The Collection Of Bohemian Artist Xavier Martinez And His Family Comes To Turner Auctions + Appraisals On February 25
Over 200 Lots from Five Generations Feature Artworks, Books, Ephemera & More
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA, February 13, 2023 – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is very pleased to present The Collection of Bohemian Artist Xavier Martinez and His Family on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at 10:30 am PST. Featuring over 200 lots, the auction spans about 110 years and five generations related to famed Northern California artist Xavier Martinez (1869-1943). Items include artworks created by and gifted to Martinez, art produced by members of subsequent generations, and a wide range of other family possessions saved through the years such as photos, correspondence, books, ephemera, and more. Never seen before by the public, this historical collection is sourced from the family’s multi-generational homes in Northern California – first in Piedmont and Carmel, then in Pebble Beach. Several pairs of Chinese vases from other collectors round out the sale.
Besides an array of artworks by Martinez, there are paintings, drawings, sketches, etchings, works on paper, photographs, and sculpture by Micaela Martinez DuCasse, Ralph DuCasse, Chiura Obata, Josephine Wood Colby, Albert Thomas DeRome, Leo Lentelli, Arnold Genthe, Benjamen Chin, Gardiner Hale, Evelyn Otheto Stoddard Weston, Eugene Delacroix, Del F. Lederle, and others. Other lots on paper include silhouettes, photos of Martinez, caricatures of his bohemian circle of friends, and his 1915 Gold Medal Panama-Pacific International Award. Among the Bohemian Club memorabilia are plays, photos, publications, and ephemera. There are numerous groupings of letters, albums, papers, and/or ephemera – including Martinez, both his wife Elsie and daughter Michaela, Ralph DuCasse, Harriet Dean, his father-in-law Herman Whitaker, Franklin Roosevelt, photographer Edward Weston, artist Magda Pach, and others. Groupings of publications feature art exhibit catalogs and the California College of Arts and Crafts. Also offered are a diverse selection of books from the family library, including México y Sus Alrededores, a signed edition by Jack London dedicated to Martinez with photograph, Inedited Works of Bakst, and several publications on Carmel.
Turner Auctions + Appraisals begins its online auction on Saturday, February 25, 2023; sale items are available for preview and bidding now. The auction will be featured live on multiple platforms: LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, Bidsquare, iCollector, and Turner Auctions + Appraisals’ free mobile app, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Apps (“Turner Auctions”). All are easily accessed through ‘Upcoming Auctions’ at the company’s website: www.turnerauctionsonline.com/upcoming-auctions/.
Xavier Martinez, the most renowned of his family members, was an artist acclaimed for portraits and tonal landscapes. He was born in Guadalajara to a Mexican father and Spanish mother. After his mother died when Xavier was age 17, he was fostered by Rosalia LaBastida de Coney (1844–1897); when her husband Alexander Coney was appointed Consul-General of Mexico in San Francisco in 1886, Martinez followed them there, arriving in 1893. He enrolled in the California School of Design and graduated in 1897, when he also became a member of San Francisco’s storied Bohemian Club. Founded in 1872 and continuing today, this is a private club for “gentlemen who are connected professionally with Literature, Art, Music, or the Drama” and those whose love or appreciation of these objects “make them worthy companions in artistic fellowship.” This association with the Bohemian Club was to continue for many years. Also in 1897, Martinez – known to his friends as “Marty” – sailed to France and entered École des Beaux Arts, Atelier Gérome, in Paris. Graduating in 1899, he returned to San Francisco in 1901. There, connecting with friends old and new, he frequented Coppa’s Restaurant, a popular gathering spot of the Bay Area bohemian crowd, where Martinez painted the black cat frieze.
In 1906, Martinez moved across the San Francisco Bay to Piedmont due to the horrific 7.9-magnitude earthquake that ravaged the city, killing over 3,000 people and destroying some 28,000 buildings. Family lore, never confirmed but passed down through generations to great-grandson Bruce McCreary, has it that Martinez was saved from death by a trip to the bathroom: when the earthquake hit at 5:12 am, he had left his bed – just before the bedroom wall collapsed on it! With San Francisco on fire and in rubble, Martinez found refuge across the bay in Piedmont with Herman Whitaker, an English-born writer and fellow Bohemian Club member, and his family – and there in Piedmont he stayed.
