Japanese woodblock print sale March 6 offers 1st editions

Jasper52, a leading purveyor of antique and collectible Japanese woodblock prints, will present another outstanding collection in an online auction on Tuesday, March 6. Subjects range from geographic landmarks such as Mount Fuji to beautiful geisha. Many of the lots in this Marquee Japanese Woodblock Prints Auction are original first impressions.

Utagawa Hiroshige, ‘View of Miho Bay in Suruga Province,’ rare fan print, 1845-46, first edition, uchiwa-e size, 9.5 x 14.5 in. Estimate: $1,000-$1,200. Jasper52 image

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Newcomb Pottery embodies Southern nature

Sometimes from the depths of despair come forth strength, beauty and inspiration. Such is the story of Newcomb Pottery, the American art pottery cultivated within and representative of New Orleans.

The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise was a vocational training program within the art education curriculum of Newcomb College. The program came out of the vision set forth by Josephine Louise Newcomb, the benefactor whose gift founded H. Sophie Newcomb College in 1886. The philanthropist made the donation in memory of her daughter Harriott Sophie Newcomb, who died at the age of 15 from diphtheria, according to information at the Newcomb College Institute site.

Newcomb, as she is quoted as saying, sought to create a place that “would go on year by year doing good. Such a memorial … [remains] better than statues or monuments.”

Art pottery plaque, circa 1918, decorated by Anna Frances Simpson with a landscape design of a moss-laden live oak set before a fence, featuring a matte glaze with blue, green ad pink underglaze, cipher at lower left, decorator’s mark, retaining the original paper label, 6 in. x 10 in. Sold for $8,500 during a November 2014 auction Neal Auction Co. image.

The college made history, becoming the first degree-granting “coordinate college” operating within a university in the United States; in this case Tulane University. It also served as the archetype for future women’s colleges.

Less than a decade after the founding of Newcomb College, the Newcomb Pottery operation came into being, under the direction of a pair of young art educators, Ellsworth Woodward and Mary Given Sheerer.

Drawing on the color and shapes of nature in Louisiana, the student potters and decorators would create utilitarian art pottery with distinctive designs and individuality.

Newcomb Note: During its 45-year existence Newcomb Pottery employed about 90 Newcomb College graduates, and together they produced 70,000 pieces of art pottery.

Not unlike other items attracting attention in the secondary collector market, Newcomb Pottery gained global acclaim at an major exposition, said Miriam Taylor, external affairs manager at Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University.

Fine art pottery high glaze vase, circa 1907, decorated by Marie de Hoa LeBlanc, featuring a relief-carved landscape of cedar trees, blue, green and mustard yellow underglaze, base marked with Newcomb cipher, decorator’s mark, Joseph Meyer’s potter’s mark, 14 ¼ in. diameter. Sold for $31,00 during a December 2016 auction. Neal Auction Co. image.

“The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise gained international recognition when it received a prestigious bronze medal at Paris’ 1900 Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair that attracted nearly 50 million visitors. The enterprise would go on to win an impressive eight medals during its 45-year history, including a silver medal at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.

“At the former, Louis Comfort Tiffany invited Newcomb to display their works alongside those of the Tiffany Glass Co., effectively recognizing the New Orleans program as an artistic equal,” added Taylor.

Among the elements of Newcomb Pottery that reflect the obvious influence by the English Arts and Crafts movement is the commitment to handmade design, especially at the turn of the century, and the use of regional materials.

Art pottery vase, circa 1916, decorated by Anna Frances Simpson, featuring pine tree grove design, satin matte glaze with blue and green underglaze, base marked with Newcomb cipher, decorator’s mark, Joseph Meyer’s potter’s mark, 11 ¾ in. x 5 ½ in. Sold for $14,000 during a November 2017 auction. Neal Auction Co. image.

“Each piece that came out of the Newcomb Pottery Enterprise was completely unique and recalled the South’s distinctive natural landscape. Representations of plants and animals — from magnolias and live oaks to crabs and crawfish — appeared on works made of local clays collected in St. Tammany Parish on Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore,” said Taylor. “Early pieces were characterized by simplified flat patterns while later works offered softer, more realistic scenes of nature. During the enterprise’s final years, artists began experimenting with abstract designs that merely suggested environmental elements.”

Newcomb Note: During the period Newcomb Pottery Enterprise was in operation society viewed it as improper for women to throw the pottery, the process of shaping clay on a potter’s wheel. With this, men, including professional potter Joseph Fortune Meyer would throw the pieces, while female artists perfected the underglaze design of the ceramic objects. 

Most objects of Newcomb Pottery bear the potter’s mark, indicators of the clay mixture, and registration marks, as well the mark or monogram of the decorator. Plus, the Newcomb College mark, according to information obtained at www.arts-crafts.com.

