Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York
Photos courtesy Stair Galleries
The Mario Buatta estate was a gift that kept on giving. After the big two-day sale at Sotheby’s in January that brought $7.6 million, Stair Auctions, Hudson, New York, put together two more Buatta sales. One in March brought $2.2 million, and the final sale, held April 16 and 17, added another $715,000.
The April sale presented a grocery of goodies, “a cornucopia of chic,” said Colin Stair. On the first day leaf-form dishes, cucumber-shaped boxes, cabbage tureens, asparagus etuis, Chinese porcelain fruit, Portuguese strawberries, a Katherine Houston porcelain melon, papier-mâché watermelons, and porcelain peapods and sardines filled the needs of those who missed walking the aisles of Whole Foods. The porcelain sale on Thursday was like hard candy, a sale of bibelots and trifles, and on Friday the sale was a mixed box of chocolates for those who needed a sweet fix.
Wedgwood, Spode, Derby, Worcester, Chinese, and 1950s Mottahedeh dishes offered on Thursday were followed by treen, tole, lacquer, shellwork, decoupage, and decalcomania on Friday. There were instant collections of botanical plates, Victorian majolica, Staffordshire enamel boxes, wine coasters, spice boxes, snuffboxes, key chains, apothecary jars, match safes, pillboxes, and Indian tobacco boxes that supplied amusement to those who bid with gusto online and on phones from all parts of America. Stair said there were bidders from China and the U.K., but it was largely Americans bidding.
Buyers spent $375,000 on ceramics on April 16 and $340,000 for “Objects, Treasures and Trifles” on April 17. The April sales brought the grand total for the Buatta estate to $10,515,000. These sales gave a lot of people, including some who had never before bid online, an amazing shopping experience, while also surprising others who never imagined that Buatta had accumulated so much.
Set of 12 Portuguese basket-form dishes, 12½" wide, in good condition, sold for $21,760 (est. $300/500) to an online bidder.
Stair said New York City dealer Angus Wilkie arranged the lots and orchestrated these last two sales, but it was Buatta’s sense of fun that caught the fancy of the bidders. Who was bidder number 48 on LiveAuctioneers who paid $21,760 (with buyer’s premium) for a dozen Portuguese plates? And whose candles will be held aloft by rats, dolphins, cranes, squirrels, Moors, and Chinese men? Who will put those pickle-form flasks in a picnic basket and cool their champagne in the top-hat wine cooler? All manner of animals, including dogs of every breed, will decorate tabletops and desks, and others will serve as doorstops. It was a funhouse of a sale, and the last we will hear from Mario Buatta, the Prince of Chintz, a decorator who brought joy to many and will long be remembered.
For more information, see (www.stairgalleries.com).
Assembled Derby porcelain botanical partial service (49 pieces total), including 28 plates (among them a pair with a rose border, a large and a small plate with a gilt lily border, and two large plates and one small with lobed borders), a small bowl, a square dish with acorns, an oval dish with acorns, five plates in graduated sizes, a shaped oval dish with vegetables, and a small shallow dish, the largest piece 10¼" long, sold for $7995 (est. $600/800) despite minor wear, crazing, cracks, and staining. One lobed plate is restored; otherwise the service is in good condition. Although the price is far over estimates, it is less than the price of the Davenport pearlware Fallen Leaves assembled dessert service of 49 pieces that sold for $43,750 (est. $5000/7000) at Sotheby’s Buatta sale in January.
Group of silver and metal match safes, pillboxes, and other objects, the largest 4" long, approximately 9.5 ounces total weight. The silver pieces include a walnut-form pillbox marked “.925,” a Gorham melon-form pillbox marked “Sterling,” a Tiffany & Co. strawberry-form pillbox with a gilt interior marked “Sterling,” a shaped silver pillbox marked “.925 ,” a silver snail-form pillbox marked “Birmingham,” a silver scallop-shell-form pillbox marked “Birmingham,” and a silver walnut-form pillbox marked “Birmingham. The items have overall wear, oxidation, encrustation, and minor bruises and abrasions. The lot sold for $7380 (est. $300/500), the highest price of the second day of the sale.
