Dallas is a long way from the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts where artist and collector Pan Tianshou began to write The History of Chinese Painting. Though he died in 1971, a future printing of his book may record that one of his own watercolors sold for $170,000 at the far-away Dallas Auction Gallery. Estimated at $30,000 to $50,000, the work depicts an eagle standing on a rock and features a signature and seal.
The zeitgeist in the industry now is in Chinese works of art, and great works like the one by Pan Tianshou don’t come around that frequently. Some of the other Chinese paintings and objects at the May 26th sale went within or below estimates. (see other lots that exceeded estimates in the comments section).
The same was the case for Western Art and my painting picks, two works by the California artist William Keith. An idyllic landscape with cottage in background estimated at $4,000 to $6,000 brought only $2200, and a slightly larger work and my favorite of the two; a wooded landscape estimated at $2,000 to $3,000 brought $2750. I did look at this painting under blacklight and it seemed to have a significant, but not overbearing amount of in-paint. The idyllic landscape was also said to have in-paint.
Another category, pottery, would also seem to be near its height of popularity now and had respectable, but not exceptional, performance at the auction. A small Newcomb College pottery vase decorated by Sadie estimated at $1,500 to $2,500 brought $1,300. A larger one estimated at $3,000-$5,000 sold for $4,000.
Another work that caught my eye was a large desert landscape by Herbert Sartelle. I had never heard of him before Wednesday when I saw the painting, but his story proved interesting. Sartelle was born in Buffalo, but left home at 18 to join the Barnum & Bailey Circus where he eventually performed as a magician. He would later return to New York City and work for Rogers & Hammerstein. Painting was a side-gig. Upon leaving show business in 1928, he settled in Los Angeles. At that time Earl Burdick Jr. changed his name to his mother’s maiden name and adopted his middle name. As Herbert Sartelle, he traveled about southern California painting nature as he saw it while continuing to book dates as a magician. Sartelle died in Los Angeles on October 15, 1955.
That story didn’t help the painting meet the low estimate, however. It went below the low end of $1200 bringing $750.
If you’re one of those people who watches all the items in the acution to see what you might get at a great price, a Continental cut glass table lamp was the one to click on here. Estimated at $400-$600, it sold for just $200.