New Hamburg, ON, Canada, April 30, 2022 — Original oil paintings by Canadian artist Maud Lewis (1901-1970), marvelous bronze creations by Romanian sculptor Demetre Chiparus (1886-1947), and a group of cold-painted “naughty bronzes” by Austrian artist Franz Xaver Bergman (1861-1935) are just a few of the expected highlights in Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.’s online-only Canadiana & Decorative Arts auction scheduled for Saturday, May 14th, at 9 am Eastern time.
The auction is an exciting offering of fresh-to-the-market Canadiana antiques, highlighted by folk art and decorative art from the late 19th century through to the 1970s, featuring selections from the Alan Emerson collection. “The Alan Emerson collection ranges from Canadiana to folk art to Pairpoint lamps,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. “The quality, authenticity and variety make for a riveting sale.” In all, 407 total lots will come up for bid.
The Canadiana category features stoneware and pottery, fruit jars, furniture, oil lamps, trade signs, quilts and folk art. “This sale contains some important folk art,” Mr. Miller said. “The rare Maud Lewis Black Truck painting was traded to its second owners in the 1970s for some grilled cheese sandwiches, and could set a record. Sold separately are three letters from Maud to John H. Kinnear, the artist she gifted it to in 1967.” Black Truck is expected to bring $30,000-$35,000.
All estimates quoted in this report are in Canadian dollars.
Maud Lewis painted many different vehicles that were part of her life and served as inspirations for many of her vehicular subjects. Black was her color of choice. The truck, less often seen, will no doubt fill a gap for collections focusing on this aspect. Black Truck, painted in 1967, is an oil on Masonite board and measures 11 inches by 14 inches. It’s a springtime painting, with the truck, daffodils, blossoming cherry trees and a house.
Also from Lewis is an oil paint on board titled Oxen Pulling Logs (1967), a snowy scene of a driver with oxen hauling logs with prominent evergreen trees in the background, 12 inches by 16 inches (est. $20,000-$25,000). Wedged between the two paintings is lot 336, a group of letters from Ms. Lewis to Mr. Kinnear, dated 1966-1967 (est. $3,500-$5,000). Few letters by Ms. Lewis exist, and these offer a rare glimpse into her fascinating world.
Kinnear was the only artist to correspond with Maud Lewis from the time she became famous, in the mid-1960s, until her death in 1970. Kinnear would send the artist pre-primed Masonite boards, brushes, and requested paints. In return, Maud would send the finished paintings for Kinnear to sell and he would then return the proceeds to Maud in Marshalltown, her home. In this respect John Kinnear acted like Maud’s agent in Ontario.
There are two Art Deco sculptures by Demetre Chiparus, both of them chryselephantine bronzes depicting female dancers with arms outstretched. One is a rare, early 20th century cold painted and bone mounted (chryselephantine) figural bronze, 17 ¼ inches tall (est. $15,000-$20,000). The other is a gilt bronze, bone mounted figure, 23 ¾ inches tall (est. $10,000-$12,000). Both are signed “D.H. Chiparus – Made in France.” Chiparus lived in Paris.
Highlights of the decorative arts section include majolica art pottery, figural silverplate, Chicago school lamps and the long-awaited Jack Reingold collection of cold-painted “naughty” bronzes. Several of these are by Franz Xaver Bergman, who signed several of his erotic works with the pseudonym “Nam Greb” (or just “B”) in an attempt to appear anonymous to avoid possible civil condemnation or penalties for lewdness or immorality.
Bergman’s “naughty” bronzes in the sale, all from the early 20th century and signed “Nam Greb”, are cold painted and gilt patinated Orientalist sculptures. They include a Vienna bronze table lamp with an amorous couple in 18th century costume (est. $9,000-$12,000); a female exotic dancer, 14 inches tall (est. $4,000-$6,000); a Chinese Geisha, 13 inches tall (est. $4,000-$6,000); and a seated Buddha, just 5 ½ inches tall (est. $3,500-$5,000).
Mr. Miller remarked of lot 261, “The signed John Tansel powder horn is Americana at its truest. Carved with a federal eagle with shielded breast, arrows in one clawed foot and a leafy vine in the other, it is a three-dimensional journal from 1820s Kentucky.” John was the eldest son of famed Kentucky horn carver Francis Tansel, who served in the War of 1812. The 11 ½ inch long cow horn is signed “J.T.” on the side of the eagle (est. $15,000-$20,000).
In the furniture category, a circa-1860 pine schrank of typical knockdown construction from Maryhill (Waterloo County, Ontario), featuring a strongly shaped cornice, 80 ¾ inches tall by 66 ¾ inches wide, should reach $6,000-$8,000; while a high-quality two-drawer Markham (Ontario) pine blanket box retaining its bold, original combed paint finish, circa-1840, 35 ½ inches tall by 49 ¾ inches wide, should realize $3,000-$5,000.
There are two equestrian-themed paintings in the sale. One is a watercolor and pencil on paper rendering of Princess Louisa at 2 Yrs., by Joseph Swift (Canadian, 1832-1889). The work, circa 1880, is artist signed lower right (est. $12,000-$15,000). The second is a 1900 oil on board signed by J.J. Kenyon (Canadian, 1862-1937), titled Western Wilkes – 4566 – McGregor & McCallum, Proprietors, Wallacetown, Ont. (est. $4,000-$6,000).
A circa 1910 Tiffany Studios Apple Blossom table lamp with a Tiffany marked mosaic glass shade on a patinated metal base (which is period correct, but not original to the shade) is expected to go for $8,000-$12,000. Also, a Canadian circa 1910 folk art circus parade – an extensive menagerie including parade wagons, performers, animals, banners and Punch & Judy characters, plus fabric table dressing pieces, should hit $4,000-$6,000.
Internet bidding will be via the Miller & Miller website (www.MillerandMillerAuctions.com), as well as the popular online bidding platform LiveAuctioneers.com. Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted. The major categories include advertising signs, advertising tins, soda advertising, breweriana, petroliana (gas station collectibles), toys, clocks, general store and tools.
While this is an Internet-only auction, with no in-person event to attend, bidders can tune in to the live webcast on Saturday, May 14th, to watch the lots close in real time. Here is a link to the sale: https://live.millerandmillerauctions.com/auctions/4-5A0JOJ/canadiana-decorative-arts.
To learn more about Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. and the auction on May 14th, please visit www.millerandmillerauctions.com.
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