Published: August 18, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Clars Auction Gallery
OAKLAND, CALIF. – August whipped through with surprising strength for Clars Auction Gallery as the firm saw an 86 percent increase in sales over the same month last year, due in whole to its 1,395-lot August 8 to 9 auction that brought in $1.6 million. Rick Unruh, chief executive officer and president at Clars, said it was the strongest August in the company’s history.
The heavy lifting was done by the sale’s selection of Asian fine and decorative arts gathered from Bay Area collectors. Unruh said the Bay Area is rich in Asian antiques and fine art and he is busy expanding his consignor and collector base with sales like this.
Unruh said he had strong international interest in the auction, with many of the sale’s top lots attracting seven or eight phone bidders on them.
The top lot of the auction at a healthy $172,200 was “Red Leaves and Bird,” an ink and color on paper by Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983). The work was consigned from a collector and had been featured in five publications on the artist, including the 1980 title from the National Museum of History in Taiwan, The Paintings and Calligraphy of Chang Dai-Chien Vol.1.
A number of lots consigned by Kobijutsu KenShuDo of the Japanese Osaka Estate Antique Company garnered significant interest. Clars began selling things from this collection in May, though prices did not reach an apex for the consignor’s material until this auction. A pair of famille rose ruby-ground “Medallion” bowls with DaoGuang six-character mark, just over 2 1/2 inches high, sold for $159,900; a 14½-inch Chinese blue and white “Lotus” vase would sell for $110,700; a Chinese ink on paper horse painting on a hand scroll, just under 43¾ inches, took $33,825; a pair of blue and white stem cups, $28,290; and a Kinrande pear-shaped ewer with cover, decorated on each side with a panel enameled in iron-red tones, 11 inches high, sold for $24,600.
Though they were probably not destined for the scrap yard, the price of silver rising about a dollar during the course of the sale was enough to bolster bidder confidence and push the prices in the category. Rising to $9,225 was a Japanese export Yamanaka sterling silver and jade cocktail shaker with a carved qilin jadeite belt hook-form handle and hexagonal nephrite lid. A service of 151 pieces of Reed & Barton sterling flatware, 236 troy ounces in all, sold for $9,225. Over tripling its estimate was a 5¼-inch Gorham sterling tea caddy with applied gilt metal animals, circa 1879, that sold for $7,995. A Chinese export gilt-silver and enamel compote in the Russian style would go well over the $500 high estimate to sell for $6,765.
A number of ethnographic pieces, including those from the Pacific islands came from the collection of Richard I.M. Kelton, Marina Del Ray, Calif. Leading them was a Fijian “Dui” club with rounded edge and carved detail that sold for $2,768. Behind at $1,968 was a Fijian “Calacula” club from the Nineteenth Century, with nice incised details throughout the entire piece.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. Clars’ next sale will be September 13. For information, www.clars.com or 510-428-0100.
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