NEW YORK, NY.- Sothebys
sale of Important 20th Century Design, held in New York on 18 December 2013, will offer a curated selection of European and American decorative arts and design spanning 100 years. Leading the sale is an important and rare desk and armchair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the S.C. Johnson and Son Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin (desk est. $400/600,000, armchair est. $80/120,000). These rare works exemplify Wrights design principles and stand today as defining icons of American Modernism. This particular desk design from the Johnson Commission has not appeared at auction in almost 30 years. Also highlighting American Modernism from the 1920s and 1930s is a wide breadth of works by Paul T. Frankl, including rare examples from his famous Skyscraper series. The exhibition will be open to the public beginning on 14 December 2013 at our York Avenue galleries.
The sale includes several masterworks of the American Arts and Crafts movement, led by an important and rare Eastwood Armchair designed by Gustav Stickley, from the collection of Gregg Seibert. This armchair, estimated at $220/280,000, is an iconic, defining model by Stickley, and examples of this design are in the collections of the Wolfsonian-FIU, the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms and Crab Tree Farm. Another rare offering by Frank Lloyd Wright is a laylight from the living room of the Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York (est. $125/175,000). The glass selection of the laylight is more intensely colored than any of the other windows in the house, making it perhaps the most beautiful of the Martin house windows. The end panels of this laylight are in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum.
A major highlight of European pre-war design is an important six-panel Saint-Gildas screen, circa 1925 by Jean Dunand that was first exhibited in a special group exhibition at Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1925 (est. $120/180,000). One of Dunands finest works in lacquer, the screen depicts Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys, a Breton village on the Quiberon Bay off the Northwest Coast of France. In 2007, the screen was rediscovered as a lost masterwork by Dunand.
An historic collection of design by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, includes an important prototype Lage Stoel circa 1950 (est. $50/70,000). The prototype comes from the collection of Jan van Beest, who worked alongside Rietveld and was greatly impacted by him. Remarkably, this prototype was assumed to have been lost, as only the design drawing in the Rietveld archive in Rotterdam had been recorded.
Post-war Italian design is strongly represented in the auction with this Illuminated Malachite Trumeau by Piero Fornasetti from a Texas collection (est. $75/100,000). This iconic Trumeau exemplifies the artists playful trompe loeil effects in furniture design. Fornasettis fascination with malachite, a rare green stone, is evidenced by a suite of designs produced in the mid-1950s with the same surface treatment. The Fornasetti Archive has confirmed that the Malachite Trumeau offered here is one of only three examples ever produced, highlighting its rarity and importance in the firms history. Further examples of post-war design include a selection of jewelry by Ettore Sottsass and rare works by the Brazilian designer Hugo França.
The monumental bronze LEnlèvement dEurope depicting the Rape of Europa myth by sculptor Claude Lalanne (est. $250/350,000) leads the Contemporary section in the sale. In addition to other works by Claude and her husband François-Xavier Lalanne is a Big Easy Volume 2 for 2 Chair by Ron Arad circa 1989 (est. $100/150,000). This chair is a later example of the Volume series produce by the artist at One-Off in London. The two-seat version of the model is especially rare and made in an edition of 20.