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Case 2024 Winter Auction Preview

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20th CENTURY ART & SCULPTURE IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT CASE’S WINTER AUCTION

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—From a William Edmondson sculpture to paintings by Beauford Delaney, John Sloan and George Rodrigue, Case’s Winter Auction, happening Jan. 27-28 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a veritable showcase of American art.

            “This is our most expansive offering of fine art to date,” said company president John Case. “It’s a diverse sale with antiques and jewelry too, but more than a third of the 900 lots are paintings, prints and sculpture – and most date from the 20th century.”

            One of the most anticipated lots is Mother and Child by William Edmondson, the Tennessee sculptor who in 1937 became the first African American artist to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The carved limestone figure descended in a Nashville family and was used as a doorstop until last year, when its current owner saw images of Edmondson’s work online and realized he owned an important sculpture. The Edmondson figure is among a number of pieces in the sale by Black artists including two abstract works on paper by Beauford Delaney and sketches by his brother Joseph Delaney; a New Orleans themed painting depicting voo-doo priestess Marie Laveau by Andrew LaMar Hopkins; an abstract oil by Merton Daniel Simpson; a James Son Thomas skull sculpture; two paintings by Clementine Hunter and two paintings by Mose Tolliver.

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The painting with the auction’s highest pre-sale estimate is Louisiana Sunday Morning, a generously sized 36” square original George Rodrigue painting featuring his signature “Blue Dog” figure, at $50,000-60,000. It was created in 2012, as the artist celebrated news of his cancer’s remission, and features images symbolizing second chances and rebirth, such as double candles and flowers. (Sadly, his disease returned and Rodrique would pass away just a year later). A scarce Rodrigue “Blue Dog” cameo glass bowl from the same collection is also in the sale; both were acquired directly from the Rodrigue Studios in New Orleans.

            Also featured is a large Impressionist Chicago street scene by William Clusmann, depicting Michigan Avenue from the steps of the Art Institute, with one of Edward Kemeys’ iconic bronze lions in the foreground. Like the Edmondson, the painting had been passed down in a family unaware of its value until recently; in this case, the family took it to the Antiques Roadshow 2022 taping in Nashville where it was recognized as one of Clusmann’s most important works. Other 20th century standouts include a large and vivid floral still life by Vietnamese/French artist Le Pho, an Ida Kohlmeyer abstract oil, a Maurice Freedman Fauvist-influenced forest landscape, and a Loran Speck still life, which served as the cover lot for the Jan. 1987 issue of Southwest Art Magazine. There are also two Meditation sculptures by Austrian sculptor Karl Prantl, an abstract painting by Jimmy Ernst, and a large and brightly colored John Seery abstract oil. The Seery is one of several paintings in the auction deaccessioned by the Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis; other deaccessioned works include an expressionist landscape by John Guerin, a Dorothy Sturm glass assemblage, and works by Frank Freed, Sam Richards, and Andreas Lowy. There are also multiple contemporary paintings and works on paper by Southeastern artist George Cress, deaccessioned by the Hunter Museum of American Art, and paintings by Cress’s fellow Southern modernists Carl Sublett, Avery Handley, and Walter Hollis Stevens.

            Several of the sale’s key paintings come from the estate of Nashville collector Ann Wells, including a Taos landscape by Ashcan artist John Sloan; a Gustave Baumann Southwestern woodcut, “Ranchos de Taos;” a colorful Gifford Beal Haitian scene; a painting of a New England house by John Heliker; figurative works by Isabel Bishop including an exhibited nude scene titled “Undressing”; and oil paintings by Southern artists Bill Sawyer and Comer Jennings.

            South Carolina artist William Aiken Walker was best known for his plantation scenes, but this auction includes one of his rare seascape paintings, possibly of the Florida coast.  Other notable Southern art in the sale includes an autumn landscape in oil by Tennessee impressionist painter Anna Catherine Wiley; an Elizabeth O’Neill Verner pastel of a Charleston flower seller; a large oil on canvas Mississippi landscape by Marie Hull; and landscapes by William McKendree Synder, Gilbert Gaul, Thomas Campbell, Thomas Anderson, William Lester Stevens, and Frederick Tanqueray Anderson, plus regional portraits attributed to Edmund/Edward Hacker, George Dury, and James Hart.

