2020 Fine Sporting Art, American Paintings, and Sculpture

34| Herbert Chevalier Haseltine (American, 1877-1962)

Horse Head

Plaster, 11" x 13"

$4000. - $6000.

Provenance: Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, Property from the Ralph Esmerian Collection, October 2, 2011

Herbert Haseltine is recognized as one of the greatest American animalier sculptors of the 20th century. Haseltine gained commissions from […]

Herbert Haseltine is recognized as one of the greatest American animalier sculptors of the 20th century. Haseltine gained commissions from many of the wealthiest sporting enthusiasts in the United States and abroad, including King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of England and Prince Sch_nburg-Hartenstein of Vienna. Most important in this context was the acquaintance of the Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar. While in India working on a monument for the maharaja, Haseltine was shown the maharaja?s favorite stallion and mare, Indra and Lakshmi. An extensive future project that would take the artist many years to complete was then conceived. Finding inspiration in the intricate designs and elaborate decorations used to adorn the horses in 17th- and 18th-century India, Haseltine set about constructing models of Lakshmi and Indra with the hope of finding a patron to fund his ultimate vision for the pieces ? solid gold busts of the two prized horses adorned with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Although the preliminary work on the project had begun in the 1930s, it was not realized until 1949 through the patronage of the wealthy heiress and jewelry aficionado Barbara Hutton. With Hutton?s support, Haseltine finished the pieces in three years. His work was aided by the Bedi-Rassy Foundry in New York, which cast them in 24-karat gold, then chased and ornamented the gold heads with precious jewels. This plaster bust of Lakshmi was a prized part of the collection of famed New York jeweler Ralph Esmerian, who had quite a personal connection to the piece. The plaster bust, along with many of Esmerian?s other prized possessions, was sold at public auction in 2011 when the once-prominent jeweler defaulted on a rather sizable loan. A CNN Money article from 2009 titled ?Diamonds Are a Banker?s Worst Friends? mentions the two works by Haseltine, saying: ?When Ralph talks about jewels, he sounds like a boy showing off his baseball cards. A favorite piece is a pair of horse heads sculpted by Herbert Haseltine for the heiress Barbara Hutton out of 24-karat gold and embedded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. The horses held a mythical place in Ralph?s childhood. His father supplied Haseltine with the stones. Esmerian bought the horse heads from a private dealer about eight years ago.? Haseltine?s ?Indra? and ?Lakshmi? were offered in Sotheby?s The Midas Touch sale on October 29, 2019, in London with a pre-auction estimate of ?600,000 _ ?800,000.

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