Painting by Thomas Hart Benton headlines KC Auction & Appraisal's online-only auction ending Dec. 12
A painting by the renowned Missouri-born artist Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) is the expected headliner in an online-only auction being held by KC Auction & Appraisal Company, based in Kansas City, Mo. The auction is online now and ends Dec. 12.
By: KC Auction & Appraisal Company
The painting comes with an impeccable, rock-solid provenance. The young man depicted in the foreground is Randall Jessee, who happens to be the consignor. The Jessees were neighbors of the Bentons for a few years and the painting was done during that time, around 1967-1968. It's a diminutive work – 8 ½ inches by 6 ½ inches, less the frame – and it is artist-signed lower left.
"While the Thomas Hart Benton painting is the undisputed star of this auction, also being offered are estate items from the Claridge Court Retirement Community in Prairie Village, Kansas, plus additions," said Jason Roske, the owner of KC Auction & Appraisal Company. "There is also a drawing by Benton that's certain to attract attention. Overall, it's a packed and eclectic auction."
Items will range from fine jewelry pieces to a Tiffany Studios perpetual calendar to a set of four Charles Eames Eiffel Tower chairs to a circa 1780 William & Mary chest-on-stand to a Huntley & Palmer figural biscuit tin to a palace-size Ferahan Oriental rug. All 275 or so lots will be sold without reserve and carry starting bids of just $1 each – even the Benton painting and drawing.
More on the painting: it has a Maryland frame shop label on the reverse, because the Jessees moved to Maryland shortly afterward. The woman on the dock is Rita Benton, Thomas's wife, and the young man is Randall Jessee's brother. The truck near the barn was Randall's at the time. The painting has been in the Jessee family since it was done and has never been offered for sale.
The drawing depicts one of the luaus the Jessees held in their yard each year. Benton drew the piece, taking liberties with reality: the singer at the microphone is Randall, Sr. (the consignor's father), but instead of legs and feet Benton drew dogs' legs and feet. The stand-up bass player, Dave Ruf (of The Westport Kids), was given breasts. Benton signed the whimsical drawing.
Thomas Hart Benton was born in Neosho, Missouri. His father, Colonel Maecenas Benton, was a lawyer and four-term U.S. Congressman who wanted his son to go into politics, but Thomas desired a career in art. As a teenager, he was a cartoonist for the Joplin American newspaper in Joplin. Then he enrolled at The School of The Art Institute in Chicago and later the Academie Julian in Paris, in 1909. Benton was one of the driving forces of the Regionalist art movement.
In 1977, Benton's Victorian residence and carriage house studio in Kansas City was designated by the state as the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site. The site is nearly unchanged since his death: clothing, furniture and paint brushes are still in place. The 1988 documentary film Thomas Hart Benton was directed by Ken Burns, the noted documentarian.
Jewelry items in the sale will feature a 14kt gold and diamonds brooch that's nearly an inch across, and a circa-1800 Georgian-era pair of rose cut diamond earrings. Each of the earrings' diamonds have a 1 ½ to 2 carat total weight. Both are mounted in sterling silver, with gold wires.
The circa 1910 Tiffany bronze "Adam" perpetual calendar is stamped "Tiffany Studios" on the reverse, stands 6 inches tall and has the original stand and all the original cards. The set of four Charles Eames chairs boasts gorgeous blue leather upholstery and Eiffel Tower bases.
The circa 1780 William & Mary chest-on-stand is of a form reminiscent of a vargueno, a Spanish-style cabinet. The consignor purchased the piece from a local antique shop. The Huntley & Palmer "Literature"
The palace-size Ferahan Oriental rug, 12 feet by 16 ½ feet, comes with an appraisal from Feizy Rugs in Dallas that estimates its worth at $80,000. Also sold will be a circa 1800 ceramic lion, 9 inches tall, made by Nove Ceramics in Italy. It is similar to a model by Kandler at Meissen.
A William IV rosewood fitted ladies' dressing box has an engraved medallion on the lid that reads, "A Birthday Gift for Charles and Emma, February 28, 1836." And a tea bucket (or wine holder) is a mahogany and brass example from the Empire era and is in excellent condition.
Rounding out just some of the sale's expected top lots is an antique inlaid Regency canterbury (small music stand) of very unusual form, with the canterbury base and a table top, in gorgeous condition. Most of the items (not counting the Benton painting and drawing) are from the Claridge Court Retirement Community and have a formal English look and feel to them.
A preview will be held on Wednesday, December 7th, from 10-6 Central time, in KC Auction & Appraisal Company's gallery, located in the historic Quality Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, at 1070 Washington Street, or by appointment. For an appointment, you may call 816-283-3633.
For more information about KC Auction & Appraisal Company and the internet-only auction that is online now and will end Monday, December 12th, visit www.kcauctioncompany.com.