Jasper52 to host designer fashion auction May 5

Designer gowns, shawls, belts and shoes are all available in an online auction that will take place Tuesday, May 5, on LiveAuctioneers. More than 250 lots of the finest in couture and luxury accessories are offered to the highest bidders.

Dolce & Gabbana multicolor leather pumps, Euro size 39, excellent condition, with the original box. Estimate: $200-$250. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Chagall experienced modernism’s golden age firsthand

NEW YORK – Marc Chagall (1887-1985), painter, designer and printmaker, was born to a devout Jewish family in Vitebsk, part of the Russian Empire. Throughout his life, he depicted its legends and lore.

After completing his art education, Chagall settled in Montparnasse, Paris, a hive of post-Impressionistic creativity. Like luminaries Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso, he experimented with modern trends, light, color and form.

‘Les Maries dans le Ciel de Vitebsk,’ 1969, oil on canvas, 16in x 10½in. Realized €400,000/$583,004 + buyer’s premium in 2011. Image courtesy of Millon & Associes and LiveAuctioneers

Chagall also explored Cubism, depicting fragmented, abstract forms from varied viewpoints. I and the Village (1911), for example, depicts man and goat, who, through shared memories, meet in concentric circles and interlocking geometrics. The Fiddler (1913), green-head atilt, arms angled, legs bowed and feet splayed, hovers above Russia’s rural slant-roof huts and steepled churches, all swathed in snow.

When World War I broke out, Chagall and his wife—just married in Vitebsk, were stranded in Russia. During these dark days, he created a delightful celebration of newlywed love, The Birthday. In it, the artist himself—swept off his feet with joy, bends over backwards to kiss his bride. During this period, Chagall also founded a Vitebsk art school, created stage designs for the State Jewish Chamber Theater and exhibited works in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Finally, in 1923, the couple resettled in Paris.

‘Romeo et Juliette,’ (CS 10 Sorlier), 1964, edition 15/200, Charles Sorlier engraver, Mourlot printer, signed, 26 1/8in x 40 in. gilt woodframe. Realized $28,000 + buyer’s premium in 2014. Image courtesy of Brunk Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Though art forms continued to evolve, Chagall, true to his vision, continued to portray dreamlike images of curvy mermaids, tiny topsy-turvy villagers, flying cows, floating fiddles, blue donkeys, plump roosters and light-as-air lovers. He often adorned his etchings of Old Testament figures with folkloric and Hasidic elements as well. Moreover, scores of his colorful, complex Biblical scenes, like The Creation of Man (1958), The Binding of Isaac (1966), and Abraham and the Angels Going to Sodom (1956), depict glorious, winged beings guarding and guiding from above.

In Chagall’s world, couples, too, levitate with love. The Newlyweds Over Vitebsk (Les Maries dans le Ciel de Vitebsk, 1969), blessed by a floating fiddle and bouquet-bearing donkey, hover ‘twixt sun-kissed heaven and earth. Romeo and Juliette (Romeo et Juliette, 1964), crowned with flowers, soar atop a mermaid-steed through lush-green Parisian skies. A full moon, perhaps symbolizing universal love, reflects their joyous faces.

‘Le Profil Bleu,’ framed lithograph, 1972. Signed and numbered 25/50, 25½in x 19in,
Maeght Editeur, Paris, publisher. Realized $3,000 + buyer’s premium in 2019. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers

Although raised as a Jew, Chagall repeatedly depicted Christ on the Cross, especially during the Nazi Era when he fled France for the United States. According to Susan Tumarkin Goodman, senior curator emerita at the Jewish Museum, “For Chagall, the Crucifixion was a symbol for all the victims of persecution, a metaphor for the horrors of war and an appeal to conscience that equated the martyrdom of Jesus with the suffering of the Jewish people and the Holocaust.”

In addition to etchings and paintings, Chagall produced ceramics, sculptures, lithographs, tapestries and mosaics. He also created costumes and sets for the American Ballet Theater and designed magnificent murals for the Paris Opéra (1964) and the New York Metropolitan Opera (1966).

