Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Weschler’s Auctioneers & Appraisers
ROCKVILLE, MD — Weschler’s, an auction tradition in the DC metro area, conducted another in its ongoing Capital Collections series of sales on March 10, offering 230 items, dominated by fine art and signed jewelry. A sell-through rate of 87 percent was posted for the sale totaling $784,925. More than 400 bidders registered across three platforms: Auctionzip, Invaluable and Weschler’s own bidding system.
An abstract untitled landscape by Srihadi Soedarsono (Indonesian, 1931-2022), an effusion of blue, green and misty white, was the leading lot. The oil on canvas at 36 by 48 inches realized $39,975, selling to an international buyer. It was signed Srihadi and dated ‘74 upper right. Kanjeng Raden Haryo Tumenggung H. Srihadi Soedarsono Adhikoesoemo was an Indonesian painter and tenured lecturer recognized for his abstracted landscapes.
A pair of Van Cleef & Arpels platinum and diamond French clip-back pierced earrings featuring a total weight of diamonds of 3.70 carats spurred thoughts of impending spring with their floral design and blossomed to $31,720. Circa 1965, each floral design was centered with one round brilliant-cut diamond weighing approximately .35 carats, surrounded by approximately 64 round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.50 carats. Each was marked “©1965/ Van Cleef & Arpels/ N.Y. 36387.”
David Frederick Reed is an American postwar and contemporary painter who was born in 1946. In this sale, he was represented by an untitled work in oil and alkyd on two joined canvases, an abstract piece that also evoked a landscape. Measuring overall 16 by 84 inches and signed “David Reed,” dated 1980 and numbered 155 twice on the tacking edge, it brought $30,500.
French painter Félix Ziem’s (1821-1911) depiction of the Church of Santa Maria delle Salute found favor and sold for $28,060. The oil on canvas, 26 by 32 inches, made the Roman Catholic church and minor basilica located at Punta della Dogana in the Dorsoduro quarter of the city of Venice, Italy, an equal partner to the Grand Canal activity to its left and Saint Mark’s campanile off in the distance. The dome of the Salute, as the church is simply called, was an important addition to the Venice skyline and became emblematic of the city, appearing in artworks both by locals, such as Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, and visitors, such as Ziem, J.M.W. Turner and John Singer Sargent.
Fetching the same price was a lot comprising Effie Lee Newsome’s (American, 1885-1979) manuscript of Child and Nature, A Children’s Reader with illustrations by James Lesesne Wells (American, 1902-1993). Born in Philadelphia, Newsome was one of the first African American poets who primarily published poems for children. She was the author of one volume of poetry, Gladiola Garden: Poems of Outdoors and Indoors for Second Grade Readers, which was also included in this lot. Her poems helped her young readers celebrate their own beauty and recognize themselves in fairy tales, folklore and nature. Catalog notes state that the manuscript appears to be an unpublished work submitted to the Associated Publishers of Washington, DC, circa 1941, as a follow-up to Newsome’s highly acclaimed Gladiola Garden, published in 1940.
More jewelry was notable and attracting a lot of interest during preview week, specifically a platinum solitaire diamond ring with shank size 10 that found a new finger for $24,600. It featured a four-prong mount set with one round brilliant-cut diamond weighing approximately 4.30 carats, flanked by two tapered baguette-cut diamonds. Prices remain high for signed pieces. The Cartier marque was a top-seller with a platinum and diamond ring with shank size 4¾ taking $14,640. Centered with one elongated rectangular-cut diamond weighing approximately 1.10 carats, flanked by 30 round full-cut melee diamonds, the ring’s shank was inscribed Cartier. A Cartier figurative 18K yellow-gold, turquoise, blue sapphire and ruby brooch with a gross weight of 12.4 dwt and length of 1¾ inches earned $13,420, while another Cartier figurative 18K yellow-gold and diamond brooch, gross weight of 12.9 dwt and length of 1-5/8 inches garnered $18,300.
Among contemporary art highlights, an untitled abstract by Sam Gilliam (American, 1933-2022), acrylic and mixed media on handmade paper, 35 by 49 inches, achieved $26,076.
Augusta Savage (American, 1892-1962), a sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance and with a passion for equal rights for African Americans in the arts, was represented in the sale by “Singing Woman: Three Works.” This was a green-painted plaster sculpture together with two green-patinated bronze sculptures, likely later castings from the plaster, 16½ inches high. It doubled its high estimate, going out at $20,740.
A Russian genre bronze hunting group of a mounted Cossack with wolf and hounds, cataloged as after Nikolaï Ivanovich Liberich (1828-1883), was chased to $19,680. Liberich came from a German-Russian Lutheran family and served in 1848 as a lieutenant in the Chevalier Guards. In 1861, as a student in the Petersburg Art Academy, he specialized in animal sculptures and hunting scenes. He created a variety of animal statuettes, especially of horses, cast in bronze and silver found a wide circle of customers.
Also Russian was a silver and cloisonne enamel icon of Christ the Pantocrator. The maker’s mark was obscure, but it was possibly the mark of Pavel Ovchinnikov, Moscow, last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. Ovchinnikov (1830-1888) was a renowned Russian jeweler, silversmith, goldsmith and enameler. So while the uncertainty of the maker gave the icon an $800-$1,200 estimate, it found a believer and sold for $14,760.
A busy scene, “Breton Children Gathered Outside a Church,” an oil on canvas by Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau (French, circa 1864-1930), made $19,520.
Two works by James Kivetoruk Moses (American, 1900-1982) did not elicit much interest during preview but took off with online bidders during the auction. An untitled watercolor and ink on card (Return from The Hunt), 9¼ by 17¼ inches sold for $12,200, twice its high expectation, and “Hunter in Kayak and Kayak Tipped, Two Views,” a watercolor and ink on paper, 7¾ by 11 inches, was $11,500, also double its high estimate.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Next auction is May 12, with consignments due by April 17. For information, www.weschlers.com or 202-628-1281.