Americana Week January 2017

Americana Week 2017 (Christie’s), a series of auctions, viewings and events, will be held from January 13-20. The week of sales is comprised of Chinese Export Art on January 18, Palmetto Hall:  The Jay P. Altmayer Family Collection on January 19, Courageous Spirits:  Outsider and Vernacular Art and Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver on January 20.

Highlights include 31 Chinese snuff boxes (estimates ranging from $1,500 to $10,000), a George A. Schastey Aesthetic Movement grand piano (estimate: $300,000-500,000), a rare pair of Queen Anne maple chairs, possibly by William Savery, a group of furniture from the pioneering collector Mrs. J. Insley Blair, a pair of extremely rare silver candlesticks by Simeon Soumaine (estimate: $100,000-200,000) a pair of silver braziers by John Burt (estimate: $100,000-200,000), a magnificent sculpture titled Lion by William Edmondson(estimate: $200,000-400,000) and significant works by Outsider artists Bill Traylor, William Hawkins, Elijah Pierce and more.

The auction of Palmetto Hall: The Jay P. Altmayer Family Collection punctuates the week with a unique collection of Southern art depicting American landscapes, heroes and events, fine English furnishings and classical European decorative objects.

In all, Americana Week 2017 will offer over 750 lots and is expected to realize upwards of $7.5 million. In conjunction with the sales, Christie’s will host the annual Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Arts on Wednesday, January 18th and will host tours and events in collaboration with the Outsider Art Fair.


Christie’s Americana Week kicks off with Chinese Export Art on January 18, which offers approximately 200 lots and is highlighted by classic pieces from old private collections.  Leading the sale is the Popowich Collection, carefully assembled over a number of decades by Lorraine and David Popowich of Philadelphia, and comprising 93 lots of high quality examples of all the major categories of Chinese Export.  Included in the Popowich Collection is a group of 31 snuffboxes (estimates ranging from $1,500-10,000), likely the largest of its kind, with fascinating examples in famille rose, European subject and armorial porcelain and painted enamel.

Other sale highlights include A Rare and Massive Market Punchbowl (estimate: $10,000-15,000) finely painted with hunting and racing vignettes made for the American market, the exact pair to which is at the Winterthur Museum; A Massive Famille Rose Dish from the Yongzheng/early Qianlong Period (estimate: $20,000-30,000) and A Very Large Pair of Iron-red and Gilt Vases (estimate: $30,000-50,000).


Stately and elegant, Palmetto Hall:  The Jay P. Altmayer Family Collection encompasses old world grandeur and Southern charm. Built in 1846 in Mobile, Alabama, the home was given a second life in 1959 through the impassioned interests of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Altmayer. Throughout their forty years at Palmetto Hall, the Altmayers thoughtfully expanded the house and appointed it with traditional furnishings that would have occupied a personal residence of that stature during the 19th century. Resulting is a unique collection of Southern art, depictions of American historical events, classical European furnishings and decorative works that offers an unparalleled window into the refined glamor of the old South.

Fine art highlights are led by 19th-century paintings including a wonderful Southern scene by William H. Buck (1840-1888), Bay St. Louis Plantation Scene (estimate: $70,000-100,000). Decorative highlights include A George II Mahogany Bookcase Cabinet, circa 1750 (estimate: $60,000-100,000); A Regency Lacquered-Brass Mounted and Brass-inlaid Rosewood, Ebony, and Ebonized Side Cabinet by George Bullock, circa 1815 (estimate: $70,000-100,000); and A Pair of Regency Ormolu Bottle Coolers, circa 1805 (estimate: $70,000-100,000).


Following the success of last year’s inaugural stand-alone various owner sale of Outsider art, Christie’s is pleased to announce the dedicated auction Courageous Spirits: Outsider and Vernacular Art to take place on January 20, 2017.

This tightly curated sale features nearly 70 lots across various media, including sculpture, painting, works-on-paper, and gelatin silver print photographs from preeminent “old masters” of Outsider art, including James Castle, William Edmonson, and Bill Traylor, as well as by contemporary self-taught artists, George Widener, Charles Benefiel, and Hipkiss, among others. The sale includes works from renowned private collections, including Property from the Marvill Collection, which features an exquisite selection of vernacular sculpture, and Property from the Collection of Dr. Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen, many of whose offered works were included in the ground-breaking exhibition “Pictured in my Mind” of 1995 at The Birmingham Museum of Art.

