Mysterious Maps: California as an Island

Imagine sailing off to a land so beautiful it was compared to the Garden of Eden. This island was, to sea-weary sailors, nothing short of paradise. Many tried to map it, but it was hundreds of years and many attempts before cartographers fully understood its elusive geography. Want to know this wondrous place for yourself?

Well, you’re in luck. Because the only thing standing between you and this island of legend is a discount plane ticket from Spirit Airlines. Its name? California.

Pieter Goos Map of California as an island, 1666
Pieter Goos (ca. 1616-1675), Paskaerte van Nova Granada en t’Eylandt California, 1666. Sold for $8,000 in Fine Books, Maps, and Manuscripts, January 13, 2020.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. We know now that California is not an island but is snugly attached to the rest of the continent. In the seventeenth century, a mixture of imagination and  inaccurate or garbled accounts from travelers led cartographers to depict California as an island paradise. European explorers, including Hernan Cortes, having mapped Baja, assumed California to be surrounded on all sides by sea. In fact, it was named after the truly fictional California from the contemporary novel, The Adventures of Esplandián.

Pierre Duval (1618-1683), Nova Mexico, ca. 1660-1680. Sold for $650 in Fine Books, Maps, and Manuscripts, January 13, 2020.

Most iterations show the island extending halfway up what was considered the west coast. On the island’s north side, two inlets give the mass’s flat top variety. These are a consistent feature among maps, demonstrating how much cartographers borrowed from one another. Some maps, such as Pierre Duval’s late 17th century map of “Nova Mexico,” include other fictional elements than just California as an island–this map includes Cibola, the mythical seven cities of gold.

Jacques Chiquet Map California as an island
Jacques Chiquet (1673-1721), Nova Mexico, 1719. Sold for $480 in Fine Books, Maps, and Manuscripts, January 13, 2020.

The trend of California being depicted as an island in maps began its decline after the 1705 publication of Father Eusebio Kino’s A Passage by Land to California, a map based on his extensive travels in California and the surrounding areas. Still, maps and books continued to be published which depicted California as an island well into the mid 18th century. Cartographers, lost in the dreams of yesteryear, grasped at the legend with each publication. Although this dream has been lost in light of discoveries made, nostalgia remains.

These guides, part of one of the largest geographical errors in history, harken back to a time when the world was vast and unknowable. Frame, it, hang it, and be reminded of these ways gone. And, hey, it might even come in handy. California, now but shakily attached, is a couple of earthquakes away from breaking off and becoming an island for real. Love the past, or have an obsession with an imminent future? Either way these maps are for you. 

Please contact Revere Auctions if you have a map you would like to sell or have appraised.

The Yoshida Family of Artists

Born in 1876 as Hiroshi Ueda in Kurume to a school teacher father, Hiroshi Yoshida grew up during the Meiji period (1869-1912), a time in Japanese history that was strongly influenced by Western culture. At the age of fifteen he was adopted by his art teacher,  Kasaburo Yoshida. Both Kasaburo Yoshida and his wife, Rui, were artists who nurtured Hiroshi’s artistic talents, craftsmanship, and creativity. At twenty years old Hiroshi left Kurume to study painting in Kyoto. One year later he moved to Tokyo and entered Koyama Shotaro’s Fudosha private school as well as the Meiji Fine Arts Society, where he was trained in traditional Western-style oil painting. During the early 1900s, he found success as a painter, and won many exhibition prizes, taking many trips to the United States and Europe.

Hiroshi Yoshida "Sacred Bridge" Woodblock Print
Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), Sacred Bridge, sold in Asian Art and Decorative Art, September 29, 2018.

He began his woodblock printing career in 1920, when he was hired to design woodblock prints for a publisher, Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962). Unfortunately, these early prints were lost after Shozaburo’s shop was damaged during the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. After the earthquake, he traveled around the United States again in order to accumulate funds for himself. There he realized how quality ukiyo-e prints, a style of Japanese art that depicted images of everyday life, were valued in the West. When he returned to Japan, Yoshida turned to woodblock prints due to Western infatuation and opened up his own shop where he acted as director and supervised every detail among his workers. His prints were made with the perspective and composition of Western-style paintings but with the precise technique of ukiyo-e woodcuts. His innovative style led him to be a pioneer of shin-haga, the revitalized tradition of ukiyo-e art.

Although he is largely known and for his woodblock prints, Hiroshi Yoshida did not limit himself to prints on paper. His work includes marble sculptures, stained glass windows, and prints on silk instead of paper. Additionally, he used different types of wood and not just the traditional cherry wood for his blocks. He signed and stamped his works, often in the left margin above the title and date. Prints after his death do not have his jizuri kanji stamp and are deemed less valuable. Today his net worth is approximately $1.9 million, and his original prints have been sold for at least $2,500 and have gone as high as $10,000. 

