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CONTACT: Sarah Campbell Drury, (615) 812-6096, firstname.lastname@example.org
Case to Gavel Art & Antiques from Caldwell and Museum Collections
African American and Outsider Art Among Highlights
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— Art and antiques from two prominent Tennessee collectors – Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Caldwell and Charles and Ann Wells – are among the highlights of the Winter Case Antiques Auction, to be held January 21 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville. The single-day, cataloged auction, packed with nearly 1000 lots, also includes outsider art being sold by the Arts Center of Cannon County TN, mid-20th century international art, a Winchester firearms collection, Asian antiques, estate jewelry, and silver.
During their 60-year collecting history, Dr. and Mrs. Caldwell helped spark national awareness of Southern fine and decorative arts through scholarly publications and support of numerous museums. Observers may recognize several Caldwell objects in the auction from past exhibitions and catalogs, and from the 1971 article in The Magazine Antiques profiling the couple’s Nashville home. A prized piece is a carved limestone sculpture titled “Nursing Supervisor” by William Edmondson. Edmondson was a former Nashville hospital custodian inspired by a divine encounter to take chisel to limestone at the age of 57; in 1937 he became the first African American to be given a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The sculpture was exhibited at the Tennessee State Museum’s Edmondson retrospective in 1981 and at the Fleisher Gallery in Philadelphia in 1995. The Caldwell’s rare Kentucky Federal tambour-front sideboard was pictured and discussed in the Magazine Antiques article. And their East Tennessee Federal secretary-bookcase was exhibited at the Frist Center’s 2006 “Art of Tennessee” exhibit and also appears in book The Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture, along with their Middle Tennessee cellarette. Other notable furniture from the Caldwells includes a rare Pembroke table attributed to Petersburg, Virginia and a Federal sofa attributed to North Carolina. The Caldwell’s American art collection also includes several well-documented oil paintings such as an object study, Bulkhead Brace, by Edwin Dickinson, number 19 in the artist’s catalog raisonné, and a moody moonlit landscape by Ralph Blakelock, number 909-II in the University of Nebraska’s Blakelock Inventory. Gilbert Gaul’s moonlit oil painting of a Native American campsite is expected to draw interest, along with a bronze sculpture of mother and child by Edith Barrett Parsons and a limestone figural group of the Garden of Eden by Kentucky outsider artist Tim Lewis. The Caldwell collection also features a number of pieces of fine English silver, rare books, and Asian antiques.
For many years, Ann Wells was among the go-to dealers in the South for fine antique maps and rare books. Many are included in the auction, and her collection of American 19th and 20th century art, amassed with her husband Charles, is expected to draw national interest. It includes a Charles Demuth watercolor of two women at the beach; a Southern landscape, “Georgian Shack from a Train to Florida” by Everett Shinn; an oil of Nashville’s Parthenon by Cornelius Hankins; several signed Red Grooms prints; a Miles Maillie sculpture of Red Grooms; and contemporary abstract works by Louis Le Brocquy, Beverly Pepper, Carl Morris, Reuben Tam, and Morton Kaish.
Folk and Outsider Art plays an important role in the auction. The majority comes from a public collection being sold by the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury Tennessee. Highlights include a carved and painted stone bust of Martin Luther King Jr. by Tim Lewis, a whirligig by James Harold Jennings, wood carvings by Raymond Coins, Shields Landon Jones, Howard Finster, Sulton Rogers, Herbert Baggett and Braxton Ponder; quilts by Sarah Mary Taylor and Garland and Minnie Adkins, pottery by Burlon Craig of North Carolina and Jerry Brown of Alabama, a set of graduated pie baskets by Mary Prater, and paintings by Helen LaFrance, Benjamin F. Perkins, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Alice Moseley, and Mary Tillman Smith.
