When it comes to auction events, "something for everyone" is a claim often made but seldom realized. Important Curated California Collections presented at Michaan's Auctions
on Friday, December 8, fits the description, with a qualifier: in this sale there is something for everyone with an eye for taste and quality. Offered are nearly 300 lots of remarkable property amassed by a longtime Silicon Valley collector, who collaborated with top English and American galleries and designers on both coasts for many years.
Surrounding the collector's 16,000 square foot California residence are extensive formal gardens. A highlight of the December 8th sale is the selection of rare garden ornaments, such as the pair of 19th century French cast stone sphinxes on pedestals estimated at $4,000-$6,000. The sundial, $2,000-$3,000, is by Edward Troughton (1753-1835), who designed and made England's finest navigational and astronomical instruments. The 19th century stone lions ($4,000-$6,000, the pair) were designed after Alfred Stevens, sculptor and designer of important London monuments.
The pair of iconic 18th century garden urns, crafted of solid lead in an English foundry, were fashioned after a Roman antiquity excavated at Hadrian's Villa in 1770. Estimated at $5,000-$8,000, they are known as Warwick Castle urns because for over 200 years, Warwick's medieval castle displayed the restored Roman original, which inspires garden design to the present day. Echoes of ancient Rome also appear in the Italian Renaissance patinated bronze wine amphora ($6,000-$8,000) bearing the face of Bacchus. The French rusticated cast stone dog house ($1,500-$2,500), Chinoiserie in style, is imposing yet whimsical, poised to transform any garden it calls home.
The collection's interior design highlights reveal a particular focus on fine antique furnishings exemplary of their periods. George III mirrors, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 for the pair, are rare and amazing for their genre. They are complemented by superb 18th century giltwood wall brackets, three pairs available at $5,000-8,000 each pair, and by a collection of 18th century carved giltwood eagles. The pair of neoclassical style George III giltwood console tables after Robert Adam is estimated at $8,000-12,000.
A dining table of crossbanded exotic woods ($8,000-$12,000) and an inlaid clock ($2,000-$3,000) by William Harrison, Clapham are among the many fine Regency pieces. From the Queen Anne period, a secretary bookcase is estimated at $25,000-35,000. Decorations include 17th century English Baroque needleworks, each $2,500-$3,500. Framed dioramas of French 19th century folk art bird models, unusual and fascinating, are offered at $7,000-$9,000.
A single-owner collection of this caliber rarely displays such diversity; underlying its uncommon breadth is a foundation of fine design. 20th century pieces include the Eames four-door credenza (estimated at $4,000-$6,000), the Gio Ponti brass and glass hanging lantern ($2,500-$3,500), and the pair of wall lights attributed to Swedish designer Bertil Brisborg ($3,500-$5,500). Two sets of Bagues rock crystal wall lights, c. 1925, are offered at $3,000-$5,000 each pair. Art Deco alabaster pineapple lamps, American antique quilts, Staffordshire dogs, and Murano glass are offered alongside Jacques Barraband bird prints and Royal Bayreuth porcelains. Fine upholstered furniture is by Rose Tarlow of Los Angeles and J.F. Fitzgerald, San Francisco.
The auction will also include fine property from a second private collection, featuring 19th century French furniture and decorative arts.