Moran’s Cornerstone Auction California & American Fine Art is the Perfect Remedy for Spring Fever

MONROVIA, CA – Moran’s spring edition of California & American Fine Art is almost here! The staple auction will take place on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 at 12:00 pm PST. Spring Fever is only heightened this year with the current climate, and collectors will be eager to own works for sale by top-tier artists. Claude Curry Bohm, Benjamin Chambers Brown, William Wendt ANA, E. Charlton Fortune, Louis Aston Knight, and Charles Reiffel are just a sampling of the recognizable names that are going to the block. This tightly curated 64-lot sale is full of notable works and the following is a short preview of what the fine art collector can look forward to.


Claude Curry Bohm, 1894-1971, Chicago, IL, Nymphs under a tree, 1929, Estimate: $6,000-8,000

Spring Awakening comes to mind with the oil painting Nymphs Under a Tree by artist Claude Curry Bohm (1894-1971, Chicago, IL). The cropping of the landscape and distance of the three nymphs in the painting places the viewer in a voyeuristic role. These magical creatures fortify thoughts of spring and a warm bond of friendship is revealed in the bonus inscription on the back of the painting. Bohm writes, To Billy most loveable of friends I give this painting. May our friend-ship flow like sky blue waters ‘ore the sands of time. $6,000-$8,000 is the pre-auction estimate for Nymphs Under a Tree.

Heading west for the next highlight is an oil painting by Benjamin Chambers Brown (1865-1942, Pasadena, CA). The lure of the Grand Canyon has long attracted painters, but few have captured its essence like A Side Canyon – Grand Canyon. Brown was a prominent California artist and his impressionistic painting style was whimsical without sacrificing precision. This must-have example of his work is heading to the block with a pre-auction estimate of $8,000-$10,000.

Moving on from the vastness of The Grand Canyon to the intimacy of still life is painter Emil Carlsen (1853-1932, New York, NY). The quietness reflected in a good still life is not an easy task, but Carlsen achieved it repeatedly. The inclusion of copper kettles and shiny bottles became a kind of signature for him as seen in Still life with Roses, Fruit, and Champagne Flute. This rich still life is certain to get buyers moving with a pre-auction estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

“California Hills is the embodiment of spring, complete with lush mountains and romantic lighting.”
Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929, Pasadena, CA) California Hills, Oil on canvas, 18.25

Franz A. Bischoff, 1864-1929, Pasadena, CA, California Hills, Estimate: $15,000-20,000   

Next, is German-born, William Wendt (1865-1946, Laguna Beach, CA) who immigrated to Chicago in 1880 when he was only fifteen years old. While living there, he made several pilgrimages to Southern California and eventually relocated to Los Angeles in 1906. Soon after, he married sculptor Julia Bracken, and the art power couple frequently exhibited together and were key players in establishing the California Art Club in 1909. Wendt had a plein-air art practice and made oil painting, Dunes, Monterey on location in 1902. His rendering of sunlight reflecting off the sand, perfectly captures the intense heat of the California sun. This majestic landscape has a pre-auction estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

We will remain among the dunes in Monterey, California, as it was a frequent summer spot for our next painter, E Charlton Fortune (1885-1969, Monterey, CA). Fortune was a California native and a well-respected female painter in the male-dominated field. She did not like her given name of Euphemia and often went by the nickname of “Effie” while in the company of friends or simply “E” which is how her first name is represented in her signature. Still life with Holly Berries and Figurines stands out when compared to her usual subject matter of the landscape. There are rich tones of navy blue, maroon, and brown complimented by the lighter tones of beige and white in the plant and vase. Connecting both values are the bright red, almost neon, pops of color in the holly berries. $30,000-$40,000 is the pre-auction estimate for this intriguing painting.

Also, in the mix, is Los Angeles born, Ben Abril (1923-1995, Los Angeles, CA). He began his artistic practice as a watercolorist but was later drawn to oils. Scenes of the California landscape and its coast were a perpetual inspiration for him. In fact, his day job at the post office was actually a night job, so that he could use the daylight to capture those picturesque moments. Salt Creek Beach is a superb example of one of those moments, and Abril’s expert use of the palette knife brings movement and overall liveliness to the canvas. Collectors will be paying close attention to this painting heading to the block with a pre-auction estimate of $7,000-$9,000.

Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929, Pasadena, CA) was born in Austria and traveled extensively before making his home in Southern California. The beloved plein-air painter is known for his timeless depiction of the California landscape. In addition to his education in painting, Bischoff studied porcelain decoration and used his employable skills in several Midwest ceramic factories. California Hills is the embodiment of spring, complete with lush mountains and romantic lighting. This fantastic example of Bischoff’s work has a pre-auction estimate of $15,000-$20,000.

Upcoming Auctions

Springtime at Moran’s has something for everyone. California Living is the next sale and will take place on April 6th. May auctions will be in full bloom with Fine Jewelry & Timepieces on May 12th and Art of the American West on May 25th. Moran’s takes the health and safety of our staff and customers seriously; as such, sales will continue to be held online and without a live audience. However, each item is available for preview through appointment. Moran’s auction preview floor is spaced over 10,000 square feet and allows clients to preview objects within established social distancing guidelines so that buyers can feel confident when making an appointment to preview the property. For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: Bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.

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Auction Highlights