THE ESTATE OF THE LATE DR. MORRIS SUMNER AND HIS LIFE PARTNER, THE LATE DR. RICHARD ROBBINS, INCLUDING 19TH CENTURY PORTRAITS AND LANDSCAPES, FRENCH FURNITURE, PERSIAN RUGS, WEDGWOOD BASALT, S. KIRK & SON STERLING SILVER, FINE CHINA, MOSER STEMWARE AND FINE CHINESE BRONZES AND TAPESTRIES WILL HIT THE AUCTION BLOCK AT GREAT GATSBY’S AUCTION GALLERY, ON MARCH 31ST-APRIL 2nd
The three day event will be held in Great Gatsby’s Atlanta gallery at 5180 Peachtree Blvd. in Atlanta.
ATLANTA, Ga. – An exceptional estate from Baltimore, Maryland featuring an extensive collection of S. Kirk & Son sterling silver, French furniture, 19th century Wedgwood basalt, Persian rugs, Continental bronzes and 19th century paintings, along with fine antique Asian porcelains and tapestries, are part of a three-day auction planned for March 31st-April 2nd by Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery, in the firm’s Atlanta gallery.Start times will be 11 am Eastern time each day, with onsite previews beginning on Monday, March 27th. The gallery, located at 5180 Peachtree Boulevard, is open Monday through Friday from 10-4 during the preview, or by appointment. Online preview, auction registration and live online bidding will be available on LiveAuctioneers.com, Bidsquare.com and Invaluable.com. Phone and absentee bids will also be taken.
Over 1,400 lots will come up for bid. The estate from Baltimore is that of the late Dr. Morris Sumner and his life-partner, the late Dr. Richard Robbins. Both Dr. Sumner and Dr. Robbins were Southern natives who met while serving as naval officers during the 1940s. Dr. Sumner went on to receive his PhD and become a professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Robbins, who taught mathematics at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins and served as Dean of the Evening College.
After purchasing a stately Baltimore townhouse together in 1957, Dr. Sumner and Dr. Robbins spent the next 40 years acquiring high-quality Continental and English furniture and decorative arts, 19th century paintings, S. Kirk & Son repoussé sterling silver, Wedgwood basalt, Rose Medallion porcelain, Persian rugs, fine crystal and an extensive library of leather-bound books from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
“My uncles were passionate collectors who loved to travel and entertain,” Mark Jones, the nephew of Dr. Sumner and the estate’s executor, recalled. “I remember them as always being elegantly dressed and well-respected in their academic community. Their home in Baltimore was like a palace to me and became the scene of many talked-about dinner parties for the many visiting dignitaries and statesmen at the college.”
One notable aspect of the Sumner-Robbins estate is the repoussé sterling silver from the celebrated American firm S. Kirk & Son. Dr. Sumner had both a professional and personal relationship with Kirk Millspaugh, the great-great grandson of the firm’s founder, Samuel Kirk of Philadelphia. He and Dr. Robbins eventually acquired a number of pieces directly from Mr. Millspaugh, who was staunch in his preservation efforts, particularly during the 1970’s, when the price of silver spiked and many families went looking to liquidate and melt their collections.
One grouping in the Sumner-Robbins Estate that was saved from such a fate is a beautiful six-piece 19th century .912 or coin repoussé hot beverage service with ram’s masks, formerly part of Mr. Millspaugh’s personal collection of historical silver. Other S. Kirk & Son sterling silver pieces on offer will include a repoussé centerpiece bowl, ten inches in diameter, a repoussé flatware service for twelve, and an extensive collection of repoussé chargers etched with a central monogram, each one 11 inches in diameter. Another notable lot is a rare set of twelve marked and individually numbered ‘Lafayette’ goblets after the original 1824 design by Samuel Kirk for General Lafayette himself. Each goblet features an engraved Greek key rim and measures 5 ¾ inches tall by 3 ¾ inches in diameter.
Dr. Sumner and Dr. Robbins’ interests hardly stayed focused on just one area of collecting. The two amassed an extensive collection of fine 19th century paintings, particularly Hudson River School landscapes and early American portraiture. The artists on offer will include the beautiful Portrait of Harriet Douw Johnson, 53 inches tall by 46 inches wide by Manneville Brown (Am., 1810-1896); a pair of oil portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Boynton C. Ricknap, attributed to George Augustus Baker, Jr. (Am., 1821-1880), each 40 ½ inches by 35 ½ inches (to be sold as separate lots); an oil on canvas depicting the White Mountains of New Hampshire by William H. Weisman (Am., 1840-1922), 21 inches by 24 inches; an oil painting attributed to George Loring Brown (Am., 1814-1889), depicting peasant women dancing along the Bay of Naples, 34 inches by 28 inches; and a landscape by William Sheridan Young (Am., 1837-1878), 25 inches by 35 inches.
Continental and English works of art will include a jewel-toned oil on canvas depicting the Christ Child and John the Baptist after Carlo Cignani (It., 1628-1719), measuring 47 inches by 37 inches; a 19th century oil portrait of a stately gentleman in a dove grey coat after George Henry Harlow (Br., 1787-1819); and an early 18th century oil on canvas portrait of Sir John Rogers, 2nd Baronet (Br., 1676-1744), later appointed Recorder of Plymouth in 1717, measuring 40 inches by 35 inches.