Set of five bowl and plates, plate 8 ½ in. diameter and bowl 2 in. x 10 in. Sold for $3,000 during a November 2017 auction. Cottone Auctions image.

Current prices for Newcomb Pottery at auction range from $1,900 to $2,800, with the best pieces commanding $10,000 or more.

Newcomb Note: The Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane includes many examples of this storied art pottery in its collection, and currently features several in the exhibit “Clay in Places,” which is on display through March 24. Admission to the museum is free, and public exhibition tours are offered the second Saturday and the third Thursday of each month. www.newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu.

High glaze chocolate cup and saucer, circa 1909-10, decorated by Anna Frances Simpson, featuring a relief floral decoration, cup 3 1/8 in. x 3 in. x 2 7/8 in. Sold for $1,600 during a September 2017 auction. Crescent City Auction Gallery image.

Although it’s been nearly 80 years since Newcomb Pottery ceased production, the influence and impact of this history-making operation carries on.

“Beyond the creation of more than 70,000 unique works of art, the Newcomb enterprise proved the South’s ability for making significant contributions to the country’s cultural life,” said Taylor. “More importantly, it demonstrated conclusively that women were capable of pursuing paying professional careers outside of their homes, whether in New Orleans or beyond.”

Bold Viking jewelry in Feb. 28 auction ready to wear

Viking warriors roamed northern Europe from the eighth to late 11th centuries. While gaining much notoriety as raiders, they were also farmers, traders and explorers, and the craftsmanship seen in their jewelry demonstrates considerable artistic skill. Jasper52 will present an online auction of nearly 100 lots of authentic Viking and medieval jewelry – all professionally refurbished and ready to wear – on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Viking lunar eclipse pendant, A.D. 850-1050, gilt bronze, 7/8 in. wide. Estimate: $825-$1,100. Jasper52 image

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Always appropriate pearl jewelry offered in Jasper52 sale Feb. 27

Jackie Kennedy once said, “Pearls are, indeed always appropriate” — though she didn’t mean just for celebrities, queens and first ladies. Every woman deserves to wear pearls. Everyone will have the opportunity to buy acquire them at a Jasper52 online auction devoted to the queen of gems on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

14k yellow gold and blue enamel and pearl bracelet with 13 6mm Akoya pearls, 7 ¼ in. long, Estimate: $1,100-$1,200. Jasper52 image

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Tramp Art: Carving scrap wood into folk art

Tramp art is a lot of things but one thing it is not is a style of art produced largely by tramps, hobos and vagabonds. Despite what its name seems to imply, sometimes a memorable moniker is not necessarily an accurate indicator of origin.

“The name is a misnomer – more of a romantic notion about folk art from the 1950s and before about folk art,” said Clifford A. Wallach, a longtime dealer and historian specializing in tramp art. “It’s felt ‘pure folk art’ was made by indigenous people; and having hobo wanderers making (tramp art) fit their definition at the time. Basically, a woman wrote an article for a magazine in 1959 after finding some in a Pennsylvania barn, and the owner thought it came from someone who passed through.

“Most tramp art was made in a home setting, but being a democratic craft, it was made by all types of people from every background.”

Four-color painted tramp art box with the inscription, ‘Grandma’s Box’ written in pencil inside the box, made out of ‘Real Thing’ cigar boxes and showing the wonderful lithographed label, the has a MN tax stamp, circa 1900, 10 in. x 3 ½ in. x 7 ½ in. Sale price $975 at TrampArt.com.

While tramp art may not have its roots solidly in the world of itinerants, Wallach and his wife and business partner, Nancy, have found evidence that indicates that it is an art form created from everyday objects by ordinary people. Using pocket knives and similar tools, they used a technique known as chip carving to create layers of geometric patterns on discarded wood and sometimes corrugated cardboard. Discarded cigar boxes were perfect for such carving. The Wallachs explain the process on their website, www.trampart.com.

Pendulum wall clock with a porcelain face, glass panels on the sides and is covered with layered pyramids, 1890s, 21 in. x 12 in. x 8 in., sold for $1,500 during a February 2017 auction. Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers image

Helpful Analogy: “Constructing tramp art was similar to how a bricklayer or mason would assemble a wall – making a whole out of many pieces by stacking and layering. Elements were added using a process not unlike the appliqué technique of a quilt maker,” Wallach explains in A Legacy in Tramp Art, his third book on the subject.

Research shows the boom for tramp art began in the third quarter of the 19th century and lasted through the second quarter of the 20th century. There is debate about where the art form originated, with some reports pointing to Europe and others citing its development in the United States. Through their research, the Wallachs and others found examples of the art form appeared around the same time in both places.