Hiroshi Yoshida "Ajanta Cave Temple" Woodblock print
Yoshida traveled widely throughout the world, and the prints he created from these travels are very popular. Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), Ajanta Cave Temple, sold in Fine Art and Asian Art, September 21, 2019.

With the push and guidance of his adoptive father, Hiroshi Yoshida eventually became one of Japan’s most influential artists and the patriarch of an ever expanding family of generations of artists. His children and grandchildren have carried on his legacy but have also made their own name as artists with unique styles.

Hiroshi married Fujio Yoshida (1887-1987), the daughter of his adoptive father. She is the first female artist in the Yoshida family. Fujio was trained at an early age in the Western style and went on to create naturalistic and abstract watercolors, oil paintings, and woodblock prints. She and Hiroshi had a daughter but sadly she passed away in 1911. That same year, their second child and first son was born, Tōshi. After the death of her first child, Fujio fell into a depression and stopped creating artwork for nearly a decade. Eventually she picked up woodblock prints again, and at the age of sixty-two, she began creating more abstract and sensual prints after being influenced by her second son, Hadoka. Her abstract floral prints have often been mistaken for Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, as they are bright, colorful, organic, and fluid in movement. 

Toshi Yoshida "Pagoda in Kyoto" Woodblock print
Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995), Pagoda in Kyoto, sold in A Lifetime of Curiosity, November 1, 2019.

Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) was the first son of Hiroshi and Fujio Yoshida, and like his parents, he became an artist and was trained by his father. At a young age, Tōshi struggled with keeping and carrying on his father’s legacy. To distinguish himself from his father, who was best known as a landscape artist, Tōshi began focusing on animals as his main print subjects in 1926 and leaned more towards abstract imagery. In 1940 he married Kiso Yoshida (1919-2005), another artist. Kiso excelled in the older and more traditional Japanese arts. Together they had five sons, one of them grew up to be an artist as well. Tōshi traveled extensively to Mexico, Great Britain, the near East, and the United States in 1953. During his travels, he made presentations in thirty museums in eighteen states. Around the age of sixty-nine, he opened up a woodblock print making school in Nagano and in Miasa. After his death, his second son Tsukasa Yoshida (born 1949) took over and is currently the director of the Yoshida Hanga Academy. 

As the director of the Yoshida Hanga Academy, one of the most influential schools for Japanese woodblock printing, he organizes annual exhibitions that are open for former and current students to attend and display their artworks. As an artist, his woodblock prints are very similar to his father’s and grandfather’s. Tsukasa’s prints are simple and straightforward compositionally, and is he known for his vibrant colors and use of subtle gradation in the backgrounds to create a soft atmosphere. 

Hodaka Yoshida (1926-1995), unlike his brother Tōshi, was encouraged to study science at a young age and graduated college as a scientist. However, after World War II, when Japan became less strict about art, he decided to follow his passion in the arts. During his mid-twenties, he began his artistic career with abstract oil paintings. He exhibited his early paintings in the Second Nihon Independent exhibition in 1948. One year later he began experimenting with woodblock prints, and in 1951 he exhibited both his oil paintings and prints in one show. After some time traveling to foreign countries and being inspired by indeginous art, he influenced his family with his more energetic and abstract works. His wife, Inoue Chizuko (1924-2017), was also an artist. She was trained as an abstract painter, and, with Kiso Yoshida, makes up the second generation of female artists in the Yoshida family.

Ayomi Yoshida, born in 1958, is the daughter of Hodaka and Chizuko and is the third generation of women artists. Although she was not pressured to pursue an artistic career, like her parents and grandparents, she studied art on her own accord at Wakō University, a private school in Tokyo, Japan. Being the most conceptual artist in the family, she has broadened the family’s artistic landscape through her unconventional approach to woodblock prints. Her prints from 1979 to 1997 focused more on the carving process more than the finished work itself. At the age of twenty-three, she won her first award for a woodblock print in the Sunshine Print Gran Prix exhibition. However, she is best known for her room sized installations. She has exhibited her works in the College Women’s Association of Japan, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia), and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, as well as other international venues. In 2002 she had her largest installation at the Mia, and her only permanent installation is at the Target Corporation Headquarters in Minneapolis. 

Hiroshi Yoshida "Kameido Bridge" Woodblock Print
Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), Kameido Bridge, sold in American Studio Ceramics and Fine Estates Auction, July 18, 2019.

