Cloisonné: dazzling colors, elegant craftsmanship

An elaborate tiered Chinese cloisonné enamel vase, showing scrolling floral motifs reserved on a teal-blue ground, 16 in. tall, realized $340,000 at I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers in August 2017. Photo courtesy of I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – The vivid colors dazzle your eyes, whether you are looking at a bright yellow flower, a sapphire-blue peacock against a cerulean blue sky, or a golden dragon breathing fire. This is the nature of cloisonné, which was mastered by Chinese and Japanese artisans centuries ago and found acclaim all over the world.

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Old Masters: staggering highs for a few

A French 18th-century portrait painting of a lady with an arresting gaze and a King Cavalier Charles Spaniel on her lap fetched $47,500 at Myers Fine Art in February 2013. Photo courtesy of Myers Fine Art and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — If the extreme highs often seen in modern art auctions (think Picasso or Francis Bacon to name a few) provide the glitz and the razzle-dazzle of the art world, then it must follow suit that Old Masters are content to be staid, secure in their position as the backbone of the market, performing solidly but rarely achieving such spectacular heights.

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Faberge: more than just eggs

This Faberge silver-gilt and enamel cigarette case, hallmarked Moscow 1908-1917, decorated in the Neo-Russian style on a moss green field, having a hinged lid with matte en plein painted ‘Tsar’s Falconer’ after Franz Rouband (Russian 1856-1928) and with blue cabochon thumbpiece, made $100,000 at Jackson’s Auction in November 2011. Photo courtesy of Jackson’s Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — Faberge is famous for its imperial Easter eggs but the talented workmasters there also transformed ordinary items into stunning objects from cigarette cases and desk clocks to small boxes, vases and candelabra. Achieving renown through Europe’s royal courts and then around the world, the company is noted for its goldsmithing, stone-setting and its distinctive enameling methods.

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Street Art: transforming the ordinary

OS GÊMEOS, ‘Electronic Eyes,’ 2011, sold for $100,000 at Phillips in May 2012. Photo courtesy of Phillips and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Transforming the mundane into the monumental, street artists create public art that not only turns ordinary buildings or streets into public art but can also raise social consciousness.

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Lladro: three brothers’ passion for porcelain

Large circa-2006 Lladro polychrome porcelain figural group, Queen of the Nile, designed by Juan Carlos Ferri Herrero, Valencia, Spain; sold for $16,000 at Heritage Auctions in February 2016. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – A century after Meissen, Sevres and Capodimonte revolutionized the European porcelain industry in the 18th century, three brothers from Spain went and did it again.

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Sam Francis: master of color and light

A large Sam Francis acrylic on canvas painting, ‘Quiet Fruitfulness,’ fetched $579,500 at Palm Beach Modern Auctions in May 2017. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Modern Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — California Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis (1923-1994) culled an international following—one of the first postwar American artists to do so—and enduring legacy, creating thousands of paintings, prints and works on paper that were noted for his masterful interpretation of color and light.

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Marklin sets gold standard for toy trains, boats

Marklin train stations are very popular with collectors. This Grand Central Bahnof station, circa 1902, went out at $55,000 at Bertoia Auctions in September 2012. The hand-painted toy station is complete with tin canopy cover over train tracks, railed interior ticket booth, exterior roofed booth, opening door to the restaurant and waiting room, and vivid colors overall. Photo courtesy of Bertoia Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — German toy maker Gebr. Marklin & Cie (Marklin Bros. and Company), commonly referred to as simply “Marklin,” is among the finest of all toymakers, from the mid-19th century through modern day. Its antique toys are avidly sought after by collectors, with the best of the best selling for six-figure prices.

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Vienna bronzes combine whimsy and realistic detail

A Franz Berman bronze table lamp, depicting a cobbler and two helpers with an Oriental rug on the roof, brought $2,100 during Kaminski’s Annual Thanksgiving Auction in 2017. Berman, not to be confused with Franz Bergman, was related to Mathias Bermann, who founded in 1850 the first foundry producing Austrian bronzes. Photo courtesy of Kaminski Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — A Vienna bronze is an artistically finished sculptural work made in the exacting Viennese handcraft tradition that began around 1850 in Austria. In the early days, such bronzes were cast using the “cire perdue” or “lost wax” technique.

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Mies van der Rohe: ‘less is more’ in modernist furniture

Achieving $28,000 at a Wright auction in June 2013 was this pair of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs and ottomans made in Germany, circa 1953. The chairs came to the sale from the Wiley House in New Canaan, Conn., which was a haven for modernism. The house itself was designed by another modernist icon and architect, the late Philip Johnson. Photo courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) is easily recognized as a brilliant architect, whose “less is more” approach defined modernism. After achieving success in his native Germany, he immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s and achieved stunning heights of success here too.

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Fu Baoshi: China’s revolutionary modern artist

A fine Chinese scroll painting attributed to Fu Baoshi fetched $550,000 in October 2012 at Maple Auction Galleries. The ink and color artwork depicting a group of people is inscribed and signed with a seal mark. Photo courtesy of Maple Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — Fu Baoshi lived through some of the most tumultuous times in China’s history. Born in 1904 in the Jiangxi Province, near the close of the Qing dynasty, his informal art education began in a ceramics shop at age 12. His art is closely tied to China’s politics, and the two stories are deeply interwoven.

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