LOS ANGELES — May 17 proved to be the perfect California day for John Moran Auctioneers to host its California Living sale. The finely curated selection offered a treasure trove of fine art and accessories in the California aesthetic everyone knows and loves.
Paintings that illustrate the various breathtaking scenes the Golden State is known for earned major interest. The valley and mountain view depicted in the work of Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, View Down the Valley, had an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 but realized $5,625. Also, a San Francisco-esque harbor view from Richard Whorf, titled New England Harbor Scene, was estimated at $1,000-$1,500 and sailed away with $5,625.
The sale also featured casual-chic patio furniture, the best being lot 1164, a Brown Jordan Day Lily wrought iron nine-piece garden dining set with a stylized day lily motif. Estimated at $1,500-$2,000, it earned $5,000.
Along with outside furniture, this auction presented an array of indoor statement pieces, including a collection of tansu chests. The standout was lot 1062, a Japanese kiri wood stepped tansu chest crafted with seven tiers of drawers and tiny cabinets and fitted with iron hardware and handles. The word “tansu” combines two Japanese characters that embody two distinct functions, food storage and carrying firewood, and above both characters is the symbol for bamboo. The tansu chest was a testament to the ingenuity of Japanese joinery and was shown the recognition it deserved, bringing in $2,000 against an estimate of $800-$1,200.
The Spanish California genre was ably represented by Theodore Jackman’s Spanish Woman, an oil on canvas that sold for $2,813. Born in 1878 in Bloomington, Illinois, Jackman was an established illustrator and portraitist before he settled in Southern California in 1914. In the 1920s, he had a studio-home in Laguna Beach where he produced works that would eventually be exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide.
Jacob’s Ladder, a 1960 work on paper by Sister Mary Corita Kent, brought in an enthusiastic winning bid of $1,500. She was born Frances Elizabeth Kent in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and at the age of 18 she entered the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart. This institution was known to be very progressive and welcomed creativity, so Kent joined its teaching order, taking the name Sister Mary Corita. Kent’s primary medium was silkscreen, which is also known as serigraphy (“seri” is Latin for silk).
Rounding out the highlights was a large Kay Bojesen carved teak articulating monkey, which realized $2,000. Bojesen was born in 1886 and became known as one of Denmark’s most prolific artisans in the 20th century. After he became a father, Bojesen became fascinated with children, toys, and, most of all, wood, which reminded him of happy times from his own childhood when his father would cut wooden figures for him to encourage his creativity and imagination. These events ultimately lead Bojesen to embark on a storied career of designing wooden toys with soul and a sense of humor.
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