Knoxville (865) 558-3033 • Nashville (615) 610-8018 •

Case’s July 24-25 Auction Showcases African American & 20th Century Art

The Summer Case Antiques Auction, set for July 24-25 at the company’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, is headlined by 20th century art by Beauford Delaney, William Edmondson and Elizabeth Catlett, along with an extensive number of paintings by women artists and an original George Rodrigue “Blue Dog” painting. Also featured are 2 Tiffany lamps and a collection of Grueby Pottery; early Americana from the estate of Israel Sack patron Charles Krum Davis Jr.; a massive trove of Southern and other silver; several important Chinese objects, and noteworthy collections of Southern and Mid-Century Modern furniture and decorative arts. There are more than 1,200 lots up for sale, and floor bidding, as well as phone, absentee, and online bidding, will be offered.

African American art has become a focal point for Case. The company recently hit the $500,000 mark for a carved limestone Preacher sculpture by William Edmondson, a Nashville native who became the first Black artist to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The company also sold the Nurse sculpture in 2016 which now permanently represents Edmondson at MOMA. The July 24-25 auction will feature one of Edmondson’s animal sculptures, a 12 3/8” carved limestone “Critter,” from a private Southern collection. Also represented is the abstract expressionist painter Beauford Delaney, who grew up in Knoxville and eventually found fame in Paris in the 1950s. The vivid abstract canvas in this auction was found in the estate of the artist’s niece. Also for sale is The Family, a bronze sculpture of a man, woman and child by Elizabeth Catlett, and two paintings by recently-deceased Kentucky artist Helen LaFrance, depicting a church picnic and a farm scene. Paintings by Joseph Delaney, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T. Smith, Mose Tolliver, Greg Ridley, and Purvis Young are also up for bid.

 The sale features a large (36” x 48”) oil on canvas by George Rodrigue, depicting his classic Blue Dog in a Louisiana landscape; it will be included in the Rodrigue catalog raisonne currently being compiled by the artist’s estate. Other contemporary works include an 80” x 59” abstract canvas titled Summer by John Millard Ferren, abstracts by David Kapp, Bimal Dasgupta, Jorge Fick, Viktor Schreckengost, and Douglas Denniston; a surrealist scene by Aaron Bohrod; and two works by Leon Dabo: one a dream-like landscape and the other a still life with flowers.

This abstract oil on canvas by Beauford Delaney (American/Tennessee, 1901-1979), found in his sister’s estate, leads a strong collection of African American art and is estimated at $60,000-$70,000.
“Critter” sculptures were among the favored forms for William Edmondson (Tennessee, 1874-1951), the first African American artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937. This is the third such form Case has offered and carries a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-35,000.

Cityscapes of Manhattan and Chicago by Richard Hayley Lever and Henri Farre, respectively, are up for bid, along with French street scenes by Antoine Blanchard and Jules Rene Herve; British landscapes by Alfred de Breanski, George Fennel Robson, Kenneth Webb, and Harold Hitchcock; and American landscapes by Mabel Woodward, Anthony Theime, Alfred Bricher, Carl Peters, Douglas Denniston, Henry Hammond Gallison, Nellie Knopf, Leo Blake, Jay Connaway, Joseph Meeker, George Gardner Symons, John Enser, Carl Von Hanno, and Emily Nicholson Hatch.

 Charles Hawthorne’s influential “Mudhead” portraits, depicting subjects devoid of facial features to focus the eye instead on light and color, rarely come on the auction market, but this sale includes one with personal inscription. Other notable portraits include a 17th century Italian school painting of a noblewoman in the manner of Carlo Ceresa, and an oil portrait, likely 18th century, after a 16th century Old Master painting of a young artist, traditionally attributed to Domenico Caprioli and currently owned by The Hermitage in Russia. There is also an 18th century American portrait of a lady attributed to Robert Feke; a rare large folio Currier and Ives print, American Forest Scene or Maple Sugaring; and an outstanding circa 1838 watercolor depicting workers in a field, titled The Harvesters, painted by Elizabeth George while a student at the Jonesborough, Tennessee Female Academy and possibly inspired by the work of Pieter Brueghel.

 A historic portrait of East Tennessee Judge John McKinney (1781-1845) by Tennessee artist Samuel Shaver, leads the regional art offerings by listed artists. McKinney built the famed McKinney Tavern House, which hosted 3 U.S. Presidents and eventually, under the name Hale Springs Inn, became the longest continuously run inn in the state of Tennessee. There are also three Smoky Mountain oil landscapes by Cliff Dwellers studio founder Louis E. Jones, and oil landscapes by Southern artists John Chumley, Louis Oscar Griffith, Matilda Lotz, Nell Choate Jones, Mayna Avent, Margit Varga, Carl Sublett, and Cornelius Hankins. There are also silhouettes by Carew Rice, a Carroll Cloar double sided drawing, a Red Grooms lithographed “Double Decker Bus” and prints by Elizabeth O’Neill Verner.

