John Coker’s Jan. 15 auction led by European fine art with important provenance, antiques with Washington family provenance, Pre-Columbian artifacts

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Featured: Impressionist & Post-Impressionist art including works by Pissarro, Loiseau, Roussel and Friesz; 1898 Jeter portrait of child from prominent Southern family, Judaica collection

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Saturday, January 15, 2022, John W. Coker & Co., will auction antiques and fine art from several distinguished estates and families. The online-only event, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers, is highlighted by a very special selection of European Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings formerly in the collection of Dr. Albert Kinkade Chapman (1890-1984), president and CEO of Eastman Kodak.

E. Othon Friez, Bright Landscape with House, oil-on-canvas, 1901, signed lower right. Provenance: Collection of Dr. Albert K. Chapman; M.R. Schweitzer Gallery NYC. Estimate $60,000-$80,000
E. Othon Friez, Bright Landscape with House, oil-on-canvas, 1901, signed lower right. Provenance: Collection of Dr. Albert K. Chapman; M.R. Schweitzer Gallery NYC. Estimate $60,000-$80,000

“Very few people even knew Dr. Chapman’s collection existed before we auctioned part of his collection in 2010,” said Coker Auctions’ founder/owner John W. Coker. “He started collecting in the 1940s and acquired most of his artworks prior to the 1960s, buying from Knoedler, M.R. Schweitzer, Sam Salz, Milch and other well-known New York dealers. He never exhibited his collection. Once he purchased a painting, he did not want it out of his possession.”

Artworks in the January 15 auction with Chapman provenance include Ker-Xavier Roussel’s oil-on-canvas titled Satyr Chasing a Woodland Nymphette, estimate $60,000-$80,000; and a Camille Pissarro graphite-on-paper work titled The Artist’s Mother, $50,000-$75,000. Other oil-on-canvas highlights include E. Othon Friez’s Bright Landscape with House, $60,000-$80,000; and Gustave Loiseau’s A View From The Artist’s Studio Window, $40,000-$60,000.

The auction opens with an enchanting portrait whose lineage is connected to Southern “royalty.” Painted by Atlanta artist E. Sherwood Jeter (1862-1930), the oil-on-canvas depicts Mary Abbott Candler, a niece of Asa Griggs Candler, who purchased the full rights to Coca-Cola from the soft drink’s inventor in 1891. The portrait has passed by descent through the sitter’s family since its creation in 1898. It is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

There are many other artworks deserving of consideration, including a highly detailed Gifford Beal (American, 1879-1956) graphite-on-paper drawing of a park scene, possibly in New York City. Its estimate is $1,000-$2,000. A circa-1901 oil-on-canvas by F. Luis Mora, which will be included in the upcoming Mora catalogue raisonne by Lynne Pauls Baron, depicts an interior view of a studio, with Mora at his easel painting a portrait of a live model. In an obvious homage to the past, Diego Velazquez (1599-1660), the 17th century painter in the Court of King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal, is shown standing behind the artist. The work is in unrestored mint condition, and there is no record of its ever having been exhibited. Any painting by Mora is significant because he is regarded as America’s first Hispanic Master. The artwork offered by Coker is estimated at $5,000-$10,000.

Coveted Judaica comes from the family of Mr. and Mrs. Max Wolfe of Cincinnati, who moved to Tennessee in the 1930s and founded Quality Bakery, the first Jewish bakery in Knoxville. Eight 1920s sterling silver kiddush cups traditionally used to usher in the Jewish Shabbat are entered in the auction with a $600-$900 estimate.

Additionally, Coker will offer family items from a trunk that was inherited by Esther Maria Lewis Chapin (1871-1959), a great-granddaughter of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802). Some of the items originally discovered in the trunk were donated to Mount Vernon and, according to family lore, several pieces – including a few that feature in the January 15 auction – once resided in Arlington House, the home of General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) and his wife Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1807-1873). 

The historical collection includes a pair of hand-painted vases, $2,000-$4,000; and a pair of glass girandoles, $500-$2,500; from Arlington House. According to family legend, both the vases and girandoles were removed just prior to the Northern forces’ occupation of the Lee residence. Included in the same consignment is an exquisite embroidery-on- silk depicting roses which reputedly was created jointly by Martha Washington and Nellie Custis Lewis. Both women were renowned embroiderers and rose fanciers. Estimate: $1,000-$3,000

Also noteworthy within the auction lineup is a collection of Pre-Columbian fragments that has resided in the United States since the 1950s. One example, a clay jaguar figure, likely Mexican and approximately 500-1500 years old, is estimated at $500-$5,000. All of the artifacts were gifted to an American family who visited Mexico in the 1950s, returned home with the pieces, and displayed them in their Detroit home from pre-1958 until their consignment to Coker. 

An Anglo-Indian sterling silver presentation scroll holder (with scroll inside) is from the Raj Period and is ornately carved, chased and engraved. According to the scroll, the gift was presented in 1911 to “J. Moore, Esq., by the European Staff Clerks and Workpeople of The Bombay Woolen Mills.” It measures 15 inches long and is estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

John Coker’s January 15, 2022 online-only auction will start at 9 a.m. Eastern Time, with absentee and Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any item in the auction, call John Coker at 865-475-5163 or email [email protected].

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