14th CENTURY WORK OF ART BY THE ITALIAN PAINTER ALLEGRETTO NUZI (1315-1373) SOARS TO $295,000 AT PHILIP WEISS AUCTIONS MULTI-ESTATE SALE HELD FEB. 23-24

. February 28, 2008

(Oceanside, N.Y.) – A long-lost but well-preserved 14th-century oil-on-panel painting by the Italian artist Allegretto Nuzi (1315-1373), titled “The Martyrdom of St. Blaise,” roared past its high estimate figure of $150,000 to hammer for $295,000 at a multi-estate auction held February 23-24 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The framed work, measuring 9” tall x 11-3/4” wide, was the top lot of the sale.

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The Martyrdom of St. Blaise by Allegretto Nuzi (1315-1373)

“We figured the auction overall would gross around $300,000, and as it turned out the Nuzi work brought nearly that much by itself,” said Philip Weiss. “Our sales never cease to amaze me. In what is supposed to be a bad economy, people keep turning out in record numbers and demonstrating time and time again they have money to spend.” The weekend event grossed about $890,000, he added.

The Nuzi painting was missing and presumed lost until resurfacing only just recently. The predella panel depicts the beheading scene of the Catholic martyr, Saint Blaise, a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century. The work was pictured but recorded as “homeless” in the book “Italian Pictures of the Renaissance” (London, 1968).

According to literature in that and other reference books, the panel was part of of the Tuscan altarpiece that included two other predella panels — “The Arrest and Miracles of Saint Blaise” and “The Chastisement of Saint Blaise.” The “Arrest of” panel and the fragmentary remains of “The Chastisement” sold at auction in 2003 for $145,350. Mr. Weiss used that as a basis for a high estimate.

About 975 lots crossed the block over the course of the two days. Attendance at the event was strong, approaching 300 people, and the sale also attracted about 2,500 registered Internet bidders (through LiveAuctioneers.com), as well as active phone and absentee bidding components. “Items that were fresh to the market did very well,” Mr. Weiss remarked. “That wasn’t as true for the other items.”

Other highlights from the sale follow. All prices quoted include a 13% buyer’s premium.

josephmorgan.jpg An extremely rare slice of American literature changed hands when Joseph Morgan’s “The History of the Kingdom of Basaruah” (Boston, 1715) gaveled for $49,635. Believed by historians to be the first prose fiction to be written and published in America by an American, the book is one of only four copies known to exist. The endpapers and preliminaries appeared to come from an early broadside.

A magnificent 4.62-carat Asscher cut diamond, with great color and in excellent condition, sold to a phone bidder (who examined the stone in person earlier in the week) for $27,120. The diamond had been appraised by The Jewelry Judge and was rated VS2 for clarity; the color rating was between J-K. Joseph Asscher developed and patented a cut that was the forerunner of the emerald cut.

picaultbronzes.jpg Two late 19th century bronze statues by the French sculptor Emile Louis Picault (1839-1915) realized $25,990 for the pair. The pieces were titled “The Pharaoh’s Gift” and “The Queen’s Offering.” Both were inscribed on the bases and each measured about 18-1/4” tall x 6-1/4” wide. This outstanding lot came out of a prominent estate in Pelham, N.Y., that attracted much pre-sale attention.

An original pen-and-ink “Peanuts” daily comic strip by the late cartoonist Charles Schulz – a standard offering at most Philip Weiss auctions, it seems – hammered for $20,340. This four-panel strip, dated Sept. 1, 1954, featured Charlie Brown, Violet and Patty in a great gag that involved Charlie “wheedling” his way into a party invitation. More “Peanuts” strips will be offered throughout the year.

keyedserpent.jpg Two vintage musical instruments brought respectable sums. One was a silver flute by the William Hayes Company (Boston, circa 1920s). Complete with hard and soft case, cleaning rod and woodwind drying paper, the flute rose to $3,390. Also, a “keyed serpent” (29” long leather and brass horn, a distant relative of the tuba) achieved $2,700. The instrument was made in the late 19th century.

The following original works of art all came from the prominent estate in Pelham, N.Y.:
• “Men In Market Stall” by Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903), $9,040. The oil-on-canvas work, signed lower left, measured 20-3/4” wide x 16” tall. Weeks was born near Boston but he spent most of his adult life outside the United States. He lived in Surinam and South America before settling in Paris, where he died. He painted mostly exotic views and architectural renderings.

• “Give Me That Man” by Edwin Austin Abbey (American, 1852-1911), $4,068. The pen, ink and wash work was signed and dated 1882 and inscribed with a poem. Abbey was born in Philadelphia, but had a studio in England and was best known for his drawings and paintings of Shakespearean and Victorian subjects. He spent 11 years painting a series of murals for the Boston Public Library.

• “Soldiers on the Move” by Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum (American, 1849-1925), $2,260. The watercolor work was signed and dated lower left (Paris, 1882). Zogbaum was a well-known painter and illustrator of scenes depicting Army and Navy life. He was the leading artist-correspondent of the Spanish American War, and his renderings appeared in many popular magazines of the day.

Philip Weiss Auctions will take a well deserved rest in March, then return in a big way the weekend of April 5-6, with a sale that promises to be strong both days and in several categories. The Saturday session, April 5, will feature a large Disney collection; trains; Steiff material and advertising. Sunday, April 6, will include high-end mechanical banks; coin-operated machines and slot machines.

Also on April 6: Part 1 of The B. L. “Phil” Phillips Collection, comprising many high-end robots and space toys. On April 26, yet another sale will be held, featuring a 1,000-piece lifetime comic collection, to include Golden and Silver Age comics; graded books and pedigrees. In May, Part 2 of the Newport Collection will be held (rare stamps and coins). Also auctioned will be rare books and posters.

Philip Weiss Auctions is a full-service auction facility, with a spacious gallery located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside, N.Y. To learn more about the company and the upcoming auction dates, log on to the new website at www.prwauctions.com. The firm is always accepting quality consignments. To consign an item, estate or collection, please call (516) 594-0731, or e-mail to auction22@aol.com.

Category: Auction News

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