This week's top lots
What: Portrait of a Woman, called "La Belle Ferronnière," before 1750
Where: Sotheby's New York (January 28, Old Master Paintings and Sculpture)
Sold For: $1.5 million
This well-known painting is another version of a portrait—believed to be Lucrezia Crivelli, the mistress of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan—now at the Louvre. Long debated to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci (Sotheby's attributes it to a follower of da Vinci, citing recent technical examination that dates the canvas to the first half of the 17th century and most likely by a French painter). In the 1920s the Sotheby's portrait was at the center of an unusual court case, when its owners, Harry and Andrée Hahn, sued the art dealer Joseph Duveen for slander when he suggested that the painting was a copy. Numerous art world experts were called to testify but the trial ended with a hung jury, and Duveen was forced to settle out of court and paid the Hahns $60,000 in damages.
What: Silver jug, mark of Paul Storr, 1837
Where: Christie's New York (January 26, The Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards)
Sold For: $40,000
The form of this silver jug, called an askos, is derived from ancient Greek vessels used to store lap oil, which were originally made from leather. This example was made by Paul Storr—one of the greatest English silversmiths, who is best known for his work in the firm of royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.
What: Gilt copper horse weathervane made by J. Howard & Co., late 19th century
Where: Bonhams New York (January 27, American Furniture and Decorative Arts)
Sold For: $14,500
This charming horse weathervane was made by the J. Howard Company, which operated in Bridgewater, Massachusetts from 1852 (when it was known as the Jonathan Howard Company) until 1867. This particular weathervane is unique because it was included in the Index of American Design, a visual archive created between 1935 and 1942 as part of the New Deal's Federal Art Project, which was comprised of 18,000 watercolor renderings of American decorative art objects. Molded copper weathervanes such as this example are highly sought after by collectors. The record for such a weathervane was set in 2006 when a 62-inch tall Indian chief was sold for $5.8 million.
What: Chinese export Order of the Cincinnati plate, c. 1785
Where: Sotheby's New York (January 23, Chinese Export Porcelain from the Collection of Elinor Gordon)
Sold For: $83,500
This rare plate, which comes from the collection of the esteemed dealer Elinor Gordon, is from a service that was purchased by Colonel Henry Lee for George Washington that commemorated membership in the Cincinnati Society, which was founded in 1783 for leaders of the Revolutionary War. It depicts the Angel of Fame holding the emblem of the Society. Other examples from the service are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Winterthur Museum.