Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Thos. Cornell Galleries
BELLPORT, N.Y. – On the south shore of Long Island, midway between Manhattan and the Hamptons, is Thos. Cornell Galleries, an auction house presided over by Thomas Cornell, a licensed and bonded New York City auctioneer who has been in the business of buying, selling and appraising home furniture and furnishings, antiques and art objects for more than 30 years. During that time, Cornell’s firm has been one of the main sources for the estate treasures that collectors seek, tucked away amid the remaining pockets of old money from the Gilded Age, Cornell’s most recent sale, May 1, was a diverse, 360-lot selection of antique and reproduction furniture, decorations and accessories, high-end bed linen sets, Wedgwood and Limoges china, paintings, prints, textiles and Oriental rugs. The auction house does not disclose sales totals or sell-through rates, but Cornell said there were about 550 registered bidders for this event.
The sale’s light shone most brightly on a Handel Arts and Crafts lamp, which led at $3,400, three times is high estimate. Its base and shade signed, it stood 24 inches high and sported a 17½-inch-diameter shade.
Immediately following the Handel was another Arts and Crafts-style lamp, possibly attributed to Roycroft. With a mica shade and acorn finial, the 24½-inch-high lamp brought $1,700.
Oriental rugs were led by a Kashan carpet that measured 11 feet 10 inches by 10 feet. It sold for $2,500.
Aldo Tura (1909-1963) was an Italian furniture designer best known for his midcentury tables and lamps. He established his furniture production house in Lombardy in 1939 and, working between the idioms of Art Deco and Modernism, created singular, high-end furniture and accessories that were typified by rich materials, sculptural forms and high-end, artisanal techniques. Tura’s work has become highly collectible, especially examples with exotic finishes – like eggshell, goatskin and parchment – in intense palettes of red, green and yellow. Such was the case with a rare midcentury lacquered goatskin and rosewood desk offered in this sale, which was bid to $2,000.
Clock enthusiasts chased a French double carriage clock and barometer to $1,400, Each instrument was decorated with a colorful porcelain plaque and the all-important key was included.
Notable prints across the block included Ellsworth Kelly’s pencil-signed “Paris Review,” screenprint from 1968, At 31 by 24 inches and numbered 98/150, it left the gallery at $1,300.
A pottery vessel by Anne Goldman, titled “Exception” 12 by 16 inches, tripled its high estimate to finish at $1,200. It was a prime example of Goldman’s work, wheel-thrown stoneware with carved, sculpted and pierced surfaces enhanced with porcelain and iron slips. Goldman has been involved in ceramics for more than 20 years. Her work is represented in galleries, museums and private collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, and has been featured in numerous solo shows.
Of reclaimed wood, a midcentury Brutalist wall sculpture quadrupled its high estimate to realize $1,100. It measured 39 by 37½ inches.
And while it was not a featured lot in this auction, it should be mentioned that in the firm’s April 3 sale, an Eighteenth Century Irish tea table sold for the princely sum of $36,000, some 90 times its $400 high estimate, proving there’s auction gold in the Gilded Age enclave.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.thoscornellauctions.com or 631-289-9505.