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The Patsy Lee Donegan Collection of Asian Antiques

Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to present The Patsy Lee Donegan Collection of Asian Antiques. Ms. Donegan has recently decided to retire after collecting Asian antiques for over 60 years and running her eponymous antique business for over 30 years. Offering 120 lots, the online auction features a range of eclectic items, including paintings, framed textiles, Japanese woodblock prints, rugs, small furniture, and an assortment of decorative items.

Patsy Lee Donegan was born and raised in San Francisco, a city that has been home since the mid-1800s to a large, growing and thriving Asian population. For as long as she can remember, Ms. Donegan has been fascinated by Asian arts – captivated by the ancient and foreign civilizations, and their artistic expressions that are both beautiful and functional. The summer after her freshman year at University of California, Berkeley, she joined a six-week study tour to Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines aboard the ocean liner SS President Wilson. This experience further piqued her interest in Asian cultures. Continuing her education, Ms. Donegan studied Asian art at UC Berkeley, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in fine arts.

After school, she worked for an advertising art firm, then joined the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, where she spent the next 28 years. For 15 of those years, Ms. Donegan worked in multiple Asian countries, including Korea, Hong Kong, Burma, China, Japan and Taiwan.  

Not surprisingly, it was during these international assignments and living in Asia that her collection grew exponentially. Travels throughout Asia, including visits to Nepal, Tibet, India, Bhutan and Indonesia, provided new acquisitions. Ms. Donegan collected things of special interest related to Asian culture and art. Folk art was a particular passion – traditional items or ones used in daily life. Often she collected from young artists who were undiscovered. Frequently then, artists and artisans in some countries would request payment, not in cash, but in other goods that were more valuable to them – art supplies such as paints or rice paper, or English-language magazines.

After leaving the Foreign Service and returning to San Francisco, Ms. Donegan opened an Asian antiques business, Patsy Lee Donegan Antiques, which she has run for 30+ years. She has been a presence in San Francisco’s Asian arts community since then, participating in frequent exhibits including at the Pacific Heritage Museum and Chinese Cultural Center; and antique shows such as Arts of Pacific Asia and San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts, and the Hillsborough Antique Show. She also served for five years on the Board of Directors of the Society for Asian Art of the Asian Art Museum.

Now, after over six decades of collecting, studying and working in two careers related to Asia and Asian arts, Ms. Donegan is ready to retire. “My fascination for Asia – living, traveling and collecting – has been a passion I’ve enjoyed for many years,” she says. “But now it’s time to move on.” 

While lots from her personal collection and antique shop are offered in the November 19 sale, other pieces such as Chinese wedding beds, chests and other large furniture items are deemed too large to be offered online because of potential shipping costs. For larger furniture items that are available, please contact Steve Turner at Turner Auctions + Appraisals toll-free at 888-498-4450.

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