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Mixed Media Painting by Thornton Dial brings $84,700 in Ahlers & Ogletree’s January 14-16 Auction

A mixed media painting by Thornton Dial (American, 1928-2016) titled Struggling Tiger (1991) sold for $84,700, and a Tiffany Studios Favrile glass door from the 1920s titled The Sower, brought $51,425 to take top lot honors in Ahlers & Ogletree’s New Year’s Signature Estates Auction held January 14th thru 16th. There was no in-person bidding.

The Thornton Dial painting – full title Struggling Tiger (The Tiger Penned In) – was a paint and mixed media on canvas backed with panel and titled on verso. The 60 inch by 60 inch painting was a spectacular example of Dial’s work. It also marked the fifth highest auction record for a work by Dial and the highest record outside of a New York auction. Dial came into prominence in the 1980s. Ten of his paintings were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014.

The Tiffany Studios leaded and plated Favrile glass panel in oak door was the auction’s expected top lot, with a robust pre-sale estimate of $50,000-$100,000. It was originally commissioned by Melville Dewey (of the Dewey decimal system) as one of two doors to be installed in the Annie Dewey Memorial Chapel in Lake Placid, New York, in 1923, and dedicated to Dr. W.G. Russell.

It was the left door, showing a female as The Sower. The accompanying right door (not in the auction) depicted a male figure and was titled The Seer, by Grosvenor Dawer, Limited Club Edition #30, with Dewey’s signature. The door in the auction was likely designed by Mary Elizabeth Tillinghast (1845-1912). Overall, it measured 84 inches tall by 42 ¾ inches wide.

The three-day, three-session sale was Ahlers & Ogletree’s first major auction event of 2022. Session 1, on January 14th, offered the estate of a prominent Atlanta interior designer. Session 2, the following day, featured Modernism, estate jewelry, Asian arts, fine furs, African arts, vintage movie posters and advertising posters. Session 3 was packed with period antiques and fine art.

Bidders were able to register and bid on one of three online platforms:, and Phone and absentee bids were also accepted. Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

A colorless, crystal Lalique center table designed in France by Marc Lalique, of “cactus” form, featuring a round glass top, chrome support and a frosted base, was expected to change hands for $20,000-$30,000, but it hit $36,300. The table had a frosted mark to the foot and measured 60 inches in diameter by 28 ¾ inches in height. Creations by Lalique are highly prized by collectors.

A rare, well-carved Renaissance Revival ebonized and holly (or satinwood) accented cabinet secretary desk made circa 1874-1876 by the Wooten Desk Company (American, 1870-1893), previously owned by the President of Uruguay, rose to $37,200; and a walnut rocking chair with ebony accents by Sam Maloof (American, 1916-2009), signed and dated 1993, realized $21,780.

An opalescent koi glass mosaic in a patinated copper dragonfly relief Art Nouveau frame by Steven Stelz (American, 20th/21st century), titled Koi Pond with Lily Pads (1995), signed and dated, 44 ¼ inches by 24 ¼ inches (frame size), sold for $19,360. Also, two large allegorical porcelain figures by Meissen (German, founded 1720), depicting Day and Night, originally modeled by Heinrich Schwabe (1847-1924), each figure 21 inches in height, fetched $11,160.

A marble mythological figural statue by Cesare Lapini (Italian, 1848-1893), titled Standing Female Nude, from the estate of author Valerie Sherwood (pen name: Jeanne Hines) and her husband, of Atlanta, 50 inches tall, achieved $31,000. Also, a large pair of late 19th or early 20th century Chinese rose medallion floor vases, each one 35 ¾ inches tall with a flared neck, dragon handles and panels depicting floral and court scenes with gilded accents, finished at $30,250.

An oil on canvas painting by Willard Leroy Metcalf (Mass., 1858-1925), titled The Barn Door, signed lower left and housed in a 25 ¼ inch by 33 inch period giltwood frame, left the room for $37,200; while an oil on canvas laid on board by Harold Newton (1934-1994), one of the renowned Florida Highwaymen artists, titled Dusk, Florida Marsh, framed, achieved $18,600.

A continental 19th century foliate carved giltwood center table in the rococo taste, likely French, made in the manner of Joseph Effner (German, 1687-1745), boasting a shaped black Nero Porto marble top, climbed to $7,440. Also, a George II-style velvet upholstered giltwood bench (or daybed), made in the manner of John Vardy (1718-1765), Thomas Vardy (1751-1788) and William Kent (1685-1748), with canted-form, red velvet upholstery, commanded $4,240.

A hand-woven antique Turkish Oushak wool rug out of a collection in North Carolina measuring 12 feet 5 inches by 11 feet went to a determined bidder for $5,580. Also, a modern platinum and diamond eternity band comprising 8.36 carats, 22 emerald cut diamonds (VS2 clarity, H-I color), unmarked, from the estate of Joan O’Brien Diemer of Atlanta, made $13,750.

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