English mahogany columnar-form washstand, 33¾" x 22½" x 18¾", the cupboard fitted with one shelf, age cracks, stains, nicks, scuffing, numerous veneer losses, and right side border lacking, sold for $3444 (est. $200/300).
Pair of English porcelain fluted double-baluster chintz pattern vases, 17¼" high, minor wear and in good condition, sold for $3690 (est. $400/600) online.
Nine Dodie Thayer porcelain lettuce-form mugs, various impressed marks, 4" high, three without chips, sold for $3075 (est. $500/700).
Four lapis lazuli table boxes, the largest 2" x 7" x 4½", each with some wear and natural inclusions to the stone, the largest with chips to the cover, the two smaller with minor losses at the corners, otherwise in good condition, sold for $3321 (est. $300/500).
Three faience leaf-form dishes and a cauliflower tureen, the leaf dishes 14½" long, one leaf-form dish with a label reading “Vandermeersch Porcelaines Faiences Anciennes...Paris,” two of the leaf dishes restored, with associated wear and losses, the other with minor wear and a few scattered chips, the tureen with a few scattered chips and losses, otherwise in good condition, sold for $4800 (est. $300/500) to an online bidder.
Eleven George Jones-style majolica plates, 9" diameter, minor wear and rim nicks, a few with crazing to the center, otherwise in good condition, sold for $7380 (est. $300/500).
Nine Barr, Flight & Barr porcelain plates, with impressed crown and printed mark, each 9⅜" diameter, sold for $6765 (est. $600/800).
Pair of Japanese Meiji bronze candlesticks in the form of rats holding carrots or Japanese radishes, three-character mark, 7¼" high, very minor wear and in good condition, sold for $3567 (est. $600/800).
English pearlware plates and serving dishes in an iron-red leaf pattern, probably Davenport, four oval serving dishes with two handles, 12" wide, and seven plates, minor wear, losses, and crazing, one handle with a hairline crack, sold for $4305 (est. $200/300).
Assembled group of majolica wares, including a pair of navette dishes, a pair of Wedgwood sunflower basket plates with impressed marks, a pair of Clairefontaine begonia-leaf plates with impressed marks, a pair of lily pad plates, a pair of Etruscan maple leaf plates with impressed marks, a pair of grape leaf and basket-weave plates, and more, 24 pieces total, sold for $3567 (est. $300/500).
English porcelain partial service decorated with flowers, probably Minton, most with “no. 130” painted in puce on the backs, 14 dinner plates, eight lunch plates, one dessert plate, five soup plates, one oval dish, two stands, and more, sold for $6745 (est. $500/700).
Pair of French faience bottle coolers, iron-red painted mark and Tiffany retailer’s mark, 8½" x 7¾" x 8¾", each with minor wear, in good condition, sold for $6745 (est. $300/500).
Two English polychrome and gilt rolled paper tea caddies, the larger 5" x 7½" x 4½", each with some losses to the paper decoration, wear, and staining, some nicks overall, both lacking keys, the smaller lacking interior supports, the larger with a popped hinge, both lacking liners, sold for $3567 (est. $300/500).
Pair of chinoiserie green-ground decalcomania vases and jar with cover, the vases 12½" high, with some delamination to the interior of the vessels and related losses, sold for $2583 (est. $400/600).
Four papier-mâché watermelon-form boxes, three signed “Stephens” and variously dated, the largest 8" long, each with minor wear and a few scattered abrasions, otherwise in good condition, sold for $3321 (est. $100/200).
Regency penwork miniature cabinet (8" x 10" x 7½") and two papier-mâché pen trays, the cabinet fitted with a slide-top compartment, mirror inside cover, and side drawer to base, lacking keys and feet, with crazing and age cracks, all with wear and losses, sold for $3997.50 (est. $300/500).
English school mixed-media collage on paper of a kingfisher, unsigned, 9" x 8¾" (sight size), staining, not examined out of frame, sold for $3690 (est. $200/300) to an online bidder.
Originally published in the August 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest