LOS ANGELES — On November 15, John Moran Auctioneers presented the autumn rendition of its California and American Fine Art sale. Leading the auction was a work by William Wendt, followed by a Theodore Earl Butler painting. Other highlighted artists included John Marshall Gamble, Colin Campbell Cooper, Margaret Keane and Christopher Blossom.
William Wendt was one of the most important artists to live and work in Laguna Beach during his lifetime. His 1940 painting So Lone a Lake (Malibou Lake, CA) achieved an impressive $53,125 in the November 15 sale. The artist was caught trespassing in the area and when he told the park security what he was doing there and showed them his artwork, they granted him a lifetime pass.
Another strong plein air work offered was Theodore Earl Butler’s Poplar Trees Along the Epte, dating to 1908. One of many examples that shows how Butler was influenced by Monet’s style, this painting earned $40,625.
John Marshall Gamble is known for his paintings of California golden poppies. He never treated his best-known floral landscapes as such; he saw them as swaths of color that danced across the landscape. Poppies and Lupine Near Sta. Paula provoked heated bidding among collectors of Gamble’s work, elevating it to $34,375.
Another painting that became the subject of fierce bidding was Colin Campbell Cooper’s Cathedral At Les Martigues, France, completed in 1914. Along with his works of skyscrapers in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago, Cooper was known for his paintings of European landmarks. While in Europe, Cooper became part of the Titanic rescue mission in 1912. He would spend three more years in Europe painting and exploring. During this time, he created Cathedral At Les Martigues, France, which sold for $31,250 in the November 15 Moran auction.
The sale also featured three works by Margaret Keane, known to many as the “Big Eyes” artist for her distinctive portrayals of children. Among the pieces was her 1964 painting titled The Berlin Wall. It depicts 10 small children grouped on the other side of a wall that is topped with barbed wire. Of course, the most striking part of this work is the children’s big eyes looking directly at the viewer. The haunting and compelling image sold for $22,500. It was originally signed by Walter Keane, but his name was painted out by Margaret Keane after the celebrated trial of 1985 that established her authorship of that work and many others.
Maritime collectors were pleased with the selection of masterpieces by Christopher Blossom. He made a name for himself through his unique ability to visualize scenes from maritime history with a sincerity and feeling that is unequaled among his contemporaries. The four Blossom works featured achieved a cumulative total of $31,250, but the top lot was Winter Departure, New York Harbor, which brought $11,875.
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