Leading the sale is a magnificent limestone sculpture by William Edmondson, Lion, circa 1937 (estimate: $200,000-400,000), which is accompanied by a photographic contact sheet depicting the artist with the sculpture. This work was purchased directly from Edmondson by Alfred and Elizabeth Starr, in whose family it remained in until the 1970s, when it was acquired by the present consignor. The Starrs brought Edmondson to the art world, introducing the artist to famed photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who in turn shared his work with Alfred Barr, then-director of The Museum of Modern Art. Barr later orchestrated a dedicated exhibition to the artist in 1937, MoMA’s first solo show for an African American artist.


Christie’s sale of Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver will present more than 250 carefully curated lots with exceptional provenance from the 18th through 20th centuries with an emphasis on furniture made in Philadelphia, New York, and Rhode Island. The sale features works previously owned by pioneering collectors of American Furniture, including descendants of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, and Edgar William, Bernice Chrysler Garbisch and H. Richard Dietrich, Jr.

Mrs. J. Insley Blair, known as one of the greatest collectors and patrons of American decorative arts, collected during the early 20thcentury, with a portion of her collection forming the cornerstone of the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2006, Christie’s was honored to sell part of her collection, left to her daughter Mrs. J. Woodhull Overton, which still holds the record for the highest earning private owner collection of American decorative art. Offered in this sale is a continuation of the family’s legacy: the auction includes nearly 20 works that Blair left to her second daughter, Mrs. Screven Lorillard, including a Chippendale Part-Ebonized and Inlaid Cherrywood Blocked Reverse-Serpentine Desk-and-Bookcase (estimate: $50,000-100,000), deemed a master piece, and exceptional pieces of Philadelphia and Rhode Island made furniture.

The sale is also highlighted by an Aesthetic Movement Grand Piano dated 1882 and documented to George A. Schastey (estimate: $300,000-500,000). A tour de force of design and craftsmanship, this grand piano’s art case is a master piece from America’s Gilded Age. Signed, dated and documented to George A. Schastey (1839-1894), the piano was the signature work of the recent exhibition on the New York City firm at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

An exceptional private collection features works by Newport makers, including a Chippendale Carved Mahogany Fly Tea Table(estimate: $80,000-120,000), attributed to the shop of Joseph Sanford (1740-1784). The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Rentschler features classic Philadelphia furniture, including a Pair of Chippendale Carved Mahogany Side Chairs (estimate: $8,000-12,000), once owned by pioneer collector Mrs. J. Amory Haskell.

Federal furniture highlights include exquisite inlaid federal furniture, led by the Isaac Perkins family Federal Eagle-Inlaid Mahogany Card Table (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and a set of The Coster Family Set of Seven Classical Carved Mahogany Curule-Base Dining Chairs, Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (estimate: $50,000-80,000). Fine art highlights are led by a portrait by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860) of George Washington, 1859(estimate: $150,000-250,000), from The Jay P. Altmayer Family Collection.

The sale includes an exemplary selection of Folk Art, including Ammi Phillips (1788-1865), Portrait of Mary Margaret Deuel(estimate: $100,000-150,000), painted circa 1829, and a full-length portrait by John Brewster Jr. (1766–1854), Young Boy in Red Holding an Apple (estimate: $60,000-90,000).


The afternoon session of the sale features significant American silver spanning 17th through early 20th century. Early American silver highlights of the sale include an extremely rare pair of candlesticks made in New York by Simeon Soumaine, circa 1750 (estimate: $100,000-200,000) an important pair of silver braziers made in Boston by John Burt in 1724 (estimate: $100,000-200,000), and a silver wine cup by John Hull and Robert Sanderson, the first silversmiths in North America which is property of the Old South Church in Boston (estimate: $150,000-200,000). Wonderful Tiffany examples in the sale include a silver, mokume and mixed-metal three-piece tea set from 1878 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) and a pair of Chrysanthemum pattern vegetable dishes and covers(estimate: $15,000-20,000). A selection of gold in the sale includes a set of 23 18-K gold champagne coupes, circa 1950 (estimate: $100,000-150,000) and a set of Reed & Barton gold flatware(estimate: $160,000-220,000). Rounding out the sale is a silver ingot recovered from the shipwreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha in 1621 (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

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