Skip to main content

McCloskey's "Wrapped in Lemons on a Tabletop" soars to $216,000

The scarce oil on canvas painting "Wrapped in Lemons on a Tabletop", by William McCloskey, set a modern record for the artist's work sold at auction, after commanding $216,000 during Clars Auction Gallery’s July 17th sale.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Clars Auction Gallery’s July 17th sale of Fine Art, Decorative Art Furniture, Jewelry/Timepieces and Asian Art saw a rare painting by American tromp l’oell artist, William McCloskey (1859-1941) came up for bid. The oil on canvas titled Wrapped in Lemons on a Tabletop (1888) experienced highly competitive bidding and substantially outperformed its $70,000 to $100,000 estimate. In the end, Wrapped in Lemons on a Tabletop (1888) achieved a very impressive $216,000 making it the highest price for the artist in over 5 years and the 7th highest overall out of only 25 that have sold at auction.

McCloskey's Lemmons

"Wrapped in Lemons on a Tabletop", by William McCloskey, circa 1888, more than doubled its high estimate, finishing at $216,000 at auction. (All photos courtesy Clars Auction Gallery)

As Rick Unruh, Vice President and Director of Fine Art at Clars explained, “There are approximately 100 known works by McCloskey and perhaps even fewer exist of his most desired and collectible subject matter, still lifes of citrus fruit wrapped in tissue paper.”

Unruh also explained, “Having this painting featured as the highlight of our July auction proved to be a very good decision when most of the major auction houses close down for the summer months until September. Dealers and collectors are most definitely looking for fine art gems such as the McCloskey painting during these months.”

Born in Philadelphia and trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, McCloskey oil still life's epitomize a delicate execution and perfect realism that mesmerize the viewer. The painting, Wrapped Lemons on a Table Top, was one such example by the artist that caught the attention of some of the top and most well-respected galleries in New York that specialize in late 19th and early 20thcentury American fine art. The telephone bidding on this lot was fast and furious. The outcome was more than exceptional for the seller in New Hampshire who decided to forego waiting until the fall auction season.

Seaform Chihuly

Among the highlights of the art glass offerings of the auction is "Seaform" by Dale Chihuly, which sold for $11,495.

As Unruh points out, “The incredible interest we received and of course the outstanding price achieved for this East Coast painting in our West Coast venue proves that Clars’ global audience is yet again - second to none.”

Clars’ July 16th and 17th sale realized over $1 million. Also performing well in Fine Art was a bronze work by Canadian sculptor Sorel Etrog (1933-2014). Titled The Couple, and measuring 52” high, this work sold exceptionally well for $27,830.

In the Decorative Arts category, the top seller was an American Gorham Martelé .958 hollowware suite that surpassed its high estimate selling for $12,100. Coming in second and also outperforming high estimate was the art glass group titled Seaform, by Dale Chihuly (American b. 1941) which achieved $11,495.

A stunning diamond and platinum ring highlighting on old European cut diamond weighing 1.93 ct, was the top lot in this category and sold for solidly within estimate at $8,470.

Rounding out this sale was the Asian category that had its own surprises with several lots flying past high estimate. Two Chinese censers in particular had bidders fighting to the finish line. The first was a Guan-type tripod censer that was offered for $2,000 - $4,000 but sold for $9,680. The next was a Ge-type censer expected to achieve $1,500 but flew out at $8,470.

For more information and complete list of prices realized, visit or email

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!  Please visit our web site to get an idea of how beautiful this collection is.