Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Cottone Auctions
GENESEO, N.Y. – Two days of antiques and fine art across the block at Cottone Auctions, May 5-6, resulted in more than 300 lots finding new homes, including paintings and prints, decorative arts, Twentieth Century design, estate jewelry, Asian art, furniture, Americana, stoneware and more. The sales were led by a charming painting by Frederick Stuart Church (American, 1842-1924), nicely timed for Mother’s Day, depicting a young girl perched in a tree in her Sunday best with a menagerie of her cherished dolls and a coterie of fanciful wildlife. “The Dolls’ Matinee,” oil on Masonite, 18 by 26 inches and signed “F. S. Church N.Y. 91. Copyright” lower right, surpassed its $5/8,000 estimate and sold for $16,800. Working mainly as an illustrator and especially known for his and often allegorical depiction of animals, Church depicted them with fondness, mixing a thorough understanding of animal anatomy, as well as of animal facial expressions and the moods and feelings they conveyed.
The second day was led by a number of paintings by Magda Cordell McHale (Hungarian-British, 1921-2008), all from the estate of Harold L. Cohen of Buffalo, N.Y. Her paintings are both monumental and somewhat lurid, calling to mind monsters, idols and anatomical innards. Born in 1921 into a Hungarian-Jewish family before the outbreak of World War II, Cordell fled Hungary to escape Nazism and eventually migrated to Great Britain with her husband, the English composer Frank Cordell. Together they participated in the creation of the Independent Group (IG), an unofficial movement of artists, architects, designers, musicians and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from 1952 to 1955 with the shared ambition of introducing mass culture into what they saw as the conservative establishment of the fine arts galleries.
Her 1960 oil on canvas, an embryonic abstract titled “41,” tripled its high estimate to sell for $15,000. The 60-by-40-inch canvas was signed, titled and dated “Magda Cordell, #41, 1960” on the stretcher. Curiously, two additional pieces, one a mixed media on paper, the other an oil on paper, were similar in composition, delineating a female body as a ballooned aggregate of pictorial lumps. They carried modest $300/500 estimates, perhaps owing to their smaller size, but did much better, realizing $15,000 and $12,480, respectively. The former measured 21½ by 18½ inches and the latter was 22 by 17½ inches.
In 1961, Cordell moved to the United States with her second husband, fellow IG artist John McHale, to pursue an academic career in futurology, an interdisciplinary research field concerned with postulating future global trends on the basis of patterns of continuity and change. From the same Buffalo estate, John McHale’s (British, 1922-1978) “#4 Torso” collage slipped its $2/4,000 estimate and finished at $9,300. The 36-by-22½-inch work had exhibition history that included Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
There were some notable Oriental rugs on the first day of the sale. A Serapi from the Nineteenth Century, 15 feet by 13 feet 1 inch, brought $10,500; an Oushak, circa 1900, 15 feet by 12 feet 5 inches made $9,900; and a Chinese silk rug, Nineteenth/Twentieth Century, with metal threads, 7 feet 3 inches by 4 feet 1 inch, went out at $8,438.
A humorous painting by John (Tim Bobbin) Collier (British, 1708-1786) lampooning dentistry practices in Eighteenth Century England eclipsed its $1/1,500 expectation to find a buyer at $9,300. The oil on canvas of a man pulling teeth was unsigned and housed in a bird’s-eye maple frame, 25 by 37¼ inches. It was from a private Rochester, N.Y., collection and had been purchased in 1967 at Dunning’s Antiques in Hertfordshire, England.
Leaded glass lamps are a staple of Cottone’s, and in this sale they were led by a J.A. Whaley Grape trellis leaded table lamp from the early Twentieth Century. With bronze peacock feather base and standing 27½ inches high, it left the gallery at $7,813.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For additional information, www.cottoneauctions.com or 585-243-1000.