Three highlights include 19th century Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery, an important painting by America’s “Dean of Illustrators” Dean Cornwell, and a remarkable, highly ornate pair of Meiji period Usuba bronze vases.
Fairfield, ME, January 7, 2015 – James D. Julia, Inc., one of the nation’s top ten antique auction houses, is excited to present these extraordinary items in conjunction with the company’s three day Antiques, Asian, and Fine Arts Auction to be held February 4th-6th, 2015. This event is a rare opportunity for collectors, historians, and museums around the world to obtain the finest artwork, historical artifacts, and decorative items to come to market in recent memory.
One of this auction’s most historically interesting items is lot #2197, An Extremely Rare Silver Congressional Medal For The Survivor Herbert W. Leach of the Jeannette Arctic Expedition of 1879-1882. Estimated at $10,000 to $20,000, this silver medal is 1-1/2″ in diameter and 3-1/2” long with its ribbon. The front is illustrated with the 3-mast ship with sails rolled and anchored to ice, and a group of men and dogs abandoning the ship and attempting to save some of its supplies. The reverse is decorated with an outer band of writing which reads Jeannette Arctic Expedition 1879-1882; below this at the top center is engraved To Herbert W. Leach. The bottom half reads, In Commemoration of Perils Encountered and as an Expression of the High Esteem in which Congress Holds His Services and Act Approved Sept. 30. 1890. The medal hangs from an ivory silk ribbon, and is attached to a back pinned name plate in the form of a spread wing eagle.
This medal was produced for either the survivors or the next of kin of those who had perished in the expedition. Eight gold and 25 silver medals were struck by the Philadelphia Mint and were probably designed by Charles Barber or George Morgan, engravers to the mint. The story of the expedition was told in the 1882 book Arctic Lost Ship Shipwreck Jeannette. The account of the expedition caught the attention of the American public and caused Congress to act with this medal.
Although this auction features many outstanding paintings, one oil on canvas illustration by Dean Cornwell (American, 1892-1960) truly is in a class by itself. This work, lot #1109, is titled The Opium Den and is estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. The painting measures 30” x 36” and is housed in a simple thin black frame. It is able to communicate an entire story in one single moment; every inch comes to life through the careful placement of furniture, accessories, and cultural symbols. Its dark blue pallet adds additional layers of mystery and intrigue to the piece. The Opium Den is signed Dean Cornwell ’21, with other inscriptions, some illegible.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Dean Cornwell became one of America’s premier illustrators; he was often referred to as the Dean of Illustrators. Cornwell trained at the Art Students League with Harvey Dunn, the protégé of the renowned illustrator Howard Pyle. Believing that a good illustration was only possible after producing a good painting, Cornwell’s work became highly sought after. His art regularly appeared in popular magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping. He also illustrated the works of authors including Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham, and his advertisements for major companies including Seagram’s, Coca-Cola, and General Motors were household icons of the 1930’s and 1940’s. A muralist as well, Cornwell’s work was featured in the 1939 World’s Fair and at Rockefeller Center in New York. Cornwell’s works have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Chicago Art Institute, and the National Academy of Design.
Julia’s has an outstanding reputation for its Asian art expertise and offerings, and the selections in this sale will again delight its global clientele. A particularly handsome and stately Asian lot in February’s event is #3172, a Pair of Important Usaba Bronze Vases, which are estimated at $6,500 to $7,500. This Meiji period (1868-1912) duo is detailed with a mixed metal inlay of gold, silver, and various alloys; each measures 23-1/2” high and 13” in diameter. The vases are composed of seven individual fitted elements and have dramatic handles in the form of branches and snakes. The bases are decorated with fish, waves with auspicious emblems, clouds, flowers, brocade patterns, dragon rings, and floral galleries. The central areas feature warriors in armor in garden scenes, while the flaring mouth sections are dramatically accentuated with flowers, spider webs, and fallen leaves.
These three exceptional lots were discovered through Julia’s Woburn, Massachusetts office, which delivers first rate identification, valuation, and auction services to customers in the Boston and southern New England areas. According to Bill Gage, Senior Consultant, “Our upcoming winter auction features a plethora of simply marvelous treasures from around the world. This congressional medal, Cornwell painting, and Meiji vase pair could be the crown jewel in any collection – but are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s on offer at this can’t miss event. In only a few years, our Woburn office has established itself as a leading area auction resource, and I am particularly proud that we are able to attract the highest tier consignments such as these three!”
About James D. Julia:
James D. Julia, one of the top ten antique auction antique houses in North America, is headquartered in Fairfield, Maine. The company also has an office in Woburn, Massachusetts. In business for almost five decades, the company conducts high-end antique, collectible, and decorative arts auctions throughout the year. Julia’s has routinely establishes new world records through its sales events. The company consists of four key divisions, including rare firearms; fine and Asian art and antiques; lamps and glass; and important toy, dolls, and antique advertising. Each division is regarded for its excellence and is staffed with world-class specialists to insure fair and professional authentication, identification, and valuation services. For more information please see www.JamesDJulia.com.
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