (Am., 1898-1976) saw $153,400. These are two of many highlights of Cottone Auctions' Sept. 22-23 auction.

Cravens' Cycladic Sculpture Tops All Lots

cycladic marble head sculpture

Top Lot: Cycladic marble head sculpture, dating from 2,500 BC, sold for $188,800 at auction. (All photos courtesy Cottone Auctions)

Day 1 of the auction featured the lifetime collection of Annette McGuire Cravens (1923-2017). She was a lifelong philanthropist and patron of the arts. The creation of “Cravens World: The Human Aesthetic” reflects the 40 years of travel and acquisitions of Annette and her husband. As well as her passion for art ranging from prehistoric to modern day. She also founded the Edgar R. McGuire Historical Medical Instrument Collection, after her father, Dr. Edgar McGuire. He was a protégé of Dr. Roswell Park and his successor as a professor of surgery and medicine at UB.

Both the ancient marble head and the Calder stabile were from Ms. Cravens’ estate. “It was a privilege to work with the Cravens family in marketing this outstanding collection,” said Matt Cottone of Cottone Auctions. “Carrying on her great philanthropy, the proceeds will go directly to the Cravens Foundation to support the families philanthropic goals.”

The Cycladic marble head is a prime example of work by Cycladic sculptors of the 3rd millennium BC. It was the top lot in an auction grossing around $2.6 million. These so-called Cycladic figurines or idols come from the homonymous Greek island chain in the Aegean Sea. They are a discovery of select graves. They almost certainly fulfilled a religious function. But it probably involved fertility and rebirth as the figurines are often pregnant. Artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, and Brancusi are influencers of the Cycladic aesthetic.

Calder Adds to Bidder Interest

The Alexander Calder stabile is diminutive at just 3 ½ inches, but it was a giant lot in the sale. The elegant sculpture counts a 1946 appearance at the Galerie Carré in Paris in the exhibition “Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Stabiles, Constellation,” in its legacy. The following year it appeared in group shows around the globe. Ms. Cravens acquired the work from Perls Gallery, New York in 1984.

Ms. Cravens’ extensive collection of British Studio Pottery included numerous pieces by famed Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. Also featured in the auction were offerings from various estates, museums, and private collections.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium.

• Pair of Chinese porcelain bowls bearing the Ch’en Lung mark and decorated with fruit and bamboo ($67,850).
— Large acrylic on canvas with rope artwork by Angelo Savelli, titled Ascent #51, circa 1969, ($40,120).
• Early 19th-century watercolor portrait of a young lady in an original grain painted frame ($7,670).

Lighting Led by Tiffany

Tiffany Studios lamps always do well at auction. A curtain border leaded glass lamp with the shade

Peony lamp

Tiffany Studios Peony table lamp, with a shade and base with gold-brown patina both Tiffany signed, 22 inches tall, realized $59,000.

and bronze senior base lit up the room for $66,080. Meanwhile, a Peony table lamp, also Tiffany signed, garnered $59,000.

A mixed media on paper study by Joan Mitchell (Am., 1925-1992), went for $38,350. Also, a watercolor painting by John Whorf (Am., 1903-1959), titled Provincetown Harbor, finished at $25,960.

A stoneware spear sculpture with copper flashing by John Mason (Am., b. 1927), changed hands for $50,740. Tops in the vintage furniture category was a stack laminated mahogany cloud form desk in steel gray. Signed “WC 1979” by Wendell Castle (Am., b. 1932) it finished at $28,320.

Two exemplary pieces of British studio pottery got paddles wagging. One was a hand-thrown and decorated bowl with manganese edge and foot by Lucie Rie (1902-1995). The piece sold for $56,640. The other was a white spherical pot with disk top made circa 1965 by Hans Coper (1920-1981). It commanded $40,120.

The next round of auctions at Cottone Auctions is set for Nov. 10-11. A selection of hundreds of Winchester collectible firearms will come forward Nov. 10. An art and antique auction is slated for Nov. 11.

For more information, visit, email or call 585-243-1000.

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