Published: November 14, 2006
Clars Auction Gallery ended its 2005-06 season on a golden note with the sale of a gold quartz and gold knobbed ebony walking cane, dated 1871, that set a new record at $49,725 and brought a joyful surprise to the thrilled consignor, who had fallen on hard times and was hoping to pocket a few hundred dollars from the sale.
The cane was a late addition to the firm’s September 9–10 sale, and was the last to cross the block. The two-day event solidly made Clars 2005-06 sale year the largest in the firm’s 50-plus year history with annual gross sales just shy of $8.5 million, a 20 percent increase over its 2004–05 season. The sale brought in more than $1.4 million in two days with just over 2,000 lots.
The event included consignments from important Bay Area estates and fresh-to-the-market art by renowned California, American and European artists. There were 900-plus bidders in the saleroom, 1,600 bidders registered online, plus a wealth of phone and absentee bidders. The Internet was a major factor in this auction with more than $200,000 being sold online.
Fine art offerings numbered over 300, including a collection of works from California artist Maynard Dixon, which came from the San Francisco estate of his second cousin, Edward Dixon Heise. Fine art highlights included “Indian Encampment,” a signed oil on canvas by California artist A.D.M. Cooper (1856–1924) that set a new world record at $19,890. The previous high record at auction for Cooper was set in 2002 at James D. Julia when a similar work entitled “Plains Indian Encampment” sold for $13,800.
A framed and signed oil on canvas by French artist Edouard Leon Cortes, “Quai du Louvre” attracted much presale interest. This work had been consigned by TV personality Tom Snyder from his northern California estate and was estimated at $25/35,000. Performing well, this work sold for $32,760 to an online bidder in Oklahoma.
Immediately following the Cortes offering were two framed KPM oval porcelain portrait plaques both signed “Wagner.” Martin opened the bidding on the first one, “Gitana” at $5,000. It became a battle between floor and phone bidders, which drove the selling price to $22,230. The second one, “Epanouissement,” sold for $21,060.
The collection of the works by Maynard Dixon (California 1875–1946), with direct family provenance, included eight pen and ink and pencil drawings estimated at $1/4,000 each; all performed solidly. A framed pencil drawing, “Adobe House, Winslow Arizona,” 1902, realized $4,972 and a framed pastel and pencil drawing, “Colorado Desert,” 1902, brought $4,387. The most anticipated Dixon work was a 16-by-20 framed oil on canvas, “Desert Peaks & River Bottom,” 1943, estimated at $50/70,000, that attained $76,050.
Just two lots later, an important work by John Marshall Gamble would take center stage in another bidding battle between phone, floor and the Internet. “Looking Down River” was a signed and framed oil on canvas. It sold solidly within estimate, also for $76,050.
The sale was one of the strongest for art in the firm’s history. Kathy Wong, Clars fine specialist, was “extremely pleased at how solid the entire art portion of the sale was.”
Furniture had its share of exciting moments on Sunday as several important pieces of American period furniture, which came to the block from museum deaccession and the estate of Edward Dixon Heise.
President Redge Martin opened bidding at $1,500 for a Federal mahogany library table, circa 1815, done in the manor of Duncan Phyfe and took it all the way to $12,870. A pair of coastal New England mahogany Chippendale side chairs, circa 1760, both with rare original leather seat upholstery, sold for $11,115.
A Chinese zitan-stained hardwood and jade inlaid throne (baozuo), mid–late Qing dynasty, sold for $15,210, to a buyer from Spain.
Clars Auction Gallery is at 5644 Telegraph Avenue. All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.clars.com or 888-339-7600.
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