This auction also features several dozen artworks deaccessioned from the collection of the Watkins College Art in Nashville (which in 2020 became part of Belmont University). The collection was particularly rich in paintings by early 20th century Tennessee artists whose work rarely comes to market, such Avery Handly, McCullough Partee, Charles Cagle and Edwin Gardner, along with more prolific artists from the South and elsewhere such as Anton Weiss, John Richardson, Wanda Gag and Paul Lancaster.

There are a number of collectible abstract works on paper including a Bridget Riley color silkscreen, Elapse, an A.R. Penck color silkscreen Liebespaar, two Caio Fonseca aquatints, Seven String Etching No. 1 and No. 10, and a complete set of 20 framed Matisse prints from the Jazz portfolio by George Braziller (1983 edition). Other works on paper include an Angel Botello linocut, drawings by illustrator Garth Williams, and prints by Picasso, Calder, Toulouse Lautrec, Andrew Wyeth, Henry Moore, Victor Vasarely, George Brookshaw, Jacques Villon, and Gerald Brockhurst.

 Notable sculpture includes a George Sugarman abstract Red and Black Spiral, 1978, deaccessioned from the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, and a ceramic jar by Charles Counts with incised decoration inspired by the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. There is also a portrait bronze bust of President Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Theirs of France by Ernest Guilbert, cast by the Barbidienne Foundry, along with two bronze sculptures of dancing figures by Richard MacDonald, a ceramic sculpture jar and other works by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, Pal Kepenyes, Blair Buswelll, Puryear Mims, and Olen Bryant.

Casting a special glow in the gallery for this auction are two early 20th century Tiffany Studios bronze lamps with shades in the Arrowroot and Crocus patterns. Both come from the estate of Edith M. Bass of Nashville. They were inherited from her grandfather, C. Frederick Childs, who was the first dealer of U.S. Government Securities and whose trading office was located at #1 Wall Street. The lamps fit in nicely with grouping of American Art Pottery by Grueby, led by a Model #84 vase with green matte glaze and stylized leaf motif, designed by George Prentiss Kendrick, the company’s first director of design. There is also a 14” double glaze vase by Ruth Erickson and a 12” vase by Marie Seaman. Other glass and ceramic highlights include a large, signed Baccarat 30-light chandelier, an Amphora Teplitz vase with figural frog at rim by Edward Stellmacher; a pair of Herend Sevres style candelabra vases with elephant head handles; a large lifetime collection of Herend animals including several rare examples; a Daum Nancy art glass vase; dinnerware and crystal by Hermes; and a small collection of ancient pottery including two Greek red-figure pottery vessels acquired by the late owner through Royal Athena Galleries.

A bronze sculpture titled “The Family” by Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012) is estimated at $18,000-22,000.
Included with this large “Blue Dog” oil on canvas painting by George Rodrigue (Louisiana, 1944-2013) is a digital photograph of the artist at work on it. The painting is estimated at $68,000-72,000.
The auction features a significant collection of silver, including this Meiji period Japanese export silver tea set estimated at $4,800-5,200.

 The name of early Americana collector, Remington Arms chairman and devoted Israel Sack patron Charles Krum Davis may be better known in the Northeast than in the South. However, Davis’s son, Charles K. Davis, Jr., settled in Nashville and lived there until his death in 2020. A few key pieces inherited from his father are now being sold to settle Charles Davis Jr.’s  estate, including a New England Queen Anne lowboy in old dark surface, a rare two-drawer William and Mary gateleg table attributed to Pennsylvania, and a Windsor armchair, both acquired through Sack, along with a collection of early lighting. The collection of Dr. Robert and Diana Marsh of Georgia yields a tempting array of Southern furniture, including a painted Hepplewhite painted huntboard attributed to Georgia and a cherry one attributed to South Carolina; a Southern walnut cellaret, a Shenandoah Valley painted pie safe, and a rare Southern brandy board. There are four outstanding furniture forms from Hawkins County, Tennessee: an exuberantly figured walnut serpentine Sheraton chest of drawers, a scarce East Tennessee inlaid tea table, a Jackson Press, and a banquet end dining table. Collectors seeking Southern sugar chests have four examples to choose from, including a rare Hepplewhite inlaid form attributed to Davidson County and formerly owned by legendary Tennessee collector Dr. Benjamin Caldwell. Also formerly from the Caldwell collection is a set of six Chippendale period chairs attributed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. European furniture includes a set of twelve English Regency paint decorated chairs, a Chinoiserie painted leather screen, and tall case clocks by John Pickford and John Gilkes.

 This auction also features part two of the collection of mid-century modern furniture from the Guardsmark office headquarters in Memphis, founded in1963 and kept intact until the recent death of its founder, Ira Lipman. Highlights include multiple Florence Knoll-designed credenzas with marble tops; Knoll Barcelona chairs; a set of twelve Knoll leather conference roller chairs; a large Knoll table desk, and other assorted Knoll pieces, many signed. There are also multiple sofas and chairs designed by Pierre Paulin for Artifort and from other consignors a set of 8 Danish Modern teak chairs by Frem Rojle; an Italian pietra dura coffee table in the manner of Richard Blow; and an Eames/Herman Miller lounge chair and ottoman. Other notable furniture includes a Stickley Brothers sideboard, china cabinet and six chairs, along with a Victorian portoro marble “turtle” top table and chairs attributed to Belter and Baudouine.


