Nadeau's Auction Gallery to offer nine large Audubon prints at annual New Year's Day Auction

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Nadeau's Auction Gallery to offer nine large Audubon prints at annual New Year's Day Auction
Nine bird prints by the renowned American ornithologist John J. Audubon (1785-1851) will be sold Jan. 1st.

WINDSOR, CONN.- Nine large James J. Audubon bird prints from the 1820s and ‘30s, a 1620 manuscript of the Persian Shah Nemeh (or Book of Kings), two important etchings by the renowned artist and printmaker Martin Lewis (1881-1962), and a rare first-edition 1851 copy of Melville’s Moby Dick The Whale are just a few items slated to be auctioned Wednesday, Jan. 1.

They are but a part of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery’s annual New Year’s Day Auction, to be held in the firm’s gallery located at 25 Meadow Road in Windsor, starting promptly at 11 a.m. (EST). Also being sold is a late 19th century Sultanabad ivory rug in excellent condition (palace-sized, at 12 feet by 15 feet), exquisite pieces of estate jewelry and fine decorative accessories.

In all, more than 600 lots will cross the auction block, with between 250 and 300 people expected to attend in person. Internet bidding will be provided by (the new name for Nadeau’s is also anticipating around 200 phone bids and 300-400 left bids will be placed. Previews will be held on the days leading up to the auction. A buffet will be served.

The nine Audubon prints are expected to attract a great deal of attention, as they have at other auctions in the recent past. On Dec. 6, 2010, a copy of Audubon’s book Birds of America was sold at Sotheby’s for $11.5 million. At the time that was a record price for a single printed book. Nadeau’s is offering prints – not a whole book – but these are still coveted by collectors.

They are large prints – around 38 inches in height, the biggest made at the time and known in the trade as “double elephant” folio prints. Five of the nine are of large American birds; six still have their original Kennedy Gallery labels en verso, with Whatman watermarks, critically important to collectors. The prints are from the estate collection of Ms. Augusta Smith.

James J. Audubon (real name: Jean-Jacques Audubon) was born to French parents on what is now called Haiti in 1785. From his earliest days he had an affinity for birds, saying, “I felt an intimacy with them, bordering on frenzy that must accompany my steps through life.” His Birds of America, compiled between 1827 and 1839, is still considered a masterpiece volume.

The Shah Nemeh is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowski, sometime between 977 and 1010 A.D. It is the national epic of Iran (Persia) and the Persian-speaking world and contains some 50,000 verses, telling the mythical and historical past of the Persian empire. It is of central importance in Persian culture, even today, and is regarded as a literary masterpiece.

The early 17th century manuscript of the Shah Nemeh being offered by Nadeau’s is not only desirable for its age and historical significance, it also features 27 hand-eliminated plates, making it a beautiful document as well. It is expected to draw interest from collectors of antiquarian books, as well as art aficionados and collectors of Middle Eastern history.

Martin Lewis was born in Australia but moved to the United States at a young age and lived in New York City most of his life. He was multi-talented, exploring human activity and relationships on canvas and executing nearly 150 graphic works as a printmaker between 1915 and 1945. His etchings, highly prized, are an offshoot from his work as a commercial illustrator.

The two etchings in the auction are both drypoint and sandpaper ground. One is titled Bay Windows (1929, Edition 104) and shows a snowy Manhattan street scene. It is a fine impression printed on white paper, with full margins. The other, titled Stoops in Snow (1930, Edition 115), also shows figures walking in New York’s snowy streets. Both are pencil signed by Mr. Lewis.

Other artworks will include an oil on canvas Paris street scene by the French painter Edouard Cortes (1882-1969), two oil on canvas renderings by Edward Moran (Pa./N.Y., 1829-1901), two prints by the German painter-engraver Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), large Currier & Ives prints, several Dutch paintings, Old Master drawings and European and American paintings.

Dazzling estate jewelry will include an Anton Horvat platinum, sapphire and diamond brooch having a center cushion shaped sapphire mounted in an openwork and filigree setting, surrounded by 98 diamonds and four sapphires; a platinum three-stone diamond ring with a 1.65-ct. round cut brilliant diamond flanked by two slightly smaller brilliant cut diamonds; and a ruby necklace composed of three graduated strands of bead rubies connected with an 18kt yellow gold clasp having three emeralds on either end and filigree ruby inlay.

Sterling silver will feature a Gorham Martele bowl, an eight-piece Gale and Willis tea and coffee set, a Tiffany 15-piece tea set with tray, a Tiffany seven-piece tea and coffee service with tilting pot designed by Moore, a three-piece Reed & Barton Art Nouveau tea set (950/1,000), English and Georgian silver, a Friedell silver lamp and enameled pieces.

Approximately 20 bronze creations will come up for bid. These will include three Dan Stix bronzes (including one of a horse and rider jumping), a bronze Leopold Bernstamm and a bronze of two men boxing. Marble busts of Benjamin Franklin and a bishop will also be sold.

Decorative accessories will feature names such as Lalique, Sevres, Marblehead, Tiffany (lamp. inkwells, candelabra), Royal Vienna, Meissen (two covered jars with figural tops), Baccarat, Rose Medallion, Rookwood (vases, to include a tall vase with a blue bird, and a pair of covered jars), Pairpoint (a lovely reverse painted bird lamp), and French porcelain pieces and other items.

The furniture category will be brimming with custom mahogany pieces, Georgian and continental furnishings, an L. & J.G. Stickley sideboard, a custom Chippendale-style canopy bed, a Louis XVI-style canopy bed, and pieces by Margolis & Fineberg, Baker and Joseph Gerte.

In addition to the fist-edition copy of Moby Dick The Whale, a veritable library of books will be offered, spanning the 16th to the 20th century. Included will be the collected works of Mark Twain, published in 1897 and signed by Twain, a 1640 copy of The Penitent Pardoned, Prodigal Son, by Goodman (MDC LXXIX), plus the aforementioned Shah Nemeh manuscript.

Also to be sold are music boxes (a Louis XV-style cylinder on stand, two disc music boxes and a Regina music box with stand), two baby grand pianos (one Steinway and one Mason & Hamlin), and Oriental rugs and carpets, to include a Charles X Aubusson, Bidjars, Heriz, Sarouks, Laver Kirman (12 feet by 15 feet, late 19th century), Chinese, and some scatter rugs.

The previews will be held on Friday, Dec. 27, from noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 28, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 30, from noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 31, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 1, from 9-11 a.m.; or by appointment. Terms are cash or known check. Out of state buyers must establish credit 72 hours prior to sale. A 17 percent buyer’s premium will be applied to all purchases (this includes a 3 percent discount for cash or check). Parking will be free.

Nadeau’s Auction Gallery, Inc., is a family owned and operated business and one of the largest and fastest-growing full-serviced auction galleries in New England. The firm began in 1985, when Edwin Nadeau, Jr., first opened his “barn doors” in Colchester, Conn. For the last 15 ½ years, Nadeau’s has been housed in two galleries totaling 20,000 square feet in Windsor, outside of Hartford.

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