‘Tribe of Levi,’ limited edition lithograph from Maquettes of Stained Glass Windows for Jerusalem, 1964, signed, 29in x 20¾in, Charles Sorlier, printer. Realized $8,500 + buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy of Dane Fine Art and LiveAuctioneers

In his later years, Chagall created exquisite stained-glass windows for the Art Institute of Chicago. the United Nations and several French cathedrals. His Twelve Tribes of Israel, a set of shimmering creations located at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, is often considered his masterwork. According the Hadassah site, each pane, which honors a son of Jacob, the Biblical patriarch, “is a microcosm of Chagall’s world, real and imaginary; of his love for his people; his deep sense of identification with Jewish history; his early life in the Russian shtetl. … Chagall’s genius transforms time and space.” Each pane has been replicated in limited edition lithographs. Moreover, several adorn stamps issued by the United Nations and the Israel Philatelic Federation.

‘Lozna near Witebska,’1985, Adam i Ewa, signed, limited edition lithograph, approx. 30½in x 22¼in. Realized 26,000 PLN (Polish Zloty) or $7,444 in 2012. Image courtesy DESA Unicum SA and LiveAuctioneers

“It has always been difficult to untangle Chagall’s two interlocking reputations—as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist, “writes Lauren Bradley, fine art specialist at Rago Arts and Auction. “To be sure, he was both. He experienced modernism’s golden age in Paris, where he forged a highly personal synthesis of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism that was widely influential and that would, after a certain period of incubation, give rise to Surrealism. At the same time, he was most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native Vitebsk.”

Lithograph 1977, signed and numbered 61/150, published by Sorlier Graveur on Arches. Approx. 26in x 19½in image. Realized $8,500 + buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy Auction Gallery of Boca Raton LLC and LiveAuctioneers


Choice tribal art celebrated in online auction April 29

More than four dozen outstanding examples of vintage tribal art from around the world, including 30 carved masks, comprise an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, April 29. Many of the items are from a former private collection in Belgium.

Punu carved wooden mask from Gabon, good condition with traces of tribal use and minor damage to the back noted. Estimate: $110-$150. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Indian artworks featured in Jasper52 sale April 28

Jasper52 will present a collection of contemporary Indian paintings by artists drawing from traditional styles on Tuesday, April 28.

‘Untitled DS07’ by Gond artist Dhavat Singh Uikey, 60in x 35in, acrylic on canvas, 2016. Estimate: $15,000-$18,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.


NEW YORK – Delicate, strong, practical and decorative, glass has proven to be a wonder of everyday life since the age of the Babylonians, nearly 3,500 years ago. 

Since the beginning of time volcanoes have produced a sort of hardened glass with natural elements mixed in when molten lava cools on the surface. Commercial glassmaking has many similarities. Mix immense heat with opaque materials such as silica (sand), quartz and soda-lime to produce a substance that can be molded and solidified into rather light, completely clear everyday objects like windows, jars, drinking vessels, and any number of useful items, even glass lenses that correct vision. Useful to be sure, silicate glass, as it is known, is usually too fragile and not quite clear enough to be made into a highly decorative design. 

A rare Dorflinger ‘Montrose’ cut glass two-piece punchbowl, circa 1900, with a dozen matching glasses and ladle sold for $132,000 in 2014. Image courtesy DuMouchelles and LiveAuctioneers

To correct that, glassmakers found that the addition of lead oxide produces a clearer, more refractive material that when molded and hand cut into decorative vases, decanters, glassware, artwork and chandeliers produced a rainbow of color when turned toward bright light, something silicate glass lacked. Adjust the amount of lead oxide from as low as 3% to as high as 40% and the glass produces an even higher level of sparkle and color with an increasingly more substantial weight. This product is commonly called crystal. 

Lead crystal is refined

Even though glass with oxides had been produced throughout the Middle East and China since ancient times, it wasn’t until 1674 when George Ravenscroft was awarded a patent by King Charles II for his lead oxide process that produced a much higher quality of more iridescent glass. His early attempts resulted in “crizzling,” or small cracks, but by 1676 the process was refined enough to eliminate crizzling altogether which finally made leaded crystal, as it became known, more commercially viable. Within three years, however, Ravenscroft sold off his glass company in London and left glassmaking entirely. Only about 20 original pieces from this period (marked with a raven’s head and some crizzling) survive with most on public display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y. 

