ALAMEDA, Calif. – Michaan’s exciting May 12 Gallery Auction offers an exceptional array of unique finds. A leading attraction is the opportunity to acquire a one-of-a-kind pencil sketch by Andy Warhol. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Signed and dated 1982, the sketch of a running shoe (above) is an American classic on a number of levels. The artist is one of an elite handful who truly defines American art for the world and for the ages. This work, known as “Sneaker,” has an excellent provenance, its history documented in detail by Warhol specialist Richard Polsky, whose authentication accompanies the piece. The subject, a running shoe, is a powerful emblem of American culture. In the early 1980s—when Warhol created this, and other works as a nod to his well-known roots as a commercial illustrator—the running shoe had emerged as a motif of modern life. Today, like Andy Warhol himself, it is nothing less than a full-blown icon of American civilization. “Sneaker” is estimated at $35,000-$45,000.
May’s Gallery Auction also brings to market a special piece for collectors of rare Civil War era memorabilia. The gold mounted tobacco pipe features a wooden bowl hand-carved and inscribed, by a soldier in the field, with scenes of Lee’s April 1865 surrender at Appomattox. The wood is reputed to be from the very tree under which the historic event took place. Estimated at $1,500-$2,000, the pipe was crafted by Browne & Spaulding, New York. It comes with a handsome custom fitted case.
A post-Impressionist landscape by Mario Puccini (1869-1920), “the Italian Van Gogh,” is one of many notable works of fine art offered in May. A descendant of turn-of-the-century opera star Mario Ancona has consigned Puccini’s Landscape with Trees (est. $5,000-$7,000), along with other art that once belonged to Ancona. Some of these pieces were given by admiring fans to the celebrated Italian baritone, whose recordings from “the Golden Age of Opera” are held in an exclusive collection at Stanford University.
The marvelous Italian artworks offered at Michaan’s span the fertile period of the late 19th through the early 20th century. A highlight is the Portrait of Miss Frazzi (est. $2,500-$3,500) by Oscar Ghiglia (1876-1945), whose influences range from classical portraiture to Cezanne. Ulgi Liegi (1858-1939) is another featured painter. His Lion Statue in the Park is estimated at $3,500-$5,500. Liegi’s canvases vibrate with the buzzing warmth of scenic Italian towns and countryside. Paintings by Liegi’s friends Vittorio Matteo Corcos and Adolfo Belimbau will also be sold.
One of several drawings in this sale is Pietro Annigoni’s Mio Padre, dated 1923. A Renaissance artist for the modern era, Annigoni (1910-1988) gained international renown with his oil portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, whom he painted numerous times from the 1950s to the 1970s. Michaan’s offers a portrait in pencil, presumably of the young artist’s own father, at $1,000-$1,500.
Art collectors in search of fine sculpture will be thrilled to find Cub, by early California artist Arthur Putnam (1873-1930), a leading sculptor of wild animals. Here Putnam has immortalized in bronze the beloved symbol of the California Republic in its most endearing form. Cub has a beautiful patina and is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000.
Another highlight is the Tiffany & Co. Jean Schlumberger turquoise and 18k yellow gold charm. This tiny treasure displays the chic design and expert craftsmanship for which Schlumberger is revered. Consisting of a turquoise egg caged in gold and accented by a ribbon and bow motif, it is estimated at $400-$600. Also starring in May is a sapphire and diamond dazzler. The oval-cut sapphire of more than 3 carats, accented by a profusion of round and baguette diamonds, is set in a 14K white gold ring (est. $1,400-$1,800).
Asian Art specialist Harry Huang presents the Bay Area’s most compelling auction finds month after month at Michaan’s. May’s highlights include fine old Chinese furniture of rosewood and zitan wood, and a Republic Period rosewood box for cosmetics (est. $1,500-$2,000). Carved jade objects in various desirable hues are offered in May, including the white jade brush washer ($2,000-$3,000) ingeniously crafted in the form of a burlap sack featuring a bat. A pair of late Qing/early Republic stone guardian lions is estimated at $1,000-$1,500. Fine collectible Japanese art objects can also be found in Huang’s selection for May.
Fine furnishings and decorations include a fabulous mid-century cocktail table (est. $5,000-$7,000) by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne. A scene from Homer’s Odyssey is etched into the surface of this large, low brass table. Designs by the LaVernes are among the most coveted vintage furniture pieces. They work equally well in mid-century modern, Hollywood Regency and even Art Deco interiors.