Rare Chinese jardinières were used to hold kindling

Rare Chinese jardinieres One of two 11-inch famille jaune yellow ground planters of butterfly form that will be sold Thursday, June 30, as one lot (est. $8,000-$12,000). (Photo courtesy MBA/Seattle Auction House)

Hard to believe, but a pair of rare, museum-quality antique Chinese porcelain jardinières (one shown here) was used to hold kindling wood at the home where they resided for over 65 years, in Seattle, Washington. That's the word from MBA/Seattle Auction House (www.MBAAuction.com), which is selling the jardinières as part of their Premier Modernism, Fine Art & Asian Artifacts Auction on Thursday, June 30th, in their Seattle gallery, plus online. The lovely 11-inch-tall famille jaune yellow ground planters of butterfly form will be offered as one lot (est. $8,000-$12,000).

It's possible the family consigning the jardinières were fully aware of what they had when they put them to work as wood bins. The pair were purchased by a descendant in 1950, while on a shopping spree in Japan. They are dated to around 1820-1880, likely the Jiaqing or Daoguang period (the Qing dynasty). They are near Imperial in quality and monumental in form. Another intriguing lot in the sale is a dazzling lady's platinum and diamond Art Deco period necklace, 16 inches long and with a tie-form pendant set with European-cut diamonds of 1.27 and .3 carats (est. $6,000-$9,000).



Can we at least wait until the grieving process is over?

Can we at least wait This lock of David Bowie's hair came from Wendy Farrier of Madame Tussaud's in London. She used it to color-match his wax museum figure wig. (Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions)

Maybe it's me, but I get a little uneasy when items pertaining to a recently deceased celebrity turn up at auction so soon after the fallen hero's death. It happened in all three cases, first with Prince, then David Bowie and Muhammad Ali. Not a week went by, it seemed, before announcements popped up regarding the pending auction of a piece of memorabilia connected to them. On the one hand, it makes sense: strike while the iron is hot, when emotions and passions are at a fever pitch in the wake of the celebrity's demise (when items presumably will fetch top dollar).

On the other hand.....well, I'll repeat myself here: it just makes me feel a little uneasy. Here are some of the items I'm talking about: On June 24-25, Heritage Auctions sold Prince's iconic Yellow Cloud guitar, a reel-to-reel demo tape made between 1976 and 1977 and several album sale awards. M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans is selling Muhammad Ali's “Cane of the Chief” from his fight with George Foreman in 1974, plus boxing contracts and a jump-rope collection. And last week Heritage Auctions sold a lock of David Bowie's hair (shown) from the 1980s.



Ever wonder what Rome looked like around 1750?

Ever wonder what Rome Giovanni Paolo Panini was the pre-eminent landscape painter in Rome in the mid-18th century. This example should bring $1.46 million-$2.81 million on July 6th. (Photo courtesy Sotheby's)

Thanks to titans of landscape painting from that era, like Claude-Joseph Vernet (Fr., 1714-1789) and Giovanni Paolo Panini (It., 1691-1765), we don't have to wonder. They, and others like them, were commissioned to record the favorite places of Grand Tourists and other visitors. In doing so, they left behind marvelous pictorial histories of mid-18th century Rome, a place rich in artistic influence, with its glorious monuments from antiquity, masterpieces of the Renaissance and Baroque, and a contemporary art scene that was a magnet for artists who traveled far and wide to be there.

On July 6th in London, Sotheby's will conduct an Old Masters evening sale that will feature such works by Panini and Vernet, giving collectors a rare opportunity to own one of these superb landscapes (oh, and there will also be a portrait painting of Panini, too, done in 1736 by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet, estimated to bring $218,000-$291,000). Panini's Rome, a view of the Forum looking towards the Capitol (shown, 1751), carries a pre-sale estimate of $1.46 million-$2.81 million. Vernet's Le Soir and Clair de lune (both 1752) should hit a combined $4.36 million-$7.26 million.



Oh, you beautiful doll, you great big beautiful doll

Oh, you beautiful doll The sale of the Ursula Brecht doll collection, planned for July 26th in Washington, D.C., by Theriault's, is the most important doll auction to come along in years. (Photo courtesy Theriault's)

For years, the doll and related ephemera collection of Ursula Brecht has been considered the finest and most important in all of Germany. While collecting for over 40 years, Ms. Brecht wrote books, published calendars and became a leading figure in the world of dolls in Europe. Nearly every imaginable French bebe, automaton, French fashion, rare mignonette, early wood doll and more was displayed in her Munich home, which she shared with her husband until his passing. In December of last year, Ms. Brecht decided the time had come to sell her collection.

She contacted Theriault's, the Maryland-based auction house that specializes in rare and antique dolls, and spoke with Stuart Holbrook, Theriault's president and someone who had actually seen for himself Ms. Brecht's collection when he visited her home some years earlier. The auction is planned for Tuesday, July 26th, in Washington, D.C. (Theriault's is based in Annapolis, Md., not far away). It is considered the most important doll auction to come along since the Lucy Morgan Collection was sold (also by Theriault's), 11 years ago. For info, visit www.theriaults.com.


Charles M. Russell will headline this year's Coeur d'Alene auction

Charles M. Russell This is one of Russell's most iconic paintings – Tenderfoot. It's expected to sell for up to $1 million and is one of 20 works by Russell in the auction. (Photo courtesy Coeur d'Alene Art Auction)

The 31st annual Coeur d'Alene Art Auction's Fine Western and American Art Auction will be held on Saturday, July 23rd, online (exclusively through BidSquare.com) and in Hayden, Idaho. The event is widely acknowledged as the high point in the Western art auction world, and this year's catalog will feature over 20 works by Charles M. Russell, the master of Western-themed art. Leading the group will be one of his iconic works, Tenderfoot (shown, est. $700,000-$1 million), as well as a bronze sculpture titled The Spirit of Winter (est. $300,000-$500,000).

Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) also went by “Kid” Russell and earned the nickname “The Cowboy Artist.” He created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians and landscapes, all set in the Western United States and Alberta, Canada. He also created Western-themed bronze sculptures and was a storyteller and author. The C.M. Russell Museum Complex in Great Falls, Montana houses over 2,000 of his artworks, personal objects and artifacts. His 1918 painting Piegans hammered for $5.6 million at a 2005 auction. For info, visit www.cdaartauction.com.