NEW YORK - As anticipation mounts for the fast-approaching fall auction season, through 16 August Sotheby's New York headquarters' 10th-floor gallery hosts the Fall Auction Highlights, a selection of works across several of the upcoming sales. Below, specialists Seth Armitage, Alexander Grogan and Andrew Ogletree give insights into their favorites.
Federico Zandomeneghi, La Coiffure, from the upcoming 19th Century European Paintings sale on 8 November. Estimate: $2,000,000 – 3,000,000.
Reviewing the mail is a daily ritual at Sotheby’s. Where once snapshots spilled out of envelopes, today a click of a mouse opens an email attachment and a normal day can suddenly become an extraordinary one. While the summer sun now shines through our galleries, it was a dreary, early spring day when we discovered Federico Zandomeneghi’s La Coiffure in our in-boxes. Even before seeing the artist’s distinct signature we knew this had to be the work of “Zandò,” the nickname given to the Italian artist after he moved to Paris in 1874, and the name that we excitedly shouted over our cubicle walls.
Painted between 1885-1894, La Coiffure expands upon Zandò’s early Impressionist experiments and shares a visual relationship with his friend Edgar Degas’ compositions, particularly in the cropped perspective of the room—creating intimate spaces and demonstrating the influence of Japanese prints and photography. With the young sitter’s rich, auburn tresses falling against pale skin and thick strands clasped in the elder woman’s hand, Zandò emphasizes the tactile, sensual aspect of the coiffure.
A complex arrangement of dabs and dashes of paint create abstract patterns of wallpaper and curtain textile while subtle shifts of whites and greys capture the cool milky surface of lamp glass, and pink highlights suggest warm light on freshly combed hair. While Zandò’s working habits and compositional choices linked him to Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, compositions like La Coiffure earned him the additional nickname of Le Venetian, stemming from his luminous yet subtle use of color, which recalls the work of the Macchiaioli, and points toward the Italian Diversionists and Symbolists. The multiple inspirations and vibrant and carefully honed technique is what makes La Coiffure a masterwork and why we think when seeing it for the first time in our highlights exhibition you, like us, will exclaim “it’s a Zandò”!
--Seth Armitage, Assistant Vice President and Specialist in 19th Century European Paintings.
An important Queen Anne brass-inlaid burr maple desk-and-bookcase, circa 1715. Attributed to Coxed and Woster, from an upcoming October furniture sale. Estimate: $200,000 – 400,000.
The present bookcase with its beautiful stained burr maple veneers, fine brass and pewter inlay as well as the form with double-dome top typifies the highly skilled work of John Coxed and later Grace Coxed and Thomas Woster, the cabinet-making firm which traded from the White Swan workshop in St. Paul's Churchyard, London.
The interior of the upper section is beautifully fitted with small drawers and shelves, as is the interior behind the slant-front door, the labor costs of which made this a very expensive piece for its time.
The quality of this bookcase continued to be recognized and was bought in by the discerning collector Colonel Arthur Lyle, in the first quarter of the 20th century as one of the highlights in his collection at Barrington Court, which he leased from the National Trust in 1917. Lyle was the grandson of Abram Lyle, who introduced Golden Syrup and was a soldier in the City of London Regiment, the Royal Fusiliers. Barrington Court was built circa 1514 for Henry Daubeney and was probably finished as late as circa 1558 for William Clifton. The interior was virtually gutted in 1825 and was restored from 1921-25 by the architectural firm of Forbes and Tate for Lyle, including historical paneling and period rooms from Lyle’s collection.
--Andrew Ogletree, Assistant Vice President and Specialist in English Furniture.
Proto-Dogon (Djennenke/Soninke) Female Figure, Mali, circa 900-1030 AD, from the upcoming The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Oceanic and Indonesian Art - Volume One on 15 November. Estimate: $400,000-600,000.
One of Africa’s most dramatic and magnificent landscapes is the Bandiagara Escarpment, an imposing chain of sandstone cliffs, which surround a vast plateau in central Mali. For millennia this geological formation has provided an ideal defensive position for human settlement and has nurtured some of Africa’s earliest and most sophisticated civilizations. Since the 15th century it has been home to the Dogon people, the creators of the iconic figural sculptures that today form the centerpieces of every major African Art collection. The Dogon kept their sacred sculptures in caves carved into the cliffs, thereby preserving them for hundreds of years. Radiocarbon dating of wood sculptures from this region shows that a small number of the very earliest examples that survive in fact pre-date the Dogon. Stylistic evidence supports the assumption that these extremely rare works belong to a lost culture, which heavily influenced Dogon style, and was likely associated with the ancient empires of the Djennenke or Soninke peoples.
This monumental female figure, acquired by Allan Stone from Merton D. Simpson in 1981, is one of the earliest surviving Malian wood sculptures – as carbon-14 testing of the wood has proven – dating between 900 and 1030 AD. Its great age, distinctive style, bold expressiveness, and excellent state of preservation distinguish it as one of the centerpieces of the Stone collection and one of the most important Malian sculptures ever to appear at auction. Other examples of similar scale and iconography are in major institutional collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The gesture of upraised arms is interpreted as an attempt to link heaven and earth, and possibly as a prayer for rain.
-- Alexander Grogan, Assistant Vice President and Specialist in African & Oceanic Art