A Few of our Favorite Things: 2016
Leslie Hindman specialists look back on 2016 and share their favorite items from the past year- the most interesting stories, exciting results and the objects that had them inspired.
Zachary Wirsum, Specialist, Post War and Contemporary Art
My favorite lot of the year was Saul’s Guernica, 1974 by Peter Saul. A reimagination of Pablo Picasso’s 1937 Guernica, arguably the most important painting of the 20th century. Abandoning the Spaniards gray scale oils for psychedelic fluorescent acrylic, Saul keeps the anti war message in critique of US involvement in Vietnam, pushing the drippy trippy surreal figuration to a vivid peak. A true masterpiece in its own right in scope, scale and deft execution as reflected by the record setting hammer price for any work by Peter Saul in September.
Reed Landin, Specialist, Fine Prints
This year I was fortunate to work with a wonderful woodcut by Swiss artist Franz Gertsch in our May sale of fine prints. I was introduced to Gertsch’s work through a great local private collection which was ultimately included in our May sale. Natascha VI is a beautiful ethereal portrait of a woman with soft undulating tones of gold and turquoise. In his precision of execution and use of monumental formats, he reached the limits of what’s possible in the production of the paper. Gertsch alone has opened up new dimensions in this traditional medium.
Alexander Eblen, Director, Important Jewelry and Fine Timepieces
This stunning blue sapphire was my favorite item from this year. From the moment we first “met” I knew it was a rare Kashmir. The cornflower blue was mesmerizing. Having been held within an American collection for nearly 100 years it was a joy to help it find a new home. Getting to share and discuss its beauty with so many appreciative admirers along the way was its gift to us in turn.
Annie Wu, Asian Works of Art Specialist
Chinese scholars’ objects are one of my favorite categories in Asian Works of Art, which is why I was thrilled when I first met this 18th century Chinese Ge-type porcelain lingzhi form brush washer. It is heavily potted and covered in an overall lustrous glaze. The two type of lines in the glaze, which the Chinese call “gold floss and iron threads,” and the brown wash to the foot are so well done that they remind me of the Geyao wares of the Song dynasty. However, the finely molded lingzhi form is a good example of Qing dynasty scholars’ taste.
Luke Palmer, Modern Design Specialist
My favorite item this year from Modern Design is attributed to the iconic designer Carlo Bugatti. Father to automobile pioneer Ettore Bugatti, and famed sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, Carlo’s designs are featured in museums around the world. Sculpted from walnut with inlaid copper, bone and pewter, and having a parchment seat, this throne chair was not only an exceptional representation of Carlo’s work but illustrates the changing Art Nouveau style at that time.
Anne Forman, Director of Luxury Accessories and Couture
I absolutely loved the Hermès Bleu Galice Togo Birkin Handbag from our February Arm Candy auction. The auction itself was so colorful and had so many unique and desirable Hermès handbag styles. Blue is my favorite color and I would have liked to bid on this bag myself!
Mike Intihar, Senior Specialist, Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts
Being from Illinois, and it being an election year, what wasn’t there to like about this marble sculpture of a youthful Lincoln seated and reading a book? Mead was the designer of Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield which I also was fortunate enough to revisit this summer. The sculpture was wonderfully carved and rather imposing when seated on the conforming marble pedestal. It also had provenance placing it in the lobby of the Granada Theater in Chicago, reminding us of how grand movie theaters were at one point here in the city of Chicago.
Sophie Hammond-Hagman, Fine Books and Manuscripts
Having spent more than a decade working in the Anthropology department of a Natural History Museum, it’s no surprise that my chosen highlight is the three volume set of McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America, which was featured in our November 2nd Fine Books and manuscript auction. The volumes, published between 1836 and 1842, contain 120 hand-colored plates. Any of them could stand on their own as original art works, but when combined with the documentation, biographies, and general history, it becomes an important document of what was a rapidly disappearing culture in American history.