A crystal decanter marked ‘Baccarat/France’ recently sold at auction for $312 (inclusive of the buyer’s premium). Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers

The secret to the success of lead crystal, Ravenscroft found, was in its production. Silicate glass is produced at a higher temperature and cools rapidly so it needed to be molded rather quickly. Creating intricate detail wasn’t possible. With the addition of lead oxide, production could be completed at a lower temperature making the molten glass more elastic and much stronger. Once cooled, skilled artisans were able to hand- or machine-cut intricate jeweled designs and patterns that easily brought out the sparkle of rainbow colors evident in high quality crystal. 

Handmade amber and blue spear prisms enhanced this Baccarat crystal chandelier that sold for $98,400 (inclusive of the buyer’s premium) in 2012. Image courtesy New Orleans Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Once Ravencroft’s patent expired in 1681, production increased exponentially in and around London and throughout Europe over the next 100 years to take advantage of the need for highly decorative but functional lead glass. Familiar names such as Waterford (Ireland, 1783), Baccarat (France, 1764), Kosta Boda (Sweden, 1742), Hadeland Glassverk (Norway, 1765) and Gus Crystal (Russia, 1756) set the standard for a dazzling array of unique crystal displays fit for royal families and special occasions everywhere. 

American Brilliant period

The United States was finally recognized for its hand-cut lead crystal designs beginning with the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pa. Companies competed to show meticulously hand-cut lead crystal goblets, plates, decanters and all manner of decorative bottles, bowls, candlesticks, covered jars and glassware that rivaled those produced in Europe.

Because of the pressure necessary to achieve the deeply cut patterns, only glass containing a level of lead could withstand the process. Industry standards classify glass containing a minimum of 30% lead crystal as full lead crystal. Glass having a minimum of 24% lead content is called half lead crystal.

This massive three-handle cut glass loving cup in an unknown pattern was possibly designed by J. Hoare & Co. Its embossed sterling silver rim is marked Tiffany & Co. It sold for $31,625 (inclusive of the buyer’s premium) in 2015. Image courtesy Woody Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Many U.S. glassmakers produced intricately cut crystal during what is called the American Brilliant Period, from 1876 to about 1917. Companies such as Libby, Steuben and Corning, for example, produced creative designs such as Chrysanthemum and Grecian so distinctive that they were commissioned to create official gifts for the White House and the State Department.

Other cut glass manufacturers of the Brilliant Period include Dorflinger, Egginton, Hawkes, J. Hoare, Jewel, Meriden, Sinclaire and Tuthill, according to the American Cut Glass Association (cutlass.org). Some have etched marks that identify the maker. Pieces made before for the 1890s were not signed.

What collectors look for

No matter the period, collectors recognize lead crystal glass immediately by the heavier weight compared to silicate glass. The sparkle and shine are more brilliant, the rainbow of colors that emerges with light is more pronounced and the familiar “ping” produced when toasting a special occasion is more musical. 

Collectors of the American Brilliant Period particularly search for unusual colors such as green, blue, turquoise and ruby. Punch bowls and cake stands are particularly sought after, according to collectors and dealers alike. 

Consider how sunlight fills a room with rainbow colors through this dichroic lead crystal cube by Toland Peter Sand that sold for $406 (inclusive of the buyer’s premium) in 2015. Image courtesy Quinn’s Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Because of the high amount of handwork involved in its decoration, cut glass has always been expensive. After 1920, pressed glass became more the norm and is easily recognized by its lighter weight and smooth surfaces in the design.

Lead crystal as a collectible? Not to worry

The use of lead crystal is quite safe if a few simple rules are followed. Wine glasses and decanters containing lead oxide are safe to use for a few hours, university studies have shown. Simply wash the glassware before and after use and don’t store anything in them. Don’t serve anything very hot in lead crystal bowls or on plates as they will have a tendency to crack. 

There are lead-free alternatives that substitute different oxides such as zinc or potassium which is helpful for everyday use. And because of its limited use, early decorative lead glass is more easily available at auction. 