The Yoshida family of artists spans four generations of artists, four male artists and four female. These artists provide perspective in Japanese history and art development through their work during the influential times of the 20th century. Although they have a very strong foundation and background with woodblock prints, each artist is uniquely their own and has experimented with other forms of art. From shin-hanga, abstraction, surrealism, and conceptual installations, each artist has contributed to the ever expanding growth of the family legacy.

Please contact Revere Auctions if you have an artwork by a member of the Yoshida family that you are interested in selling or having appraised.

Scholar’s Rocks

Scholar’s rocks, or Gōng shí (供石) in Chinese, are naturally occurring rocks that are often sanded, carved, polished, and altered in some way for a desired appearance and have been cited as a source of inspiration by many Chinese writers throughout history. Also known as fantastic rocks and spirit stones, they are often found in caves filled with water and made from karstic limestone and petrified wood. Stones are prized for a variety of features: textured surfaces, dramatic forms, awkward asymmetry, and glossiness. Some rocks are also admired for their resemblance to mountains and mythical creatures. Mountainlike rocks are admired because they symbolize a miniature world, a microcosm of the universe to which scholars turn for inspiration. Stones that are massive and colorful or sensual in shape with somber coloring are seen as perfect, depending on tastes.

There are three main sources of quality stones in China: Lingbi, Yingde, and Lake Taihu. Stones from Lingbi tend to have glossy and dark surfaces, while stones from Yingde tend to have perforated surfaces. Pitting and corrosion caused by the water in the caves causes the limestone to have cavities and hollowed surfaces. Based on Chinese aesthetics for scholar’s rocks, stones that have dimpled surfaces are more prized than more smooth stones because the hollows in the rocks contrast the solidity of the stone, making it more dramatic. Stones that are from Lake Taihu are the most prized due to their unique shapes.  

Ling Bi Stone, sold in Fine Art and Asian Art, September 21, 2019.

Scholar’s rocks have a long history in Chinese culture. They have been found buried in tombs dating to the Neolithic Age, 7,000 years ago. In the late Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), the four principal aesthetic criteria were defined to create a standard for stones that would be used and featured in gardens and studios; stones were judged by their openness, perforations, wrinkling, and thinness. By the early Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), we begin to see the influences of the rocks in Chinese literature and paintings. Emperor Huizong Mi (reigned from 1101-1126) was an avid collector and painter of gōng shí. Huizong Mi was not alone–many emperors revered scholar’s rocks. Li He, the associate curator of Chinese art  at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, said, “The stones have always had imperial connotations.” Mi Fu (1051-1107), a prominent Chinese painter, poet, and calligrapher composed essays on scholar’s rocks, as did many other artists. Du Wan (12th c.) wrote a comprehensive catalogue, Yunlin Shipu, that praised the stones. 

Stones of all sizes have always been collected and admired. Smaller rocks were collected as desk and table ornaments for scholarly studios while larger stones were used as decorations in gardens to create a small landscape. Eventually the pairing of rocks and plants became a favored pictorial genre which suggested garden settings. Rocks were paired with different plants to convey certain symbolic meanings, such as bamboo, meaning moral purity, and peonies, meaning wealth. Paintings of these rocks began to appear more often and eventually the aesthetic ideals between fantastic rocks and painting were indistinguishable. To quote Liang Jiutu (1816-1880), a Chinese artist and writer, “If the rock does not seem like a painting by the power of nature, then you shouldn’t choose it.”  

Scholar’s rocks are still admired today. Many people collect them, and they continue to inspire art and writing. Chinese sculptor Zhan Wang (展望) creates stainless steel gōng shí. He took the concept of new technologies and combined it with traditional Chinese art, creating a curious juxtaposition. He sets large artificial rocks outside of entrances of modern buildings, much like having large ornamental rocks in Chinese gardens and gateways, and by doing so he pushes traditional Chinese aesthetics into contemporary art. To Wang, his sculptors depict Chinese history in the postmodern world. It seems evident that even through the test of time, gōng shí, or scholar’s rocks, still influence artists and writers today. 

Please contact Revere Auctions if you have a scholar’s rock you would like to sell or have appraised.

Getting Your Painting Appraised in Minnesota

Being in the business of selling, valuing, and appraising art, antiques, jewelry, and sculpture in Minnesota people contact us for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common questions we get are:

How much is my painting worth?

“What is the value of this old picture?”

“What is this antique worth?”

“Can you appraise this painting, sculpture, or antique?”

These questions are more complex than most people think. To properly answer them we need to dig a little deeper into determining the intent of the art appraisal and the market that needs to be researched.

For us to value your painting, sculpture, or antique, you need to ask yourself some very important questions to help us determine the best market to research.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself and be prepared to answer:

What is the purpose of the art appraisal?