            A George Inness oil landscape leads the traditional 19th century American Art category. Art historian Michael Quick recently added this painting to the Inness catalog raisonne, noting it was likely a field study for the artist’s 1856 landscape Spring. There is also a genre scene titled Mother’s Watch, attributed to James Goodwyn Clonney, depicting two children tampering with their sleeping mother’s pocket watch. Portraits include a young boy and his dog attributed to the Beardsley Limner, recently identified as Sarah Bushnell Perkins of Plainfield, CT (1771-1831) and a portrait of a woman in black attributed to Isaac Sheffield (1798-1845). The category also includes a number of maritime and historical genre paintings such as an oil and a drawing of ships by Xanthus Smith; a James Earl Taylor portrait, Zouave Battalion at Fortress Monroe; and a Julian Davidson oil, The Burning of the USS Congress. A large, panoramic Theodore Koeth Civil War painting, Middle Bridge at Antietam, depicts armed soldiers following hospital wagons across Burnside Bridge, and in an oil painting by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux, a group of Union artillery scouts on horseback survey a potential battlefield. Paintings by Frederick Stuart Church, Hayley Lever, Thomas Mickell Burnham, James C. Thom, William Holbrook Beard, Frederick Schafer, and Theresa Ferber Bernstein are also featured.

European Art includes an Antoine Blanchard Paris street scene accompanied by documentation from the artist, and landscapes by Ricardo Corchon y Daique, Louis Hurt, Prosper Ferey. There are genre scenes by Alfred Jonniaux and Karoly Kotasz, a Picasso Madoura tile, and a watercolor of bird on branch by Barbara Regina Dietzsch, whose work as a female painter of the 18th century has sparked renewed attention lately.

            There are a number of high profile works on paper and multiples including a very scarce original poster from the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show exhibit, a show credited with ushering in a new era of Modern Art in America. In addition to the poster there are also dozens of rare postcards depicting paintings in that exhibit and other related ephemera. The auction also includes 4 rare Miro signed color lithographs being sold from the collections of the Vanderbilt University Hillel and from a Nashville physician, including two prints from Maravillas Con Variaciones Acrosticas en el Jardin (1975), Fundacio Joan Miro (1976), Libre del Sis Sentis (1981), and a rare Marc Chagall signed color lithograph from The Circus (1967). Collectors of Japanese woodblock prints will be interested to see a rare Hokusai print, Ri Haku (Li Bai), A True Mirror of Chinese and Japanese Poetry (c. 1833), and Kubo Shumnan’s Horned Owl on Flowering Branch (c. 1800). There is also a Paul Rand signed IBM Rebus Poster, a set of 20 framed color plates from Matisse’s Jazz Portfolio (1983 ed.), along with prints and serigraphs by Pablo Picasso, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Franciso Rodon, Theodor Geisel (also known as “Dr. Seuss”), Jorge Marin, John Sloan, Albert Huie, Robert Cottingham, Carroll Cloar, Alexander Calder, Goya, Yaacov Agam, and Clara Hatton.

Furniture includes a rare Philip and Kelvin Laverne free form coffee table with organic molded base suggesting tree trunks, a Le Corbusier designed LC5 leather sofa (for Cassina), and several pieces of Stickley modern furniture. An Aaron Willard Boston tall case clock stands tall among the more traditional furniture offerings, followed by a New England Queen Anne tiger maple highboy (deaccessioned by the Brooks Museum); Federal chairs attributed to Newport and Philadelphia; two Federal mirrors (bullseye and rectangular); and a near pair of 19th century Chippendale style marble top server or console tables sold through B. Altman & Co. of New York. Southern furniture standouts include an East Tennessee pie safe attributed to important maker John Wolfe with floral painted tins; a rare Federal Middle Tennessee sugar desk; a Tennessee Sheraton sideboard and a Virginia Federal Pembroke table, both documented by the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts; an Alabama or Georgia pine huntboard, a Federal block front desk from Lexington, Kentucky’s famed Calumet Farm; two Federal secretary desks from Tennessee and North Carolina, and a scarce Mecklenburg Co., North Carolina pine corner cupboard accompanied by old photographs showing it the house it originally came from.

            Other Southern decorative arts include some well-decorated Great Road earthenware jars and jugs; a large and rare Middle Tennessee pottery churn stamped for Thos. W. Clouse; rare Tennessee baskets; and quilts including an award winning 1895 Tennessee crazy quilt.

