NEW YORK, NY.- Sothebys
December auctions of 20th Century Design concluded this Wednesday in New York with an outstanding total of $25.6 million achieved across three sales trumping their high estimate and with an impressive 89.5% of all lots sold.
Below is a look at the important pieces and collections that drove this weeks sales in New York:
DREAMING IN GLASS: MASTERWORKS BY TIFFANY AND LA FARGE
Auction Total $9.1 Million
Examples of Tiffanys celebrated leaded glass lamps triumphed during our annual offering of the firms designs on Wednesday afternoon. The sale was led by an Important "Trumpet Creeper" Table Lamp, which far surpassed its $1.2 million high estimate to sell for $2,295,000 a new auction record for the model. Undoubtedly the finest example of the model that is known to exist, the present work from circa 1903 exhibits a superb painterly interpretation and bears witness to the highest artistic achievements of the firms lamp production.
Another highlight of the firms greatest accomplishments in leaded glass, an Important Wisteria Table Lamp from the James F. Scott Collection, achieved $945,000 (estimate $600/800,000). The fully saturated and artistic glass selection of the present example distinguishes it as one of the finest examples ever to appear on the auction market.
The firms floor lamps also commanded top prices, with an Important "Snowball" Floor Lamp, formerly in the distinguished collection of Walter P. Chrysler Jr., selling for $1,095,000, and a Rare "Poinsettia" Floor Lamp one of the finest examples of the model ever to appear at auction achieving $795,000, with both establishing new auction records for their respective models.
John La Farges dramatic Dawn Comes on the Edge of Night rounded out the afternoon sale when it sold for $765,000. The incredible figural window is a masterpiece which showcases La Farges extraordinary skill and is enriched by its remarkable, storied provenance it was commissioned by New York businessman and art collector, Frank Lusk Babbott in 1903 for the staircase in his Brooklyn home. Similar examples of La Farges extraordinary stained-glass creations reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in the Frick Building in Pittsburgh.
Auction Total $11.6 Million
Collectors clamored for Surrealist works by François-Xavier Lalanne during our morning sale of Important Design on Wednesday, with prices for the artists creations achieving more than half of the sales top prices. The works by François-Xavier on offer were topped by eight of his signature stone and bronze sheep, which together fetched $1.9 million far exceeding their combined high estimate of $1.2 million.
Pieces by Lalannes wife and co-creator, Claude, also brought top prices throughout the sale, with an exceptional Pair of Unique Végétale Mirrors selling for $645,000. Commissioned directly from the artist by James Corcoran Gallery, Santa Monica, California, for the former owner in 1986, the mirrors are one-of-a-kind.
Works on offer from the whimsical collection of Washingtonians Dick and Jane Stoker achieved prices well in excess of their high estimates, such as Harry Bertoias Untitled (Monumental Wire Construction), which sold for $675,000 (estimate $250/$350,000). Bertoias abstract sculptures manifest his deeply spiritual contemplations of nature and the cosmos, with his wire sculptures of the 1960s ranking among his most complex investigations of the universe. Bertoia explored these themes in related brass-coated wire construction sculptures, such as Comet (1964) in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art, and Sunlit Straw (1964), an installation at the Northwestern National Life Insurance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Sculpture by Bertoia performed well throughout the sale, with other highlights including his Untitled (Tree), also from the Stokers collection, which brought $300,000 (estimate $40/60,000), and his Cloud Sculpture from circa 1957 that fetched $162,500 (estimate $60/80,000).
In addition, more than three phone bidders vied for Wendell Castles important Executive Desk from 1973, which established a new auction record for the artist when it sold for $471,000, besting its $200,000 high estimate. Direct from the designers personal collection, the dynamic and voluminous design is a rare and coveted example of Castles stack lamination technique, which he helped develop in the 1960s.
Among the highlights from the Arts & Crafts movement was Gustav Stickleys Library Table, Model No. 420 that brought $275,000 against its high estimate of $150,000, establishing a new auction record for the model. Created circa 1901, the work is one of only three extant examples of this rare table with reverse-tapered legs.
THE GEYER COLLECTION: MASTERWORKS OF TIFFANY AND PREWAR DESIGN
Auction Total $4.9 Million
Sotheby's December offerings of 20th Century Design began on Tuesday, with the dedicated sale of masterworks of Tiffany Studios and Prewar Design from the Geyer Collection that saw over 63% of sold lots achieve prices above their high estimates. Superlative examples of the firms celebrated table and floor lamps were led by an Important Dragonfly Floor Lamp, which bested its high estimate of $500,000 to sell for $675,000. The work is distinguished by its exceptionally striking coloration of the shade and rare jeweled Ball floorbase.
Among the firms most celebrated designs, an outstanding Pony Wisteria Table Lamp circa 1905 achieved $615,000 (estimate $300/500,000), and set a new auction record for the model. While the exact color juxtaposition in the present work is well documented in Tiffanys landscape windows, it is nearly unprecedented that such effect was transferred to a Wisteria shade. The distinct glass selection in this lamp evokes a sunset sky at dusk.
In addition, a Rare Figural Lamp Screen and an Important and Rare Seven-Piece "Pond Lily" Desk Set topped the diverse array of the firms fancy goods on offer, each selling for $112,500 and $87,500 respectively. The sales chapter dedicated to European Art Nouveau furniture was led by Émile Gallés intricate "Libellules" Vitrine, which brought $118,750 (estimate $60/80,000).
Propelled by their shared love for Tiffany Studios, Burton and Paula Geyer have together amassed one of the finest private collections of works by the legendary firm, with a special emphasis on museum-quality lamps and fancy goods, representing some of Tiffanys most coveted designs.