An oil on canvas portrait painting of Anglo-Irish socialite, society hostess and art collector Oonagh Guinness (1910-1995), by Philip de László (Austro-Hungarian/U.K., 1869-1937), soared to $324,500 at a two-session auction held September 12th and 13th by Ahlers & Ogletree, live in the Atlanta showroom as well as online. The whereabouts of the portrait painting had been a topic of conjecture for years, and when it suddenly turned up in Atlanta, bidders pounced. It had a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$60,000.
The painting, officially titled “The Honourable Mrs. Philip Leyland Kindersley, nee Oonagh Guinness, later Lady Oranmore and Browne,” was the centerpiece lot in an auction that featured items from the spectacular Atlanta estate home known as White Oaks, a fine mansion residence brimming with superb decorative arts from high-end retailers and world-class auctions.
The oil rendering was a ¾ length portrait depicting one of the three “Golden Guinness Girls” and the daughter of Arthur Ernest Guinness (1876-1949), an engineer and the second son of brewing magnate Edward Guinness (1847-1927), a prominent businessman and philanthropist who, as head of the family’s eponymous brewing business, rose to become the wealthiest man in Ireland.
Ms. Guinness was shown seated and wearing a white chiffon dress with green sash and holding a wide brimmed hat. Bidders pushed the 1931 work, measuring 52 ½ inches by 39 inches (sight, less frame), well past its $30,000-$60,000 estimate.
Philip de László was an artist known for his portraits of royal and aristocratic personages. In 1900, he married into the Guinness family himself by wedding Lucy Guinness and he became a British subject in 1914. The painting of Oonagh Guinness brought the second highest sum ever seen at auction for the artist. Another piece sold in December 2019 at Christie’s in London for about $350,000.
The White Oaks estate was filled with fine decorative arts from names like Steuben, Baccarat, Hermes, Christofle, Tiffany & Company, Lalique, Ralph Lauren Collection, Buccellati, Moser, Fornasetti and Asprey; as well as fine antiques from the Doris Duke Collection, acquired from around the world and previously sold at Christies. Most brought robust prices in the auction.
Following are additional highlights from the auction, which grossed $1,580,210, including the buyer’s premium. All of the 769 lots found new owners. More than 600 absentee and phone bids were executed and over 9,100 online bids were placed across four platforms.
A pair of Chinese Ming dynasty (1368-1644) tileworks of Buddhist lions, from the Doris Duke estate, brought $37,200. The ochre, turquoise and aubergine glazed tileworks, each one 53 inches tall, depicted seated Buddhist lion figures on stands. Also, a pair of large Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) polychrome painted pottery horse figures in prancing stance, 21 ¼ inches tall on a 1 ½ inch base, sold as one lot for $12,400.
An exquisite 20th century Buccellati sterling figure of a bird of prey perched on a naturalistic stump, 28 inches tall and marked to the back of the tailfeather with maker’s mark, fetched $27,225. Also, an oil on canvas still life painting of sliced fruit by Peter Von Artens (Argentina, 1937-2003), titled Melons, depicting watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupe, about 40 inches by 42 inches (sight, less frame), brought $18,150.
Staying with the fine art category, an oil on canvas inland ocean view painting with sailboats, signed by Pierre Bittar (American/French, b. 1934), titled “Vue Sur St. Jean Cap-Ferrat (View of St. Jean Cap-Ferrat),” gaveled for $8,060; while an oil on canvas Impressionist work depicting two people working in the foreground and boats sailing in the background by Gaston Sebire (French, 1920-2001), titled French Tropical Landscape, rose to $5,445.
A late 20th century genuine alligator upholstered wingback chair by Ralph Lauren with brass nailhead details and a loose cushion, rising on square legs, reportedly from Ralph Lauren’s private collection, went for $22,320. Also, an 18th century pair of English Queen Anne pier mirrors (or looking glasses), having giltwood shell carved tops with a floral etched two-part plate, unmarked, 59 ¾ inches tall by 23 inches wide, hit $11,780.
A complete six-volume set of Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War,” first British editions (London: Cassell & Co., Ltd., 1948-1954), having leather hardcovers with black cloth bindings, hand-signed to Volume 1 “Winston Churchill,” finished at $15,730. Also, a large Elkington & Co., Ltd. (English, 1861-1963) sterling silver wine cistern (or cooler) having double handles decorated with lions and a chased grape motif rim, made in 1904, about 13 inches tall and weighing a total of 106.161 ozt., changed hands for $11,800.
Ahlers & Ogletree is a multi-faceted, family-owned business that spans the antiques, estate sale, wholesale, liquidation, auction and related industries. To learn more about Ahlers & Ogletree and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auctions, please visit www.AandOauctions.com.