Few would argue that the Florida Gulf Coast is an agreeable place to be in January. Aside from the sunshine and beaches that are free to all comers, the Tampa Bay area boasts a thriving art community and one of the nation’s most highly regarded auction houses: Myers Fine Art (MFA). To mark the company’s 30th year at the same landmark Art Deco gallery in St. Petersburg, Myers’ co-owners Mike Myers and Mary Dowd have announced a January 21, 2018, auction that reflects a full year of scrupulous assessment and curation of European and Asian fine art and antiques. All of the goods set aside for the 30th anniversary auction were sourced from upscale estates in Florida, the Hamptons, and various New England regions known for their gracious, historic homes.
“We have always taken the same curated approach as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. We don’t conduct general auctions, only specialty auctions,” Dowd said. “If we hold an Americana sale, for example, customers who deal exclusively in Americana will still fly in to bid in person. They know that our 600-lot sale will contain 600 lots of exactly the type and quality of goods they are seeking. We make sure that is the case.”
For their initial sale of 2018, Myers will present a selection of 16th to early 20th century European paintings, heavy antique silver, exquisite European and Chinese porcelain, jade and hardstone carvings, antique scrolls, woodblock prints, carved furniture, fine jewelry, and many items with interesting provenance.
The connoisseurship for which Myers and Dowd are so well known is amply validated in the selection of artworks chosen for the auction. A star lot is an oil-on-panel scene of Village Kermesse by Dutch genre painter Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot (1586-1666). The artwork depicts in quintessential Droochsloot style a festive gathering in a village street, with townsfolk of all ages represented. The lively 37 by 50-1/2-inch (framed) painting retains an old paper label on verso, possibly from an auction or gallery, bearing both French and German writing that describes the subject matter. Estimate; $20,000-$40,000.
Many other desirable European paintings will cross the auction block. An intriguing 19th century oil-on-canvas allegorical painting of Lucrezia Borgia, 40.8 inches square, is estimated at $1,000-$2,000, while a very fine 17th or early 18th century Continental oil-on-canvas portrait of a knight is expected to make $3,000-$5,000. Several well-executed Italian and French religious carvings and santos will be offered. A highly detailed Italian polychrome carving of the Madonna and Child measures 51 inches high and is inscribed on the base Aves Maria Laureto. It appears to be well over 150 years old, possibly much older. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000.
An eyewitness to America’s glamorous Gilded Age, a pair of 19th century (or earlier) German Black Forest elk-antler chandeliers formerly illuminated the Grill Room at the prestigious Yale Club in New York City. Each of the chain-suspended 16-light chandeliers has at its center a large, hand-carved wood figure of a mermaid holding a crown, coat of arms and goblet. A photo appearing in Volume 25 of the 1915 Yale Alumni Weekly shows one of the chandeliers in situ at the club, with text noting that all Grill Room furnishings and decorations had been the gift of William P. Eno, Yale class of 1882. Offered as a pair, the chandeliers are estimated at $5,000-$10,000.
Also of special note are two palatial Louis XV French crystal chandeliers that previously graced the Presidential Suite and Lady Mendl Suite, respectively, of New York’s Plaza Hotel. Deaccessioned prior to the hotel’s 2005 closure for renovation, the elegant fixtures will now be auctioned consecutively, each with an estimate of $1,500-$2,500.
An abundance of particularly fine sterling silver will be available, including a massive William Bateman II 1828 English tray weighing 209ozt, estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Additionally, there will be an extensive array of Continental porcelain including Sevres urns and KPM productions; and English earthenware, led by several large, significant pieces of George Jones majolica and a Moorcroft silver-overlaid tea set.
Approximately 40% of the sale is devoted to Asian treasures. The selection includes carved Chinese furniture, Chinese porcelain, including plaques; jade and hardstone carvings, lacquerware, bronzes, cloisonné, woodblock prints, vibrant antique rugs (all from estates), and 25 scrolls, possibly 18th century. A pair of striking Japanese Meiji period dragon-motif cloisonné enamel vases is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.
A Chinese 18th/19th century hand-embroidered double silk panel depicts foo lions amongst exotic blue clouds and foliage, with workmanship that reveals tiny embroidered stitches including the “forbidden” stitch. Measuring 22-1/4 by 11 inches, it has a gold-thread border and is signed in Chinese characters on verso. With direct descent from the Shanghai estate of Dr. J. Ward Hall (1849-1908), personal dentist to the Chinese Imperial Family, the important textile is expected to reach $1,000-$1,500 at auction.
Antiquarian books and maps are expected to attract strong interest from both the trade and private collectors. Two 16th century Albrecht Durer engravings are included within a rare, one-of-a-kind portfolio book collection of 16th/17th century original prints collected by German scholar Leonhart Wurfbain (1581-1654). Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. Other prized lots include Abraham Ortelius’ comprehensive1624 map folio Paregon Atlas of the Ancient World, est. $2,000-$3,000; and Jacques Majorelle’s Les Kasbahs De l’Atlas artist book, Paris, 1930, which includes 30 beautiful boards of paintings and drawings Majorelle created between 1920 and 1929. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000
The sale also features fine jewelry, 19th/20th century furniture, enameled art glass, and coveted Jumeau dolls, plus many unique or unusual objects that are in a class of their own. The letter category includes the architectural grille from Josephine Baker’s estate in France, $600-$800; a 19th century Faberge gold and diamond parasol handle originally presented by Czar Nicholas II and with continuous ownership by the original recipient’s family, $3,000-$5,000; and Villeroy & Boch Blue Onion serving pieces from Sotheby’s 1996 auction of Property from the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Myers Fine Art’s Sunday, January 21, 2018 auction will begin at 11 AM ET. Preview 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, January 20, and 9 AM to 11 AM on auction day. The gallery is located at 1600 4th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33704. All forms of bidding are available, including live online through LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and eBayLive. The telephone number is (727) 823-3249, email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and online info can be found at www.myersfineart.com.