Published: December 23, 2019
Review by Anne Kugielsky, Photos Courtesy Michaan’s Auctions
ALAMEDA, CALIF. – At Michaan’s December 6 Winter fine sale and December 7 gallery auction, top lots spanned multiple categories from American art, fine estate jewels, and Tiffany Studios glass to Art Deco. Bay Area artists of international renown, designer fine jewelry and Art Deco furnishings were top sellers, with the auctions featuring property from the Sylvia Blumenfeld Trust and property from a San Francisco apartment designed by Steven Volpe. Two fine collections of Art Deco and Art Moderne were offered, both attracting international interest.
With well above 1,000 lots, tops lots included an untitled work by American artist Sam Francis that sold at $132,000, a Tiffany dragonfly lamp that realized $180,000 and a 7.92-carat diamond ring from the Blumenfeld trust at $150,000.
According to Jill Fenichell, Michaan’s furniture and decorative arts specialist, “from classic to contemporary, we had a good, strong two days. We had several special estate collections with fine results.”
Several of the offerings came from a San Francisco apartment where Fenichell said she did a walk through discovering a home filled with Art Deco, French Moderne and continental pieces. “The apartment was designed by Steven Volpe and the decorations and furniture were classic Art Deco. We had people from LA, Vegas, Portland and all over who came to see it. Art Deco fans!”
The Tiffany dragonfly lamp was from the original buyer’s family. The 20-inch cone shade, mounted on a rare bronze “twisted vine” base, 26 inches overall, was accompanied by an original purchase receipt showing the sale on October 21, 1949. The lamp plus the accompanying hanging dragonfly pendant (sold later at $6,985) originally cost $35 and had remained in the same family since its purchase in 1949. The shade, with strong coloration graduating from mottled blue purples at the upper section to greenish blue at the lower rim, is unusual in that all of the Tiffany glass cabochon jewels are plated with an extra layer of glass on the interior, creating a deeper coloration.
The large acrylic painting by Sam Francis (1923-1994) was among the works by California artists that shone brightly on December 6 when the 1983 painting realized $132,000. Francis is regarded as one of the leading interpreters of color and light; his work holds references to New York abstract expressionism, color field painting, Chinese and Japanese art, French impressionism and his own Bay Area roots. This mid-career painting exemplifies his aesthetic vision.
The Bay Area Figurative Movement was featured, and collectors flocked to works by Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Elmer Bischoff. A Robert Kelly oil and mixed media work, “Thicket XLIII,” garnered many inquiries from designers in New York and beyond. Estimated at $3/5,000, it sold for $15,000. It was one of many pieces from the Volpe-designed San Francisco apartment.
Other fine art that sold well includes James Weeks’ (1922-1998), 1982 acrylic on canvas titled “Cello Sonata 1966-1968,” which realized $37,200. The 53½-by-69-inch signed work featured a Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York City label verso with full cataloging and inventory number MI679D.
Two other works of fine art were among the top lots in Saturday’s auction. Some 15 bidders competed for an acrylic on an unstretched canvas by Maqbool Fida Husain (1913-2011). “Mother with Dove,” 40 by 26 inches, came with a $10/15,000 estimate but sold for $19,200. M.F. Husain, the name by which the artist is best known, was a leading figure in the history of Indian modernism. A founding member of the Progressive Artists Group formed in Bombay in 1947, Husain played a leading role in revolutionizing art in India by parting ways with the dominant genres of academic painting and miniaturist nostalgia. The lot was accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from Cinema Ghar: Museum of Art and Cinema with full cataloging and signed M.F. Husain.
Lynn Bogue Hunt (1878-1960) was an American artist known for his wildlife works and as an illustrator of magazines and books. His “Fishing at Sunset,” oil on canvas, 10-1/8-by-11-1/8-inch framed painting sold above high estimate at $5,100.
South Asian artists of the Twentieth Century were featured on December 7 including “Village Scene,” a watercolor by Syed Haider Raza, which sold for $3,800. Works by early Twentieth Century American artists also sold well, including Cecil Crosley Bell’s “Queen Mary ’36,” estimated at $1,200/1,800, which realized $4,500; and Chauncey Foster Ryder’s “The Mill Pond,” at $3,900.
Saturday’s auction offered unique opportunities to collectors of fine furnishings, as presented by Fenichell. A leading highlight was the set of dining chairs from Villa Kerylos, a Cote d’Azur house that has been a French historical monument since 1966. The rare set of eight elmwood Klismos chairs, circa 1910, is attributed to the architect and archaeologist Emmanuel Pontremoli, who designed Villa Kerylos; the set realized $22,800. Another top lot was a Jacques Adnet attributed low table of gilt-brass faux bamboo topped in black leather. Estimated at $3/5,000, the Adnet table, circa 1950, realized $20,400 with two strong bidders pursuing it, according to Fenichell.
Among the Art Deco finds that resonated with collectors was a burl walnut and black marble furniture suite, Paris, circa 1930, comprising a buffet and side cabinet ($3/4,000 estimate) that realized $7,800. Another Art Deco highlight was a striking modernist glass and wrought iron vase by Daum and Majorelle. The pink lavender circa 1930 vase realized $3,900.
A lady’s Art Deco-style carved Lisio salon chair, from the San Francisco Volpe-designed apartment, brought $3,000. A pair of Maison Baguès-style gilt-metal and upholstered hall chairs realized $4,200.
The Sylvia Blumenfeld Trust included a collection of fine jewelry that dazzled bidders and brought a fitting close to a stellar year of jewelry sales presented by Michaan’s specialist and GIA gemologist Elise Coronado. In both December auctions, diamonds were plentiful, led by the 7.92 carat pear-cut diamond ring mentioned earlier that realized $150,000. A glamorous multi-stone, 18K yellow gold “Rainbow” jewelry suite by H. Stern, brought $10,200. Also going to $10,200 was a Marina B two-tone jewelry suite, a striking 1980s design of yellow gold and contrasting blackened gold. H. Stern’s suite of diamond-accented deep green tourmaline jewels realized $8,400; and a pair of “Parentesi” gold bracelets by Bulgari went to $7,800. Equally adaptable to formal and informal wear, the distinctive Parentesi line was introduced by Bulgari in the early 1980s.
December’s Gallery Auction featured fine diamonds, including a lot of two unmounted stones that sold for $7,200 and a diamond ring at $1,800. A suite of chalcedony jewelry from Gump’s sold for $1,560. Several lots of designer costume jewelry sold very well, including a multicolored array by Chanel ($1,560) and a lot of vintage Chanel pieces in red and green tones ($1,200). Native American jewelry featured a Navajo concho belt by Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez that realized $1,320.
Rounding out the top lots over the two days was a pair of French Regence style dore bronze marble top tables, $13,200; a 14K yellow gold mesh purse that sold at $3,600; a Longquan celadon Kinuta vase from the Ruri Fugimura collection surprised as some 19 bids pushed the 9-3/8-inch cylindrical vase, which featured a pair of fish handles, well above its $1,5/2,500 estimate to sell at $6,000.
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For further information, www.michaans.com or 510-740-0220.
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