Ancient ceremonial objects, masterfully carved and painted mythical figures, and other fascinating cultural artworks will take center stage on May 24 at Artemis Gallery’s Northwest Pacific Coast, Tribal and Pre-Columbian Art auction. The fully curated offering of 341 lots features prized holdings that were privately amassed over many years by respected collector and dealer Joseph Alphabet. Start time is 10 a.m. Eastern, with Internet live bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.
The stunning beauty of pieces created by Native-American peoples of the Pacific Northwest sets the tone for this sale of colorful, extremely high-quality art. Among the most visually appealing entries is an early 20th-century Haida painted, carved-wood helmet. It is topped by a three-dimensional stylized wolf with a collar of silvery fur and bares a tooth-filled mouth. Most recently part of a Newport Beach, California, private collection, it is estimated at $1,850-$2,750.
A fabulous figural pairing, either Tlingit or Haida in origin, consists of a three-dimensional Potlach Ceremony frog-form hat and matching Janus-form rattler. “The Tlingit have great respect for frogs and believe they bring good luck and fortune,” explained Teresa Dodge, managing director of Artemis Galleries. This particular duo, painted in a gorgeous peacock-blue color with red, yellow and black accents, was exhibited at the 1910 Vancouver (Canada) World’s Fair. Estimate: $3,250-$5,000
Several totem poles are offered from the featured collection, including a huge (27.5in high by 24in wide) example from the Namgis subgroup of the Kwakwaka’wakw or Nimpkish, peoples of Yalis (Alert Bay), British Columbia. This majestic 20th-century artwork displays an eagle with wings spread atop a grizzly bear that holds a rival chief in his paws. Its auction estimate is $3,000-$5,000.
A collecting category of greatly increasing interest is the art and relics of Oceania, including Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and other Pacific islands. The exceptional array of handcrafted pieces in the May 24 sale includes ancient Hawaiian basalt adzes (circa 1400) used for cutting, smoothing and carving wood; as well as many later objects of the 18th and 19th century.