NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams
Fine Furniture, Silver, Folk & Decorative Arts and Clocks sale on January 23 will feature compelling pieces linked to some of America's most prominent citizens. American, English and Continental works will all be presented.
American furniture, folk and decorative arts will start the sale. The auction's cover lot, a carved and polychromed wing-spread eagle with flag and shield attributed to George Stapf, is a striking work from the section (est. $8,000-12,000). Related examples can be found in the Diplomatic Reception rooms at the United States Department of State, and in the collection of the United States Naval Academy. A rare American folk-art marquetry low table is also on offer, made of wood slivers arranged in a crazy quilt pattern. The table is an exceptional example of the American style from the 19th and early 20th centuries, sometimes called "male quilting" (est. $10,000-15,000).
According to Madelia Hickman Ring, Bonhams American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts specialist, "Interest in quality American folk art is strong. This is a particularly dynamic season for folk art, and exceptional pieces should generate good results."
Another important example comes from the auction's American clock section. An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock from 1790 on offer features a dial painted and signed by John Ritto Penniman, considered one of the finest American decorative painters (est. $70,000-100,000). Only five other Penniman-painted clock faces are known. Contributing to its importance, rarity and value is the survival of its original blue-painted wooden pendulum rod and weights.
A strong selection of Aesthetic Movement pieces will be available, such as a splendid ebonized and brass-mounted cabinet by the Herter Brothers, believed to have been commissioned by the Honorable William Drew Washburn (est. $15,000-25,000). Having amassed a fortune building both lumber and flour mills, Washburn became a high-profile Minnesota politician. The total bill for the Herter Brothers' refurbishment of his Greek Revival residence in Minneapolis came to a staggering $92,467 in 1884.
The sale's English and Continental clock section includes a choice offering of 18th century mantel clocks from a private American collection, such as a rare elephant clock attributed to Philippe Caffieri (est. $30,000 - $50,000). Also attracting attention is an elaborately carved and inlaid hall clock commissioned from Tiffany & Co. by Henry and Adelaide Seligman in 1901 (est. $40,000-60,000). Henry Seligman brought international investment banking to New York City, showcasing his success with a six-story, 20,000 square foot mansion on East 56th Street. Now a registered New York landmark, each room in the mansion was decorated in a specific style, such as the Japanese-themed smoking room where this clock was most likely displayed. The clock's extraordinary case was imported from Japan, and is adorned with exquisite carvings of exotic animals, Chinese zodiac symbols, and a bell tower rung by a guardian figure with articulated arms.
"The Tiffany & Co. hall clock is completely unique," explained Dr Jonathan Snellenburg, Director of Clocks & Watches at Bonhams New York. "It is a true testament to the aesthetic of the Gilded Age in America. The clock's form and function blend together so seamlessly it is essentially a work of art."
An American sterling silver seven-piece tea and coffee service by Tiffany & Co. in the St Dunstan pattern that once belonged to esteemed American banker Albert Henry Wiggin will also be available (est. $8,000-12,000). Dating from 1917 and coming complete with a rectangular two-handled tray, the gorgeous service was a wedding present to Wiggin and his bride. He would go on to become the president of Chase National Bank and celebrated as a hero for his efforts to curb the stock market crash of 1929.
Additional highlights include the furniture, decorative arts and clocks of Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt, another American lauded for his strength of character. As US Ambassador to Turkey in 1942, he worked relentlessly to get Jewish refugees out of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Known for both his remarkable bravery and his discerning taste, the January 23 sale will feature nearly two dozen pieces owned by the Ambassador, among them a pair of Continental 800 standard silver Rococo style nine-light candelabra (est. $20,000-30,000), and a near pair of Peruvian silver two-handled chargers gifted to Steinhardt at the end of his tenure in Lima, where he was US Ambassador from 1937-1939 (est. $2,500-3,000).
Bonhams Fine Furniture, Silver, Folk & Decorative Arts and Clocks auction will take place on January 23 in New York. The auction will preview January 18-22 at Bonhams.