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Masterpieces of rarity and historical significance to be offered at Christie's Americana Week
An important China trade painting (illustrated above; estimate: $125,000-175,000) made in the School of Spoilum, circa 1794, depicts the historic event of Viceroy of Canton receiving Lord McCartney, the first official envoy of the British Empire to the Celestial Kingdom. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced that Americana Week 2014, a weeklong series of auctions, viewings, and events, will be held from January 18-27. The week of sales is comprised of Important American Silver on January 23, Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Decorative Arts on January 24, and Chinese Export Art on January 27. Several prominent private collections will be highlighted, including Property from the Estate of Eric Martin Wunsch and Favorites from the Collection of Kristina Barbara Johnson. In all, Americana Week 2014 will offer over 400 lots and is expected to realize upwards of $11 million. In conjunction with the sales, Christie’s will also host the second annual Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Arts on January 22, honoring Richard Hampton Jenrette and Linda H. Kaufman and her husband, the late George M. Kaufman.

Christie’s will present Property from the Estate of Eric Martin Wunsch in a series of January sales including Important American Silver on January 23, American Furniture on January 24, Chinese Export Art on January 27, and Old Master Paintings Part I on January 29. Eric Martin Wunsch was a New York collector with an assiduous appetite for learning about art and antiques who was revered for his diverse mix of treasures. He was an active and important member of a number of public institutions such as the New York State Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, where he donated works, and examples of his 17th century European paintings and drawings have been extensively exhibited in museums both in Europe and North America. Wunsch was also a founding member of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State and the Friends of American Art at Yale University Art Gallery, as well as a trustee of the Willard Clock Museum. From American furniture and silver to Dutch painting, the collection is comprised of 59 lots, and is expected to realize in excess of $4.5 million.

The first in the series of Americana Week sales will be Important American Silver, offering a selection of works that date back to the 17th century. Comprised of ninety-two lots, the sale is expected to realize in excess of $1 million. Among the sale’s top lots is a fine set of six large silver tablespoons with the mark of Paul Revere, Jr., Boston, 1783, engraved with the script monogram DMS (estimate: $60,000-90,000). The initials on these spoons are those of Daniel and Mary Sargent. Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1731, Daniel Sargent became a successful merchant and ship owner who traded along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. In 1763 he married Mary Turner of Salem, daughter of merchant and justice of the peace John Turner (1709-1786), whose Salem mansion, “The House of the Seven Gables,” was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Daniel and Mary Sargent had seven children, including the artist Henry Winthrop Sargent (1810-1882) and the classical scholar Lucius Manlius Sargent (1786-1867).

A Silver Cocktail Shaker by Peer Smed, New York, 1931 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) is among the of American silver from the twentieth century. This whimsical shaker is modeled as a standing bear on a circular base, and contains a hinged and pierced ice strainer adding to its utility. Danish silversmith Peer Smed worked for Georg Jensen and the Royal silversmith, Anton Michelsen, in Copenhagen before emmigrating to the United States in 1912. During the 1930s, he worked from his Brooklyn studio, primarily in the Danish style. His work has been featured in several exhibitions of contemporary metalwork, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1937 and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1937-38.

Also among the 19th century highlights is a set of three silver meat dishes from The Mackay Service with the Mark Of Tiffany And Co., in New York, circa 1878 ($20,000-30,000). The set belongs to a New York Gentleman who is a direct decedent of John William Mackay (1831-1902) and Marie Louise Hungerford Mackay (1843-1913), to whom the present dishes once belonged. Each of the three dishes is applied on one side with the monogram MLM, the other with the coat-of-arms, crest and motto of Hungerford. The history of the Mackay dinner service is a classic American tale. In 1873, John W. Mackay, an Irish immigrant who spent 22 years mining in the west, discovered the largest silver deposit in America deep inside the fabled Comstock Lode of Virginia City, Nevada. According to family legend, when his wife Marie Louise Hungerford Mackay visited the mine, she asked if she could have enough silver for a dinner service. Her husband obliged, sending a half ton of silver to Tiffany's with instructions to make an elaborate dinner service for twenty-four. Tiffany's records show that two hundred silversmiths worked for two years on the service, producing 1,350 pieces of which 370 were holloware items. Charles Grosjean, who designed the Mackay service, named the pattern "Indian" after its dense floral arabesques and other references to Near-Eastern design. The service was exhibited to great acclaim at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris, one critic commenting that, "This splendid service alone would form a very full exhibit.” The Mackays kept a house in Paris, and later in London, where they entertained distinguished guests on a lavish scale, including the former United States President, Ulysses S. Grant.

