NEW YORK, NY - Sotheby’s annual Americana Week auctions will take place in New York on 25 & 26 January 2013. The Important Americana sale will begin at 10:00am on the 25th with a selection of Audubon prints, Chinese export porcelain, and carpets from the early-19th to early-20th centuries. The auction will continue that afternoon with a 2:00pm session dedicated to silver, featuring a remarkable group of more than 1,000 pieces descended through the Astor family to Brooke Astor. The third and final session of the various-owners sale will be held at 10:00am on the 26th, highlighted by furniture and folk art from several notable private and museum collections. Sotheby’s Americana Week sales will conclude with a dedicated auction of Property from the Collection of Dr. Larry McCallister, beginning at 2:30pm on Saturday. The Americana Week exhibitions are on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries.
The Important Americana auction is distinguished by furniture from two notable museums, sold to benefit future acquisitions at each. Property from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art features An Important Federal Red-and-Green Paint-Decorated Yellow Pine and Poplar Chest of Drawers, 1829, an exceptional chest of drawers from a group of some 57 pieces of exuberantly painted furniture made in the Mahantongo Valley of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (est. $200/400,000*), as well as A Very Fine Chippendale Carved Mahogany Pie Crust Tilt-Top Tea Table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1765 that is notable for its quality and superb carvings (est. $150/300,000). A group of more than 40 pieces on offer from the Museum of the City of New York includes An Important William and Mary Black-Painted Turned and Carved Maple and Ash Banister-Back Armchair, Sale, Massachusetts, circa 1720 (est. $25/50,000).
The January sale also is highlighted by significant selections of furniture from noted private collections. Pieces owned by Thomas P. and Alice K. Kugelman – devoted collectors and passionate scholars of Connecticut furniture – are led by The Important and Exceptional Samuel Talcott Chippendale Carved Cherrywood Block-Front Desk-and-Bookcase, Probably Hartford, Connecticut, circa 1765-1775, Possibly 1767 (est. $200/400,000). Gothic revival furniture from the legendary collection of Lee B. Anderson of New York is led by A Gothic Revival Carved Rosewood Occasional Table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1854-55 (est. $25/50,000). And a selection of furniture, fine art and decorative art from the collection of Alan McDonough includes A Very Fine and Rare Pilgrim Century Joined Maple and Pine ‘Deerfield’ Chest with Two Drawers, Possibly Made by John Hawks, Probably Deerfield Area, Massachusetts, circa 1715, an exceptional early chest that retains its untouched red pigment (est. $40/80,000).
Additional highlights of the furniture on offer in the January action include two remarkable examples of Very Fine and Rare Chippendale Easy Chairs, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1755, one in carved mahogany and one in carved walnut (ests. $800,000/1.2 million and $300/600,000, respectively). Easy chairs were a luxury in the colonial home due to their significant upholstery costs and, as such, were likely specially commissioned by their wealthy owners.
The folk art on offer this January is led by A View of Mount Vernon with the Washington Family on the Terrace, done by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe on 16 July 1796 and presented as a personal thank-you to George Washington, who at the time was nearing the end of his second term as President (est. $500/700,000). The extremely rare and important watercolor drawing shows Washington’s family relaxed and taking tea on the portico of Mount Vernon – Latrobe was one of the most important architects in America at the time, and was brought for a visit to the famed residence by Bushrod Washington, nephew of the President. The painting has descended in the family of John Augustine Washington III, whose family was the last of the Washingtons to live at Mount Vernon, and is being offered now by a member of the family.
Saturday’s morning session will open with an extensive selection of American schoolgirl samplers from the collection of Mary Jaene Edmonds. From her home in California, Mrs. Edmonds traveled across the country to educate herself about schoolgirl embroideries in historical societies, libraries and at auctions and antique shows. A landmark exhibition of her collection at the L.A. County Museum introduced southern California to such needlework, and she has written comprehensively about the subject – including the remarkably detailed records of her own collection, which are complete down to their records of stitch-type and thread count per inch.
Highlighting the silver on offer is The Falcon Vase, an American silver, gold and enamel vase from the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition that was designed by John T. Curran and made by Tiffany & Co. in 1893 (est. $150/200,000). The slender baluster form is enameled in partly translucent colors, with numerous falcons in flight in a lightly-clouded summer sky. An English Silver Soup Tureen, Cover and Stand of American Interest, Paul Storr, for Rundell & Bridge, London 1799 was presented to Thomas Willing of Philadelphia, the first president of the Bank of the United States, and twice mayor of Philadelphia (est. $200/300,000). As detailed by the majestic tureen’s inscription, the piece recognizes Willing’s service during the recurring yellow fever epidemics that plagues Philadelphia throughout the last decade of the 18th century.
Following Sotheby’s auction of Property from the Estate of Brooke Astor in September 2012, the afternoon session on 25 January will offer a stunning selection of 28 lots descended through branches of the Astor family to Brooke Astor. Many of the pieces belonged to Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, who led New York society for the last quarter of the 19th century. The pieces would have been used first in her brownstone at 30 Fifth Ave. (now the site of the Empire State Building), then after 1896 her Richard Morris Hunt-designed chateau at 840 Fifth Ave. (now the site of Temple Emanu-El), as well as Beechwood, her Newport residence. Also included is part of an extensive service ordered by Caroline’s only son, John Jacob Astor IV, including 70 plates applied in gold with the Astor crest. Dated 1910-12, the silver was presumably ordered for his second wedding, to Madeleine Talmage Force, before his death aboard the RMS Titanic in April, 1912.
*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium.