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E. Charlton Fortune's 'Sunny Morning, St. Tropez' leads California and Western Paintings Auction
Euphemia Charleton Fortune, Sunny morning, St. Tropez, 1924-1926. Oil on panel, 13 x 16 1/4in. Sold for $281,000; Estimate $60,000 - 80,000.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams’ sale of California and Western Paintings and Sculpture achieved more than $2.9 million and broke five world auction records on November 24 in Los Angeles. The auction, simulcast in San Francisco, featured 172 lots of Western scenes, plein air works, and land and cityscapes that spurred competitive bidding among participants in the salerooms, over the phones and online.

Leading the auction was “Sunny morning, St. Tropez,” by Euphemia Charlton Fortune which sold for $281,000, far exceeding its $60,000-80,000 pre-sale estimate. Fortune completed the oil on panel painting between 1924 and 1926, and during that latter year it was exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, The One-Hundredth – Centenary Exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland. The work came to Bonhams as part of a rare single-owner collection, the Gordon and Constance Fish Family Trust of Pasadena, Calif., which included 57 lots of carefully selected Southern California and Western paintings.

Mr. and Mrs. Fish developed a love for Californian painters as a young couple. Over time, the Fish family assembled an impressive collection that adorned their stately home on Pasadena’s Lombardy Road. Beyond their passion for collecting, they strongly supported the fine arts and were engaged members of many Los Angeles museums. Mr. Fish served for numerous years as an overseer for the Huntington Library.

Bonhams announced that it sold nearly all of the collection’s works that were on offer. Among them, “Wild lilac and poppies,” by John Marshall Gamble, took in $52,500; “Arizona canyon,” by Edgar Payne, realized $50,000; and “Fishermen and fishing boats on the shore,” by Granville Redmond, brought $75,000.

Another of Redmond’s works, “California Wildflowers,” from a private Northern California collection, was notable in the sale, bringing $209,000.

Two examples from the Western Paintings and Sculpture portion of the auction also stood out. “The call of spring,” by Bert Geer Phillips soared past its $60,000-80,000 pre-sale estimate to bring $125,000 and “The lone trail,” by Maynard Dixon sold for $185,000, well within its estimate range.

Works by Thomas Hill McKay, Alfred Montgomery, Fortunato Arriola, Rinaldo Cuneo and Ross Edward Dickinson set new world auction records in the sale.

Further impressive results of the auction included “Traveler in the woods,” by Virgil Williams which took in $75,000, far exceeding its $12,000-18,000 estimate, and “Yosemite Valley,” by Thomas Hill, which sold for $87,000.

Bonhams Specialist Aaron Bastian said of the sale, “Material from the Fish Family Trust generated considerable interest and the sale results were very strong overall. Once again we see fresh to market works bringing out the depth of the market.”

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