Miniature tramp art court cupboard, late 19th century, 22 in. x 15 in. x 10 in., sold for $2,400 during a January 2018 auction through Jasper52. Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers image

“Tramp art was made worldwide where ever cigar boxes were sold,” Wallach said. “Mostly, they were found where there were concentrations of working men – like by factories, cities, etc.”

However, men were not the only ones creating tramp art, as the Wallachs discovered through their research. Reports reveal examples and supporting evidence of women, and even children, creating tramp art, and by people of various ethnic backgrounds. This discovery was significant given the identities of those responsible for tramp art pieces are unknown. Without formal training they pioneered an art form in their homes from found objects and materials that others saw as no longer having any value or purpose. This reason alone makes tramp art a prime example of outsider art.

Tramp art plant stand, rich mellow original color, first quarter 20th century, no water staining or missing pieces, 32 3/4 in. x 16 ½ in. x 16 in. Sale price $1,760 at Trampart.com

Just like most art forms, the shape and design of tramp art were driven by the imagination of the artists, and the availability of materials. However, there are a couple of items of tramp art that are most common: boxes and frames.

Tramp art chip-carved wood framed mirror, 19th century, 34 in. high x 37 in. wide, sold for $5,000 during a February 2017 auction at Clars Auction Gallery. Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers image

“Many were made to celebrate an occasion, but most were made by men for women,” Wallach said. “Sewing boxes, jewelry boxes, frames to hold family or sweetheart photos. The most common decorative element besides the basic pyramid was the heart – what a great story for Valentine’s Day.”

Sunflower tramp art frame, circa 1920s, by John Zubersky, a known and celebrated tramp artist, 32 in. x 27 in. x 3 in., sold for $1,500 during an October 2017 auction. Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers image.

Opportunity to View Tramp Art: Now through September 16, 2018, the Museum of International Folk Art is presenting the exhibition “No Idle Hands: The Myths & Meanings of Tramp Art.” The Museum is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, www.internationalfolkart.org

To learn more, look for these books by Clifford A. Wallach: A Legacy in Tramp Art, Tramp Art: Another Notch, Folk Art from the Heart, and Tramp Art, One Notch at a Time, written with Michael Cornish. http://www.trampart.com/books/

Distant lands within reach at Jasper52 map auction Feb. 21

Maps often provide more than a representation of an area on paper. The antique maps in a Jasper52 online auction Feb. 21 show landmarks, discoveries, shipping routes and political divisions – glimpses of the time when the cartographers sent their work to press.

This landmark map in the history of cartography by Guillaume de l’Isle shows ‘new discoveries’ in the North Pacific Ocean by explorers seeking a northwest passage,1750,19.75 in. x 26.5 in. Estimate: $3,700-$4,300.

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Jasper52 auction presents fine Persian rugs Feb. 20

Jasper52 will present an online auction of beautiful handmade antique and vintage Persian rugs on Tuesday, Feb. 20. A few tapestries and high-quality new rugs fill out the 139-lot auction.

Handmade Persian Tabriz rug, wool, circa 1900, 7 ft. 3 in. x 10 ft. 3 in. Estimate: $2,100-$2,300. Jasper52 image

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Whistler’s Etchings: Beyond the Portrait of Mother

James Abbott McNeill Whistler is famous for his 19th-century painting Arrangement in Gray and Black, commonly known as Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, but he was by no means a one-hit wonder.

In fact, more than a decade before the American-born and the England-based artist painted the portrait of his mother in 1871; he began creating what many deem one of his most important contributions to art: his etchings.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834, his appreciation and talent for artistic expression had an apparent calming effect on the youthful Whistler, whose temperamental behavior was evident at an early age. Not only were his natural talents recognized, but they were also encouraged while his family resided in St. Petersburg, Russia. During this time Whistler’s father served as an engineer aiding in the design of a railroad. Eleven-year-old James Whistler became a student at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

‘Arrangement in Gray, Portrait of the Artist (Self-portrait)’ of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1872, Detroit Institute of Arts. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Alas, his opportunity to study the subject of his passion was cut short, after only four years, following the death of his father from cholera. With the elder Whistler deceased, the family was forced to return to the United States.

Lesser-known fact: At the age of 18, Whistler joined the ranks of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Temperament and academic struggles led to his early exit from West Point. However, his introduction to cartography at the academy would result in work as a draftsman and the discovery of etching, a skill that would serve him well throughout his life.

At the age of 21, Whistler left the United States, where his devoutly religious mother and siblings resided, opting instead to settle in Europe. He would never return to the U.S., instead, he made his permanent residence in London, with frequent visits to France. However, his mother spent considerable time with him in Europe during 1871 while sitting for her son as he created his famous portrait of her.

