Moran’s December 6th Decorative Art Session Delights with Modern Art; Art Glass and Pottery


• A condensed catalogue of just under 150 lots, Moran’s December Decorative Art Auction featured Native American, Western, Modern and Contemporary art and objects
• The session’s top lot was “Sunrise on the Trail”, a western oil painting by Gerald Harvey Jones (b. 1933 Fredericksburg, TX) from the Estate of Phoebe Hearst Cooke
• Art glass lots by Steuben proved particularly popular with Moran’s bidders

MONROVIA, CA - Following Moran’s nearly 350 lot Fine Jewelry Auction, approximately 150 decorative art lots spanning Native American, Western, and Modern Design categories were offered to a large audience of in-person, absentee and online buyers. While small, the Decorative Art Session fared well with buyers, with much of the attention going to modern paintings and prints, art glass, and Western-genre lots.

The top lot for the evening was a western scene by Fredericksburg, TX painter Gerald Harvey Jones (b. 1933). “Sunrise on the Trail” depicted a branded longhorn standing in a desert landscape, looking towards a passing chuck wagon. The painting was brought to the block with a $15,000 to $20,000 pre-sale estimate, and easily brought $21,600 (prices realized include Moran’s 20% buyer’s premium). Shortly thereafter, a charming Mexican street scene by Orrin A. White (1883-1969 Pasadena, CA) was brought to the block, carrying an $800 to $1200 estimate. Hailing from a private San Diego, CA collection, the work brought $1440.

Modern art and sculpture results were quite strong for a select group of works; “Maravillas con Variaciones Acrosticas en el Jardin de Miró”, a portfolio of works by Joan Miró (1893-1983 Spanish) hand-signed by the artist were brought to the block with a $3000/5000 estimate, and earned $5700 thanks to competing absentee and telephone bidders. A trio of abstracted bronze musician sculptures by David Aronson (1923-2015 Massachusetts/New York) were offered with conservative estimates and surprised many when they each earned at least twice their high estimate. The most sought-after example depicted a seated violinist; carrying an $800/1200 estimate, the work brought $3075, selling to a private collector bidding via telephone. Late in the session, “Descending Angel”, a black and white silver gelatin print by photographer John Wimberley (b. 1945) depicting the diaphanously draped legs of a female figure gracefully floating into frame, brought $984 (estimate: $800/1200).

Modern and contemporary art glass also proved ever-popular; a collection of high-end Steuben art glass sculptures and paperweights closed out the session, achieving stellar prices. A pair of two “Excalibur” paperweights with gold and silver paper knives were offered as a single lot, bringing $1680, thanks to heavy competition online (estimate: $700/900). An art glass and 14K gold unicorn bust went to a telephone bidder, bringing $1020 (estimate: $800/1200). Earlier in the sale, a large-scale Steuben art glass “Cluthra” rose-colored vase was offered with a very conservative $300 to $500 estimate, and inspired multiple collectors to compete for the piece via telephone. Consigned from a private Scottsdale, AZ collection, the vase earned $1320. A number of paperweight lots consigned from a Pasadena, CA collection performed well at the block, including a set comprising geometric and winter-themed designs which came up to the block later in the session; the seasonally appropriate lot of six weights earned $984 (estimate: $300/500).

Early 20th century furniture design, and in particular Monterey and Arts & Crafts examples, were in demand amongst Moran’s local buyers. A Stickley Associated Cabinetmakers oak bookcase earned just over the high end of the $3000 to $5000 estimate, bringing $5535. A wonderfully designed Monterey settle with hand-painted panels and branded maker’s mark was offered later in the sale, earning $2700 (estimate: $1500 to $2500).

Native American highlights included two remarkable baskets from a Glendale, AZ collection. The first basket to come up to the block, a large Apache basketry tray adorned with cactuses and standing figures wearing wide-brimmed hats was expected to bring $2000 to $3000, but ultimately ended up netting $4305 thanks to competitive telephone bidding. Directly following that lot, a rather rare Cahuilla Mission snake-motif basket, originally estimated at $1000 to $1500 shot to a $3690 selling price. A modern silver and turquoise belt buckle by Navajo silversmith Mark Chee was one of a number of Native American jewelry lots to achieve a strong selling price, going for $922 (estimate: $500/700).

Results for art pottery were mixed, but a select group of examples were highly sought by collectors, including a Newcomb College vase offered early in the session. Dating to 1921 and signed for decorator Anna Frances Simpson, the blue-hued matte-glaze vase found purchase among remote collectors bidding via telephone, earning $6150 (estimate: $6000 to $8000). Later, a Rookwood heron-motif vase signed for decorator Sara Sax dating to 1920 also stoked collector interest; the example realized $5842, over the estimated $3000 to $4000.

Additional highlights from Moran’s December 6th Decorative Art session include:
• A vintage pair of Levi’s 501xx jeans, dating to the 1940s and never worn, brought a stunning $3075 (estimate: $200/400).
• Four Sunset Trails/McCabe Silversmiths belt buckles opened the sale and achieved strong prices; one example featuring a steer’s head set with simulated ruby eyes was expected to earn $700/900, but bidding topped out at $1722.
• A large cold-painted bronze quail by Viennese artist Franz Bergman (1861-1936) earned a surprising $2160 price tag (estimate: $500/700).

Moran’s December 6th Decorative Art session followed a Fine Jewelry session, and preceded a special nine-lot Important Chinese Object session. Full auction catalogues for all three December 6th sales and lot price listings are available via John Moran’s website: www.JohnMoran.com.

Moran’s next auction is their fine art-specific January 24th Studio Auction. The catalog for that auction event will be available online via John Moran’s website as well as the Liveauctioneers and Auctionzip/Invaluable platforms in early January 2017.

Moran’s is currently consigning Asian items and Continental decorative arts and paintings for their February 21st Decorative Art Auction, and 20th century design and western art and objects for their April 25th Decorative Art Auction. To speak to a friendly and knowledgeable specialist regarding consignment, please contact John Moran Auctioneers directly via telephone (626) 793-1833 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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