Several items at Case Antiques auction in Knoxville caught my attention, and while I was out during bidding, the prices seemed to rise to a point where it didn’t matter. Both items on my radar went well above what I expected.
The first was a 13″ Parian bust of Robert E. Lee. Depending on the size, these usually go for anywhere from $175 to $500. Of course there is more appeal in a U.S. historical figure than in a random European official, but in searching the sale records I was not prepared for the $1,600 hammer price recorded. I did however find a record of a 15″ bust of General Grant which sold at Skinner for $2,000 in July, 2009. Perhaps the market for these is on the increase or there really are better deals at antiques shows.
The second item is a 26×40 landscape painting by John Francis Murphy. It is an exceptional example of the artists work in a very attractive frame. The $20,500 hammer price may represent an auction record for this artist. The painting titled Where Sunlight Lingers was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1913.
The item that originally attracted me to the auction was a classical sofa with somewhat of a regency flair. I had decided it would not be worth shipping this item, or driving it to Dallas. That may or may have not been the case at the $800 hammer price, however.
Other furniture, particularly in the high empire category, performed surprisingly well. A classical drink mixing table attributed to Anthony Quervelle circa 1825 brought $4,400. A classical New York sleigh bed brought $8,600.
Most of the Asian objects in the sale seemed to fall at or below estimate. While I was surprised by some of the results, it all makes sense. Even while classical furniture might not be as popular as it once was, there are apparently some very good pieces out there and when they come to auction, they command good prices. Most came from the estate of a collector in Nashville who apparently knew what he was doing.
Two classical sideboards at auction recently caught my attention. The first has massive carving on the back splat remotely comparable (in terms of the scale of the carved area) only to one in storage at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. This sideboard is being offered at Dargate auctions in Pittsburgh December 5. The description is as follows:
Lot 2287: MAHOGANY CLASSICAL SIDEBOARD (19th c.) MAHOGANY CLASSICAL SIDEBOARD (19th c.) Highly carved backsplash centered with basket of fruit, cornucopia ends, flat top with bowed center, bowed center drawer over conforming paneled doors, acanthus topped arched and reeded stiles, flanked by short drawers over paneled doors, molded base ending on ball feet. Glass pulls. Old label: Bowles – Ye Antique Shoppe, 417 Penn Ave. Next Hotel Lincoln, Pittsburgh, PA. Everything in Antiques. Condition: old refinish, age appropriate scuffs and wear. Dimensions: 71 1/2”W, 24”D, 51”H. Estimated Price: $800 – $1,200
The form of the cabinet has significant variations from the other sideboards, and I suspect it may have been constructed late in the period. There’s no way to know where this sideboard was crafted, but it seems to have been in Pittsburgh for a long time. It would be great to be able to inspect it in person.
The second sideboard was at Garth’s recently and was described as possibly being by Philadelphia cabinetmaker Anthony Quervelle.
Lot 404: EMPIRE SIDEBOARD. Possibly Anthony Quervelle, Philadelphia, 2nd quarter-19th century. Mahogany and flame veneer. Good classical detail with paw feet, Ionic columns, large central sunburst, dovetailed drawers, pull-out shelf and marble insert with cresting mirror flanked by Ionic columns and curved crest. 56″h. 72″w. 22″d.
Without inspecting in person, this really seemed to be an exceptional lot and a good value for someone at the $2,169 realized price. If only life necessitated more than one sideboard to be complete!