Living in Piedmont at the Whitakers, he fell in love with and married their daughter Elsie, 16 years old, 20 years his junior, and known for her beauty. For five years, the couple’s summers were spent in Carmel so Martinez could teach art classes at the Hotel Del Monte, where he also was one of the artists invited to create an art gallery there.
In 1913, their daughter Micaela was born, known as “Kai.” In 1923, after a marriage of highs and lows, Elsie and Xavier Martínez amicably separated, and Elsie and Micaela moved in with Harriet Dean, Elsie’s partner until Harriet’s death decades later. Their house was just down the street from Martinez’s studio, and they were all devoted to each other through the years. (As Elsie said regarding her daughter’s divorce, no doubt mirroring her own relationship, “I don’t believe artists should marry anyhow,” since artists work “so hard that family life couldn’t be worked into it.”) In 1941, Martinez became ill, moving in the following year with Elsie, their daughter, and Harriet in Carmel, before passing away in early 1943.
During his life, Xavier Martinez was friends and colleagues with many of the arts’ leading lights of the time – Henri Matisse, Maynard Dixon, Jack London, Gottardo Piazzoni, poet George Sterling, and others. The exhibitions of Martinez’s art were numerous, including the Bohemian Club, Panama Pacific International Exhibition, Palace of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the New York World’s Fair in 1940, and others. He was also an art teacher and professor for decades at leading Bay Area art schools, including the California School of Arts and Crafts (renamed the California College of the Arts in 2003), where he taught for over 30 years, retiring in 1942. Today, his paintings are held in permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Monterey Museum of Art, Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Oakland Museum of California, Mills College Art Museum, and Guadalajara Art Museum.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Micaela “Kai” Martinez (1913-1989) also became an artist, sculptor, and educator. Kai started drawing as a child with her father and developed an interest in religious/Catholic themes as a young girl, which led to her affinity for creating religious art. Following her studies at California School of Arts and Crafts, she painted the library murals for the Franciscans in San Francisco, produced fresco murals for the seminarians library at Mission San Luis Rey, and created Stations of the Cross paintings and sculptures for the cloisters of the Franciscan Sisters. From 1955 to 1978, she taught Liturgical Art classes at the San Francisco College for Women at Lone Mountain campus and was a lecturer at Holy Names University in Oakland.
In 1944 Kai married painter Ralph DuCasse; they had two daughters, Jeanne DuCasse and Monique Tomasovich. The DuCasses eventually divorced, and Kai remained in Piedmont, where she maintained her art studio to the end of her life.
Ralph DuCasse (1916-2003) was born in Kentucky. During World War II he worked in Intelligence, specializing in the Japanese language; he was stationed and trained at Fort Ord in Monterey, and was eventually sent to Asia. At Fort Ord, DuCasse met Micaela Martinez; they married in 1944. After his art studies in Ohio, California, and New York, he taught at various California fine art institutions, including U.C. Berkeley; in 1958, he joined the faculty at Mills College in Oakland, later becoming chairman of the Art Department. While helping to hang a student’s mobile at Mills in the late 1950s, DuCasse suffered a life-changing accident, falling 40 feet through the art gallery’s glass ceiling. Severely injured, he was hospitalized for many months and not expected to survive. After the many surgeries that followed, including on his shattered painting arm, his style changed and evolved. The first major one-man show of his work was held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1961. Widely exhibited, DuCasse’s work is held at institutions that include the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Over time, the creative works and colorful history of multiple generations of the Martinez family accumulated in the Pebble Beach house of the DuCasses’ daughter, Jeanne DuCasse, which became a museum-like repository for family artworks and memorabilia. Today, filling the home’s attic and basement, the diverse and extensive collection has outgrown its available space. With that in mind, the current generation has decided to share these engaging visual and historical works instead of allowing them to deteriorate in boxes, unseen by those who would appreciate them. Aside from heirlooms kept by family members, this unique trove of art and possessions, accumulated over 110 years, now comes to auction.
