MONROVIA, Calif. – Moran’s biannual California & American Art Auction remains a strong draw for Southern California collectors. The house’s March 27 auction was a standing-room-only event, with heavy telephone bidding adding to the action. Collectors were eager to acquire location-specific works and quintessential examples by important American artists Guy Rose, Granville Redmond and Frederick Mulhaupt. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
The first lot up to the auction block was a diminutive Laguna scene by Hollywood, California, painter Edgar Alwin Payne (1883-1947). Laguna Cottage got the sale off to a good start with multiple floor bidders entering the fray, ultimately selling above estimate for a tidy $7,800. (All prices realized include Moran’s buyer’s premium.)
Shortly thereafter, Shadows, an Impressionist view of lush California hills by William Wendt (1865–1946 Laguna Beach, Calif.) sold for $30,000 with multiple floor bidders competing.
Indeed, local landscapes were the subjects of choice for a number of bidders at Moran’s March auction. The two highest-earning lots of the evening featured Southern Californian vistas. Granville Redmond’s (1871-1935 Los Angeles) view of an unidentified California lake with blooming poppies and lupine captured the attention of many bidders. With a $100,000-$200,000 estimate, bidding came down to two attendees and a telephone bidder, however, one of the floor bidders came out on top, paying $156,000 for the work (above).
Later in the sale, Guy Rose’s oil study for his widely admired Windswept Trees, Laguna (sold by John Moran Auctioneers in March of 2014 for $480,000) was offered with an $80,000-$120,000 estimate. Bidding between two attendees and two telephone bidders was fast-paced. In the end, the auctioneer facilitated a protracted battle between the two phone bidders, with the winner prevailing at $168,000.
Select works by East Coast artists also performed well, including one of the most anticipated works of the event: Frederick J. Mulhaupt’s (1871-1938, New York, N.Y.) monumental Impressionist painting Morning, Gloucester Harbor” (below). The circa 1920 work shows the Gloucester Harbor under first light’s orange cast, with sailors already hard at work aboard their vessels. Morning, Gloucester Harbor sold to a telephone bidder for $90,000 (est. $70,000-$90,000).
A Florida beach scene by Gloucester, Mass., artist Emile Albert Gruppe (1896-1978), titled The Pier from 17th Ave South, also caught collectors’ eyes. The painter’s treatment of the turquoise water and the dappled light filtering through the palm trees charmed bidders. Online activity bumped the opening bid to $2,750, with telephone and online bidders bringing the final price to $8,400 (est.: $2,500-$3,500).
Directly following the Mulhaupt, 19th century San Francisco artist Thomas Hill’s (1829-1908) Lake Scene, New Hampshire also appealed to East Coast clientele. In Lake Scene, New Hampshire, Hill placed two figures in a boat in the mid-ground before a mountainous backdrop punctuated with wisps of low-hanging clouds. Valued at $15,000-$20,000, the estimate was quickly eclipsed and sold for an exceptional $54,000.
A pair of contemporary Impressionist Western-themed works were offered later in the sale in quick succession and earned strong prices, boding well for Moran’s upcoming June 19th Art of the American West auction. Both works featured a palette of heavy ochre and yellow hues. Santa Fe Impressionist painter John Moyers’s Ute Country Visitors, which featured three riders on horseback descending into a valley, arrived at $8,750. (below), while Charles Muench’s Sierra Gold offers a view of riders emerging from a copse of trees ablaze with bright fall foliage (price realized: $5,400; est. $4,000-$6,000).
Lately, Moran’s buyers have also been keen to collect Modernist works. A selection of Post-Impressionist pieces by Los Angeles artist Mabel Alvarez (1891-1985) was brought to the block, and all earned strong prices. One particularly popular example, the artist’s A Field of Flowers, was a dreamy abstract composition of two figures seated in a citrus-hued field of wildflowers. Offered for $6,000-$8,000, the painting brought $7,800.
Earlier in the sale, John Haley’s (1905-1991, Berkeley, Calif.) colorful geometric rendering of his hometown found a strong foothold with bidders, bringing $7,500 (est. $5,000-$7,000).
Moran’s next California & American Fine Art Auction is scheduled for Oct. 23, and consignment inquiries are invited. For more information, contact John Moran Auctioneers via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 626-793-1833.