Monrovia, CA – John Moran Auctioneers Spring Art of the American West sale will be the endcap of four auctions in May. The biannual sale is brimming with fresh-to-the-market property from private collections across Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. 19th and 20th century Western and California fine art by notable artists will be showcased, and period and contemporary examples of American Indian pottery, textiles, baskets, and jewelry.
One of the most historically exciting lots to be offered in the almost 180 lot sale is the portfolio of Etchings of the Franciscan Missions of California, 1883 by noted artist Henry Chapman Ford (1828-1894). In 1859, having saved enough money, Ford would travel to Europe to study art in Paris. Three years later, he returns to the states and enlists in the Union Army. The illustrated press would publish his drawings of military life throughout his service. Due to medical conditions, Ford is discharged and settles in Chicago. He became a founder of the Chicago Academy of Design and taught at the Art Institute. Desiring a warmer climate, he makes his way West to Santa Barbara. His most iconic works focus on the California Missions and the surrounding untamed landscapes of the West. Originally published by The Studio Press, New York, the complete portfolio will be offered with a pre-auction estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
“He was drawn to Taos, where he met fellow artist Bert Geer Phillips, a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists.”
Gaspard de Latoix (1858-1918), alongside his wife, Isabell, ventured to England’s Americas. Upon discovering the West, a self-taught drafter would dedicate his life and career to portraying New Mexico, the Plains Indians, and like the subject matter, many years before the Taos Society of Artists would be founded. Coming to the block is a striking example of two Indians atop horseback. With warm, rich earth tones, the two figures and horses contrast the cool, vivid, blue sky. This work is expected to bring between $15,000-$20,000 at auction.
Born into the family lithography business, Oscar Berninghaus (1874-1952) would take his love of art and enroll in the St. Louis School of Fine Art, honing his skills. Accepting an assignment with McClure’s magazine, Berninghaus found himself in the Southwest. He was drawn to Taos, where he met fellow artist Bert Geer Phillips, a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists. As part of the Taos Six, Berninghaus was able to capture American Indians in their authentic, day-to-day activities, as seen in both works offered in the May 25th sale. The first is an intimate and charming example featuring an Indian figure saddling up a horse. This painting will come up to the block with a pre-auction estimate of $15,000-$20,000. The second piece is estimated at $60,000-$80,000. The oil painting, A Street in Taos, depicts an atmospheric landscape featuring a group of figures, a covered wagon, and a steer in front of a series of adobe structures gently shadowed by full, white clouds. This sweeping view captures an authentic portrayal of the modernizing daily life of the Taos Indians.
Born in 1910 in rural Montana to Finnish immigrant parents, Earle Heikka was another self-taught artist. Charles Marion Russell and Fredric Remington heavily influenced him. Heikka had early success in his carrier. His first solo show was in Los Angeles, followed by several showings in Montana, Chicago World’s Fair in 1933-34, Texas Centennial 1936, San Francisco Exposition 1939, and New York Municipal Art Show 1937. While the artist worked in many mediums, he preferred sculpting. Luring Western collectors will surely be one of his more monumental pieces to come to auction, The Overland Stage Line. At the young age of 22, he would create only ten examples of the six-team
Stagecoach with figures. This bronze is a classic western scene brought to life in a deep, rich brown patina. This example is being offered with a pre-auction estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
Contemporary artist Joe Beeler (1931-2006) is renowned in the Western Art world. Born in Missouri, he had humble beginnings. Having attended Kansas State Teachers College, Joe would feed his natural artistic abilities. Needing to refine his talents, he headed to Pasadena, California, where he attends Art Center for Design. After Beeler left school, he would work for the University of Oklahoma Press as an illustrator. Shortly after that, he had a one-person show at the Gilcrease Museum. In 1965, he became a co-founder of the Cowboy Artists of American. (CAA) with his longtime friends and colleagues Charlie Dye, John Hampton, and George Phippen. Speaker of the House is a true masterpiece by the artist. The detail of the figure’s well-defined face strikes a chord with the viewer, who senses the sitter’s proud and wise nature. A master bronze worker could have only accomplished the multi-layer bear claw necklace and hair feather texture. This striking example is offered with a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
One of the most colorful artists in the sale, Malcolm Furlow, is a jack of all trades. Earning a track scholarship to the University of Texas, he would select fine art as his major. After being discouraged by his professors, Furlow would do what any young person dreams of and joins a rock n’ roll band. Almost two decades later, he would leave music behind and join Disney Studios to construct movie sets models. Continuing to blossom in the arts, Furlow would write a book for Kodak called Close-up Photography. His love of New Mexico and its residents would capture him early in his life, a feeling he never lost. Malcolm would hear American author Joseph Campbell says, “follow your bliss.” After hearing this, Furlow would go back to his first love, painting. He produces bold and brightly colored portraits that bring contemporary styling to a more traditional subject matter. Moran’s is featuring an oil painting titled Armani Indian. The work depicts a statuesque figure combining the modern world in the form of a multi-colored designer suit with loose hair and feather, an allusion to the sitter’s heritage. The work has plenty of wall power with an approachable pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$3,000.
Nearly 50 lots of jewelry from the late 19th century through to today are represented. An American Indian First-phase, Second-phase, and trading post textile examples accompany an impressive local Southwest and California Mission basketry collection.