This impressive .800 silver centerpiece by Austro-Hungarian maker Bruder Frank should earn between $12,000 and $18,000. John Moran Auctioneers

Major Calif. collection forms basis for Moran’s auction Feb. 17

PASADENA, Calif. – John Moran Auctioneers will open the year with a Feb. 17 auction catalog packed with Continental furnishings, exquisite antique silver and mid-century modern decorative and fine arts. Featuring a large selection of pieces from an important La Jolla, California collection, the offerings are eclectic and comprise wonderful decorative pieces as well as a vast number of top picks for the discerning collector. will provide Internet live bidding.

The auction will be held at the Pasadena Convention Center. A discovery session, immediately following the cataloged auction, also contains a number of gems, including small-scale California Impressionist paintings, Continental silver and porcelain.

Moran’s February auction catalog contains a number of exemplary works by important California and North American artists, including a collection of 30 photographs by celebrated photographers Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh, Imogen Cunningham and Helmut Newton. One such work is an iconic portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Canadian Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002). The photograph is estimated to bring $5,000 to $7,000. Study of a Man by Paul Outerbridge Jr. (1896-1958, New York) is also offered from the same private collection as the above, with an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.

A festive, large-scale work by Richmond Kelsey (1905-1987), an Oxnard, California-based artist who was an art director for Walt Disney Studios (1838-1950) as well as an illustrator for a series of popular children’s Golden Books, taps into the artist’s additional background as a muralist. The three-panel oil on board composition, hinged together at the edges to form a freestanding folding screen, depicts an early California scene of a mariachi band and a group of joyful dancers (estimate: $4,000 to $6,000). Also on offer is a sweet, small-scale still life by Southern California-based artist George Spangenberg (1907-1964) titled The Copper Bowl; the work has been assigned a conservative estimate of $800 to $1,200.

Highlights from the category of fine silver include impressive pieces of European hollowware, including a George II sterling silver lidded urn repousse-decorated throughout with Bacchic themes. Created by London silversmith Paul de Lamerie in 1741, the urn is painstakingly decorated with putti, lions and scenes of winemaking, and features grapevine-form handles. Hailing from the aforementioned La Jolla estate, this piece is estimated to earn between $3,000 and $5,000. Also via La Jolla, an Austro-Hungarian .800 silver shell-form centerpiece bowl by turn of the century maker Bruder Frank is expected to sell for $12,000 to $18,000. The large shell-form vessel also carries a cherubic theme, and makes a grand impression with applied floral garlands and monogrammed plaques.

Sterling silver works by American makers are not to be overlooked. A stately sterling silver five-piece coffee and tea service by Towle, with each piece allover decorated with daffodils and topped with trumpet-form floral finials should earn a price tag between $3,000 and $5,000. A tall, tapering sterling silver table vase by Tiffany & Co. features stylized waves and kelp adorning its sides and base, reflecting influences of the 20th century’s emerging Art Nouveau proclivities, as well as the echoes of Victorian tastes (estimate: $2,000 to $3,000).

The array of Continental furnishings on offer also provides a number of intriguing buys. A pair of Italian carved chinoiserie vitrines in the Rococo style are delightfully polychrome and gilt painted over a hand-carved rocaille-accented bombe body raised on slender cabriole legs. Dating to the mid 19th century, the pair carries an auction estimate of $4,000 to $6,000, and is expected to perform well. A Regence-style marble topped and gilt bronze-mounted marquetry vitrine cabinet is also on offer, with an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. Faced with a hand-painted Vernis Martin panel depicting Venus, the Graces and puttis at Vulcan’s forge and custom fitted with gilt-bronze mounts and paw sabots to the feet, the cabinet should appeal to buyers whose tastes run toward the classical. A large-scale French Provincial double-door armoire, dating to the second half of the 18th century makes an elegant statement in walnut. Bidders should expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000.

One of the most unique things to ever appear in a Moran’s catalog, an 18th century or earlier Italian “mystery cabinet” features a partially obscured portrait of a woman to its face. When an interested party attempts to move the panel covering the portrait, the whole drops down, revealing a realistically modeled demon which lurches toward the viewer. Commissioned by a private party as a wicked jab toward the portrait’s sitter, the piece is now offered with an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.

Decorative Arts highlights also offer a number of pieces for those with Continental tastes. A pair of Spanish Colonial-style three-light torchieres, each measuring 98 inches high, are expected to bring $2,000 to $3,000 for the pair. A well-modeled – and surprisingly unsigned – bronze figure of a seated classical beauty is offered with a conservative $1,000 to $1,500 estimate. Four late 18th century large-scale carved polychrome and gilt painted santos with beautifully carved, emotion-filled faces are offered as a group for $12,000 to $18,000. A small, single-consignor collection of mid-19th century Russian icons will also be on offer, with prices ranging in the low thousands.

Fans of mid-century modern design will surely find their interest piqued by a number of Moran’s offerings, including an Isamu Noguchi “Rudder’’ table and stools (models IN-20 and IN-22, respectively). Each in birch, the table and three stools are offered as separate lots. The set comes from the private collection of the original owners, who purchased the pieces directly from a Herman Miller showroom in Chicago. The stools are each assigned an $8,000 to $12,000 estimate, while the table is expected to earn $6,000 to $9,000. Another must-have for collectors of modern furniture, an Eames lounge chair 670 and ottoman 671 with walnut-veneered shells and black leather cushions are offered as one lot with an expected selling price of $1,500 to $2,000.

Those wishing to extend their modern décor beyond furniture and onto their walls can also be sure to find some exciting prospects at Moran’s February sale. Roy Lichtenstein’s bold, primary-colored abstract screenprint, Best Buddies (numbered 51 of an edition of 100), should hammer for between $12,000 to $18,000. Carrying an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000, Henri Matisse’s pochoir print titled La Naguese Dans L’Aquarium is the 12th print from his Jazz suite, and hails from the same private collection as the above.

Interested parties can call Moran’s offices at: 626-793-1833 or send an email to:


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