By Carter B.
This season’s major auction of
Indian Art was very successful with more than 84 percent of the
571 offered lots selling for a total of $2,454,650.
"Interest in American Indian
high," David M. Roche of Sotheby’s said after the sale,
adding that "Southwestern material in particular had a very
strong performance with the market for ceramics continuing to
The most expensive item sold
was Lot 407, a
large Kwakiutl wood shaman figure. It sold for $145,500 (including
the buyer’s premium as do all sales prices in this article),
nicely over its high estimate of $120,000. The 55 1/2 inch high
sculpture showed a shaman wearing a headdress with 6 large imitation
bear claws seated with a very expressive face with balck and red
Art of the Northwest indians
has been very
popular for a long time because of its fine stylization. Lot 391,
for example, a fine Tlingit chief’s ceremonial wood dance
rattle in fine condition with a avian-like face on the underbelly
and pronounced hook beak, sold for $32,200 and had a high estimate
Many lots went considerably
over their high
estimates. Lot 14, for example, a large San Idelfonso polychrome
jar, 23 1/2 inches in diameter, sold for $96,000, almost four
times its low estimate, setting a world auction record for an
historic pottery jar. The jar had a wide frieze of bold geometric
and scholling elements, "perhaps stylized bird motifs."
Lot 15, a large Cochiti polychrome storage jar, 19 3/4 inches
in diameter, sold for $60,250, twice its high estimate. Lot 24,
a large Tesuque dough bowl, 18 inches in diameter, sold for $15,950,
almost three times its high estimate of $5,500. Lot 79, a Hopi
polychrome jar, 16 1/2 inches in diameter, sold for $12,650, twice
its high estimate.
Indian baskets also did well.
Lot 91, a large
Apache pictorial polychrome coiled storage basket, 21 3/4 inches
high, sold for $37,375, more than twice its low estimate.
Garments such as vests,
dresses, gloves and
leggings generally sold within their generally reasonable estimates.
Lot 205, for example, a very attractive Sioux beaded and fringed
hide dress with matching leggings sold for $8,625 and had a $8,500
high estimate. Lot 216, an attractive pair of Plains beaded and
fringed hide gauntlets sold with its estimate for $1,725. Lot
198, a Plains beaded and fringed hide pictorial man's shirt, poncho
style, shown above, sold within its estimate for $19,550.
One highlight of the garment
category was Lot
562, a fine Cree quilled hide man’s coat, based on a European
frock coat, which sold for $74,000, more than double its low estimate
Another category that generally
its very reasonable estimates was Plateau painted parfleche envelopes.
These are very colorful articles painted with with geometic designs
and ranged in estimates from $1,800 to $4,500.
Children’s articles did well. A
and very colorful group of Plains beaded hide fetishes in the
form of turtles and lizards did nicely. Lot 228, for example,
shown at above, sold for $4,025, almost twice its high estimate
of $2,200. Lot 258, a Northern Plains beaded and fringed hide
doll, 17 inches high, sold near its high estimate for $5,175,
and Lot 263, a handsome Sioux doll and quilled toy cradle sold
for $3,162 and had a high estimate of $1,800.
Rugs continued to do well. Lot
451, a classic
Navajo child’s wearing blanket, sold for $76,750, more than
twice its high estimate and a world auction record for such a
Navajo silver belts, however,
did not do well
with three of four such pieces not selling even with relatively
Among other disappointments was
Lot 227, a
rare Northern Plains pictorial painted buffalo robe, probably
Crow, 98 1/2 inches long, that sold for only $46,000, well below
its low estimate of $65,000 and Lot 536, a magnificent Plains
quilled buffalo hide robe, finely decorated with narrow strips
of red, yellow and black-dyed porcupine quillwork, shown below,
which was passed and had a low estimate of only $20,000.
Some of the more modern lots
were perhaps too
aggressively estimated. Lot 491, for example, a very large tempera
on canvas by Richard Martinez, San Idlefonso (1898-1987, was passed
and had a low estimate of $75,000. It was the cover illustration
of the catalogue. And Lot 107, a 29 inch high black Tennessee
marble sculpture of a Pueblo woman by Allan Houser, Apache (1915-1994),
passed and also had a low estimate of $75,000.
Lot 570, an early and rare
Eastern Great Lakes
effigy bowl with a carved human head on one side of the bowl,
5 1/4 inches long, sold for $21,850, and had a high estimate of