An Einstein Signed Letter and A Carousel Giraffe Top Neue Auctions’ March 11 Sale
Beachwood, OH, USA, March 22, 2023 — Talk about an eclectic sale. The top five lots in Neue Auctions’ Estate Fine Art and Antiques auction held online March 11th were a pair of rare old antique maps that combined for a staggering $147,600; a typed letter signed by Albert Einstein ($10,455); a carved and painted carousel giraffe ($9,840); and a stoneware vessel made by Claude Conover ($7,380).
The 342-lot auction was filled with fine art, antiques, Mid-Century Modern, Modern Art, sterling, bronzes, decorative arts, printwork, maps, fine furniture, carpets and more, from prominent estates and collections. Internet bidding was provided by LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com. All prices quoted are inclusive of the 23 percent buyer’s premium.
By far the top lot of the auction was a map of the Persian and Red Seas, after Claudius Ptolemy, Geographica, circa 1482 or later, 12 ½ inches by 22 inches. The engraved woodcut with original color was after Ptolemy’s Cosmographia, showing Sinus Persicus (Persian Gulf) and Sinus Arabicus (Red Sea), a map of the Arabian Peninsula. The map blasted through its modest pre-sale estimate of $3,000-$6,000 to gavel for $110,700.
The other map was a 17th century Dutch Baroque map, Pascaarte van alle de Zecusten van Europa, published by Anthonie Jacobsz (Amsterdam), as seen in the lower cartouche. The map, in a 35 ½ inch by 42 ½ inch frame under old rolled glass, was rare and obscure, made on animal skin vellum. It sailed past the $4,000-$8,000 estimate, bringing $36,900.
The two-page typed letter signed by Einstein was dated 1950 on the physicist’s stamped letterhead (Princeton, N.J.), written in German and addressed to the well-known medalist and portraitist Prof. Artur Immanuel Lowental of Vienna. It regarded Mr. Lowental’s not being paid for a commissioned bust/medal of Einstein, who was sympathetic in the letter.
The sale’s expected top lot was the unusual but rare and visually striking carved and painted carousel giraffe, crafted circa 1910 by Gustav and William Dentzel. The restored giraffe, 64 ½ inches tall, featured inset glass eyes and was saddle carved with eagle’s heads and green and red painted saddle details. It sold near its high estimate of $10,000.
The stoneware vessel by Claude Conover (American, 1907-1994), titled Siyab, was ovoid form with a cylindrical neck, 19 inches tall by 15 inches wide and decorated all over in a pattern of small stylized rectangles. It was signed and titled to the base by Mr. Conover, who worked as a commercial designer for over thirty years before turning full-time to ceramics.
An oil on canvas painting by Pittsburgh native artist Joseph Ryan Woodwell (1843-1911), titled Magnolia, Massachusetts, Coastline with Two Figures, artist signed lower left and housed in a 38 inch by 47 inch frame, finished at $4,182. Woodwell was a member of the Scalp Level School, named for the area of Pennsylvania where they all gathered to paint.
Other top achievers of the fine art category included an oil on canvas by Antoine Bouvard (French, 1913-1972), titled Venice, Doge’s Palace from the Canal, signed and in a 30 inch by 41 inch frame ($2,952); and an oil on canvas by Jean Salabet (Spanish/French, 1913-1995), titled Paris Street, signed and 10 inches by 13 inches, less frame ($2,460).
In the Asian category, a Chinese antique six-fold screen with scenes of figures at various pursuits in a village, probably made for the Western Export market in the 20th century, 6 feet 11 inches by 8 feet (unfolded) fetched $2,583; and an 18th century Chinese Export porcelain tureen on a stand, rectangular form with canted sides, the domed cover having a scroll finial top, nicely decorated with figures in a pavilion and a garden. It brought $984.
A late 18th or early 19th century English Leeds Pottery creamware chestnut basket, 9 inches tall, having a footed bowl form base with applied entwined handles and applied bellflower swags, changed hands for $3,567, besting its pre-sale estimate of $500-$800.
Other wonderful decorative accessories featured a Sevres Chateau des Tuileries Art Nouveau vase of baluster form, decorated with a standing maiden with a halo of gilded flowers, on a bronze base, 28 ½ inches tall ($2,706); and a 19th century stamped Tiffany sterling tazza (circa 1873-1891), wide shallow bowl form with applied handles on a pedestal and domed foot and chased with repousse floral blossoms and leaves ($2,091).
The furniture category was led by a group of 12 Art Nouveau mahogany dining chairs, circa 1900 and later, comprising six chairs by Louis Majorelle (French 1859-1926) in the Epis de Ble (Wheat sheaf) motif, together with six hand-made copies, each with a narrow upholstered back carved with a sheaf of wheat pattern at the top of the side rails ($5,160).
Additional top-performing pieces of furniture included a pair of Afra and Tobia Scarpa Soriana ottomans, manufactured by Cassina for Atelier International in the 1970s, having upholstered leather forms with tufted tops ($4,059); and a Louis XIV (or Regence style) gilt bronze mounted bureauplat, modern, having a rectangular top with a tooled inset leather writing surface centered by a frieze drawer, on squared tapering legs ($2,460).
Two artists who did quite well in the face of very modest estimates were Pablita Velarde (Santa Clara, 1918-2006) and Rafael Ferrer (Puerto Rico/U.S. born, 1933). Velarde’s gouache on paper paintings titled Ceremonial Procession and Buffalo Dancer, both signed and framed, sold for $2,952 and $2,460, respectively; while four crayon on brown paper bag mask drawings by Ferrer from 1973, all artist initialed, combined for $10,701.
Next up for Neue Auctions is an online-only Civil War-Americana auction planned for Friday, April 14th. It will be a timed auction on LiveAuctioneers.com. Bidding will open when the catalog is posted online the weekend of April 1st. For more information, please visit www.NeueAuctions.com.
About Neue Auctions:
Cynthia Maciejewksi and Bridget McWilliams can be reached by phone at 216-245-6707; or, you can email them at [email protected] or [email protected] For more information, please visit www.NeueAuctions.com.
23533 Mercantile Rd. #119
Beachwood, OH 44122 USA