In other words, are you interested in insuring the artwork, selling the artwork, or donating the artwork? Is the collection, artwork, antique, jewelry, or sculpture part of an estate? There are several more reasons that may not fit into these categories, but these are the most common. For these common appraisal questions, we look into different art markets to determine the appraised value. Often times these markets offer very different values, so it is important to think about why you want your painting appraised.

Selling the Artwork

The majority of our clients are interested in selling their paintings, sculpture, jewelry and antiques. For these instances we offer a complimentary auction estimate evaluation.

Estate Appraisal

Estate appraisals are important in determining the value of an estate and can be done before or after inheritance. If you have a good estate plan, it is important to get the contents of your house appraised. It is important to hire a professional appraiser that can look at the general contents of a house and make sure there aren’t any objects that are not properly valued. Often times, some of the least expected items can have the most value. I have been to estates where the most valuable items were found in the attic or was a dish that was used to hold keys. It is impossible for an appraiser to know something about everything, but if there are a lot of different items like paintings, Asian antiques, porcelain, furniture and general antiques the appraiser should consult with outside experts to determine the proper value of the items. For estate appraisals that are used for estate tax purposes, we use fair market value.

The IRS defines Fair Market Value as “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.”

To determine the Fair Market Value of a painting, sculpture, or antique we look into the secondary market, which is often the auction market. Our appraisal reports will include comparisons from auction listings to help build our case for valuing the artwork. IRS donation appraisals are arguably the most scrutinized appraisals so it is important to hire a professional appraiser to write the report for you.

Insuring a painting

We recommend getting an insurance appraisal if the painting, sculpture, or antique has an insurance value over $3,000. This is also a good conversation to have with your insurance company to see if they need an art appraisal report for certain objects in your collection. The market that we research for insurance value is the retail market, which is typically the highest price in the marketplace. We want to ensure that if something were to happen to your object, you could get an object of similar quality, age, and condition for the price the object was appraised for. Our appraisal reports are accepted by all the insurance companies and are considered legal documents. We have been involved with a lot of insurance claim cases and often times people did not get their collections properly appraised. This likely means that they did not get proper compensation from their insurance company when something happens. Make sure your paintings, sculptures, and antiques are properly appraised and protected from theft or damage.

Donating a painting

The IRS requires a professional appraisal report for any artwork, antique, or sculpture that has a value over $5,000. Donation art appraisals use Fair Market Value to determine the value of a painting, sculpture, and/or antique. For objects that have a fair market value over $50,000 there is a board at the IRS that will look over the report to ensure that it has an accurate value. This shows the importance of having a professional appraiser write a donation appraisal report.


We look into the resale value of the object. We will access all of our databases to determine what your painting, sculpture, or antique sells for in the open market. We aren’t particularly interested in what the artwork is advertised for online, but rather what the artwork actually sells for. The internet can cause a great deal of confusion in that you may find your exact same object listed for a wide range of prices online. We will navigate all of that confusing information to determine what the actual value is for the artwork or antique, and often times we will give you comparables to help you understand our valuation. If we give you the value of an artwork we will not purchase it from you. We strongly believe that there is a conflict in interest in valuing an object that we would then purchase and want to be transparent and unbiased in our valuation. You should always think twice about selling an object to anyone who values it and then offers to buy it.

Yaacov Agam

The work of Yaacov Agam is not easy to digest. It forces the viewer to move, inspect, follow the curves, lines, and shades of his work. Agam was, and is, a leader in kinetic art, creating works that are holographic, fragmented geometric forms, or involve light, sound, and water. In his prints and architectural pieces he brings kinetic energy to the visual plane.

Yaacov Agam, Fire and Water Fountain, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Agam was born in Rishon Lezion, Israel in 1928 and pursued art education at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He later moved to Zurich and studied under Swiss expressionist Johannes Itten, whose color theory technique is evident in Agam’s works. Agam currently lives and works in Paris, but has recently opened a museum dedicated to his work in Tel Aviv. His silkscreens have been in exhibits and collections at the MOMA and the Guggenheim in New York, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, and a piece of his was even presented to Pope Francis in 2014.

Yaacov Agam, Hope, silkscreen on plastic, sold in Fine and Decorative Arts of the Globe, January 9, 2019.

Agam’s silkscreen entitled Hope takes a seemingly simple colorblocked checkered field and fragments it with nineteen columns of stacked hues of blues, purples, reds, oranges, and yellows. This layering of shades and shapes transforms the work from two to four dimensional, bringing it off the canvas not with linear perspective but by using strategic color blocking. Agam manipulates more than just familiar shapes like the Star of David, but changes the effect color has on his audience too. For example, his silkscreen Winter is made up of in different shades of blue, purple, green, grey, and white, color traditionally known and used in painting for their calming effect on the eye. However, by ‘pixelating’ the shape, Agam agitates the scene and a tranquil color field is turned into one of dynamic movement.

Yaacov Agam, Winter, silkscreen on paper, sold in Fine and Decorative Arts, March 30, 2019.

Similarly, his architectural pieces bring color and vibrancy to the spaces they inhabit. His fountains, dynamic works of colors, shapes, and water, as well as his rainbow buildings, do not blend in with the environment around them. They catch the eye and bring you out of your walk down the street and into a world of neon color and abstract shapes. Agam’s versatility and bold approaches to color and composition have led to international acclaim, with his work being broadly collected in France, America, and Taiwan.

Please contact Revere Auctions if you are interested in buying, selling, or getting an appraisal on a Yaacov Agam piece.

“Inserting Ink”: the Hidden Ties Between Japanese Woodblock Prints and Traditional Tattoos

Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) triptych of tattooed firemen, available in Fine Asian Art, April 26, 2019.

Irezumi, the art of Japanese tattoo, translating literally to “inserting ink,” is an ephemera that has lasted hundreds, if not thousands, of years in Japan’s cultural history. No definitive reason has been discovered for the very first tattoos of prehistoric Japanese peoples; the scholarly pendulum swings between forms of spiritual protective symbols to markers of criminality. Even during the Edo period (1603-1868) it is not completely clear as to what members of society would undergo the long, detailed, and often painful process of traditional Japanese tattooing. However, one thing is very clear about irezumi during the Edo period, and that is its inseparability from the art and manufacturing of Japanese woodblock prints. Both woodblock print artists and tattoo artists took on the title hori, meaning ‘to carve’. Many of the same tools and ink used in printmaking workshops, specifically nara ink known for turning blue-green on skin, were utilized in tattoo shops.

Man with irezumi, c. 1890. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images.

It was not until the Meiji period (1868-1912) that tattoos were outlawed in Japan and associations of tattoos turned seriously to criminality and the Yakuza. Preceding this, Edo period laborers and firemen have been the most identified customers of irezumi shops, decorating themselves in intricate tattoos as a form of spiritual protection. Firemen themselves were seen as roguish, handsome characters of society and thus incorporated into prints as dashing heroes, richly dressed in irezumi. Regardless of who the customers were, most levels of society during the Edo period were consuming irezumi art one way or another. The relationship between irezumi and woodblock prints is circular. Many popular tattoo designs first appeared in the woodblock print novel Suikoden, the designs from which were adapted for actors in Kabuki theater. Scenes from theater were reused in woodblock printmaking, and the tattoos were then further developed and copied onto human skin.

The irezumi designs came from many sources, not unlike the woodblock prints that catapulted them into popularity. Designs and imagery themselves varied widely and were never an isolated element in the tattoo itself. Many full body tattoos incorporated multiple themes and motifs, brought together by a color palette dominated by blues, reds, and blacks. Mythical beasts such as dragons and foo dogs were fashionable, but more common animals like birds, koi fish, tigers, and snakes were favored too. Flora was as important as fauna in irezumi. Specific species of flowers were singled out including peonies, cherry blossoms, lotuses, and chrysanthemums, for their different spiritual properties and symbolic meanings. Figural images were not unusual either; characters from the woodblock print novel Suikoden, samurai, geisha, and Shinto spirit masks also made appearances. Tattoo scenes were then often detailed with clouds, waves, and wind bars.

The middle of the 19th century facilitated much change and evolution in attitude toward irezumi as it was adapted by Westerners and became more of a tourist industry. Although contemporary tattoo methods are now practiced in Japan it is still possible to find a true irezumi shop. You can still be tattooed with traditional woodblock chisels and nara ink, and at the end feel like an Edo period fireman emerging from a woodblock print.

Please contact Revere Auctions if you have a Japanese woodblock print you are interested in selling or getting appraised.

Louis Comfort Tiffany: the Man, the Lamps, the Legend

Tiffany Studios Leaded Glass and Bronze Nasturtium Table Lamp, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

Interior designer and artist Louis Comfort Tiffany is known as one of the great contributors of art and design in the Art Nouveau movement. From his studio in Queens, NY, Tiffany created his famous lamps, a staple of turn of the 20th century art. Tiffany started his company with the development of stained glass and eventually expanded to the design of intricate leaded glass floor, table, and hanging lamps. These lamps took inspiration from his travels around the globe and the natural world around him, and were distinguished by their bronze base and stained glass designs featuring natural motifs in harmonious color schemes.

Tiffany’s lamps are notable for many reasons, but one of them is the integration of new techniques for creating intricate stained glass designs. This includes his use of favrile glass, which is created by the mixing of different colored glasses when hot to avoid the use of artificial colors and paints. Additionally, Tiffany developed a thin and flexible foil to connect pieces of glass without heavy lines or joints. These developments allowed him to make shades that kept true to his natural inspiration.

Tiffany’s mastery of the art of favrile glass is evident in many of Tiffany Studios’ delicately patterned lampshades. Tiffany Studios Bell Floor Lamp with Favrile Shade, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

Although there were some motifs and images that came up on the lamps with more frequency than others, most draw on inspiration from the natural world. They incorporate designs of flowers, plants, animals, or insects. The form of the lamp was usually intended to look like a tree, with the scalloped and uneven edges of the shade replicating the shape of petals, leaves, or even wings, and the base often in the shape of a tree trunk. Some more common motifs were dragonflies and flowers, although some Tiffany lamps incorporate more geometric shapes and designs. The vibrant color schemes on the shades and sometimes in the base correspond to colors found naturally in the environment. For example, the peacock table lamp shade’s stained glass colors coincide with the beautiful feathers of a real peacock. The proportion of shade to base was very crucial, especially since most were made to replicate proportions and irregularities found in nature, and a lamp with odd proportions would be less harmonious. There were certain shade designs that are meant to be paired with certain bases, but other designs had more flexibility in their creation.

Tiffany Studios Leaded Glass and Bronze Dogwood 2 Lamp, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

These lamps were so desirable, and still are in the auction market today, that even with cracks and imperfections they can sell for thousands to even millions of dollars, depending on the rarity of the lamp. Most sell between $4,000 and over $1 million, but the most expensive, the rare Pink Lotus lamp, sold for $2.8 million. With their technical craftsmanship, beautiful design, and continued popularity, these lamps are truly a shining example of Art Nouveau art and design.

Revere Auctions is actively seeking consignment of Tiffany lamps. If you are interested in finding out how much your Tiffany lamp is worth, reach out to us at for a free auction estimate!

Paul McCobb

American artist Paul McCobb is known for his accomplishments in mid-century furniture design. Born in Boston in 1917, McCobb’s interest in art began at a young age. He studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston for a short time before enlisting in the army. After his discharge in 1943, McCobb settled in New York where he began working for Martin Feinman’s Modernage Furniture. His first company, Paul McCobb Design Associates, was established just two years later in 1945. By 1948, McCobb was a respected designer and consultant for corporations such as Remington Rand, Columbia Records, Goodyear, Singer, and Acola. The Planner Group was released in 1950 by McCobb and his friend B.G. Mesberg, whom he had met during his time at Martin Feinman’s Modernage Furniture.

Paul McCobb was a five-time recipient of the MoMA’s Good Design Award between 1950 and 1955. He later received the Contribution to Better Design Award by the Philadelphia Museum of Arts in 1959. Since his death in 1969, McCobb’s designs have been showcased at the MoMA, Los Angeles’ Reform Gallery, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson, Volcanic Magic XVII, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

“I feel what people call by the word scavenger is really a resurrection. You’re taking a discarded, beat-up piece that was no use to anyone and you place it in a position where it goes to beautiful places: museums, libraries, universities, big private houses… These pieces of wood have a history and drama… [a]nd someone comes along who sees how to take these beings and transform them into total being.

–Louise Nevelson, Dawns and Dusks

Louise Nevelson was a powerhouse of modernist sculpture. Her bold constructions using found objects shook the art world, as did her often scandalous, larger than life persona. Her work was cutting-edge during her lifetime and remains relevant, her unique approach to storytelling and her breathtaking, gothic silhouettes as fascinating to modern viewers as they were to her contemporaries.

Louise Nevelson was born to a poor Jewish family in Kiev in what was then the Russian Empire in 1899, but immigrated to the United States with her family in 1901. The family settled in Rockland, Maine, where her father ran a lumberyard. She often played with the scraps as a child, taking an early interest in sculpture. In school, she had no aptitude for academics, but excelled in her art classes, and enjoyed creating whimsical clothing for herself, constructing hats and other items.

When she was eighteen, she was introduced to Charles Nevelson, a wealthy New Yorker, by his brother Bernard, with whom she had become friends when his work in the shipping business had taken him to Rockland. They married in 1918, and she moved to New York City. She was immediately enraptured by the city, and took full advantage of the opportunities it offered to a young woman with a thirst to learn: she took acting and music classes, attended concerts and lectures, and visited museums. Despite her love for her new home, Nevelson found herself very unhappy in her marriage, particularly after the birth of her son. She found escape in visiting museums, where she was inspired by things as diverse as Japanese Noh theater costumes and cubist artworks, and by attending art classes at the Art Students League.

