Doyle Auction Brief

A Painting by Jean Metzinger French, Top Sold Lot at Doyle for $600,000 Without Premium, Still $100,000 Below Low Estimation
A Painting by Jean Metzinger French, Top Sold Lot at Doyle for $600,000 Without Premium, Still $100,000 Below Low Estimation

Neither Impressionists nor Ashcan schools were in demand at Doyle auction today. There is a high percentage of unsold among more than 250 lots, even things that were sold seldom met the low estimation. Compared to relative upbeat results from Skinner, the sale at Doyle auction indicates that buyers are more cautious and conservative, especially when quality works are offered from different auction houses at the same time.

Of the two top lots, the landscape painting by Pissaro didn’t sell while Jean Metzmger French’ work were sold for $600,000, lower than the low estimation. Three of four paintings by Potthast, two paintings by Ernest Lawson, a watercolor by Sargent went by unclaimed. While paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Child Hassam, Mark Rothko were sold under low estimations. There are a few sales that at least fell in the estimated range. Among them, the infallable stil life by Severin Rosen was a blue chip. Samual Coleman is still gaining recognition as a Hudson River school master who has equally conquered both midwest and North African scenery. Edward Moran’s narrative dramatic landscape is a better HDTV with little depreciation fear. The attributed Bierstadt is another visual splendor with its realistic yet poetic water texture.

Boater beside a Drawbridge at Sunset by Theophile de Bock, Sold After a Fierce Competition
Boater beside a Drawbridge at Sunset by Theophile de Bock, Sold After a Fierce Competition

Two paintings caught my attention during the auction. Du Bois’ lonesome Paris nocturne is a declamation of the rising of a young  artist. I was amazed by his fluid brushwork and succinct yet effective cropping. The muted light stops almost linearly in front of the darkness, the night erodes the viewer’s consciousness with the eerie streetlights scattered around, like haunting homeless souls.

“Boater beside a Drawbridge at Sunset”, one of the two paintings by Hague school painter Theophile de Bock, fetched more than twice as much as it was estimated for. It was the only painting that during the preview I asked the staff to bring down for close examimation. The overall heavy yellow varnish, in effect, adds its charm of tonal integrity. The frame appears to be original and an old label seems to indicate that the painting came as early as the first two decades of the 20th century. The layered composition with shimmering trees and harmony between sky and water downplays the sombre archetecture in the back. It is not a scene of natural splendor, yet it is the artist’s affectionate response to the humane nature that makes this work particularly charming.

Lastly, the painting by Charles Linford which I have mentioned in the previous post is a sold sale (for $4500 plus premium). Like the painting by De Bock, Barbizon school style paintings are seldom locale specific. Thus, luckly, the charm of regional art, at least in this case, did not fade.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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