Case to Auction Art, Antiques

December 29, 2016 in Editorials

Case to Auction Art, Antiques from Caldwell and Wells Collections & Folk Art from Cannon County Arts Center

Art and antiques from two prominent Nashville collections, those of Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Caldwell and Charles and Ann Wells, are among the highlights of the Winter Case Antiques Auction to be held Jan. 21 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville. The single-day, cataloged auction, packed with nearly 1,000 lots, also includes folk and outsider art being sold by the Arts Center of Cannon County, along with consignments from other collections and estates.

case-bb-maymefreemanDuring their 60-year collecting history, Dr. and Mrs. Caldwell helped spark national awareness of Southern fine and decorative arts through scholarly publications and their support of museums. Observers may recognize several Caldwell objects in the auction from past exhibitions and catalogs, and from the 1971 article in The Magazine Antiques profiling the couple’s Nashville home, including a Kentucky Federal tambour front sideboard, a Middle Tennessee Federal cellaret, and a Knox County secretary (the secretary and cellaret are also published in The Art and Mystery of Tennessee Furniture). An especially prized piece is the Caldwell’s carved limestone sculpture of a nurse by William Edmondson. Edmondson was a former Nashville hospital custodian who in 1937 became the first African American to be given a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Caldwell’s American art collection also includes paintings by Edwin Dickinson, Ralph Blakelock, Gilbert Gaul, and Robert Loftin Newman, and sculptures by Edith Barrett Parsons and Kentucky artist Tim Lewis. The Caldwell collection also features a rare Tennessee sundial by Henry Eichbaum and a number of pieces of fine English silver, rare Tennessee history, medical, and other books, and Asian antiques.

For many years, Ann Wells was one of the go-to dealers in the South for fine antique maps and rare books. Many are included in the auction, along with her collection of American 19th and 20th century art, amassed with her husband Charles. It includes a Charles Demuth watercolor of two women at the beach; a Southern landscape by Everett Shinn; an oil of Nashville’s Parthenon by Cornelius Hankins; several signed Red Grooms prints; a Miles Maillie sculpture of Red Grooms; and contemporary abstract works by Louis Le Brocquy, Beverly Pepper, Carl Morris, Reuben Tam, and Morton Kaish.

The auction will feature dozens of examples of Folk and Outsider Art which have been on display for the past several years at the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury Tenn. Highlights include a carved and painted stone bust of Martin Luther King Jr. by Tim Lewis, wood carvings by Raymond Coins, James Harold Jennings, Shields Landon Jones, Howard Finster, Sulton Rogers, Herbert Baggett and Braxton Ponder; quilts by Sarah Mary Taylor and Garland and Minnie Adkins, pottery by Burlon Craig of North Carolina and Jerry Brown of Alabama, and paintings ranging from representative to abstract by Helen LaFrance, Benjamin F. Perkins, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Alice Moseley, and Mary Tillman Smith.

The Jan. 21 auction also contains several pieces of fine art from private Tennessee collections and estates, including a Carroll Cloar painting depicting three children watering a garden and a Cloar pencil study, along with a New York city street scene by Knoxville-born artist Joseph Delaney and an abstract by his brother Beauford Delaney. An unusual East Tennessee still life genre painting by Mayme Freeman, depicting a long rifle hanging from a cabin’s mantel along with a powder horn, stoneware jug and other pioneer objects, is notable for having been exhibited at Knoxville’s landmark Appalachian Exposition of 1910. There is also a 19th century portrait of a little girl attributed to William Shackelford, a small watercolor portrait of a young man by John Wood Dodge, a pair of watercolors of John and Sarah Doan of Kentucky, and a pair of oils of Col. and Mrs. George M. Pattison of Memphis attributed to James Hart. There are landscapes by Morgan Stinemetz (an East Coast artist who settled in Tennessee after exhibiting at the 1913 Armory Show), Washington Girard and Cornelius Hankins, along with equine paintings from a Lexington, KY collection. Other artists represented include Robert Birdwell, Werner Wildner, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Fred Green Carpenter and Greg Ridley.

A bronze ballerina titled “La Danseuse Nattova,” by Serge Yourievitch leads a private Middle Tennessee collection of sculpture including female figures by Franz Bergman and Manette de Lyee de Belleau. And contemporary art seekers will find two early works by American sculptor Duane Hanson and abstract oils by Hans Hofmann and Paul Jenkins. Also available are also four ceramic Pablo Picasso vessels, a rare Picasso signed lithograph “Tete De Faune Chevelu,” and signed prints by Man Ray, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, and George Rouault.

One of the most interesting pottery lots is a 19th century double handled jar with applied relief decoration, attributed to the Hedgecough pottery of Middle Tennessee. East Tennessee is represented by multiple pieces including a stoneware monument base with incised hex star decoration and a cobalt floral decorated stoneware jug, both attributed to Charles Decker of the Keystone pottery. There is also a large Burlon Craig face jug and jugs attributed to William Chriscoe and James Hays (all from North Carolina), along with Kentucky and Tennessee whiskey advertising jugs.

Textiles include one of the few known Tennessee samplers to incorporate figures, worked by Margaret Reaves of Maury County in 1830, along with a rare 1828 Montgomery County alphabet and verse sampler by Martha Edmondson. The auction also includes a collection of early English Oak furniture from the Nashville estate of Peter Fyfe; a Victorian sofa and table, both attributed to Meeks; a Tiffany clock in elaborate carved case attributed to Horner, a Kentucky inlaid sugar desk, plus a huntboard and tiger maple chest of drawers, both likely from East Tennessee’s Burgner School of cabinetmakers.

Nearly 200 lots of silver and estate jewelry will be auctioned, including a collection of Kirk Repousse pattern hollowware, and an antique pocketwatch collection. There is also an estate collection of graded ancient gold coins, Civil War memorabilia, a collection of 30 Winchester firearms, several early trade signs, and collections of snuff bottles, Lalique glassware, and paperweights.

The complete catalog for the auction, with full descriptions, price estimates, and photographs for items, in the order in which they will be sold, can be viewed online at The auction will take place at Case’s gallery in the Cherokee Mills Building, 2240 Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 9 a.m EST. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A preview will take place on Friday, Jan. 20, from noon to 6 p.m. EST or by appt. For more information or to consign objects for a future auction, call the gallery in Knoxville at (865) 558-3033 or the company’s Nashville office at (615) 812-6096 or email