Finally, in 1931, she left her husband and traveled to Munich to study with Hans Hofmann. Cubism as he taught it resonated with Nevelson, and had a major effect on shaping her later work. In her words, “[i]f you read my work, no matter what it is, it still has that stamp. The box is a cube.” After traveling for a few more months, she returned to the United States to be with her family, but soon returned to Europe, eager to learn more in the art schools of Paris. After a brief stay there, she returned to the United States and the Art Students League. She soon met Diego Rivera, and began working as an assistant to him. She continued to take every opportunity to expand her art horizons, even taking up modern dance as part of her ongoing fascination with space and how space is occupied.

In 1941, Nevelson had her first show at Nierendorf Gallery, marking her breakthrough in the fine art world. She displayed sculptures created from boxes, leveraging her Cubist roots and obsession with space into something entirely new. She began receiving critical recognition, and continued expanding her work, moving literally outside the box. Around this time, Nevelson first began working with found objects. She felt that found objects already had stories of their own to tell, and assembling them as she was allowed her to contribute to those stories, and to keep the stories of discarded objects alive in a powerful way. While the way she manipulated these objects in her sculptures varied significantly throughout her career, their presence remained a constant.

In the mid-1940s, she began exhibiting her work regularly, and her success continued from there. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, her work was purchased by major museums, and she began receiving commissions to create the kinds of found-object sculptures for which she had become well known. These iconic sculptures were dark, monochromatic spires, disguising and making majestic the most mundane of objects. She was often grouped in exhibitions with the most influential artists of her time. Through the 1970s and 1980s, she received numerous honorary degrees and even had several books published on her.

She continued working and experimenting until her death in 1988, pushing the boundaries of color, texture, and form. She continued to try new sculptural media—though always admitting that wood was her favorite—along with making prints, designing costumes, and writing poetry. Volcanic Magic XVII, featured in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, was part of one of the final series Nevelson made, and in many ways shows a rounding out of her career as an artist. This piece displays several of the most quintessential Nevelson elements: found objects, surprising textures, and a usage of space both carefree and confrontational. However, it shows less typical elements as well. It is not monochromatic , but instead a gradation of color, showing depth through shades of brown instead of though the massive forms of her earlier work. It is in some ways a flattened version of her classic box constructions, with the exaggerated frame serving as the sides of a simple wooden box, the kind she often favored. This piece shows Nevelson continuing her lifelong exploration of space in a subtle, sophisticated direction, creating the illusion of space rather than creating ways to occupy it.

Volcanic Magic XVII includes an intriguing variety of found objects including the separated back and legs of a chair, a wooden oval, and fragments of paper, fabric, and a can. The chair back is well worn, with use-roughened edges and a mottled finish from loss of varnish—it is clear it has the kind of history Nevelson liked so well. The placement of the chair legs causes the viewer to wonder whether these had once been part of the same chair, which had been dropped on to the frame, breaking in the process. Volcanic Magic XVII constantly brings these questions to the viewer’s mind, involving them in the story, spinning new possible scenarios to connect these seemingly unrelated objects—is it a table setting, spinning in a cyclone? This is the true power in this work—Nevelson has chosen objects just right to keep their story continuing and changing, being speculated on and expanded upon by each viewer.

George Morrison

George Morrison Wood Collage, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

George Morrison was born in 1919 in Grand Marais, Minnesota. He grew up primarily in neighboring Chippewa City, with his family, who were part of the Grand Portage Band of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe). His family was poor, but very loving, and very supportive of his constant desire to create. Morrison spent his early childhood roaming the shores of Lake Superior and creating toys and art out of any object he could find. His first introduction to formal art classes came when he was sent to attend the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school in Hayward, Wisconsin. After a year in Hayward, a case of tuberculosis in his hip led him to be sent to St. Paul for treatment. While bedridden, he was able to spend all his time reading, learning, and creating art with supplies provided for him by the hospital, solidifying his excitement in learning and love of art.

Morrison finished high school in Grand Marais with his family, excelling in his academic classes and also in his shop classes, where he learned skills, such as woodworking, that he would use throughout his later career. To make money, he learned traditional crafts and sold them to tourists. His artistic abilities were already gaining recognition in his hometown, and upon his graduation from high school, he was given a scholarship by the Consolidated Chippewa Agency to attend the Minneapolis School of Art. While there, he learned traditional artistic techniques and ideas, but was also introduced to newer, more radical ideas about art, such as abstract art and cubism. His instructors encouraged him to express himself in his art. Also while in Minneapolis, Morrison, always full of a voracious desire to learn, took advantage of all the cultural opportunities available to him there, attending lectures, dance performances, and many other things.

