Gossipy Market Women at Nuremberg by Louis Comfort Tiffany, $50,000 (£39,500) at Cottone Auctions.

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A rediscovered oil by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) that probably hung in his Long Island home hammered for $50,000 (£39,500) at a recent Fine Art and Antiques sale held in the US.

Gossipy Market Women at Nuremberg, an oil on canvas housed in its original carved and giltwood frame attributed to Stanford White, was expected to bring $20,000-40,000 in the auction at Cottone (20% buyer’s premium) in Geneso, New York, on March 20.

Probably painted during a summer trip in 1889, when Tiffany travelled to the Exposition Universelle in Paris and then on to Germany and northern Italy, this picture of three market traders in conversation was exhibited in 1891 in both New York and Chicago.

By repute it was among the furnishings at Tiffany’s Oyster Bay, Long Island home, Laurelton Hall, where a study of the subject was kept until the house and contents were sold in the 1940s. The study was given by Tiffany’s daughter, Comfort Tiffany Gilder, to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Florida.

Bought at their peak

Two portraits of Regency beauties connected with the virtuoso English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) came by descent from the industrialist Colonel Charles Clifton (1853-1928) of Buffalo, New York.

Clifton was an important figure in the early years of the automotive industry, overseeing the evolution of a bicycle wheel manufacturer into the Pierce-Arrow Motor Company. A recipient of the Legion d’honneur for his work with the Allied war relief effort in France, he served on the board of the Albright Knox Art Museum from 1914 until his death in 1928.

He collected English portraiture at that extraordinary moment in the first quarter of the 20th century when prices were at their peak.


Lady Fitzwilliam, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke by Sir Thomas Lawrence, $74,000 (£58,500) at Cottone Auctions.

An unfinished oil depicting the face of Lady Fitzwilliam, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke, performed best. This picture was part of the Bretby Heirlooms sale that was held for the 7th Earl and the Dowager Countess of Chesterfield by Christie’s in London in June 1918. It was acquired by Clifton from Knoedler & Co, New York, in 1923 at a cost of $9000 (equivalent in purchasing power to over $160,000 today). This time out it was guided at $15,000-25,000 and made $74,000 (£58,500).

A portrait of Lady Elizabeth Mary, Countess of Belgrave, who later became Marchioness of Westminster, came with a copy of a 1923 receipt from Fearon Galleries in New York. Then it had cost a mighty $20,000.


Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Mary, Countess of Belgrave, $16,000 (£12,700) at Cottone Auctions.

Lawrence’s original was painted when Lady Elizabeth Leveson-Gower was 21 and unmarried. The 1818 sitting is well documented: Lawrence completed his work in a single two-hour session, with Lady Westminster later recalling: “His manners were what is called extremely ‘polished’ (not the fault of the present times). He wore a large cravat, and had a tinge about him of the time of George IV, pervading his general demeanour… I should not say he was amusing.”

The fame of the portrait grew as it was published as an engraving repeatedly in the 19th century: first in 1825 and then again in 1829, 1833, 1844 and 1891.

Included with this picture was a copy of a letter from Joseph Duveen, who commented: “I am acquainted with the original picture… and have no hesitation in saying that this portrait is a genuine autograph work by the English master, it was in our possession in 1902 and was sold by us to Mssrs Lawrie & Co (known afterwards as Sully & Co.) of London, England that year.”

However, there was less confidence among bidders that this was the 1818 original.

Precisely 101 years after it was bought for something in the region of $400,000 in today’s money, the picture came for sale with a guide of $30,000-50,000 but hammered at just $16,000 (£12,700).