In preparation for Americana Week, I did some research on what typically can be found in Americana art. What I found is that there are a lot of items that capture American history and culture, and no, every Americana item doesn’t feature the American flag (or other patriotic themes) or pictures of rural Midwest life, though these two themes are prominent.
Christie’s Auction will be featuring Americana that doesn’t fit neatly into the above mentioned themes, but still has a strongly American aesthetic. The featured auctions will be held in New York, January 16 – 18. There are four auctions that will feature Americana art and highlight some of the jewels that were produced and collected over the past 400 years.
The first auction is Little Cassiobury: The Collection of Susan Lyall, to be held on January 16 at 10 AM EST. The items were formerly owned by Susan Lyall, a garden furniture designer and philanthropist. The collection has over 200 items from Lyall’s personal collection of art and furniture.
My favorite piece from this collection is the William IV brass lantern. Despite being nearly 200 years old, this lantern would still be a charming addition to a lot of different decorative themes.
William IV Brass Lantern (circa 1835)
Next up is the Chinese Export Art Featuring the Hodroff Collection Part IV. This auction is scheduled for January 17 at 10 AM EST. The items are Chinese in origin but, as you can tell, the fascination with Asian art is distinctly American, to the point where Chinese art can be featured during an Americana-focused auction and it makes sense to knowledgeable collectors! Many American families have extensive Asian art collections and the Hodroffs were no exception: Leo and Doris Hodroff’s collection is featured in multiple museums across the US.
My favorite lot from this auction is A Famille Rose Mancerina. I’d never heard of a mancerina before, but after seeing this beauty, I knew I had to know more. Mancerinas are serving trays designed to hold a container of chocolate. The ornate well in the center is where the chocolate container would have been placed. This isn’t a common household item now, but imagine how nice it would be to own something this historical and charming. It could fetch upwards of $2,500, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it went for much more than that.
A Famille Rose Mancerina (Qianlong Period, circa 1770-1780)
The next auction is spread out over two days – January 17 and 18, at 3 PM and 2 PM EST respectively. The largest of Christie’s Americana auctions, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver and Prints will bring nearly 300 lots to the public. This collection has a plethora of exquisite household items, so it may take you a while to go through all of the offerings.
However, after looking through the entire collection, I kept finding myself returning to look at the American Silver Fruit Bowl. This piece, from Tiffany & Co., has mesmerizing filigree and finely depicted vines, leaves and raspberries. I was surprised to see the estimate go up to only $3,500: I anticipate this one will sell for less, but likely not by much.
American Silver Fruit Bowl (Mark of William Gale for Tiffany & Co., New York, circa 1860)
The final auction is Outsider and Vernacular Art on January 18 at 10 AM. This auction will feature art with a folksy touch and distinctly American themes. The art reflects different movements, periods of time, and various media. There are also pieces by living artists included in this sale, so there is an opportunity for novice collectors to purchase works when the prices are less prohibitive.
I found myself completely enchanted by Portrait of a Young Girl, 1950s by Morton Bartlett. I’m unsure who the model was for this work, but her facial structure and complexion reminded me of a young girl I know that has albinism. This painting made me think about the albinos in different African countries who have had to flee for their lives for fear of being hunted for their limbs (in Tanzania and Malawi specifically, albinos are fiercely targeted). I’d rather not go into detail about the human rights travesty happening to Africans with albinism, but I couldn’t help but think of them when I saw this painting. The high estimate of this is $8,000, and, if I had the resources available right now, I’d certainly bid on this beauty.
Portrait of a Young Girl, 1950s by Morton Bartlett (1909 – 1992)
That’s my quick overview of the Christie’s Americana auctions. You can check out the lots by clicking any of the hyperlinks above, and see what items interest you. If you find something that you love, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!