Modern portraits draw attention to Michaan’s Feb. 10 sale


Lai Kui Fang (Singaporean b. 1936), ‘Portrait of Woman in Burgundy,” oil on canvas. 39 x 19 in, signed and dated lower right: ‘Lai Kui Fang, Paris 1972.’ Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. Michaan’s Auctions image

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Michaan’s Gallery Auction, one of few remaining recurrent live auction events in the Bay Area, offers buyers a traditional hands-on experience while also reaching a global base online. Michaan’s Feb. 10 sale offers diverse estate property of fine quality and excellent provenance. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Collectors of fine art are drawn to Michaan’s not only by world-renowned artists but also by the allure of discovery. Featured in February’s Gallery Auction are several stunning female portraits by Lai Kui Fang (b. 1936). Fang, a prominent Singaporean who won a scholarship to study at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, is a skillful portrait artist with a great eye for sensuous natural beauty and stylized refinement. His paintings are unmistakably modern, with a singular freshness and more than a hint of glamour. In a sophisticated Hollywood Regency interior, a Fang portrait would fit perfectly and command the center of attention. Woman in Burgundy (above) is estimated at $4,000-$6,000 in the February sale. Christine Baranger, included in the 1972 catalog of Santa Clara’s Triton Museum of Art, is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

Also featured in February is the art of Christo Coetzee (1929-2001), a native of South Africa prominent in international avant-garde art movements. The untitled abstract offered in February’s auction at $5,000-$7,000 is a mixed media work dated 1959. Coetzee was living in Osaka at that time, associating with the Gutai Group of avant-garde artists and exhibiting at the Takashimaya Gallery. The Gutai Group was a Japanese postwar phenomenon whose manifesto included this ambitious mission statement: “Discarding the frame, getting off the walls, shifting from immobile time to lived time, we aspire to create a new painting.” The Coetzee work (below) offered by Michaan’s fully realizes that stated ambition. A riot of texture, lines and curves, its energy is unbound by the canvas, expressing the clash of apocalypse with optimism that characterized the 20th century.


Christo Coetzee (South African/Spanish 1929-2001), ‘No. 3,’ mixed media on canvas. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000. Michaan’s Auctions image

Fine design and craftsmanship were highly valued in Colonial and early Federal America. The burgeoning merchant and professional classes appointed their fashionable homes with furnishings that reflected their discerning tastes and high standards. Furniture from this period has long been prized by collectors for its elegant lines and lustrous woods. A prime example is the mid-18th century Queen Anne maple highboy circa 1740-1770, which features the iconic carved scallop shell decoration associated with the style and period. It is estimated at $3,500-$4,500. A second fine maple highboy (below) crafted in New England during the last quarter of the 18th century, is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.


American Queen Anne maple highboy, Connecticut, third quarter 18th century, possible original engraved brasses. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Michaan’s Auctions image

Another fine piece to be auctioned is an upholstered walnut wing chair of the mid-18th century and estimated at $3,000-$5,000. The auction also features French furniture, Parisian and provincial, with complementary decorative items like the French mantel clock of white marble and bronze, embellished with putti (est. $700-$900). February’s sale also includes a large Flemish tapestry (est. $2,000-$3,000) and an excellent scenic vellum plaque ($2,000-$3,000) from storied Rookwood Pottery.

Each of Michaan’s monthly auctions is highly anticipated by Asian art collectors. February’s focus is on fine jade figural carvings, silk embroidered textiles, and a treasure trove of snuff bottles including jade, agate and carved lacquer.  Buddhist objects, valued highly by collectors, include the gilt lacquered wooden figure of Buddha (below) from the 17th or 18th century (est. $2,000-$3,000).


Gilt lacquered wood figure of Buddha, 17th-18th century. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. Michaan’s Auctions image

Jewelry is another of Michaan’s leading departments and in February, buyers will find many one-of-a-kind estate jewelry items. Gold, diamonds, cultured pearls and fine timepieces are offered. A lovely example is the Mikimoto necklace of 11 cultured pearls interspersed with 18K gold link chain forming a 16-inch necklace ($300-$500). Also striking a modern chord is the suite of a necklace and matching bracelet formed of 22k yellow gold swirls, estimated at $1,800-$2,500.


22K gold suite. Estimate: $1,800-$2,500. Michaan’s Auctions image

From Tiffany & Co., the pair of diamond-studded 18k gold cufflinks is offered at the attractive estimated price of $300-$500.