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Strong selection of works in important 20th Century design sale at Sotheby's New York
Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, “Redhead” Coiffeuse, Model AR1537/NR 1828, and “Tivo” Chair, Model AR29/NR57, circa 1925. Est: $350,000-550,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sotheby’s New York auction of Important 20th Century Design on 15 December 2011 will offer a strong selection of works across a diverse range of styles, featuring important pieces from the Arts & Crafts movement, European and American Modernism, and Postwar and Contemporary Design. The sale will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning this Saturday, 10 December, alongside the auction of Important Tiffany.

Following the success of Sotheby’s New York sale of Ruhlmann: An Important Original Interior in December 2010, the upcoming sale will be led by two pieces from the legendary furniture maker. A Fine and Rare “Meuble á Fards” Cabinet, Model AR1524/NR2302 circa 1927 was acquired directly from the designer and has since descended in the same family to the present owner (est. $450/650,000). A Superb and Rare Vanity, Model AR1537/NR 1828 and “Tivo” Chair, Model AR29/NR57 circa 1925 that was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1984 (pictured above, est. $350/550,000).

A large, curated group of 37 lots representing the American Arts & Crafts movement includes several quintessential designs by Gustav Stickley, led by An Important and Rare China Cabinet, Model No. 964, (est. $200/300,000), which was recently included in the retrospective exhibition on Stickley curated by the Dallas Museum of Art. The sale also features rare offerings by Harvey Ellis, Dirk van Erp, Harvey Ellis, Elizabeth Burton, Charles Rohlfs, Joseph Heinrich, and Grueby Faience Company. Also highlighting this early section of the sale will be seven works formerly in the collection of Stephen Gray and exhibited in the influential show At Home with Gustav Stickley: American Arts & Crafts from the Stephen Gray Collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 2009. This group traces the influence of Arthur Wesley Dow’s spectacular woodcuts through the rare designs of The Byrdcliffe Arts & Crafts Colony, Marblehead Pottery, Overbeck Pottery and Pewabic Pottery, with examples on offer from each.

A strong selection of European Modernism will be highlighted by an Important and Extremely Rare Teapot by Naum Slutzky circa 1928 that represents one of the most iconic German teapots of the period. The present example is one of only three examples of this important design known to exist, and was acquired directly from the designer by Fritz Schleiffer around 1930 – it has since descended in the same family to the present owner.

Completed in 1947, destroyed by fire in 1999, and rebuilt in 2006, the summer residence in Northeast Harbor, Maine of William A.M. Burden and his wife Margaret is a curvilinear Modernist masterpiece. The house was designed by Wallace K. Harrison, with the collaboration of Isamu Noguchi, whose original designs included a sculptural dining table and set of chairs. The Important Prototype Chair Designed for the William A.M. Burden Residence dated 1946-48 was rejected by the Burden’s, who instead chose a set of DCM’s by Charles and Ray Eames. Noguchi’s prototype was placed in one of the bedrooms, but later moved to a storage shed. However, because of this placement it became one of only two pieces to survive the house’s fire in 1999.

An Important and Rare “Centaure” by François-Xavier & Claude Lalanne is the only known example of the extraordinary monumental size of the subject ever to be offered at auction, measuring 87 ¼ inches high (est. $200/300,000). The work is signed by both artists, representing a rare collaboration between the two. The sale will also offer François-Xavier Lalanne’s “Hippopotame III (Petit)”, 1996, from the collection of Bill Stewart (est. $80/120,000).

Important post-war designs will include George Nakashima and Henry Bertoia. A Superb and Monumental “Conoid” Dining Table (est. $200/300,000) will lead the works on offer by Nakashima, executed with American black walnut and East Indian rosewood. A group of 11 diverse works by Bertoia will be highlighted by “Dandelion”, which appears on the cover of the sale catalogue (est. $120/180,000), Monumental Sound Sculpture, circa 1970 (est. $60/80,000), and an Untitled bush sculpture circa 1960 (est. $50/70,000).

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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