Prized Horses and Presidents at Case’s Jan. 27 Auction

December 27, 2017 in Editorials

Portraits of two important Belle Meade Plantation horses, a book owned and signed by George Washington, plus ephemera, silver and jewelry from a family of early American politicians and generals are key lots at the Winter Case Antiques Auction, to be held Saturday, Jan. 27 at the company’s gallery in Knoxville, Tenn.

The single-day, cataloged auction, packed with some 900 lots, also includes Kentucky decorative arts from the estate of Lynn Renau, former curator of the Filson Historical Society and Kentucky Derby Museum; Tennessee furniture from the living estate of John and Donna Rogers of Greeneville, Tenn.; early American and Asian antiques from the estate of Christine Rehnke of Belle Meade; and maps and documents from the estate of the late Dr. Benjamin H. Caldwell of Nashville.

An odds-on favorite in the auction is the only lifetime oil portrait of Bonnie Scotland, a horse through which every winner of the Kentucky Derby since 1960 can trace its bloodline, and his groom, Robert Green. Bonnie Scotland’s acquisition in 1872 by General William Harding and subsequent breeding helped Belle Meade gain a reputation as one of the world’s best thoroughbred farms. The portrait, painted by William S. Kittredge in 1879, has a perfect pedigree, having descended in the Harding family to the present consignor. A portrait of one of Bonnie Scotland’s offspring, Springfield, from the Renau estate, is also being offered; it was painted by Kentucky thoroughbred painter Thomas J. Scott in 1885. Paintings by other well-known animal artists will also cross the block, including “Exercising the Greyhounds” by William Conor (Irish, 1881-1968) and a lush oil on canvas of cats by Carl Kahler (1855-1906). Other art ranges from 17th century Continental portraits to mid-20th century abstract paintings by Beauford Delaney (1901-1979) and prints by Calder, Picasso, Dali and Miro. A rare 19th century African American portrait by important Alabama artist William Frye will be sold, plus memory paintings by Kentucky artist Helen LaFrance and original works by Samuel Shaver, Thomas Campbell, Carroll Cloar, Dixie Durham, George Cress, and Red Grooms. Sculptures by Erte, Felix de Weldon, Michael Hamby, Terry Murphy, Tim Lewis, Jack Hastings, and Raymond Coins round out the fine art offerings.

National interest is expected in treasures from the estate of a Tennessee man whose list of ancestors reads like a who’s who of American history: General Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War under Thomas Jefferson; the Revolutionary War General Elias Dayton; and John Marshall, the Secretary of State under President John Adams, who also served as fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice and was a close friend of President George Washington’s. Items passed down Mr. Coleman’s family include a 1789 leather-bound copy of the Massachusetts Magazine bearing Washington’s signature and bookplate; a signed letter from Washington to Marshall; a portrait of Marshall; military appointments and other books and documents signed by Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren; a silver cup by Joseph Loring (1743-1815) with Gen. Dearborn’s initials; and a stunning cameo parure with tiara from descendants of General Dayton. The collection also includes period Tennessee Civil War photographs and a flag from U.S. Major Charles Harrod Boyd, who served on the staff of General George H. Thomas as Captain of Topographical Engineers, and a Mitchell and Tyler Virginia silver chalice inscribed to Lewis Minor Coleman, a Lt. Col. in the 1st Regt. Virginia Artillery.

Southern furniture in the sale includes a rare Federal inlaid desk and bookcase attributed to the Quarles cabinetmaking shop of Middle Tennessee; a Wilson County sugar sideboard; a Greene County, TN corner cupboard with carved fan and inlaid desk and bookcase; a Salem, North Carolina Moravian clock; and a Kentucky inlaid chest attributed to the shop of Porter Clay. Pottery by John Fashauer and George Doane of Ky., and James LaFever of Tenn. will be showcased, along with a scarce Solomon Reed East Tennessee full stock long rifle and other historic firearms.

A collection of fine mechanical music boxes promises to add a sweet note to the auction, while textile collectors will find a rare African schoolgirl sampler, plus samplers from TN and KY, and a Dayton, TN album quilt. The sale also includes a tantalus that descended in the Maney family of Nashville; a collection of Asian jade buckles and bronzes; art glass, and several collections of objects from the estate of Dr. Benjamin Caldwell: English silver, antique jewelry, Chinese export porcelain, Southern maps, and an early engraved view of Nashville.

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. 27 at 9 a.m. EST. Online, absentee and phone bids will also be accepted. A limited preview will take place at Case’s office in Nashville on Saturday, Jan. 6 from 3-8 p.m. CST, and a full preview will be held at the Knoxville gallery on Friday, Jan. 26, from noon to 6 p.m. EST or by appointment. 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