The January 21 auction also contains several pieces of fine art from private Tennessee collections and estates, including a Carroll Cloar painting depicting three children watering a garden and a Cloar pencil study titled “The Draught of Fishes.” Two of Knoxville’s most important contributors to the 20th century American art scene, Beauford Delaney and his brother, Joseph, are represented: Beauford by a mixed media abstract “Composition,” and Joseph Delaney by a large oil on canvas depicting New York’s Henry Street. An unusual East Tennessee still life genre painting by Mayme Freeman, depicting a long rifle hanging from a cabin’s mantle along with a powder horn, stoneware jug and other pioneer objects, is notable not just for its subject matter and large size, but because it was exhibited at the landmark Appalachian Exposition of 1910. There is also an evocative portrait of a woman, “Miss K,” by Fred Green Carpenter and a 19th century portrait of George Washington after Gilbert Stuart by Manuel de Franca (both are artists who painted in Tennessee and Missouri). Other 19th century portraits include one of a little girl attributed to William Shackelford, a portrait of a young man by John Wood Dodge, a pair of watercolors of John and Sarah Doan of Kentucky, and a pair of oils of Col. and Mrs. George M. Pattison of Memphis attributed to James Hart. Southern art aficionados will also find a landscape by Morgan Stinemetz (an East Coast artist who settled in Tennessee after exhibiting at the 1913 Armory Show), an oil of a New Orleans cottage by James Michalopoulos, a surrealist still life by Werner Wildner, and a South Carolina cabin etching by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner.
Also featured in the auction are several equine paintings formerly from a Lexington, Kentucky area collection, including an English barnyard scene with hunters in the background by J.F. Herring and a portrait of the celebrated English racehorse Sceptre by Godfrey Douglas Giles. A large snowy landscape by Carl Lawless adds a seasonal accent to the sale. Other American and international artists represented include Jozsef Koszta, Carl Phillip Weber, Burr Nicholls, Arthur Hill Gilbert, H.H. Bagg, Mary de Neale Morgan, Charles Appel, and William Samuel Horton. A bronze ballerina titled “La Danseuse Nattova,” by Serge Yourievitch leads a private Middle Tennessee collection of sculpture including female figures by Franz Bergman and Manette de Lyee de Belleau; there is a “Sink Stopper” bronze by Marcel Duchamp, a bird group by Ferdinand Pautrot, and a copper elk by Sergio Bustamante.
Contemporary art buyers will find several objects of interest: two early works by American sculptor Duane Hanson, an abstract carpet by Sonia Delaunay, and abstract oils by Hans Hofmann and Paul Jenkins (“Phenomena Heather Paris 1962”). There are also four ceramic Pablo Picasso vessels, a rare Salvador Dali lithograph “Cosmic Rays Resuscitating Soft Watches” published by Sydney Lucas (edition of 150), and signed contemporary fine art prints by Man Ray, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, and George Rouault.
The Books and Maps category is enhanced by additions from the Wells and Caldwell collections, including an 1854 edition of John J. Audubon’s Quadrupeds of North America, and several early Tennessee imprints George Roulstone’s Laws of Tennessee published Knoxville, 1803, and books by John Haywood, John Overton, and J.G.M. Ramsey. Some rare examples from Dr. Caldwell’s collection of early American medical books will also be auctioned. The category also includes also a first edition of Art Work of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s personal, autographed White House copy of The Great Smoky Mountains by Laura Thornborough; a John F. Kennedy autographed 1956 copy of Profiles in Courage, and first editions by Cormac McCarthy, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath, plus period imprints related to Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, and the 1804 People vs. Croswell libel case involving Thomas Jefferson. Map collectors will find a variety of early maps of the United States from the Wells collection, particularly Tennessee and Kentucky. There is also a collection of Naval “blueback” maps, along with Arsene Latour’s Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-1815 (with atlas) and Ramsey’s History of South Carolina (with maps).
Historic documents include a cache of letters between Nashville educator and author John Berrien Lindsley and high ranking Confederates including several generals and CSA president Jefferson Davis. There are also Presidential appointments signed by Theodore Roosevelt and James K, Polk, an 1826 Sam Houston signed land grant, and a 19th century South Dakota tin ingot along with an archive related to its original owner, a commissioner of the General Land office from 1908-1913. A watercolor by artist Cassily Adams of the USS Osage (painted while he was serving onboard during the Civil War) will be sold, as will a charcoal portrait by an unknown artist of Confederate General Thomas Benton Smith and a signed Robert E. Lee CDV. There are numerous other Civil War related archives and letters as well.
Pottery is a staple at Case. One of the most interesting lots is a 19th century double handled jar with applied relief decoration, attributed to the Hedgecough pottery of Middle Tennessee. East Tennessee is represented by multiple pieces including a stoneware monument base with incised hex star decoration and a cobalt floral decorated stoneware jug, both attributed to Charles Decker of the Keystone pottery. There is also a large Burlon Craig face jug and jugs attributed to William Chriscoe and James Hays (all from North Carolina), along with several Kentucky and Tennessee whiskey advertising jugs.