Here are some highlights of the upcoming sale (see additional lot details in the online catalog):
Lot 16: Artist: Xavier Martinez (1869-1943). Title/Description: Mexican Mother and Child. Signature: Signed with monogram lower right. Date Created: c. 1930s. Medium/Ground: Oil on art board. Size: 30in x 23in. Condition: There are several creases/dings at the margins, and several in the border of the painting (top and bottom), with old repairs/small spots of old in painting; dampstaining verso/lower margin, but it does not affect the image. Exhibited at the Laguna Art Museum, “East of Eden: Images of Steinbeck’s California”, 1998-1999. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.
Lot 6: Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975). Title/Description: Mountain landscape. Signature: Signed and stamped lower right. Date Created: 1947. Medium/Ground: Ink/wash on paper. Size: 15 1/2in x 22 1/2in (unframed). Condition: Laid down on cardboard; toning. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000.
Lot 26: Artist: Xavier Martinez (1869-1943). Title/Description: Hillside Landscape with Bay Beyond. Signed: Signed with monogram lower right. Date Created: c. 1900s. Medium/Ground: Oil on board. Size: 11in x 13 7/8in; 12 1/2in x 15 1/2in (frame). Condition: Overall good; areas of staining, or possibly discolored varnish. Partial still life work verso. Estimate: $1,000-$2,000.
Lot 27: Artist: Leo Lentelli (1879-1961). Title/Description: “X. Martinez” (Portrait of artist Xavier Martinez). Signature: Signed, dated, and copyrighted at base. Date Created: 1916. Medium/Ground: Patinated bronze. Size: Approx. 18 1/2in high x 7 x 10. Condition good. Resting (not attached) on marble slab (7 1/2in x 10 1/2in). Note: Heavy for shipping. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000.
Lot 205: Xavier Martinez: Letters to His Daughter, 1932-1942. A group of well over 200 autograph letters signed, written to Martinez’s daughter, Micaela “Kai” Martinez DuCasse. A number of letters include drawings. Condition is overall very good; the letters are crisp and readable. Almost all lack envelopes, and those that are present (holding bunches of letters together), have tears and stamps removed. There are twelve packets, each containing approx. 10 to 50 letters. Estimate: $800-$1,200.
Lot 83: Jack London, Signed First, with Photo. LONDON, JACK. 1876-1916. War of the Classes. New York and London: Macmillan Company, 1905. 8vo. Maroon cloth with gilt to spine. Three pages of advertisements for works by London and others at back. Signed and inscribed: “Dear Martinez- In memory of many happy hours, affectionately yours, Jack London. Glen Ellen, Sept. 22, 1905.” Condition: Good; fading/staining to spine, and ends of spine bumped, worn/frayed; scuffing to covers, stain/soiling on front; corners bumped/worn; light foxing throughout. Together with a photograph of Xavier Martinez painting a portrait of Jack London, who sits across from him in an outdoor setting. 3 1/4in x 5 1/2in. Tipped-on to thin paper, and inscribed in what appears to be Martinez’s hand: “Jack London & xm. 1903 at Glen Ellen”. Subjects also identified verso, and paper inscribed “Duplicate”. Condition: overall good; left corner with crease, another slight crease/wrinkle at right. Martinez and London were friends through their connections with authors Herman Whitaker and George Sterling, the Bohemian Club, and the social circles that congregated at Coppa’s Restaurant in San Francisco, the Piedmont/Oakland Hills, and Carmel. Estimate: $800-$1,200.
Lot 132: Artist: Ralph DuCasse (1916-2003). Title/Description: Abstract with Yellow Blocks. Signature: Signed verso. Date Created: 1964. Medium/Ground: Oil on canvas. Size: 49in x approx. 84in. Condition: Surface soiling, some scuffing/losses. Note: Large for shipping. Estimate $500-$700.
Lot 105: Franklin D. Roosevelt. 1882-1945. Two letters (one with stamped envelope), dated 1928. One is to William Gardner Hale, in support of the presidential nomination of Al Smith; the other is to Hale’s daughter, extending condolences for her father’s death. Estimate $500-$700.
