Ming goddess, carved birds lead Julia auction

Rare set of 25 miniature 3- to 5-inch shorebirds carved in the early to mid-20th century by A. Elmer Crowell of East Harwich sold for $82,950, the second highest price at James D. Julia’s Fine Art, Asia & Antiques Auction. The estimate was $10,000-$15,000.
Rare set of 25 miniature 3- to 5-inch shorebirds carved in the early to mid-20th century by A. Elmer Crowell of East Harwich sold for $82,950, the second highest price at James D. Julia’s Fine Art, Asia & Antiques Auction. The estimate was $10,000-$15,000.

A nearly 3-foot Ming dynasty bronze figure of a Chinese goddess and a set of 20th-century 3- to 5-inch miniature shorebirds carved by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) of East Harwich were the two top sellers at James D. Julia’s Fine Art, Asian & Antiques Auction last month in Fairfield, Maine.

The figure of the goddess of compassion Guanyin on a lotus stand brought $189,600 against a $160,000-$180,00 estimate, while the set of shorebirds, purchased directly from Crowell by the consignor’s grandmother, sold for $82,950.

In addition to the goddess figure, eight other Asian works were among the lots bringing the auction’s 10 highest prices.


A Chinese altar table brought the auction’s third-highest price of $56,287, a jadeite pendant carved as the goddess Guanyin surrounded by diamonds ($54,510), a Qing white jade censer carved with lions ($47,400), a pair of 18th-/19th-century Chinese carved cinnabar lacquer vases ($32,587), and a 10th-century Chinese gilt-bronze Buddha figure ($29,625) were all from the estate of a Taiwan diplomatic family and all selling above their estimates.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The $29,625 paid for the Buddha figure, the auction’s ninth-highest

price, was also the price paid for each of two items from the collection of Judge George Greene (1950-2014), founder of the Greene Museum of Southern History in Phenix City, Ala.

The items were memorabilia relating to “Blind Tom” Wiggins of Columbus, Ga., who was born in 1848 into slavery and blind but became a piano virtuoso, and a circa 1300 Native American dog-shaped effigy pot excavated at the Neisler Indian burial mounds in Taylor County, Ga.

A painting of fully-clad figures playing in ocean waves by the Lynn-born artist Charles Herbert Woodbury (1864-1940), whose work is in the collections of a number of museums including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, brought the auction’s tenth-highest price of $26,662. The estimate was $10,000-$15,000.


It was followed by the $18,960 paid for a 19th-century European School painting of figures watching a Mediterranean sunrise (its estimate was $6,000-$12,000).

A group of four 1967 gelatin color photographs of the Beatles by the renowned portrait photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004) sold for $17,775 against $2,500-$4,000.

Paintings by Cape Ann artists made a strong showing with nine works by four artists all selling above their estimates. The four paintings by Emile A. Gruppe (1896-1978) were topped by “Fall Beechnut or Early Morning” ($8,887 against $3,000-$5,000) and the two works by Aldro T. Hibbard (1886-1972) by “Winter Solitude ($6,517 against $1,500-$2,500). Topping the two by Anthony Thieme (1888-1954) was “Birch Trees” ($4,147 against $1,800-$2,200), while “Fall Foliage” by Carl W. Peters (1897-1980) went for $6,517 against $3,000-$5,000.

The auction’s expected top sellers, two 1967 paintings of the Old West by the Arizona artist Howard A. Terpning (b. 1927), known as “the storyteller of the Native American,” failed to find buyers. Their estimates were $200,000-$300,000 and $175,000-$275,000.

The three-day auction of more than 2,000 lots totaled over $3.5 million.


.   .   .

Last fall Skinner became the first auction house to offer whiskey and spirits in a live auction, and interestingly Scotch whiskey and cognac are expected to be the top sellers at its Fine Wines Auction March 3 at 6 p.m. at its Boston gallery.

A bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl cognac housed in a black crystal Baccarat decanter, number 003 of 786, has a $20,000-$24,000 estimate and a 55-year-old Macallan whiskey housed in a Lalique decanter, number 347 out of 420, a $15,000-$18,000 estimate.

Topping the fine wines is a lot of 10 gold-engraved bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000 described as having “ perhaps the most beautiful packaging ever on a Bordeaux bottle.” The $10,000-$15,000 estimate is followed by the $8,000-$12,000 estimate for another Bordeaux lot, 10 bottles of Chateau Petrus 1967. This also is the estimate for a Burgundy lot of 12 bottles of Domaine de la Romanee Conti Romanee St. Vivant 1996.

The 40 lots of California wines have estimates ranging from $100-$150 for a magnum of Araujo Sauvignon Blanc Eisele Vineyard 2011 to $800-$1,200 for four bottles of Opus One 1991.

A bottle of De Cam/Drie Fonteinen Millennium Geuze, a Belgian beer bottled in 1998 in preparation for the 2000 celebrations (estimate $700-$1,000) tops the 26 lots of beer in the sale.

.   .   .

All 41 lots of French art glass by Schneider in the collection deacessioned by the Museum of Fine Arts sold at the Doyle New York Belle Epoque Auction last month for a total of $38,469 against a presale estimate of $21,000-$31,900.

The top price was the $5,938 paid for a circa 1925 bulbous form 9 -inch glass vase with shading from orange to amber color and decorated with an applied oval medallion depicting a blossom. The estimate was $1,000-$1,500.

The next highest prices were $2,375 for a 12¾-inch vase of tapering cylindrical form in colorless glass with internally trapped air bubbles and $1,625 for a 11½-inch acid-etched vase in translucent pale olive green color glass. Each vase had a $600-$900 estimate. The lowest price was $125 for a circa 1960 glass bowl and two glass candleholders. The estimate was $200-$400.

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at vbohlin@