ALAMEDA, Calif. – At Michaan’s Auctions, the Bay Area’s marketplace for beautiful things, the gallery auction on Saturday, Oct. 12, delivers excitement in every category. From fine estates and collections, curated by Michaan’s team of seasoned appraisers and specialists, the property to be sold is diverse and abundant. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Fine jewelry is in the spotlight, with the holiday season approaching and a treasure trove of designer and estate pieces awaiting Michaan’s bidders. This is the place to find old European-cut diamonds, coveted by collectors and jewelers alike. Mexican and Native American pieces, always popular with auction buyers, are plentiful in October. Jade and cultured pearls include several from Gump’s, the legendary San Francisco luxury emporium. High karat gold, natural colored precious gemstones and fine timepieces are also featured.
The selection of fine bracelets includes Yurman’s classic multi-stone “Renaissance” cuff ($1,000-$1,500) and a dramatic 22K gold cuff bracelet (above) with decorative engraving ($3,000-$5,000), a statement piece that looks ancient and modern in equal measure.
Visitors to Michaan’s gallery will get to experience firsthand the magic of a top October highlight: the Chinese gilt bronze automaton musical clock. This mechanical confection features an automated waterfall scene with boats in a river, framed by an architectural setting populated with tiny figures. Red silk panels, gilt bronze swags and paw feet are among the fine details. The 29-inch-tall clock is crowned by a pagoda with reverse-glass painted ship scenes and an automated figure who rings a bell. Inside is an eight-bell musical movement. The clock is operated with a mechanical winder. Dating to the late 20th century, it is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.
Another leading October highlight is the oil painting Winter (New Hope) by American Impressionist Fern Isabel Coppedge (1883-1951). Winter landscapes were a favorite subject of the artist, whose works are highly sought at auction. Coppedge’s Winter (New Hope) dates to the 1920s and is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
From American landscape artist Charles Pabst, In the Shadow of the Mummy Cave is offered at $6,000-$8,000. The subject is a landmark in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, site of the ruins of an ancient settlement. The American Southwest, with its spectacular landscape and cultural significance, is beautifully rendered in Pabst’s work.
Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919) is another important American artist featured in the October sale. The National Gallery of Art has four of his works in its collections. Associated with the Tonalism movement in American painting, Blakelock was a Romanticist who developed an idiosyncratic style of landscape painting, balancing drama with restraint in his depiction of light and shadow. Sales of his works brought record-high prices in the early 20th century. Michaan’s offers Ralph Blakelock’s Camp by the Pool, painted in oil on board, at $5,000-$7,000. It has been in the same family for 100 years, passing to the current owner by descent.
Italian painter Nicola Simbari (1927-2012) is highlighted in Michaan’s October Gallery Auction. Bursting with color and life, Simbari’s oils on canvas capture the spirit of the 1960s. Woman with Basket is estimated at $3,000-$5,000 and Interior with Mirror at $4,500-$5,500. These wonderful vintage modern paintings exude vitality and intrigue.
An important opportunity for collectors of American photography is the folio of 23 historical, erotic and theatrical bromile prints by pioneering Hollywood photographer William Mortensen (1897-1965). The lot of Mortensen prints in the October auction is estimated at $10,000-$15,000. Most of these works can be seen in the book American Grotesque: the Life and Art of William Mortensen edited by Larry Lytle and Michael Moynihan, 2014. “Mortensen’s singular vision will astonish and delight collectors,” says Michaan’s fine art specialist Susan Paffrath.
Bidders know Michaan’s very well as a resource for furniture and decorations like the splendid Japonesque “Audobon” sterling flatware service by Tiffany & Co. ($8,000-$10,000) and the 1814 Pennsylvania German painted wood chest ($3,000-$5,000.
Michaan’s Asian Art specialist Annie Zeng has presented outstanding auction lots throughout 2019, culled from distinguished private collections and estates. The department’s strong sales trend is supported by October’s Gallery Auction, with over 200 diverse lots of Asian art offered. From scroll paintings and Japanese woodblock prints to carved jade, netsuke and embroidered silks, the selection is wide-ranging and compelling.