Auctions: Rockwell art is one sale highlight

The auction schedule for May will open next week with two major collections: one from a source that is anonymous, the other from one that was notorious - plus a third sale featuring a Norman Rockwell original.

The collection offered by the anonymous source consists of 40 lots of 18th-century English furniture that will be featured by Freeman's at its two-day sale of English and continental furniture, silver, and decorative arts at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. Amassed over the last 30 years by the consignor, identified in the auction catalog as a Virginia gentleman and a "respected leader in the field of academic economics and engineering," they will be offered at the first session beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Two of the pieces are closely modeled after designs in the 1754 edition of Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director: an early George III mahogany writing cabinet with an extensive provenance and a presale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000, and a George III mahogany bombe commode with a presale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. Both were made around 1760, according to their catalog descriptions.

Other items from the collection include a William and Mary walnut olive wood oyster-veneer chest of drawers made about 1690 ($8,000 to $12,000), and a George II mahogany-and-marble-top side table made about 1750 and possibly Irish ($20,000 to $30,000).

The 450-lot session also features several other important 18th-century pieces. A George II carved gilt wood and marble side table with a Bacchus motif has a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, and a George III mahogany commode in the Chippendale manner has a presale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

Tuesday's session also features 100 lots of silver with most presale estimates in the three- to four-figure range and that include several pieces from the Stevenson-Easby collection. One pricier exception is a 6-inch George IV sterling salver with a presale estimate of $8,000 to $10,000.

The session winds up with Russian and Asian decorative pieces and such novelty items as a Victorian taxidermy peacock ($200 to $300).

The second session, beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, features 500 lots of continental furniture and decorative items opening with a dozen lots of 18th- and 19th-century carved religious figures.

Among top items are a 17th-century baroque rock-crystal-and-gilt-metal crucifix ($10,000 to $15,000); a large Vienna porcelain urn on stand, one of the session's many porcelains ($8,000 to $12,000); and a large French art-deco alabaster ceiling light made about 1920 ($15,000 to $20,000). At the session's more affordable end are smaller porcelains, glassware, and bronzes, including a Russian bronze figure of a bear in repose ($400 to $600) and a painted bronze figure of the Austrian jester Till Eulenspiegel ($200 to $300).

The session ends with 75 lots remaining from the William Frazier collection offered last May.

Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Monday. For more information, call 215-563-9275, or to see the catalog online, go to www.freemansauction.com.

Staffordshire from the Andrews estate. The collection from a notorious source consists of about 100 pieces of Staffordshire ceramic pieces that will be the star attraction of Wiederseim Associates' spring antique auction beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 8, at the Ludwig's Corner firehouse in Glenmoore. They come from the estate in Malvern of the late Leonard E.B. Andrews.

In its obituary of Jan. 12, 2009, the New York Times said Andrews "rocked the world when he bought 240 previously unknown Andrew Wyeth works depicting a mysterious, sometimes nude, woman known as Helga - and then rocked it again when he sold them three years later at a big profit."

A banker, credit-card pioneer, and news publisher, Andrews achieved celebrity with his purchase in 1986 of the cache of paintings and drawings, some of them quite graphic, which Wyeth had largely kept a secret, for $6 million and sold them in 1989 to an unidentified buyer for $40 million to $50 million. As the Times obit put it, "Enthusiasm fizzled slightly when it became known that the model, Helga Testorf, had long lived near Mr. Wyeth and that Mrs. Wyeth had denied suspecting a sexual relationship." (Wyeth died just a week after Andrews did.)

On May 22, Wiederseim will conduct an on-site sale at Andrews' estate, Ponder This (named after a newspaper column he wrote for a while for the New York Daily News), on Dutton Mill Road that will include furniture, paintings, garden statuary, and model ships, as well as additional Staffordshire. The Staffordshire in the May 8 sale, with an online catalog at www.wiederseim.com, is a "lead-in," Ted Wiederseim said this week.

Among top pieces are a pair of Scots figural groups ($800 to $1,000); a milkmaid and a milkman standing with cows and calves ($1,000 to $1,200); and a rare pair of cricket players, the batsman defending his wicket and the bowler holding a ball ($1,500 to $2,000). Other top sale items: a Queen Anne walnut secretary bookcase dating to 1740 ($8,500 to $10,000); a Tang Dynasty pottery prancing horse with saddle ($5,000 to $6,000), one of a dozen or so pieces of Asian art; and three paintings by Albert Van Nesse Greene, notably an oil-on-board dusk winter scene of the Brooklyn Bridge ($3,000 to $4,000).

Previews: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 7 and 7 a.m. until sale time May 8 at the sale site, 1325 Rte. 100. For further information, call 610-827-1910.

Rockwell at Fuller's. A Norman Rockwell original is a top attraction of Fuller's fine art auction, also May 8, beginning at noon at the gallery at 730 Carpenter Lane. It is a portrait of a chief petty officer, LeRoy Evans, who served in the Navy with Rockwell during World War I and who had Rockwell, then digging postholes, reassigned to the camouflage department in the last days of 1917. The portrait, done in gratitude, has a presale estimate of $30,000 to $40,000, according to the auction catalog.

The 325-lot sale has at least three other works expected to bring five-figure prices: The Dinner Party by Walter Dendy Sadler (1854-1923) has a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000; Japanese Marriage Doll by Henriette Wyeth (1907-1979) has a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000; and a cut-paper work by Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) called Maquette for Dropped Bra has a presale estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It also includes two dozen lithographs by Benton Spruance.

Previews: noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Monday through next Friday. For further information, call 215-991-0100.


Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.