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Christie's concludes 2013 with Masters of 20th Century Design sale in New York
Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), A Desk, circa 1928. burl amboyna, ivory, with leather writing surface branded Ruhlmann and with Atelier B mark. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s concludes 2013 with the sales of Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design and Magnificent Tiffany, on December 19. Encompassing a combined 143 lots, these sales offer a sweeping representation of the category. The Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design sale is led by a breadth of examples from the masters of French Art Deco, including Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Armand Albert Rate au and Jean-Michel Frank. The Modern section features a wonderful scope of objects, including a unique pendant/brooch from 1972 by Louis Nevelson (estimate: $15,000-20,000) and a particularly strong group of Italian Glass. Highlighting the contemporary section is a ‘Cartoon Chair,’ circa 2007 by Humberto and Fernando Campana (estimate: $25,000-35,000).

The Magnificent Tiffany sale is highlighted by a Tiffany Studios 'Clematis' table lamp, circa 1910 (estimate: $80,000-$120,000), from The Property of a Distinguished Private Collection. Also among the top lots is a magnificent 'Pony Wisteria' table lamp, circa 1910 ($100,000-150,000), from Tiffany Studios.

Highlights from 20th Century Decorative Art & Design
Leading the sale is Rembrandt Bugatti’s 'Elephant D'asie En Marche (Grand Modèle)' (estimate: $300,000 – $500,000), circa 1909. Caught mid-stride, 'Elephant d'Asie en Marche' evokes the delicate charm that resides within the colossal animal. Executed in two sizes, the present larger version of the 'Elephant d'Asie en Marche' is numbered 1 of an edition of 5 and was executed by Adrien Hébrard for an M. Tiffany of New York in 1913, likely Louis Comfort Tiffany who is known to have acquired other animal bronzes by Bugatti, namely three casts of the smaller version of this particular model, as well as a cast of the ‘Eléphant de l'Inde au feuillage ou Gros Eléphant jouant.’

Among the top lots is a rare and important bench for the Church of Colonia Güell, Santa Coloma de Cervello, from 1913-14 by Antoni Gaudí (estimate: $200,000-300,000). This bench is among the few remaining examples from the original commission of twenty from the crypt of the church of Colonial Güell, Santa Coloma de Cervelló (1898-1917), one of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí's most important and intriguing works. Gaudí participated in every aspect of his buildings and this highly original liturgical bench, with its sinuous frame, complemented its setting in Gaudi's neo-gothic cave-like crypt with its striking mosaics, brick arches and robust, roughly hewn basalt columns evoking the underground roots of a tree. Other benches from the original set of twenty are located in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museo Casa Gaudí, Barcelona, the Museu Nacional d'Art Cataluña, Barcelona and The Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

The sale will feature a Bibliotheque 'Au Mexique', designed circa 1966 by Diego Giacometti (estimate: $250,000 – $350,000), designed circa 1966. The bibliotheque was originally in the collection of Isabelle Waldberg (1911-1990), a sculptor, who was a former member of George Batailles's secret society Acéphale and a member of the Surrealist Group. Her work was included in Peggy Guggenheim's 1944 exhibition Art of This Century. Her husband Patrick Waldberg (1913-1985) was a French writer and art critic who was acquainted with most of the surrealist artists. He wrote numerous essays on André Breton, Jacques Hérold, Max Ernst and Alberto Giacometti.

From Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann is a desk, circa 1928 (estimate: $250,000-350,000), which once belonged to Altina Schinasi Miranda (1907-1999). Schinasi is perhaps best known for her line of 'Harlequin' eyewear, which not only graced the pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Life, but the faces of celebrities such as Claire Booth Luce, Katharine Cornell, and many others since 1939. Schinasi purchased the present desk and five other pieces of furniture from Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann while honeymooning in Paris with her first husband Morris Sanders in 1928. Since first gracing her penthouse apartment on 86th Street and East End Avenue, the desk and her other Ruhlmann pieces remained a companion amid numerous marriages and careers.

Highlighting the contemporary section of the sale is a ‘Cartoon Chair,’ circa 2007 by Humberto and Fernando Campana (estimate: $25,000-35,000). Executed in a limited edition of 25, the Campana brother’s ‘Cartoon Chairs’ were produced in partnership with Disney, and composed of Disney character plush toys, creating a fresh interpretation of their highly coveted ‘Banquete’ Chair from 2004. The work of the Campana brothers is featured in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, Canada; Vitra Design Museum, Germany; and the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil.

Highlighting the sale, are six lots from The Collection of Mrs. Kersey Coates Reed, Lake Forest, IL. The design collaboration of David Adler and his younger sister Frances Elkins resulted in some of America’s most elegant and remarkable interiors. One of their particularly successful and daring, the Mrs. Kersey Coates Reed house in Lake Forest, Illinois (1929-32), was the original commission for the selection of historic Art Deco furniture and objects within the sale. For the library – pictured left, which was described by interior designer Mark Hampton as “the most boldly stylish room I have ever seen in this country” – Elkins purchased from Frank the here offered plaster ‘Colonne’ table lamp (estimates: $40,000-60,000) and two lacquered side tables (estimates: $20,000-30,000 each). The extraordinary Frank quartz table lamps (estimates: $120,000-180,000 each) – pictured right, were purchased from Frank’s Paris shop for the ivory guest bedroom. Stationed on bedside tables next to each of the twin ivory-posted beds for which the room was named, they must have appeared as glinting, magical rocks reflecting the room’s silver-papered walls and silvered furniture also purchased in Europe. Elkins also supplied the French lacquered and eggshell occasional table, circa 1931-32 (estimate: $10,000-15,000), which was situated in the living room.

Representing Armand Albert Rateau is a bedroom suite, circa 1930, that includes three sublime examples from the designer, which will be offered as individual lots. The set is comprised of an armchair (estimate: $50,000-70,000), a desk (estimate: $180,000-220,000), and a bed (estimate: $80,000-120,000). Armand Albert Rateau’s masterful talent of combining traditional neoclassical forms with some of the numerous other influences he would draw upon for his exotic and luxurious furnishings is evident in this remarkable set. In stark contrast to their simple, almost modernist shapes, the present desk, armchair and bed have been decorated with sumptuous silver leaf and painted with delicate leafy branches, a motif Rateau used frequently with variations in this elaborate decorative technique. The flatness of the flora reflects an oriental influence, and the foliate patterns suggest the Pompeian frescos and murals Rateau saw on his profoundly influential trip to the ruined ancient city in 1920. The geometric patterning on the desk and chair speaks to Rateau’s interest in the designs of Ancient Greece. Rateau designed a desk and a pair of armchairs of the same model as the here offered works as well as a comparable bed for Madame Rateau’s bedroom at 17 quai de Conti, Paris, in 1932.

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