ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Michaan Auctions’ monthly Gallery Auction that was held on Saturday, August 20 was a thorough success. The sale featured an extensive selection of 20th-century American art, including two pieces by Henrietta Berk (American, 1919-1990), a mural by Warren Chase Merritt (American, 1897-1968) and an array of works by Haig Patigian (American and Armenian, 1876-1950). In the Asian art arena, a painted scroll attributed to Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983) triumphed, achieving $23,370.
Furniture and decorative items kicked off the auction. Two Flora Danica porcelain articles estimated at $500-$800 realized $3,382, and a number of decorative clocks found new homes, including a Victorian walnut and mahogany cuckoo clock, which sold for $2,337.
The August 20 auction presented an abundance of fine art. Berk’s paintings proved popular with bidders, with lot 176, Speedboat California, achieving $5,227, and lot 175, simply titled Self Portrait, a beautiful, warmly-colored example of Berk’s bold style, earned $9,225. The auction also offered Merritt’s set of eight paintings and first mural, The History of Paper Making. Ordered in 1929 by Crown Zellerbach for its headquarters, the panels depict the making of paper from ancient Egyptian papyrus to the Gutenberg press to the contemporary production of paper by the San Francisco company that commissioned the artwork. The Merritt set sold for $9,225.
Diamond pieces comprised much of the jewelry on offer, but the stars of the August sale were lot 312, a platinum tennis bracelet with 34 round brilliant cut diamonds weighing a total of 5.15 carats, which earned $4,920; and lot 408, an unmounted 2.20-carat diamond with a pendant mount. It had been estimated at $4,000-$6,000, but bidders fought for the stone until ending at a total of $10,455.
The auction concluded with Asian art. Nearly every genre of ceramics made an appearance, including Longquan vases, Jun pottery, Jian bowls and famille rose porcelain articles. The most desirable ceramic was a Chinese blue and white moon flask depicting perched birds on flowering branches. Estimated at $700-$900, the flask attained $19,680.
It was not the lot that commanded the highest price, however. That honor went to a painted scroll of a landscape attributed to Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983). Daqian was one of the best-known Chinese artists of the 20th century, and mastered many different styles, from highly detailed portraits to splashed-ink landscapes. Such landscapes are his most sought-after works, and the scroll in the August 20 sale was an example. Made of golden paper, the scroll depicted a mountainous scene shaded with splashes of blue-green ink. Estimated at $2,400-$4,000, bidders fought for the piece until the price settled at $23,370.
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