‘Bridge, Amsterdam,’ etching, 1889, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, signed in pencil on tab at lower left with butterfly monogram and imp. And inscribed on verso at the right in the artist’s hand ‘1st proof pulled’ together with butterfly monogram, 6 ½ in. x 9 ½ in. Sold for $125,475 during a 2007 auction at Heritage Auctions. Heritage Auctions image.

His years in Europe included befriending several artists who would go on to experience great success as well. Among those were Henri Fantin-Latour, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas. Finding inspiration and influence in a variety of cultures, Whistler is reportedly among the earliest artists of the Aesthetic movement. From this ideology, the theory of creating “art for art’s sake” emerged.

During the mid-19th century, Whistler traveled through northern France, a trip that prompted him to create his first set of etchings titled Twelve Etchings from Nature, more commonly referred to as the French Set, according to information from the University of Glasgow website. After returning to London, while living near the bustling seafaring region of the River Thames, he created a set of etchings featuring the day-to-day happenings, including the activity of ships and barges docking and departing, and fisherman and dock workers tending to duties, all set against London’s architecture. These works would form Sixteen Etchings of the Scenes on the Thames.

‘The Palaces,’ etching with plate tone, on laid paper and trimmed to the platemark by the artist, 1879-80, signed with the butterfly and inscribed ‘imp’ in pencil on tab at lower right, annotated by Whistler with three tiny circles in pencil on the reverse, 9 15/16 in. x 14 ¼ in. Sold for $26,000 at auction in April of 2011. Phillips and LiveAuctioneers image.

In 1879, working on a commissioned assignment for the Fine Art Society, Whistler spent little more than a year in Venice, creating art inspired by the scenes of the Italian mecca. Among his works were 90 pastels and 50 etchings, including those that formed the Venice, a Series of Twelve Etchings set. In producing these etchings, it’s reported Whistler treated it as an opportunity to experiment with various types of ink, paper and the formation of composition, according to information obtained from the University of Glasgow website, which oversees the “James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings Project.”

‘Nocturne,’ etching and drypoint on cream paper, from ‘The First Venice Set,’ trimmed by the artist with signature on the tab in lower margin, 8 in. x 11 5/8 in. Sold for $15,500 during a December 2012 auction. Leland Little Auctions and LiveAuctioneers image.

Yet, as history reveals, not all of Whistler’s artwork, and in some instances, his demeanor, was met with favor. In a well-documented lawsuit, Whistler sued British art critic John Ruskin for libel regarding his review of Whistler’s piece Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket. While Whistler was successful in his suit, the judge awarded only a nominal amount be paid, and far from the expense Whistler incurred proceeding with the court action.

Also, it’s reported Whistler’s brother-in-law, Sir Francis Seymour Haden, a masterful etcher in his own right, also influenced the early development of Whistler’s use of the medium of etching, according to an article posted on Skinner Inc.’s website. However, it’s also reported a long-standing feud between the two men developed.

‘The Wine Glass,’ etching, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1858, signed by the artists and etched in the print, measuring 5 in. x 4 in. Sold for $4,400 through Jasper52 in November 2016. Jasper52 image.

Lesser-known fact: Whistler’s legacy also includes published writings. His presentation Ten o’clock: a lecture, initially given in 1885, was an hour-long discussion about art. Also, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, published in 1890, came on the heels of his lawsuit against Ruskin and discusses the case, and calls for a more progressive awareness regarding art.

Whistler created art up until his final days, before his death in the summer of 1903. His work, innovative creativity, uncommon character and outspoken commentary regarding the importance of embracing evolving artistic notions continue to speak to historians, artists and collectors around the world.

Bygone bestsellers, first editions good reads at Feb. 13 auction

Bibliophiles will have an opportunity to acquire some of the best 20th-century literature in a comprehensive book auction that visually and textually spans various historic endeavors, iconic memoirs and cultural wonders. Jasper52 will conduct the online auction Tuesday, Feb. 13, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

Margaret Atwood, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ 1986, signed first printing with tipped in book card from Houghton Mifflin, near fine condition (close to new). Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

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Classic home decor offered in Jasper52 auction Feb. 13

Colorful Murano glass, European porcelain and pottery, and sterling silver tableware are just a few of the collecting categories covered in a Jasper52 online auction of decorative arts to be held Tuesday, Feb. 13. Enliven your table, walls or mantel with this whimsical array of antique to modern decorative objects.

Capo-di-Monte 29-piece tea set with a dozen 22K gold-lined demitasse cups and saucers in near-mint condition. Estimate: $385-$425. Jasper52 image

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