Bierstadt’s “Passing Clouds Over Mountains” tops $102K in $1.7M Sept. sale

OAKLAND, Calif. — On September 16 & 17, 2017, Clars Auction Gallery hosted the final sale of the 2016/2017 fiscal year with a monthly Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry/Timepieces and Asian Art Auction. Fine Art was the star at this event, with Albert Bierstadt’s painting soaring beyond $102,000. The September 2017 sale earned $1.7 million contributing to Clars’ $20 million year, making it the second most successful year in the firm’s history.

Bierstadt’s Work Leads Fine Art Highlights

Bierstadt's "Passing Clouds Over Mountains"

Top lot of Clars’ Sept. 16-17 auction, “Passing Clouds Over Mountains,” by Albert Bierstadt, realized $102,850. (All photos courtesy Clars)

Bierstadt’s (American, 1830-1902) elaborate oil on canvas landscape titled Passing Clouds Over Mountains led this sale commanding the over-high-estimate price of $102,850. Measuring 42 1/4 inches by 32 1/2 inches, this work was an example of Bierstadt’s mastery in capturing the beauty of the American West. 

Paintings by American artists did very well at this sale. Selling for almost six times high estimate was a lavish Hawaiian landscape by George Stratemeyer. The oil on canvas titled Waianuenue Falls (Rainbow Falls), circa 1891, commanded $33,275. 

The oil on canvas by Edgar Payne titled Mountains in Winter sold nicely for $25,410. Achieving the same solid price was A Young Chimney Sweep, circa 1863, an oil on canvas by Jonathan Eastman Johnson. Johnson’s ties include being co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rounding out the top American offerings was Texas Blue Bonnets, dating to 1943, by Robert William Wood. The piece realized $20,570. Also commanding more than $10,000 was New Mexico History Page 205A. The 1991 acrylic collage is by James Harvard.

Unique Oil on Burlap Stuns

Latin American art was also prominently featured at this sale. Among the top performers in these works was an oil on burlap by David Alfaro Siquieros. This work titled Mountainous Landscape sold for $33,275. The ink on paper by Alfredo Ramos Martinez titled Three Peasants, sold solidly for $13,310. The Mexican Masters Suite, 1973, a complete portfolio of eight signed lithographs by Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siquieros, Jose Luis Cuevas, and Francisco Zúñiga also sold very well for $9,680.

The exceptional Modern print offerings, attracting significant collector interest, saw solid prices.  Among the headliners in this category was a color silkscreen titled Sunset by Andy Warhol. The 1972 painting is signed and dated. It sold for well over high estimate at $36,300. A signed silkscreen in colors by Roy Lichstentein saw the same, $36,300. The work titled I Love Liberty, is a work by Roy Lichtenstein dating to 1982. From Helen Frankenthaler her silkscreen in colors titled Flirt, from 1995, earned $9,075.

Rounding out the top performers in this category was an untitled an oil on board by Artur Nikodem, circa 1910, which saw $25,410. By Sigmund Joseph Menkes’ Meditation, an oil on canvas, brought $16,940. Ansel Adams’ gelatin silver print, Golden Gate Before the Bridge, rose to $21,780, to top all photography lots. 

Decorative Arts & Furnishings

There were several great surprises in the Decorative Arts portion of the sale. Soaring well beyond

Raefellli plaque

Uncommon Continental micromosaic plaque, circa 1790-1800, attributed to G. Raffaelli, sold for $21,780 — more than 20 times it’s estimate.

expectation was a Continental micro mosaic plaque, circa 1790-1800, attributed to G. Raffaelli. The plaque, which depicts an exotic finch, came to the sale with an estimate of $800 to $1,200. The bidding opened at $400, the next bid jumping it to ten times that and onward up it climbed to an incredible final sale price of $21,780! 

The Modern furniture portion of the sale also has it share of surprises. “Table Torsade,” attributed to Diego Giacometti, was offered for $10,000 to $15,000 but competitive bidding quickly escalated the final sale to more than double high estimate bringing $33,275. An Ico and Luisa Parisi coffee table, circa 1950, executed in walnut, also sold very well for $11,495.

Collectors vied heatedly for the Gerald Wingrove 1:15 scale model of a 1930’s Bugatti Atlantic (EXK6). Coming to the sale from the estate of Thomas J. Perkins, San Francisco and Belvedere, CA, this lot has a great deal of pre-sale interest. Expected to achieve $5,000 to $7,000, bidding drove this lot quickly to the final sale price of $15,730.

Slots to Censers

A Mills Dewey 5 cent upright floor wheel slot machine attracted collectors selling for $12,100. And a C. Bechstein Grand Piano flew past its high estimate fetching $11,340.

At one point a group of commemorative medals stole the show. The medals refer to militaria. An example bears the inscription “For Services on the Island of Ceylon.” Another features marikings of Wellington, Waterloo, Delhi Relief of Lucknow, Kandahar Kabul Charasia, and Kirbekan the Nile. This lot, climbing to more than 10 times its estimte, finished at an impressive $7,865.

The Asian category is again highlighted by a Chinese censer. This example was rectangular in shape, executed in bronze and the body displaying Arabic figures. Expected to sell for $7,000, this lot nearly doubled that bringing $11,340. 

Jewelry & Timepieces

A stunning sapphire, diamond and platinum ring, the sapphire weighing 4.5 cts. was the top seller in this category fetching $5,670. Next, a diamond, platinum-topped 18k yellow gold circle chatelaine-pendant-brooch, with total diamond weight of 5.50 cts changed hands for $5,142. 

Clars’ next Fine Art, Decorative Art, Furniture, Jewelry/Timepieces and Asian Art Auction will be Saturday and Sunday October 14th and 15th. The sales will begin promptly at 9:30am on Saturday and Sunday. 

Bidding for Clars’ auctions is available in person, by phone, absentee and live online at and through and

For more information, visit, email, or call 510-428-0100.