A rare circa 1817 silk needlework mourning picture attributed to the Mary Balch School of Rhode Island, memorializing James and Lucy Carpenter of Massachusetts, leads the textiles category, along with a Virginia house and genealogy sampler worked by Elmira Deacon Dungan at the Springdale Boarding School for Girls in Loudon County, circa 1850. One of the few known Tennessee samplers to incorporate figures, worked by Margaret Reaves of Maury County in 1830, will cross the block, as will a rare 1828 Montgomery County alphabet and verse sampler by Martha Edmondson. There are also several quilts, Navajo rugs from the Wells collection, and a collection of parade flags.
A Tiffany & Co. clock with caryatid carved case attributed to R.J. Horner stands out among the furniture offerings –literally- at a height of 101 inches. There is also a 48” tall Black Forest carved wild game plaque, a Victorian turtle-shaped marble top center table with laminated rosewood base attributed to Meeks, and a laminated carved rosewood sofa and two parlor chairs in Meek’s Stanton Hall pattern. Fans of earlier furniture will find two Philadelphia Chippendale period side chairs from the Caldwell collection along with a Federal inlaid Massachusetts card table attributed to the Seymour shop, a Kentucky inlaid sugar desk, and a huntboard and tiger maple chest of drawers, both likely from the Burgner School of East Tennessee. There is also a group of early English furniture (including a Queen Anne Secretary, a 17th century oak chest of drawers, and a fine Welsh Dresser) from the estate of Mr. Peter Fyfe of Nashville, along with a collection of steer horn furniture.
More than 150 lots of silver lend a definite shine to the sale, particularly a collection of Kirk Repousse pattern hollowware (tea and coffee service, water pitcher, goblets, and bread plates), a set of four George III sterling candlesticks, and sets of a dozen sterling goblets by Graff, Washbourne and Dunn and by International. From the Caldwells come several pieces of Georgian silver including a George III crested 19” sterling salver, a 14” George II salver by Richard Rugg, a pair of Ebenezer Coker sterling candlesticks, and an early “bullet” form teapot and sugar bowl . There is also a sizeable offering of early shell pattern flatware, including 33 pieces bearing the rare mark of Marshall and Smith, a short-lived partnership in Philadelphia; Tennessee coin silver flatware by J.S. Curtis and F.H. Clark of Memphis and William Calhoun of Nashville, a rare Gorham coin silver cruet set, and a Tennessee agricultural coin silver goblet awarded for “the best collection of plants”. Dozens of 20th century sterling flatware services will be sold including Francis I, Chantilly, New Vintage, Du Barry, Strasbourg, Lily of the Valley, and Castillian by Tiffany & Co., and there are 20th century tea and coffee services in the Gorham Buttercup and International Wedgwood patterns. Brass connoisseurs will want to view a rare circa 1730 American brass and copper posnet, signed L. Langworthy (Newport, Rhode Island), and an antebellum sundial engraved by Henry Eichbaum of Nashville, Tennessee. There is also an estate collection of graded ancient gold coins.
A pair of inlaid jade table screens, a collection of snuff bottles (including white jade) and a pair of Famille Rose jardinières from the Caldwell collection highlight the Asian offerings. From other consignors are a 17th century Chinese gilt bronze stamp box, a Korean T’aenghwa scroll, a Meiji mother of pearl inlaid cabinet, and a large selection of porcelain including Nanking, Celadon, Ming figural water droppers, a fine Famille Rose garden seat, and a collection of Qing vases. Two silver tea services show the variety of wares made by Chinese silversmiths including one decorated with traditional Asian motifs by Wang Hing and a plain, Western style one by Luen Wo. Also featured are an elaborate miniature Chinese silver processional scene and 2 Chinese bronze figures by Jiang Tie-Feng.
Rounding out the auction are a collection of Winchester firearms; several early trade signs; a paperweight collection that includes Ysart and Baccarat; collections of Lalique and William Yeoward glass; several examples of American art pottery; Sevres and Meissen porcelain, and an English Haworth right angle or “sign post” barometer.
More information on the Caldwell Collection and a short bio can be found here. The complete catalog for the auction, with full descriptions, price estimates, and photographs for items, in the order in which they will be sold, can be viewed here.
The auction will take place at Case’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, on Saturday, January 21 at 9:00 AM EST. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, January 20, from noon to 6PM EST or by appointment. For more information or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email email@example.com.