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Souza’s ‘Head in a Landscape’ fetches $235,000

A fresh-to-market oil on Masonite painting by the late Francis Newton Souza soared to $235,000 before the gavel fell during Weiss Auctions' May 17 auction.

LYNBROOK, N.Y. – A large oil on Masonite painting by the Indian-American artist Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002) climbed to $235,000, and three artworks by the Russian artist Mihail Chemiakin (b. 1943) – a painting and two sculptures – combined to bring $44,800 at an auction held May 17th by Weiss Auctions, online and in the firm’s Lynbrook gallery at 74 Merrick Road.

Celebration of Souza Art

 Souza's painting.

Souza's painting.

The Souza painting was by far the top lot of the auction. Titled "Head in a Landscape," the work was impressive at 35 inches by 47 ½ inches. It was also completely fresh to the market, making the important estate find that much more attractive to the collectors who were eager to bid on it.

Francis Newton Souza is the son of a dressmaker mother in India. An art school student in Mumbai but was expelled in 1942 for supporting the Quit India Movement. Five years later he found the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, to encourage young Indian artists to become part of the international avant-garde movement. Furthermore, his relocation to London, England took place in 1949.

His work appears at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The style is steeped in Expressionism but was influenced by Art Brut and Neo-Romanticism. Of his subjects many are oftem female nudes and Christian imagery but also included still-lifes and landscapes. In addition, Souza lived and worked in New York from 1967 until shortly before his death.

Original Artwork Tops Strong Finishing Lots

The auction saw more than 500 lots come up for bid and gross around $600,000, including the buyer’s premium. “Internet and phone bidding were both very strong, and approximately 75 people attended in person,” said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions. “The sale featured estate jewelry, bronzes, a Philip and Kelvin LaVerne mid-century modern table, porcelains and more.”

Original artwork, however, dominated the day’s list of top lots. The three pieces by Chemiakin included a 50 inch by 50 inch oil on canvas painting, signed and dated (1990) and an excellent example of his work ($18,700); a 29-inch-tall bronze sculpture from his St. Petersburg Carnival series, signed #2 of 8 ($10,500); and a sterling silver sculpture titled Peter the Great perched on a titled marble pedestal, 37 inches tall and with mounted plaques bearing his signature ($15,600).

Mihail Chemiakin (whose name is also spelled Mikhail Shemyakin) is a Russian painter, stage designer, sculptor and publisher, and a controversial representative of the nonconformist art tradition of St. Petersburg. Chemiakin works in a broad range of media and subjects, as seen in the 2010 two-volume book on his art, Mihail Chemiakin (Azbooka publishers, St. Petersburg).

Additional Sales Highlights

Following are additional highlights from the auction. Internet bidding was provided by Proxibid, and In addition, all prices quoted here are inclusive of a buyer’s premium.

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A lithograph and screenprint in colors on Arches paper by renowned American painter, sculptor and graphic artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), titled People for the American Way (1991), signed lower left, dated and numbered (“44/75”), and housed in a large and heavy 49 inch by 61 inch frame, gaveled for $24,600. It was a new world auction record for a print from that series.

A beautiful and monumental Royal Vienna hand-painted porcelain plaque depicting a religious scene, with an artist’s signature in the lower right appearing to read “E. Sihade”, changed hands for $8,525. The image area was 16 ½ inches by 21 ¼ inches, with an inked beehive mark verso.

Amundsen Art

A wonderful oil on canvas painting by C. Hjalmar “Cappy” Amundsen (Me./N.Y./Mass, 1911-2001), depicting whalers off the coast in a vivid and colorful marine rendering, brought $6,000. Furthermore, the work appears in a frame measuring 42 ½ inches by 31 inches.

Philip Weiss Auctions has three big sales lined up for June. The first, slated for Monday, June 11th, will be an on-site auction, to be held in the New York County Public Administrator’s warehouse, at 250 Church Street in Manhattan, starting at 12 noon. Offered will be estate material featuring furniture, paintings, prints, artwork, porcelain, pottery, bronzes, rugs, household bric-a-brac, electronics, musical instruments, lamps, clocks, collectibles and more.

Then, on Wednesday, June 20th, at the Lynbrook gallery, a sale of toys, trains, battery ops, diecasts, dolls, toy soldiers, pressed steel and more will be evident in Part 1 of the Kalas Collection but also to include further selections from the Jerry and Nina Green Collection of American and European trains and toys, In addition, Part 1 of the massive toy collection of George Dominguez, more of the Pennsylvania “Matchbox Hoard” and a newly arrived doll collection.

More Items on Offer

Thursday, June 21st, Weiss Auctions will hold a sale packed with sports items, comics, comic art, animation and historical material. Also, featured will be baseball material from the personal secretary to Christy Walsh; old sports posters, documents and ephemera; the white dress shirt worn by JFK at his inauguration as President; original comic art from the Joe Kubert estate; ‘50s-era pulp and paperback covers; comics; and Disney material.

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