's inaugural Arts & Crafts Sale will feature an important private collection offering a selective panorama of late 19th and early 20th century Avant-Garde Design, including works by the leading names of the pioneering movement born in England in the 1860s.
ARTS & CRAFTS
WILLIAM ARTHUR SMITH BENSON & BRUCE TALBERT
The Arts & Crafts movement was a reforming artistic movement that originated in England in the 1860s, and can be considered the precursor of the Modern Style the British equivalent of French/Belgian Art Nouveau.
The English architect and designer William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924) a member of the Arts Workers Guild and a founding member of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society in 1896 opened a metalwork factory in Fulham in 1890. It was so successful that he soon opened further workshops in Hammersmith, specializing in lamps, with designs that would hasten the development of electric light in Europe. A two-branch gas wall-light in copper and brass (c.1895) encapsulates the simple formal elegance and lightness of metal, here transformed into airy scrolls (est. 30,000-35,000).
Another remarkable production of the Arts & Crafts style is a sideboard in polished oak, Gabonese ebony and wrought iron, designed by Bruce Talbert (1838-81) and made by Gillows of Lancaster in 1878 for George Dixon of Birmingham (est. 40,000-60,000). Only two other examples are known: one in the Victoria & Albert Museum; the other in the Birkenhead Collection, London.
JOSEF HOFFMAN & KOLOMAN MOSER
This branch of Art Nouveau was less plant-inspired and more geometric than the Art Nouveau of France and Belgium.
In 1897 Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser launched the Vienna Secession, another heir to the Arts & Crafts movement, one characterized from the outset by a geometric, straight-lined approach to ornament. Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser created the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) to fuse fine art and decorative arts into a concept of total art: a move that heralded the birth of Design.
GUSTAVE SERRURIER-BOVY & ALEXANDRE CHARPENTIER
Alexandre Charpentier (1856-1909) was a versatile genius who helped shake up the hierarchy between major/minor arts and attract attention to the decorative arts of the period. He was both cabinet-maker and sculptor, who worked extensively with dinanderie. The pewter plaques of his Desserte aux Musiciens, shown at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, bear witness to his tremendous manual and compositional skill (est. 50,000-70,000).
Another great name of the era was Gustave Serrurier from Liège (1858-1910), one of the leading Belgian proponents of Art Nouveau and a precursor of the Modern and Design movements. He began as an architect but soon became a designer and industrialist, convinced of the need to combine architecture with decorative art. He also adopted a new sales technique for Belgian and French department stores by placing customers in spaces fitted out like rooms in private homes. The Villa LAube, his masterpiece, was conceived as a total work of art fusing aesthetics, comfort and robust construction. Serruriers furniture ranges from finely designed pieces in delicately carved precious woods to simpler, more robust and practical oak furniture that is nonetheless highly expressive. The Saint-Saëns ensemble (two chairs and table) is typical of his style (est. 30,000-35,000).
THE HERTER BROTHERS Gustave (1830-98) & Christian (1839-83)
The Herter brothers were celebrated American furniture-makers born in Germany, whose designs can be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum and other leading American museums and private collections. As well as decorating the mansion of Darius Ogden Mills and William Henry Vanderbilt on 5th Avenue, the White House was furnished with Herter Brothers furniture under the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, and they created the ceilings of its majestic State Dining-Room for Theodore Roosevelt.
Many star lots hail from the former Margot Johnson Collection, like a gilded presentation cabinet in Brazilian rosewood, walnut and fruitwood (est. 60,000-80,000) and a highly original Japanese-style marquetry desk (est. 40,000-45,000). Both items date from around 1880.