Fine furniture will include an impressive Louis XVI-style marble top commode a vantaux with gilt bronze mounts, measuring 70 inches wide; a 19th century French marquetry inlaid marble-top demi-lune commode, 43 inches wide; a 19th century French Empire-style mahogany breakfront bookcase measuring 89 inches tall by 57 inches wide; and a pair of handsome 19th century giltwood fauteuils with Aubusson style upholstery, each 43 inches by 26 inches.
Also crossing the auction block in this category will be a carved mahogany Renaissance Revival Herschede 9-tube tall case clock in the style of R.J. Horner, 116 inches tall by 31 inches wide; a 19th century American Rococo Revival half-tester bed by C. Lee, maker marked, 113 inches tall by 74 ½ inches long by 84 ½ inches wide; a monumental Neoclassical style breakfront bookcase/vitrine measuring 81 inches tall by 122 inches wide; and a finely carved 67 ½ inch tall eagle-form oak lectern dating from the 19th century – the perfect addition to any gentleman’s library.
In the category of decorative arts, a number of lots of elegant emerald and gilt Moser crystal are to be sold, including a set of twelve wine glasses; eleven brandy snifters; twelve champagne glasses or dessert cups; twelve sherry glasses; and eleven cordial glasses. Rare lots of 19th century Wedgwood basalt are sure to pique the interest of devoted collectors, including a bust of the Roman goddess Minerva and a bust of the celebrated English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, both measuring 19 inches tall and marked to the underside.
Also on offer is a set of eleven cream and gilt Minton porcelain dinner plates retailed by Tiffany & Co., each 10 ½ inches in diameter; an unusual and striking 19th century Victorian taxidermy bird vitrine measuring 20 inches in height; a 15-piece Herend porcelain demitasse service; a 15-piece cobalt and blue Art Deco porcelain hot beverage service by Shelly, executed in the Queen Anne form; and a number of Shelly porcelain tea sets, including a 17-piece Rosebud service.
Fine lighting will also command pre-sale interest, including a Dresden-style six-arm porcelain chandelier with foliate ornamentation, 42 inches tall by 27 inches wide; a rare 19th century Continental bronze and rock crystal chandelier, 43 inches tall by 28 inches wide; a Venetian Murano parcel gilt six-arm crystal chandelier, 43 inches tall by 29 inches wide; and a 19th century patinated bronze hexagonal chandelier with inset art glass panels, measuring 29 inches tall by 40 inches wide.
Five 20th century ship models, including four contemporary models from a private Southern collection, are also set to hit the auction block, bringing with them a classic nautical charm and craft. The models include a three-masted Chinese Junk in a 31 inch by 37 inch case; a model of the HMS Speedy, a Nightingale-class British naval cutter launched in 1828, in a 34 inch by 35 inch case; a three-masted ship of the line in a 47 inch by 52 inch case; and a Spanish galleon built by the late Dale Suttle of San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Suttle was a research scientist who acquired a passion for building historically accurate ships’ models, making this lot of particular interest to those looking to acquire a piece by a known builder. Rounding out the category is a monumental carved and hand-painted early 20th century model of the famous three-masted clipper ship Thermopylae, launched in 1868, housed in a custom-built case on a stand, overall dimensions 145 ½ inches tall by 121 inches long by 38 inches deep.
Speaking of monumental, a number of garden and outdoor accents will go under the hammer as well, to include a pair of Neoclassical-style cast iron garden urns on pedestals, each measuring an impressive 12 feet in height; a pair of carved marble architectural pillars in the form of Atlas figures, each 113 inches tall by 26 inches wide; a pair of bronze figural jardinières with majestic elk heads, each 49 inches tall by 30 inches wide; a pair of limestone seated lion sculptures, each 28 inches tall; and a patinated bronze and limestone fountain depicting an Italian boar, known as Il Porcellino after the Baroque master sculptor Pietro Tacca (It., 1577-1640), 67 inches tall and 101 inches in diameter. Tacca’s original bronze, which is safely stored in the Museo Stefano Bardini in the Palazzo Mozzi, was initially intended for the Boboli Garden before being placed in Florence’s Mercato Nuevo. Since 1998, a reproduction stands in its place in the bustling market popular with tourists. Visitors place a coin in the boar’s mouth for good luck and rub its nose to ensure a return to the beloved Renaissance capital, a tradition that began in the 18th century and continues today.
A handsome selection of fine Asian art and decorative objects is sure to spark global bidding interest, including two rare Qing dynasty tapestries – the first, a striking Yunjin embroidered brocade panel depicting a writhing five-clawed dragon executed in ‘forbidden’ (or Peking) knots, 85 inches long by 30 ½ inches wide; the second, a devotional moxiu (or hair embroidery panel) depicting the goddess Guanyin seated on an elephant, 75 inches long by 50 inches wide. Also crossing the auction block will be an exceptional pair of Chinese famille rose Ming-style porcelain figures of beauties, each 16 inches tall; a marked Chinese cloisonné vase with lotus pods and blossoms, also 16 inches in height; a Chinese Zhou Dynasty carved jade cong at 8 inches tall; a large Chinese porcelain bottle vase with prunus and rockwork, marked with the artist’s seal, 16 inches tall; a Chinese bronze dragon vase with a Qianlong mark, 26 inches tall; and a Chinese carved hualimu wood altar table measuring 48 inches in length.
Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To inquire about consigning a single item, an entire collection, or an inherited estate, you may call them at (770) 457-1903; or you may send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the March 30th-April 2nd auction, please visit www.GreatGatsbys.com. Updates are posted often.
Category: Auction News