03 December 2017

A Chess Painting and a Namesake

Two weeks ago, in the previous edition of Top eBay Chess Items by Price, we saw A Six-Figure Chess Item at Auction, featuring a Sotheby’s live auction for 'Marcel Duchamp : Pocket Chess Set'.

After a starting price of US $160.000, the auction lasted two minutes, with the bid rising by increments of $10.000 every ten seconds or so. The winning bid was $340.000 after 13 bids.

By some odd coincidence, this edition of 'Top eBay Chess Items' also features a Sotheby’s live auction for a six-figure painting. The item pictured below was titled 'Edwin Lord Weeks : A Game of Chess', and sold for US $110.000 after 20 bids. Although the item had a starting price of $40.000, the first four bids were under that amount. Once the bidding reached $50,000, the price climbed in increments of $5.000.

The description informed,

After years of travel through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and India, the American artist Edwin Lord Weeks remained captivated by the sights he encountered abroad. Toward the end of his career he began an ambitious series of paintings based on A Thousand and One Nights.

Having documented his travels through sketches, paintings and photographs, Weeks was well equipped with the source material for the present scene, and was careful to render the architecture, complete with its delicately carved stone latticework, as well as the costumes of the two figures. The lounging woman is swathed in elaborately embroidered silks, reminiscent of the Nautch dancing girls whom Weeks had painted in India.

For the complete description, see the Sotheby’s page, weeks, edwin lord; a game of chess. There we learn that the painting was part of an auction for European Art that took place on 21 November 2017 in New York, that its estimate was 50.000-70.000 USD, that the lot sold for '137.500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)', and that the work is an oil on canvas (55 1/4 by 73 1/4 in., 140.3 by 186.1 cm).

Is Edwin Lord Weeks a distant relative? Wikipedia has a page Edwin Lord Weeks, that says,

Weeks was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1849. His parents were affluent spice and tea merchants from Newton, a suburb of Boston, and as such they were able to finance their son's youthful interest in painting and travelling. As a young man Weeks visited the Florida Keys to draw, and also travelled to Surinam in South America.

The page also mentions, 'In 1872 Weeks relocated to Paris, becoming a pupil of Léon Bonnat and Jean-Léon Gérôme.' The painter Gérôme executed two well known works of caissart titled 'Arnauts playing chess' and 'Almehs playing chess in a cafe', although I'm not convinced that the game pictured in both is indeed chess. A work similar in composition to those two is 'A game of chess in a Cairo street' by Weeks.


Later: Re the sentence 'Although the item had a starting price of $40.000, the first four bids were under that amount', a note at the top of the eBay page says, 'Live auction bidding may start higher or lower'. I assume this means 'higher or lower than the starting price'. A link at the bottom of the page leads to: How live auctions work (at Sotheby’s).

No comments: