14th-century painting hits $295,000 at Philip Weiss sale A 14th-century oil painting by Italian artist Allegretto Nuzi (1315-1373), titled "The Martyrdom of St. Blaise," sold for $295,000 at a sale held Feb. 23-24 by Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y.
14th CENTURY WORK OF ART BY THE ITALIAN PAINTER ALLEGRETTO NUZI (1315-1373)
SOARS TO $295,000 AT PHILIP WEISS AUCTIONS' MULTI-ESTATE SALE HELD FEB. 23-24
(Oceanside, N.Y.) - A long-lost but well-preserved 14th-century oil-on-panel painting by the Italian artist Allegretto Nuzi (1315-1373), titled “The Martyrdom of St. Blaise,” roared past its high estimate figure of $150,000 to hammer for $295,000 at a multi-estate auction held February 23-24 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The framed work, measuring 9” tall x 11-3/4” wide, was the top lot of the sale.
“We figured the auction overall would gross around $300,000, and as it turned out the Nuzi work brought nearly that much by itself,” said Philip Weiss. “Our sales never cease to amaze me. In what is supposed to be a bad economy, people keep turning out in record numbers and demonstrating time and time again they have money to spend.” The weekend event grossed about $890,000, he added.
The Nuzi painting was missing and presumed lost until resurfacing only just recently. The predella panel depicts the beheading scene of the Catholic martyr, Saint Blaise, a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century. The work was pictured but recorded as “homeless” in the book “Italian Pictures of the Renaissance” (London, 1968).
According to literature in that and other reference books, the panel was part of of the Tuscan altarpiece that included two other predella panels -- “The Arrest and Miracles of Saint Blaise” and “The Chastisement of Saint Blaise.” The “Arrest of” panel and the fragmentary remains of “The Chastisement” sold at auction in 2003 for $145,350. Mr. Weiss used that as a basis for a high estimate.
About 975 lots crossed the block over the course of the two days. Attendance at the event was strong, approaching 300 people, and the sale also attracted about 2,500 registered Internet bidders (through LiveAuctioneers.com), as well as active phone and absentee bidding components. “Items that were fresh to the market did very well,” Mr. Weiss remarked. “That wasn't as true for the other items.”
Other highlights from the sale follow. All prices quoted include a 13% buyer's premium.
An extremely rare slice of American literature changed hands when Joseph Morgan's “The History of the Kingdom of Basaruah” (Boston, 1715) gaveled for $49,635. Believed by historians to be the first prose fiction to be written and published in America by an American, the book is one of only four copies known to exist. The endpapers and preliminaries appeared to come from an early broadside.
A magnificent 4.62-carat Asscher cut diamond, with great color and in excellent condition, sold to a phone bidder (who examined the stone in person earlier in the week) for $27,120. The diamond had been appraised by The Jewelry Judge and was rated VS2 for clarity; the color rating was between J-K. Joseph Asscher developed and patented a cut that was the forerunner of the emerald