After graduation, Morrison received a scholarship to study in New York City, where he spent much of his artistic career. He took classes at the Art Students League, where he was part of a group of radical students, experimenting with new ideas on the forefront of art innovation. His work became increasingly Expressionist during this period, and he began participating in shows and receiving some positive critical reception. It was also during this period that he first traveled to Provincetown, which had a large effect on Morrison and his art. He had always felt connected to large bodies of water, something he attributed to his childhood on Lake Superior, and being in Provincetown provided Morrison with a great deal of inspiration. Horizon lines began appear in his work around this time, a major theme based around these large, powerful bodies of water, which would continue to be important in his work throughout his career.

Morrison began gaining more significant professional success in his last year at the Art Students League, exhibiting his work in major shows alongside important artists at the time. His art was featured throughout the United States to critical success, particularly in his home state of Minnesota. In 1947 he was offered his first teaching position, the first of many throughout his career. His work began to lean more toward abstraction at this time, a concept Morrison defined as “no longer recognizable; completely devoid of any kind of reference to realism or naturalism.” He held his first one-man show in 1948 at Grand Central Moderns. With his growing success came more accolades: he received a Fulbright to study in Europe, where he traveled with his dog and his new wife, Ada, visiting Paris, where he studied at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, along with other parts of France, Italy, and Spain. His work was displayed in Paris, where it received a great deal of positive attention.

While in France, he received the John Hay Whitney Scholarship, which he used to return to Minnesota and paint. This was a tremendously productive period for him, and he spent his time there either in his studio or with family. His work continued to be selected for shows, and his success grew. When he returned to New York in 1954, he and Ada divorced and he threw himself into his painting. He became involved with groups such as the Audubon Artists and the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, and continued showing his work. He rubbed shoulders with the major Abstract Expressionists, and his work began to take on more of those qualities.

While his work gained more critical acclaim, Morrison’s relationship with the press was always complicated. Racism was abundant, and often Morrison felt as if people looked to his identity as a Native American to define him instead of to his art. While he was strongly connected to his culture, he did not make what was understood as “Indian art”—in his words, “I was a painter, and I happened to be Indian. I wasn’t exploiting the idea of being Indian at all, or using Indian themes. But as my work became better known, some critics would pick up on my Indian background, and they’d make something of it. I guess they were looking or a way to understand my work.”

In the early 1960s, Morrison turned to teaching for steady employment. He taught at the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio, where he met his second wife, Hazel. He bounced around the United States, taking semester-long positions, until in 1963 he got a job as a faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design. He and Hazel settled in a historic house in Providence and had a son, Briand. Morrison loved working in Providence, with his love for the ocean providing continued inspiration for him. They continued to summer in Provincetown. He began making forays into sculptural work at this time, creating wood collages from driftwood he found on the beach.

Despite his love for the ocean, Morrison eventually decided it was time to move back home to Minnesota, accepting a visiting professorship at the University of Minnesota in both the American Indian Studies department and in the Art department, where he taught painting. The position soon became permanent, and the Morrisons settled into St. Paul, building a vibrant community around themselves of artists and thinkers. Morrison was additionally very active in the local Anishinaabe community. After his retirement, Morrison moved back up to live on Lake Superior, at Red Rock, where he lived until his death in 2000.

The two sculptures in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019 are unique examples of Morrison’s later work. He had begun working in wood in earnest when he returned to Minnesota, and had continued to shift and hone down the way he used the medium. This collage, completed in the 1980s, is the first one ever to come to auction. Its smoothly polished pieces tightly interlock with one another, forming ripples and swirls. Morrison said of his collages that they were “clearly based on landscape.” If the viewer takes a step back, it is easy to imagine this as a landscape, the curves implying hills and rivers, the variants in color reminiscent of topography. The shapes of the pieces suggest that they might continue out of the frame, that this is a map of a limited part of a larger landscape.

George Morrison Circular Wood Sculpture, available in Fine and Decorative Arts on March 30, 2019, 10 AM CDT.

Lot 55 is an intriguing mixture of Morrison’s sculpture styles. It is similar in many ways to his Chiringa Forms, which were inspired by aboriginal Australian churinga stones. Morrison understood these as a form of totem, an important motif through his sculptural work. Morrison began creating totems in 1977, and in many ways viewed them as a way to return to his cultural roots with his artwork. Totem means “family mark” in Anishinaabe, and Morrison had viewed his return to Minnesota as a return to his family and his culture, and honored this in his sculpture. His Totems and Chiringa Forms, like this sculpture, remained abstract and focused on shape, but they were tied for him to his re-involvement with his native culture. Additionally, the way the joints in the wood follow the curve of the form bring to mind Morrison’s famous horizon lines, always just vanishing with the curve of the earth.