From the Estate of Esther Bondio Prattini
(1932 – 2017)
Collection of Rare and Important Works by Clementine Hunter
Esther Prattini’s interest in Clementine Hunter was initially sparked in the early 1970s. By the end of the decade, she had developed a friendship with the artist and made frequent trips from her home in New Orleans to Natchitoches to visit her. Prattini was often accompanied by her husband, Milton, who took his own carved wooden boxes to Hunter as gifts. For these trips, she brought blank canvases with her name inscribed on the back, often accompanied by hopeful written requests for certain subjects for Hunter to execute. Upon collecting the finished paintings, she received canvases which, true to Clementine Hunter form, rarely matched the requested scene. Nonetheless, the resulting works were always exemplars of their particular motif with Hunter often including additional intricacies and elements of complexness to each work. The time and care she took on completing the Prattinis’ commissions serves as a testament to the artist’s fondness for the couple. Eventually, Prattini would manage to amass all of her favorite scenes through her numerous ventures to Natchitoches.
The resulting collection of works showcases a remarkable array of themes, colors and elaborate compositions. The scenes featured in the collection represent a wide range of both Hunter’s most celebrated and less often seen subjects. In some cases, scenes are assembled in uncommon combinations or further enhanced by additional figures and elements which fill the negative space of the canvas or board and imbue the works with all the energy and movement of the people of her beloved Cane River Country. The color palettes are vibrant and varied, from deep green to rich lavender with a rainbow of hues in between. The highlight of the collection, “A Day at Melrose,” is one of the artist’s masterworks, incredibly rare both in size and complexity. Combining a kaleidoscope of vignettes, the painting captures everyday life at Melrose Plantation as witnessed by Hunter. The main house, the heart of the plantation, is highlighted in the center of the composition within its own circle, and radiating outward is a tapestry of scenes depicting the work, traditions, and leisure of the residents. This elaborate, overarching view helps to place her frequently depicted subjects within their greater context, thus adeptly memorializing the day-to-day life of Melrose on a grand scale.
Despite never having learned to read or write, Clementine Hunter developed her own way of understanding and depicting her world that creates a lasting impression and makes her works immensely desirable to collectors. Born near the end of 1886 on the notorious Hidden Hill Plantation in Marco, Louisiana, Hunter moved to nearby Melrose Plantation in 1902 and worked in a variety of positions from cotton picker to housekeeper and cook. Leftover paints from a visiting artist in the late 1930s inspired Hunter to begin painting. Like so many artists, she had an intense desire to create, and her subsequent oeuvre is one that continues to receive global recognition and accolades. Hunter was said to greatly enjoy encounters with collectors and people who appreciated her paintings. The Prattini Collection offered here is a lasting remembrance of a long friendship and also a rare opportunity to own an important work by this truly significant American artist.
Property from the Estate of Suzanne Levy Ormond
(1926 – 2004)
Neal Auction Company is pleased to present property from the Estate of Suzanne Levy Ormond (1926-2004).
Mrs. Ormond was an artist and civic activist who fought to preserve the French Quarter, save St. Charles Avenue’s live oaks and improve the New Orleans Public Library. In the 1960s she helped lead the fights against a proposed riverfront expressway along the edge of the French Quarter and an Uptown bridge across the Mississippi River.
Her eponymous Uptown pottery continues to produce the stoneware house-number tiles seen throughout the city. Suzanne Ormond Pottery is still family-owned and operated.
Mrs. Ormond helped organize the Foundation for the Crafts of the Newcomb Style which promoted the recognition of Newcomb Pottery. She co-authored Louisiana’s Art Nouveau: The Crafts of the Newcomb Style in 1976.
The Estate’s collection of 19th and 20th century silver, descended from various branches of Mrs. Ormond and her husband’s families. These objects from previous generations illustrate the evolving tastes of their times. The beautiful period monograms tie the objects to their former owners, including Gumbel, Levy and Adler ancestors. The collection tells the story of a family who set a handsome table over several generations.