Christie’s sale of Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Decorative Arts will present over 160 lots from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and is expected to realize in excess of $4 million. Works with exquisite provenance figure prominently, with Property from the Estate of Eric Martin Wunsch, Property from the Chipstone Foundation, and Favorites from the Collection of Kristina Barbara Johnson contributing to the sale’s top lots.

Christie’s has been entrusted with works from the celebrated collection of Kristina Barbara Johnson, an enthusiastic collector, whose interests were broad, though all poignantly a reflection of her unique aesthetic. Johnson first started developing her folk art collection when she became involved with the American Folk Art Museum in the mid-1960s, where she served on the board of Trustees for over four decades and was elected Board President in 1971. Her folk art collection focused on maritime arts, portraiture, paintings, sculpture and decoys and, in the early 1980s, her driving interest in hooked rugs led her to assemble one of the largest collections of hooked rugs in the country. As early as the 1970s, her interest in Outsider Art became a growing focus. She juxtaposed earlier American folk art in her home with the Outsider pieces and took pleasure in sharing her collection with others, offering guided tours through her home for students, groups, dealers, and individuals sharing her interests. Her collection was highly regarded, as her works were frequently loaned to exhibitions across the country and nearly always referenced in scholarly writings about American Folk Art.

Grandma Moses’ idyllic Old Covered Bridge (illustrated right; estimate: $300,000-700,000) is a masterwork that manifests every element that has made the artist an American icon. In private hands since its creation, this work is a desirable example of a self-taught artist and presents a rare opportunity to obtain one of approximately twenty known and documented large scale paintings by Moses. Old Covered Bridge depicts her belief that men, women, and children all had a role in the daily work of the community. The scene portrays the ice harvest, an important seasonal task that requires the combined effort of the community to preserve ice for the coming summer. Though Grandma Moses never had formal training, her natural skill is clear; by weaving the various vignettes throughout the landscape, the composition becomes cohesive.

William Edmonson’s Mother and Child (illustrated left; estimate: $50,000-80,000) is another work from the collection of Kristina Barbara Johnson. Edmonson’s works have crossed the aesthetic boundaries of genres ever since his 1937 solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, the first of any African-American artist. Discovered in 1936 by a Vanderbilt University professor and later photographed by a Harper’s Bazaar photographer, Edmondson’s work was shown to then director of the Museum of Modern Art, resulting in his 1937 solo exhibition. Born the son of slaves near Nashville, Tennessee, Edmonson was briefly employed as a stonemason during the early years of the Great Depression. After receiving a vision from God, Edmondson began carving tombstones, “miracles,” and “critters” in limestone. Using the simplest of tools and working in limestone, Mother and Child is one of the at least six sculptures Edmondson carved depicting the religious subject matter.

Two Deer in a Fiery Forest by William Hawkins (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is another work of Outsider Art from the Johnson Collection. Hawkins began painting and drawing in the 1970s. After submitting and winning the 1982 Ohio State Fair exhibition, Hawkins significantly increased his output, often painting subjects taken from covers of the magazines, newspapers and other material he collection of the street as well as his recollections and the buildings around Columbus, Ohio. Using only a single paintbrush and working with enamel house paint that he often found discarded by the local hardware store, Hawkins created works of brilliant color as seen in Two Deer in a Fiery Forest. The two deer stand alertly, as if disturbed by the viewer, at whom they gaze directly. The faces have been heighted with starch (possibly dried glue) to add three-dimensionality, a technique he increasingly used in the 1980s.

