An outstanding Cycladic marble head dating from 2500 BC with impeccable provenance soared to $188,800 and an elegant sculpture of black-and-red-painted sheet metal circa 1946 by Alexander Calder (Am., 1898-1976), titled Crayfish, sold for $153,400 at a two-day, two-session auction held September 22-23, 2017, by Cottone Auctions in Geneseo.
Day 1 featured the lifetime collection of Annette McGuire Cravens (1923-2017), a lifelong philanthropist and patron of the arts. Annette dedicated her time to the expansion and diversification of her collection of archaeological and ethnographic items and the allocation of artifacts for the benefit of the continued education of others. Following the example of her stepfather, Thomas B. Lockwood’s donation and benefaction of the Lockwood Library at the University of Buffalo, Cravens went on to donate over 1,100 items, some dating to 4500 BC.
The creation of “Cravens World: The Human Aesthetic” reflects the 40 years of travel and acquisitions of Annette and her husband, and her passion for art ranging from prehistoric to modern day. She also founded the Edgar R. McGuire Historical Medical Instrument Collection, after her father, Dr. Edgar McGuire, a protégé of Dr. Roswell Park and his successor as a professor of surgery and medicine at UB.
Both the ancient marble head and the Calder stabile were from Ms. Cravens’ estate. “It was a privilege to work with the Cravens family in marketing this outstanding collection,” said Matt Cottone of Cottone Auctions. “Carrying on her great philanthropy, the proceeds will go directly to the Cravens Foundation to support the families philanthropic goals.”
The Cycladic marble head, a prime example of the elegance achieved by Cycladic sculptors of the 3rd millennium BC, was easily the top selling lot in an auction grossing around $2.6 million. These so-called Cycladic figurines or idols come from the homonymous Greek island chain in the Aegean Sea, where they were discovered in select graves. They almost certainly fulfilled a religious function that largely eludes us today, but probably involved fertility and rebirth as the figurines are often pregnant. In the early 20th century, artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, and Brancusi admired and were deeply influenced by the Cycladic aesthetic in their work.
The Alexander Calder stabile is diminutive at just 3-1/2 inches, but it was a giant lot in the sale. The elegant sculpture was shown at the Galerie Carré in Paris in the exhibition “Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Stabiles, Constellation,” which opened on October 25, 1946. The following year it appeared in group shows at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Ms. Cravens acquired had acquired the work from Perls Gallery, New York in 1984.
The Cravens collection of modern design, contemporary ceramics, and antiquities represented session I on September 22. Notably Ms. Cravens’ extensive collection of British Studio Pottery, which included numerous pieces by famed Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. They are considered the most important ceramic figures of the 20th century. September 23, session II, featured fine art, antiques, and modern design, to include offerings from various estates, museums, and private collections.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium. For bidders unable to attend in person, internet bidding was facilitated by Cottone’s live bidding platform available for download through the iTunes store or Google Play. Live bidding was also available through LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com.
A pair of Chinese porcelain bowls bearing the Ch’en Lung mark and decorated with fruit and bamboo, 4-1/4 inches in diameter, brought $67,850; a large acrylic on canvas with rope artwork by Angelo Savelli (It., 1911-1995), titled Ascent #51 (1969), 74-1/2 inches by 50-1/2 inches, artist-signed, realized $40,120; and an early, all-original 19th century watercolor portrait of a young lady, shown seated in a federal sofa with drapery, in an original grain painted frame, hit $7,670.
Tiffany Studios lamps always do well at auction. A curtain border leaded glass lamp with the shade and bronze senior base both signed Tiffany Studios (NY), with a 24-1/2-inch diameter shade and brownish green patina, lit up the room for $66,080; while a Peony table lamp, with the shade and base with gold brown patina also Tiffany signed, 22 inches tall, garnered $59,000.
A mixed media on paper study by Joan Mitchell (Am., 1925-1992), rendered circa 1960 and artist signed lower right, measuring 14-1/2 inches by 9 inches, went for $38,350. Also, a 30-inch by 40-inch watercolor painting by renowned Provincetown artist John Whorf (Am., 1903-1959), titled Provincetown Harbor, signed lower right and in the original frame, finished at $25,960.
A stoneware spear sculpture with copper flashing by John Mason (Am., b. 1927), circa 1963, artist signed and 20 inches in height, changed hands for $50,740. Tops in the vintage furniture category was a stack laminated mahogany cloud form desk in steel gray, signed “WC 1979” by Wendell Castle (Am., b. 1932), on an aluminum base with a black mirrored glass top ($28,320).
Two exemplary pieces of British studio pottery got paddles wagging. One was a hand-thrown and decorated bowl with manganese edge and foot by Lucie Rie (1902-1995), artist signed ‘LR’ with fine inlaid turquoise sgraffito, 7-1/2 inches in diameter ($56,640). The other was a white spherical pot with disk top made circa 1965 by Hans Coper (1920-1981), signed ‘HC’ and 6-1/2 inches in height ($40,120).
Two Georg Jensen lots sat atop the sterling silver category. The first was a six-piece tea set with tray, designed by Johan Rhode #251, weighing 264 troy silver ounces ($17,700). The second was a covered box, circa 1930, signed and #30B with an amber finial, 5-1/2 inches in height ($12,980).
Cottone Auctions has back to back sales the weekend of November 10-11, both in the Geneseo gallery. On Friday, November 10, an estate collection of several hundred Winchester firearms will come up for bid, beginning at 12 PM ET. Then, on Saturday, November 11, an art and antiques auction will be held, at 11 AM. For info, visit www.cottoneauctions.com.
Cottone Auctions is always seeking quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, call (585) 243-1000 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cottone Auctions’ gallery, at 120 Court Street in Geneseo, NY 14454 is located just south of Rochester and east of Buffalo. For directions and all other inquiries call (585) 243-1000.
To learn more about Cottone Auctions and the November 10-11 sale, visit www.cottoneauctions.com.