            The Silver category features a collection of Baltimore Repousse pattern sterling holloware, including a set of S. Kirk & Sons goblets, a tea service, trays and other forms in the popular pattern. There is also a collection of silver trophies and agricultural premiums, led by a 2-ft tall 1899 Wembley Park Harness Racing Club sterling trophy with figural horse finial, plus a scarce rural Louisiana coin silver agricultural premium cup or mug by Adolph Himmel of New Orleans; several pieces of Mississippi coin silver; a Charleston, SC coin silver tray; and early 20th century silver flatware services in patterns including Meadow Rose by Watson/Wallace; Versailles, Chantilly, Lancaster and Décor by Gorham, La Reine Grand Baroque by Wallace, and Francis I by Reed & Barton.

            The auction features nearly 100 lots of estate jewelry including multiple GIA certified diamond rings. Of special interest are a 1.83 carat round brilliant diamond, EX cut grade;  a 2.59 ct marquis brilliant cut diamond; and vintage European cut diamonds. There are also vintage wristwatches by Rolex and Baume & Mercier, and designer jewelry by Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari, and Hermes.

Asian Art includes a Chinese Export silver tea service; two Chinese Manchu Ministry of Rites brass seals; a Japanese 6-panel folding screen formerly owned by Nissan North America chairman Marvin Runyon; a 54 foot long Japanese hand painted scroll depicting a detailed processional; carved table screens, several lots of Chinese Export and armorial porcelain; cloisonne and jade objects; and a very rare 1913 book, Chotscho, by Albert von le Coq, documenting the first German Turfan/Turpan expedition at Gaochang with numerous folio sized color plates of Buddhist art work.

Collectors of glass and ceramics will find a Duffner and Kimberly leaded glass hanging lamp in the Iris pattern; large sets of Herend porcelain dinnerware in the Rothschild Bird and Fruit and Flowers pattern; a rare pair of Herend Mickey and Minnie Mouse figurines plus several sets of collectible Herend animals; a large Meissen potpourri urn with applied flowers and figural decoration; a large Charles Miner Pate de Verre “Cape Fish” glass vase; an art glass lamp and vases by Charles Lotton; an elaborate enamel decorated Bohemian glass dessert set; and multiple lots of Saint Louis crystal stemware from the collection of U.S.N. Captain Waldo Evans, used for diplomatic events during his term as the last territorial governor of Samoa/Virgin Islands.

The book, document and historical ephemera presence at Case continues to grow. This auction features a collection of multiple signed first editions by Cormac McCarthy (who passed away in 2023) including Blood Meridian, SuttreeThe Orchard KeeperNo Country for Old Men, and more. Civil War buffs will find interest in a collection of rare photographs of CSA General Robert E. Lee by Matthew Brady and Michael Miley, plus six bound folio volumes of Harper’s Weekly spanning 1861-1865, and a collection of books, sculptures and ephemera related to President Abraham Lincoln including an authenticated fragment of the dress worn by his wife Mary Todd Lincoln the night of his assassination. There are also a number of documents signed by President Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, and other Tennessee and North Carolina political figures; a rare Prang Civil War Bird’s Eye View of the Seat of War lithograph depicting key sites of the conflict; various Southern maps; and archives including two archives related to the family of Franklin, Tennessee founder Abram Maury.

The Weapons category encompasses a number of firearms such as a LeMat Grapshot Percussion revolver, serial no 601; a WWII Mauser P38 9 mm Luger; and a collection of long rifles including a half stock percussion long rifle marked for W. Lamb & Son of North Carolina.

Rounding out the auction is a good selection of folk art including three very fine figural weathervanes (a bull and two running horses); Native American rugs, jewelry, baskets, and pottery including an outstanding Mississippian Culture clay effigy; three PCGS graded 19th century restrikes of Confederate coins by J.W. Scott plus a number of gold coins and a Sons of Liberty ceremonial hatchet with inlaid gold coin; estate Persian rugs; a rare 18th c. Aubusson tapestry depicting the Animals’ Parliament; a Dr. Lesures Veterinary Advertising Cabinet, and a restored 1946 Wurlitzer Model 1015 “Bubbler” Jukebox.

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 www.caseantiques.com. Case’s gallery is located at 4310 Papermill Drive in Knoxville. The live auction begins Saturday, Jan. 27 at 9 am ET and Sunday, Jan. 28 at 1 pm ET; online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. Preview appointments may be made on the company’s website through Friday, Jan. 26. For more information, or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s offices in Nashville (615) 812-6096 and Chattanooga (423) 251-1320 or email info@caseantiques.com