 The Kentucky coin silver collection of Cora Jane Spiller of Bowling Green, Ky, adds extra luster to this auction. Mrs. Spiller was well known in the Bluegrass state for her collection of mint julep cups with marks ranging from those of well known Lexington silversmiths such as Asa Blanchard and John Kitts to obscure makers from rural areas. More than twenty of her juleps will be available in this auction, with more to come in Case’s winter sale. The collection also includes rare forms such as a tray, comb, and spectacles, along with agricultural premium pieces and several lots of Kentucky flatware. Other silver highlights include a coin silver pitcher and goblets originally owned by 19th century Mississippi governor James Alcorn; an elegant early 20th century American set of Pompeiian pattern parcel gilt holloware; a seven piece Gorham Sterling tea set and tray weighing 260 oz.; a Baker Manchester hand chased repousse sterling tea set and tray; a Reed and Barton Francis I water pitcher; a meat dome with applied coat of arms of Sir Jacob Astley by Edward Farrell, with handle by Paul Storr; a set of Paul Storr spoons; and a rare Cork Irish silver ladle. There are more than twenty sterling flatware services in patterns including Francis I; Antique Ivy by Tiffany; Paul Revere by Towle; Repousse by Kirk; Cottage, Chantilly, Strasbourg and English Gadroon by Gorham; and Violet by Wallace, along with a set of Hermes Comete stainless flatware. This auction also features a number of Asian silver objects, including a Japanese Meiji period Iris pattern tea service with silver and porcelain teacup set; a set of 12 Chinese Export silver goblets; Chinese silver snuff boxes, and a 260 oz. Japanese Asahi Shoten .950 silver coffee and tea set with tray.

There are a significant number of Asian antiques from Southern estates in this auction. The Edith Bass estate included a large Chinese bronze Luduan form censer and a Qing Dynasty doucai floor vase, which descended in the Childs family with import documentation from 1930. Another Tennessee estate yielded a 14k gold figural dragon on stand, a 9” tall white jade Guanyin figure and a bronze Archaic style censer with white jade finial. There are also two small bronze open censers, one with high relief gilded decoration and the other plain, with bronze lotus form base; a large Siamese gilt Buddha figure; a pair of Famille Rose yellow ground vases with rooster decoration; and a pair of Asian bronze Guanyin figures, along with several antique Famille Rose and monochromatic vases, flasks, and plaques.

 The book, manuscript and historical category includes a 20-volume 1906 set of the writings of Henry David Thoreau, the Manuscript Edition, as well as a space flown flag and archives related to multiple NASA astronauts, 19th century presidential signed land grants, and President Harry Truman’s signing pen and a signed photograph. There are numerous rare maps including a 1685 map of Ukraine, and a pair of Baroque celestial maps by Johann Zahn, and maps of Tennessee, in addition to Civil War era archives and artifacts, and a large number of rare books, including Volume 1 of McKenney and Hall’s Indian Tribes of North America.

The Marsh collection of Southern furniture includes several huntboards such as this Georgia example with old dark swirled paint decorated finish, estimated at $5,000-$6,000.
There are two Tiffany lamps in the auction from the Edith M. Bass estate including this one with “Arrowroot” shade, estimated at $18,000-$22,000.
A rare Charles Hawthorne (American , 1872-1930) "Mud Head" painting is estimated at $4,000-4,400.
More than 20 Kentucky coin silver julep cups are featured, along with numerous lots of rare flatware, from the estate of Cora Jane Spiller. This Asa Blanchard Julep Cup is estimated at $1,400-1,600.

Nearly 100 lots of Native American related items will be auctioned, including a 3” x 4” San Ildefonso pottery jar by Tony Da, plus a large collection of Anasazi and Mississippian culture pottery from the estate of Nashville collectors Ora and Eleanor Eads. The Eads also collected sterling silver jewelry, highlights of which include an Ivan Howard needle point concho belt and belts and bolos by Benson Yazzie, Terry Charlie, and Eddie Beyuka. And there are a number of Choctaw, Coushatta and Cherokee baskets from a private Southern collection.

 Other outstanding items in the sale include a Polyphon upright coin operated music box with 24 discs and Regina and Swiss Paillard music boxes; Coca-Cola advertising such as a 1939 salesman sampler cooler and crossing guard advertising sign; country store items; luxury pens, collectible coins, and an early Trippenssee Planetarium model orrery.

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 online at

Case’s gallery is located at 4310 Papermill Drive in Knoxville. The live auction begins Saturday, July 24 at 9 am ET and Sunday, July 25 at 1 pm ET. Live bidding is available by reservation, following COVID protocols; online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. Persons wishing to preview the auction may do so in limited numbers by making prior reservations on the company’s website through Friday, July 23. 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

A video preview of the auction may be seen here: