Published: April 21, 2016
MONROVIA, CALIF. — Serving as the official grand opening of its new Monrovia location, John Moran’s March 22 California and American fine art auction attracted a large number of attendees with the first hour of the event a decidedly standing-room-only affair. Attendees were treated to refreshments and passed appetizers, and John Moran himself presided over the event. Telephone lines were full for the sale, which in no small part contributed to the strong 84 percent sell-through rate. Participation was also quite strong online.
Consignments from the estates of Phoebe Hearst Cooke and Carroll and Nancy O’Connor were a strong draw for Southern California collectors; in fact, the top lot of the evening hailed from the latter estate. Franz A. Bischoff’s “Sand Dunes and Pines, Monterey Coast, Calif.” was estimated at $80/120,000 but the large-scale composition s soon sold to a phone bidder for $180,000.
Another top lot was the colorful “Yellow Harbor – Deep” by New York modernist Paul Resika, which performed well at $33,000, breaking the auction record for the artist in the process. Ppreceding the Resika, Philip Geiger’s interior view “House” also broke a record for the artist, earning $5,400. Both works were from the O’Connor estate.
Additional auction records were set with Matteo Sandona’s “The Blue Vase” 1919 that attained $20,400; Richard Rackus’s jewel-toned view of Ojai valley from a tree-dotted hillside in “Ojai, Twilight” at $2,500; early California painter Pauline Powell Burns’ still life with a silver bowl and fruit at $13,200 and among a number of Western genre works on offer here was William Arthur Paxton’s sweeping view of riders on horseback crossing through Canyonlands under an expansive blue sky for $6,000.
Overall, Western genre bronzes and paintings seem to be holding their favor with collectors. A patinated copper sculptural group by Cave Creek, Arizona-based artist Gary Potteroff , consigned from the Jim and Lauris Philips Collection in San Marino, Calif., was brought to the block with a $2/3000 estimate. The sculpture quickly proved to be a crowd favorite with floor bidders, earning the auction record for the artist with a $3,000 selling price. “Operator at Queens,” a figural composition of cowboys in a rustic interior by New York painter John N. Marchand did not break any records, but the lot was one of the most highly anticipated works to be brought to the block; assigned a conservative $12/18,000 estimate. It fetched $21,600 on the telephone.
More Contemporary Western works from the estate of Phoebe Hearst Cooke also performed well overall; the contemplative “Coyotes and Cactus,” a large-scale oil by James Elwood Reynolds was estimated to bring $18/22,000. Depicting a lone cowboy on horseback at dusk, his face obscured by the deep shadow cast by his hat, the work struck a chord with collectors and sold for $36,000 to a buyer on the floor. Later in the sale, Bill Anton’s painterly “Rhythm of the West,” depicting a cowboy on horseback leading a packhorse against a bright, cloud-filled horizon earned $30,000.
Two anticipated paintings by Joseph Henry Sharp, each from the estate of Carroll and Nancy O’Connor, earned strong prices. Early in the sale, Sharp’s depiction of a nomadic Plains Indian encampment by a river performed just over estimate at $36,000. Sharp’s view of another Plains Indian encampment at dusk — this scene set in winter, earned $33,000 after dueling floor bidders set their sights on ownership.
A small selection of works by early American artists broke up the Western and California-centric paintings. John Lewis (Ludwig) Krimmel’s oil painting of children picking cherries near the edge of a grove found favor among East Coast collectors, realizing $13,530 to sell within estimate.
Collectors whose tastes run more towards Modern and contemporary works were not forgotten — Moran’s catalog featured a number of fine examples by Twentieth Century American artists, spurring an influx of online bidder activity. Representational of the artist’s highly saturated palette of contrasting hues, “Fancy Dancer” by John Nieto (b 1936) depicts a Native American dancer in ceremonial clothing against a vivid banded blue backdrop. Outbidding a number of absentee bidders, an Internet buyer took possession of the Nieto for $10,625. Eyvind Earle’s (1916–2000) atmospheric watercolor painting of a snow-covered mountain landscape turned quite a few heads while on display; the painting was sold to an absentee buyer who took the work home for $4,500.
The last lot of the auction also caused quite a stir; as the object of desire for quite a few registered telephone and online buyers, “Cheese Mold Standard with Olive” by well-known Los Angeles modernist Edward Ruscha was expected to outstrip its $20/30,000 estimate. The auction closed on a high note when the piece incited a bidding war between three phone bidders, ultimately bringing $66,000.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 626-793-1833 or www.johnmoran.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm