June auctions at Koller successful in all collecting fields

Modern & Contemporary Art, Swiss Art, Fine Furniture and Jewelry all register strong prices
The June sales at Koller Zurich were characterized by spirited bidding for attractive works, in all
collecting categories: paintings and furniture, as well as jewelry and gemstones. “During these auctions,
buyers showed time and again their willingness to bid over the upper estimate for the works they
wanted,” said Cyril Koller, director of Koller Auctions. “The art market is sound, and the relative rarity
of high-quality works on the current market makes the ones that do come up all the more attractive.”

The auction market is always driven by the desire to make a bargain on the part of the buyers, and
to achieve a record price on the part of the sellers. When times are euphoric, the confluence of these
desires often leads to extremes. In the current market, one could say that almost everyone comes away
satisfied. Works of good quality, possessing a certain originality and rarity are selling for their “true
value.” For example, the CHF 813 500 / EUR 545 000 paid for a Concetto Spaziale by Lucio Fontana
is a price that should please both the buyer – who was not obliged to compete against blindlyspending
billionaires – and the seller, who realized more than twice the amount for which he was
prepared to sell the work.

This type of market attracts the true collectors and art lovers who had shied away from the excesses
of the past several years. They have been waiting in the wings, so to speak, and their pleasure in once
again being able to acquire quality art and antiques can be felt in the salesroom.

The sales from 16 – 20 June at Koller realized in total CHF 15 million / EUR 10 million.

Swiss Art
Swiss Art has been one of Koller specialties in recent years, and the auction on 19 June in Zurich continued in this tradition. One of the highest prices was realized by a portrait by Ferdinand Hodler, “Italienerin” from 1910. The artist’s masterful handling of paint and color, as well as the fascinating expression on the face of Giulia Leonardi, one of Hodler’s favorite models, convinced a Swiss collector to pursue the bidding until the upper estimate (CHF 420 000 / EUR 281 400). Another, much earlier portrait by Hodler of a Savoyard farm girl from 1888, tripled its estimate at CHF 276 000 / EUR 185 000. Works by Giovanni Giacometti were particularly sought after, including a view of his beloved Silsersee in the Swiss Engadine that entered a Swiss private collection for CHF 444 000 / EUR 297 500. A portrait of the artist’s wife playing a concertina entitled “La Suonatrice” sold for CHF 252 000 / EUR 168 900, and a third work by Giacometti representing a bouquet of daisies realized CHF 144 000 / EUR 96 500.Among the 19th century Swiss paintings, a beautiful view of the Lake of Four Cantons by Lucerne artist Robert Zünd sold for CHF 240 000 / EUR 160 800; a romanticist landscape by Alexandre Calame realized CHF 52 800 / EUR 35 400, and a domestic scene by Valaisan Raphael Ritz quadrupled its estimate to sell for CHF 28 800 / EUR 19 300. Edmond Jean de Pury’s dreamlike view of a gondolier in Venice sold for above its high estimate at CHF 40 800 / EUR 27 300.

Modern & Contemporary Art
The top lot in the Modern & Contemporary auction at Koller was a perforated oil on canvas by Lucio Fontana, “Concetto Spaziale” from 1958, which nearly doubled its estimate at CHF 813 500 / EUR 545 000. An early interior scene by Gerhard Richter from 1960 rose to CHF 396 000 / EUR 265 300, and a 1950 work by Man Ray entitled “La Montagne du Cristal” (“The Crystal Mountain,” lot 3274) garnered CHF 306 000 / EUR 205 000. Among the surprises in this sale was the large 1956 oil by Antonio Saura, “La niña de los peines” that doubled its upper estimate after a battle between 20 telephone bidders, finally selling to a German collector for
CHF 282 000 / EUR 188 900.Among the modern works, an oil from Max Liebermann’s second, Impressionistic period, “Karren des Badewärters” (“The Lifeguard’s Cart,” lot 3202), realized CHF 192 000 / EUR 128 640, and a “Maternité” by Russian-French artist Nicolas Tarkhoff sold for more than double its lower estimate, CHF 126 000 / EUR 84 400.The fine art auctions at Koller on 19 June realized a total of CHF 6.2 million / EUR 4.15 million.

Fine Furniture
The healthy prices realized at Koller’s furniture auction on 18 June indicate unforeseen strength in the antique furniture market. The star lot, a circa 1723 “commode en bureau” by André-Charles Boulle and sons, sold to a British buyer for CHF 963 000 / EUR 640 000. This is one of the highest prices realized in recent years for a work by Boulle, the appointed cabinetmaker to King Louis XIV who dictated furniture fashion throughout early 18th century Europe.
The collection of 18th century German court furniture sold very well, such as the suite of six
Rococo armchairs from Würzburg purchased by a bidder from Qatar for CHF 480 000 / EUR 321 600; a Louis XV red lacquer chest of drawers from Berlin/Potsdam that sold for CHF 138 000 / EUR 92 500 to a German collector, and an important Louis XV painted court cupboard by Johann August Nahl also from Potsdam, that will enter a private Paris collection
(CHF 108 000 / EUR 72 400).
Furniture from all periods and provenances was successful, including classic 18th century French pieces such as the Louis XV chest of drawers by Pierre Roussel that practically doubled its pre-sale estimate, selling for CHF 240 000 / EUR 160 800 to a private collector from the Middle East. A finely carved Régence console table “aux dragons” sold to a German collector for CHF 168 000 / EUR 112 600.

One of the smallest objects in the auction inspired the most spirited bidding: a 16th-century traveling clock from Augsburg, Germany soared far above its estimate to realize CHF 84 000 /
EUR 56 300. One of the smallest Renaissance clocks of this type ever made, it will join the collection of a private museum in Geneva.

Prices for 19th century furniture continued their recent ascension, notably for a pair of spectacular throne-like Rajasthani lion-carved armchairs that sold to an American collector for
CHF 234 000 / EUR 156 800. A Régence-style Boulle marquetry writing desk stamped Gerard
sold to a Qatar bidder for CHF 108 000 / EUR 72 400, and a late 19th century writing desk in the Louis XV style by French ébéniste Edmond Poteau sold near its high estimate for CHF 72 000 / EUR 48 250.

Altogether, the furniture auction at Koller realized CHF 4.5 million / EUR 3.01 million.

Jewelry and Wristwatches
In what is perhaps a classic reaction to an economic downturn, auction buyers are heavily investing in precious gems and gold jewelry. At Koller on 16 June, three unmounted “fancy yellow” diamonds sold for a total of CHF 837 000 / EUR 554 500, after spirited bidding by the international trade. A stunning 16-carat diamond ring sold for CHF 102 000 / EUR 67 600. The sale totaled CHF 1.84 million / EUR 1.21 million.

Tribal Art

Koller’s Tribal Art auction featured a rare white Punu mask from Gabon that belonged to the Geneva artist Emile Chambon. Chambon received the mask from his uncle, François Coppier, who worked as a colonial civil servant in Africa from circa 1900, and it is one of the few pieces that were not included in Chambon’s donation to the Musée d’Ethnographie in Geneva in 1981. The beautiful and haunting mask realized CHF 74 400 / EUR 49 850. Two multi-figured Yoruba masks by Olówè of Isè (ca. 1875-1938, Nigeria) that came from the Ajero Palace in Ijero-Ekiti (lots 179 and 180) realized CHF 54 000 / EUR 36 300 and CHF 58 800 / EUR 39 400.In total, the Tribal Art auction at Koller garnered CHF 396 000 / EUR 265 300.

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Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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