Lot 43: A Group of 11 Drawings Exhibited at Hill Tolerton’s Print Rooms, San Francisco, 1921; Together with a Placard Hand-lettered by the Artist, and an Autograph Letter signed by the Artist to his Daughter. Artist: Xavier Martinez (1869-1943). Title/Description: A hand-lettered exhibit placard with tipped-on self-portrait; seven drawings of Micaela Martinez as a child (and one photographic copy); a long-haired nude on a rock; a profile portrait (unidentified); and two Southeast Asian style dancers. Signature: All drawings are signed with monogram. Date Created: c. 1920-1921. Medium/Ground: Charcoal, silverpoint, pastel, crayon, monotypes. Size: Ranging from approx. 3in x 3 1/2in to 8in x 5in. Condition: Good; Some drawings are tipped-on to paper backing, and all tipped-on together to both sides of three sheets of black paper. Estimate $500-$700.
Lot 107: A Ceramic Bust of Artist Micaela Martinez, Daughter of Artist Xavier Martinez and Elsie Whitaker Martinez. Together with a Photographic Portrait from the Same Period. Artist: Hazel Zuah Weller (1897-1979). Title/Description: “Mecaeile Martinez”. Signature: Signed in base. Date Created: 1928. Medium/Ground: Glazed terracotta. Size: Approx. 8in x 7in x 3 3/4in. Condition: Good; no chips/cracks. Hazel Zuah Weller, born in New York, was a sculptor and educator. She studied and taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland (1926-1929). Together with: Artist: Sonya Noskowiak (1900-1975). Title/Description: Portrait of Micaela Martinez. Signature: Signed in pencil on matte lower right. Date Created: c. 1920s. Medium/Ground: Black and white photograph. Size: 9 1/8in x 7 3/4in. Condition: Good; laid down on matte, small edge chips, tape partially on one corner. Estimate $600-$800.
Lot 99: Elsie and Micaela Martinez Paris Letters/Ephemera, 1920s. MARTINEZ, ELSIE WHITAKER (1890-1984); and MARTINEZ, MICAELA (1913-1989). An archive of approximately 140+ envelopes/letters (many envelopes containing letters from both Elsie and Micaela), and approximately 30 postcards, all addressed to Xavier Martinez in Piedmont, 1921-1923. Together with Elsie’s travel journal/notebook (marked “Margret Whitaker,” her nom de plume); a collection of Paris exhibition/gallery booklets and advertisements, postcards, and other ephemera (approx. 45 pieces); and Micaela’s drawings, mostly from her life-drawing classes (approx. 45). Condition: Envelopes with tears/creases, and most stamps have been torn off of envelopes and cut from postcards; letters themselves are overall good. Ephemera with folds/creases, some light spotting, but generally good. Estimate $300-$500.
Lot 90: Collection of Bohemian Club Publications and ephemera, including Jinks Volumes, Menus, Event Programs, Yearly Reports, and a Grove Guide. Approx. 45 pieces, 1907-1935. Condition of the group is overall good, some with toning, creases/folds, small tears, light spotting. Estimate $200-$300.
Lot 116: Artist: Micaela Martinez DuCasse (1913-1989). Title/Description: Woman with Pink Cap. Signature: Unsigned. Date Created: c. 1930s-1940s. Medium/Ground: Oil on canvas. Size: 26 1/2in x 20in. Condition: Some surface scuffing and spots of wear. Estimate $200-$400.
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Based in South San Francisco, Turner Auctions + Appraisals was founded by Stephen Turner to expand and complement the capabilities of Stephen G. Turner Associates, an auction and appraisal consulting firm founded in 2004. Turner Auctions + Appraisals presents online auctions in diverse categories of personal property (www.turnerauctionsonline.com). Among them are Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, Asian Arts, Toys, Jewelry, Militaria, Ethnic Arts, and others. The company offers a range of auction and appraisal services for buyers, sellers, and collectors. Online auctions are held several times a month. Working with leading live and online auction houses on the West Coast since 1991, Turner is a professional appraiser of personal property and seasoned auctioneer. His areas of expertise include fine art, decorative arts, antiques & residential contents. The company welcomes consignments and appraisals.
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