There’s no denying the satisfying feel, the brilliant sparkle and the uniquely musical ping of early lead crystal. Within the cautionary limits, display lead crystal vases, bowls, candlesticks, and glassware under light or near an open window as it waits for the morning sun to shine a rainbow throughout a room. That’s what makes their collectibility brilliantly clear. 

Rock’s biggest acts recalled in online auction April 25

The Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones are the top attractions in a psychedelic rock concert poster auction that will be conducted online by Jasper52 on Saturday, April 25. No less than a dozen posters for each of the legendary bands are offered in this 125-lot auction.

Grateful Dead at Winterland progressive proof, designed by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley, 1978, 23in x 29in. Estimate: $250-$500. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 offers treasured Judaic art April 21

Jasper52 will explore the world of Jewish art and culture with an online auction of Judaica on Tuesday, April 21. The auction consists of 65 lots of beautifully made objects and images that are important to Jewish people everywhere.

Early 20th century sterling silver hanukkiah, 9in wide x 9½in high, 3.5in base. Estimate: $350-$400. Jasper52 image.

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Scherenschnitte cuts no corners on folk art

NEW YORK – Literally translated as scissors (scheren) and cuttings (schnitte), scherenschnitte came to America with German-speaking immigrants (most from Germany, Austria and Switzerland) in the 1700s. While it was concentrated in Pennsylvania, especially Lancaster County, it spread to Virginia and other states. Typically, scherenschnitte is made by cutting a single sheet of paper, with all parts connected, into designs. These elaborate cut work pieces, including love letters, birth and family lineage records and valentines, are highly collectible.

Signed antique and vintage examples can bring over well $10,000 and private collectors as well as museums appreciate the craftsmanship and skill that goes into these works.

An important Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art cutwork/scherenschnitte valentine, made by Sarah Weaver of Rockingham County, Va., in 1856 sold for $19,000 + buyer’s premium in November 2016. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

“The focus isn’t necessarily on the motif or the decoration, but rather on the skill of the artist and the intricacy of the cuts, the addition of other cut pieces: Did they include watercolor, pin pricks, layers, etc. … ?” said Christina Westenberger, assistant manager, museum education, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Decorative elements were limited only by the artist’s imagination but certain motifs were common such as birds, hearts and flowers with fantastic beasts and creatures sometimes seen. Similar decoration styles often appear in fraktur and painted furniture, she said.

“Scherenschnitte has its roots in Germany, but it’s really important to note that the Germans weren’t the first to start cutting paper, you can find evidence of cutting paper in histories all over the world,” Westenberger said. “The Chinese invented paper and they were the first to start cutting it up. You can also find amazing cut paper coming from Poland and Mexico, and it has deep traditions in the Jewish community.  It’s really interesting to compare and contrast scissors cutting from around the world.”

In 1854, Sarah Weaver made this Shenandoah Valley of Virginia folk art cutwork/scherenschnitte valentine, which brought $11,000 in November 2016. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

The Guild of American Papercutters, which has a museum in Somerset, Pa., has fine examples in its collection as well as members who practice this craft today, several of whom learned the craft from grandparents. Kathy Trexel Reed, the guild’s museum coordinator, explains in an article she wrote in April for the guild’s Laurel Arts Art Link that this art form shared by German-speaking immigrants was a popular method, pre-Industrial Revolution, to commemorate births, baptisms, and marriage certificates. “Lovingly cut, these often included nature references, painted accents and evolved into ‘lacy’ paper Valentines,” she wrote. While similar in nature overall, scherenschnitte has stylistic differences based on country of origin. “Symmetry was often an important design element in Swiss work, achieved by cutting the paper while folded,” she said. “Intricate borders and themes depicting landscapes and local traditions also characterized Swiss paper cuttings. Germanic and Dutch designs tended to be more surreal personalized and romanticized.” Examples of these influences are in the guild’s permanent collection and can be viewed in regular exhibitions at Laurel Arts, where the GAP museum and home office are located.