The Deshler Family Chippendale carved mahogany side chair (estimate: $200,000-500,000) stands as a stunning survival of Colonial American history and is being sold with the approval of the Directors of the Chipstone Foundation to benefit the acquisitions fund. Designed and executed by a craftsman of extraordinary talents, the chair is likely an example of London-trained carver John Pollard (1740-1787), created while at the height of his career in Philadelphia, and was originally made en suite with a set of side chairs made for merchant David Deshler (1711-1792). With eleven surviving forms, including the present example, the Deshler suite of furniture is among the most celebrated commissions of American Furniture from the eighteenth century. Distinguished by its pristine condition, the side chair offered in the sale retains its original surface, wonderfully displaying the refined ornament and detail of the work.

A Chippendale mahogany bombé chest-of-drawers (estimate: $200,000-400,000) was likely executed in Boston, circa 1770, and is a rare example of eighteenth-century Massachusetts’ most celebrated furniture design. Having once belonged in the renowned Whittier collection and handled by the Boston shop of Israel Sack, the work’s exquisite provenance contribute to its appeal as one of the most sought after forms of American cabinetwork executed at the height of the Rococo period. The combination of the subtle curvature of the case sides and the ogee foot construction result in the graceful silhouette that was prized by patrons.

The sale of Important American Furniture will also include a selection of Maritime Art, all lots hailing from private collections. Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen’s The Famous Clipper Dreadnought (estimate: $7,000-10,000) depicts the well-known ship that broke the New York-to-Liverpool crossing with a record ten day trip. After crossing the Atlantic twenty times, the Dreadnought was nearly sunk in 1863 during its final voyage.

CHINESE EXPORT ART January 27 at 10:00am
As the final sale in the Americana Week series, the sale of Chinese Export Art on January 27 in New York will feature a stunning selection of Chinese porcelain made to order for American and European traders in the 17th through 19th centuries. Featuring a rich array of porcelains and paintings, the sale will offer over 150 lots and is expected to realize upwards of $1.5 million.

An important China trade painting (estimate: $125,000-175,000) made in the School of Spoilum, circa 1794, depicts the historic event of Viceroy of Canton receiving Lord McCartney, the first official envoy of the British Empire to the Celestial Kingdom. McCartney was sent with the mission of easing trade restrictions and permission for a British embassy and residence. While he was largely unsuccessful to that end, his relations with the Imperial government of the Emperor Qianlong did lead to some progress. The momentous occasion of the Viceroy receiving Lord McCartney was rendered in four recorded large scale oil paintings, including the present example.

Among the top lots of the sale is a rare set of famille rose “nodding head” figures from the Qianlong period (estimate: $40,000-60,000), depicting two elegant court ladies in colorful robes and two court officials wearing tall hats. At nearly eighteen inches tall, this monumental set likely represented a very special commission. In addition to the size of these figures and their fine quality modeling, their composition as two couples set them apart from any published examples; models of couples are rare and almost exclusively Western. Originally, these remarkable figures graced an important room in the grand baroque villa of an aristocratic family on the outskirts of Rome. The set has never been sold publicly, having remained in the same family since the 18th century.

A very rare pair of Chinese export porcelain shoe tureens, covers and stands, circa 1770 (estimate: $12,000-18,000), are each in the form of a Dutch clog with turned up toe, adorned with colorful vignettes of Chinese family scenes. While small Chinese porcelain tureens were made in whimsical shapes, this clog form is very rare. Closely associated with Holland, one of China's earliest and highest volume trading partners, the clog form perhaps makes sense as an amusing special porcelain order for a Dutch East India Company director or investor.

Several porcelain dinner services with exceptional provenance will also be included in the sale of Chinese Export Art, including two sets from the collection of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, both of which were wedding gifts to the newly married couple in 1929. Other dinner wares in the sale include a large, richly enameled ‘Canton famille rose’ service and a large service with the arms of the Earl of Nithsdale (estimate: $70,000-100,000), featuring an unusually full complement of serving pieces, platters and plates. Pieces of the Thomas Jefferson Chinese Export porcelain will also be offered in ten separate lots in the sale (estimate: $10,000-15,000).

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