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Furniture and Decorative Arts Auction finely tuned with offerings of local provenace at Bonhams
A Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted grand piano. Est. $60,000-80,000. Images: Courtesy of Bonhams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams will present its Fine European Furniture, Decorative Arts and Garden Ornaments auction, March 18 at Bonhams in San Francisco, with many strong highlights of local provenance among its nearly 450 lots of offerings. The leading highlight of the auction, a Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted grand piano from a Hillsborough, Calif., home (est. $60,000-80,000) is no exception.

The piano has a rich history, having been made by Steinway in New York in 1924 and then shipped to the famous Paris firm of L. Alavoine et Compagnie who commissioned the case marquetry and bronze mounts that took one year to complete. The piano is believed to have once been part of the furnishings of the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1938, Ralph Morrison, the owner of the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, is said to have purchased the piano from the embassy for the staggering sum of $38,000 and installed it in the hotel lobby where it remained until 1990. At that point, the piano was moved to a personal residence in Hillsborough, Calif. It stayed there until recently and is now being offered at auction by Bonhams.

Another window into local past will be offered in the form of a cased builders' model of the SS Robert Dollar, of the Dollar Line, built by Rodger & Co, circa 1920 (est. $25,000-35,000). Scottish immigrant Robert Dollar (1844-1932) is well known for having owned a fleet of vessels used to ship goods along the Pacific Coast. He started out an immigrant in Canada, operating lumber companies, and later began to acquire vessels to move his lumber. Starting in 1888, he became a resident of San Rafael, Calif., and in 1910, he built the San Francisco-based headquarters of the Dollar Steamship Company. His fleet was a common local sight, and he was also respected for his philanthropy.

Offerings of property from the estate of Bruce L. Jones Jr., (1928-2012) Carmel, Calif., will also be highlighted in the auction. Mr. Jones was a well-known Carmel resident, who lived in Paris after WWII and was part of the Rothschild family circle. Mr. Jones later moved to Carmel, took up residence in an ocean-side estate, and operated the famous Rocky Point Restaurant that became popular there. He filled his home with early works of art, Spanish and Italian sculpture of the 16th/17th century and Renaissance furniture. Bonhams is proud to now offer items from his estate, including a 16th century, Spanish polychrome and gilt decorated carved wood relief panel (est. $4,000-6,000); a 17th century, Spanish Baroque polychrome and gilt decorated carved wood figure of a bishop (est. $4,000-6,000); and a late 16th/early 17th century, Italian late Renaissance walnut credenza with provenance from San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst Collection (est. $4,000-6,000).

Jeffrey Smith, Vice President and Director of the Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Bonhams, commented of the auction, “This is the inaugural sale of the spring season and it offers unique and fine treasures from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, providing a superb opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs.”

The auction’s offerings from notable estates continue with Property from the estate of Stephen A. Zellerbach, San Francisco, including sets of Royal Copenhagen, Flora Danica porcelain dishes of varying estimates. The furniture from the estate will include a third-quarter 18th century, George III, mahogany, tall chest of drawers (est. $4,000-6,000).

Bonhams will offer two very fine enamel portraits by British artist Henry Bone (1755–1834), RA, from the estate of Mrs. T. Charlton Henry (1886-1978) of Philadelphia. Mrs. T. Carlton Henry was the former Julia Rush Biddle of the famous Philadelphia Biddles. She was a Grande Dame, immortalized by the photographer Diane Arbus (1923–1971) in several iconic portraits. The first enamel, known as The Rainbow Portrait, depicts Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), spectacularly gowned and adorned with jewels, with one hand resting on a rainbow, dated May 1815 (est. $8,000-12,000). The second enamel depicts Queen Elizabeth’s most important minister and adviser William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520–1598), dated April 1812 (est. $7,000-9,000). Lord Burghley is shown wearing the robes and order of the Garter. Burghley’s shrewd advice and guidance to his Queen insured that the aura surrounding her reign still glows down through the centuries and is reflected in these fine enamel portraits.

Bonhams continues to offer unique and unusual items from the extensive collection of Joseph Klein (1899-1987) of New York. This sale will feature a rare San Francisco silver, gold and gold quartz presentation piece made for The Crown Point Gold and Silver Mining Company by Koehler & Ritter (1867-1884) of San Francisco (est. $5,000-7,000). The unique piece, surmounted by Ariadne and the panther, has a silver stand with grape vine garlands and a gold quartz shield, beneath a miniature miners shovel, pick and hammer, wrought in gold - all supported by four silver bears. The Crown Point Mine was part of the legendary Comstock Lode.

Seventy-five lots of the sale will be comprised of garden ornaments, fountains, statues and urns, inclusive of a Neoclassical style parcel gilt painted iron and metal garden gazebo (est. $15,000-20,000); a classical style, white marble figure of a seated muse (est. $15,000-20,000); and a pair of Baroque style 'grotto' patinated lead wall fountains with dolphin and water lily back plates above a shell form basin and spiral support (est. $6,000-8,000).

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