An elaborate example, circa 1850, attributed to Beckman V. Huffman, New York, for the Milliken family, realized $1,200 in January 2017. Photo courtesy of Brunk Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

The trajectory of scherenschnitte is specifically apparent in Bethlehem, Pa., due to the city’s roots in Germanic culture and craft, notes Lindsey Jancay, director of collections and programming at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites. “The content, materials and approach are a direct reflection of the person who created them, the intended purpose and the time period in which they were made,” she said. “At Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, we have the unique opportunity to exhibit Colonial scherenschnitte silhouettes, alongside ornate Victorian valentines, next to contemporary paper-cut artworks that take the craft to a new level with custom patterns, watercolor and text. Regardless of its iteration, technique remains the heart of the art form and joins these works across centuries.”

Jeffrey Evans, co-owner of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mount Crawford, Va., said collectors are attracted to the artistic appeal and whimsical nature of scherenschnitte. Desirable decoration on these includes “folk art motifs, especially Germanic ones like distelfinks (birds), hearts, fylfots and tulips. Bright watercolor decoration adds tremendously to value, and a nicely written verse with the maker’s and recipient’s names are a big plus,” he said.

A finely executed German marriage scherenschnitte, dated 1830, with painted flowers, tulips and angels, fetched $1,000 in June 2017. Photo courtesy of Wiederseim Associates Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

“The most desirable and popular forms are the valentines. Once in a while a birth/marriage record or bookplate with a cutwork border will turn up,” he said. “You also see a good number of pictures of various types, most of which are left white with no colored embellishments. Some of these can be extremely intricate and do draw collector’s interest, many are of New England origin. But most are fairly simple and if not signed by the maker don’t bring much money.”

Buyers will seek out examples with strong folk art appeal, and which are brightly colored, signed with presentations, family provenance, and in excellent condition with no fading or missing elements, Evans said. “Collectors are especially seeking out documented Southern examples. Most of the valentines that come to market are of Pennsylvania origin. The tradition did travel with the 19th century German immigrants into the Shenandoah Valley but surviving examples from here are extremely rare and desirable.”

Jamie Shearer, vice president of Pook & Pook, Inc. in Downingtown, Penn., noted that subject, style, quality are all factors that contribute to a piece’s appeal. “Like all artwork and different mediums, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Buyers may be looking for just a certain theme, such as hearts or eagles,” he said. “As with all antiques the three most important things are condition, condition and condition. Next would be how well it is executed, the small and more refined cuttings would produce higher sales. The final thing would be bells and whistles that are added. Pen and ink accents, a date, name of artist or of a place they were from.”

A patriotic ‘Liberty 1851’ scherenschnitte sold for $1,200 in June 2015. Photo courtesy of Copake Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Steve Woodbury, a founding member and the first president of the Guild of American Papercutters, said buyers should be aware that in the 1920s and 1930s, many die-cut papercuts were produced in Germany, and sold widely. “While often referred to as ‘scherenschnitte,’ these are not ‘scissor cuts.’ They were mass-produced with a die-cut process, similar to paper doilies today. Even if ‘signed,’ they are not original scissor-cuts,” he said. Today’s laser technology can also create laser-cut “paper cuttings.”

Many early and authentic scherenschnitte works are signed and among sought after artists is Martha Ann Honeywell, Westenberger noted. “Here’s an artist who is creating tiny, intricate, multiple cuttings, with the inclusion of silk embroidery and woven paper objects to create one piece of art,” she said. “Not only is the piece brilliantly cut, but then you realize she was born without arms and cut with her teeth and her toes. And it’s not Valentines that she is cutting, she’s cutting silhouettes and biblical verses and what one might consider very traditional scherenschnitte designs such as birds and trees. If you haven’t seen her work … Wow!”

Hawaiian images prevail in Jasper52 auction April 15

Tropical images of Hawaii painted by artists who lived and worked on the islands highlight an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, April 15. Many of the paintings are fresh from an estate in Honolulu.

Charles W. Bartlett (1860-1940) ‘Man in Outrigger, Hawaii,’ 1923 etching print hand-colored with watercolor, titled and signed in graphite. Estimate: $12,000-$14,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 presents fine Asian jewelry April 14

A select collection of fine antique Asian jewelry is offered by Jasper52 in an online auction that will take place Tuesday, April 14. Gold rings, necklaces, bracelets and uncommon forms—most set with precious gems and pearls—are featured.

A gold and diamond bangle. Estimate: $5,500-$7,000 Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.