The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Better by design: Trio of sales total £2 million
Daniel Cottier (1837-1891) for Cottier & Co., Grecian Revival Side Cabinet circa 1870-75.

LONDON.- From the rarest car mascots to the genius of Josef Hoffmann and Lucie Rie, the Lyon & Turnbull spring Design series excelled. Embracing the best in progressive design movements from the Victorian era to the present day, the trio of live online sales - Design Since 1860 (April 20-21), Lalique (April 28) and Modern Made (April 29) – posted a landmark total of £2 million.

Starting the ball rolling in Edinburgh, the Design Since 1860 sale was led by a fine example of Viennese Secessionism with the perfect provenance. The pair of white painted pine Kohlenkiste (coal boxes) designed by Josef Hoffman (1870-1956) for the Wiener Werkstatte came for sale by family descent from Jerome and Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein of Berlin. When the couple married in Vienna in 1905, the bride’s father Karl Wittgenstein (1847-1913, commissioned the Wiener Werkstätte to furnish the couple's Berlin apartment and commissioned Gustav Klimt to paint Margaret's portrait.

This pair of coal boxes, known from a period photograph, were said to have stood in the servant’s quarters, there stepped facades in bas relief mirroring the striking design of the rest of the suite. Included in the catalogue for the 1981 exhibition Josef Hoffmann Architect and Designer 1870-1956, at the Galerie Metropol, New York, these sold some way above expectations for £32,500.

A fine example of exquisite French Art Nouveau, a white marble bust of a girl with flowers in her hair by Agathon Léonard (1841-1923), sold for £35,000. Léonard is best remembered as the sculptor responsible for creating a series of works inspired by the dancer Loïe Fuller for the Sèvres porcelain factory in 1899. The bust, possibly one of the two works titled Flore des Champs shown at the Salon de la société nationale des beaux-arts in 1905 and 1907, shares their flowing lines and serenity of pose.

Following a near sell-out sale of 300 items from the collection in November, this April sale included more items from the estate of Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan, pioneering collectors of Victorian fine and decorative arts. When in 1965 these founder members of the Decorative Arts Society moved to 1 Montpelier Villas in Brighton, works by named artists and designers from the major design movements of the later 19th century were available and relatively cheap. They kept detailed records of their acquisitions with every piece given an inventory card, a photo and details of where it was purchased and the price.

Peter Rose wrote one of the first collecting articles on WAS Benson in 1985, championing his Arts & Crafts lighting designs. The best of Benson’s work was made in the early 1900s in collaboration with Harry Powell of James Powell & Sons, the provider of ‘Venetian’ style hand-blown glass shades in a range of simple, elegant forms. Rose and Gallichan owned many examples including a hall lantern worked in copper and brass with opalescent glass shade. The example pictured in Ian Hamerton’s book WAS Benson: Arts and Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design (2005) it sold for £6,250.
The epitome of the Aesthetic Movement that the collectors so admired was an ebonised and gilt Grecian Revival side cabinet by Cottier & Co. Made c. 1870-75 to a design by Daniel Cottier (1837-1891), a key exponent of the Aestheticism, it made £15,000.

John Mackie commented “The remarkable range of this sale continues to inspire buyers and the 83% selling rate bears this out. Collectors are prepared to pay above estimate for rare and beautiful examples, demonstrating the depth of international interest right across this auction category, with almost 100 new buyers for this sale alone.”
“We are looking forward to our next sale on June 28th ‘Hints on Household Taste’ which will offer a fascinating array of furniture, lighting, textiles and works of art from the collection of the renowned dealer and tastemaker Paul Reeves.”

The dedicated Lalique sale on April 28 featured a complete set of car mascots produced by the factory between 1925 and 1931. Amassing a complete collection is hugely difficult. While there are plenty of models, from cockerels to boars and fish, available in the £500-3000 price bracket, the full set of 29 recognised designs requires access to several rarities. The British owner of this outstanding collection began acquiring Lalique glass in 2007 and quickly moved to a focused pursuit of car mascots. It took a full decade to complete the collection – something finally achieved a few years ago with the purchase of a Hibou, an elusive design modelled as a wide-eyed owl preparing for flight.

The Hibou mascot was one of the last made by Lalique and was produced in clear and frosted glass in very small numbers in January 1931. This example, the first Senior Specialist, Joy McCall has offered for sale, sold at £42,500.

Another of the rarest mascots is Renard, a leaping fox made in 1930. This model has even eluded some of the most prolific collectors as it is estimated fewer than 10 exist. It had a small chip but sold at £81,250. It was bought in the room by a British buyer who needed it to complete his collection. He also purchased a rare version of the Tête de Paon (peacock’s head) designed in 1928 in turquoise glass at £21,250.

The sale also included one of the largest vases designed by Rene Lalique - the 41cm high Palestre vase from 1928 moulded with male nudes sold for £45,000 – and a number of rarely seen models. Joy McCall commented: “I was thrilled for the first time in my career to be able to offer a complete set of Lalique car mascots plus a number of lots that I had not seen before in my 25 years of handling Lalique”. These included the Quatre Masques decanter, an early design from 1912 (£9,375), the Chrysanthemum Coffret, with a foil-backed glass panel set in a rosewood and walnut carcass (£8,750) and a Medallions Vase, a relatively late model from 1937 (£10,625). The sale, attracting buyers from the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and China, Japan and Hong Kong, was 90% sold by lot and exceeded its pre-sale estimate to realise £608,000.The next Lalique sale is scheduled to take place on October 27 in London.

The market for the Austrian-born British studio potter Lucie Rie (1902-95), that has reached new heights in recent years, was thriving at the mixed-discipline MODERN MADE auction held the following day (April 29).

This carefully curated sale included two textbook 20cm diameter footed porcelain bowls dating from c.1980, Rie’s prime period when she displayed mastery of both form and glaze from her London studio at Albion Mews. Both were acquired by the vendor in the early 1980s. The example in pink with a turquoise banding, sgraffito design and a bronzed rim brought £57,500 while the other in a vibrant jade green made £50,000.

The Anglo-Japanese potter Akiko Hirai (b.1970) is among the more admired of the current generation of contemporary ceramicists. Her 36cm grogged stoneware Moon jar, remarkable for its rugged surface and ash glazes, sold for £13,750.

Combining both two and three-dimensional works of art from the post-war era, the Modern Made format has done much to champion the market for applied arts and crafts.

Based in Colchester for much of his career, Peter Collingwood (1922-2008) was at the forefront of weaving for 50 years. His trademark ‘microgauze’ wall hangings, many of them sold at the time through Liberty’s and Heal's, use the traditional craft to create very modern visual abstraction. Today they are admired and collected worldwide, the example here in woven black linen and stainless steel signed and titled M. 22 No. 41 selling for £11,250.

Trained at the Architectural Association and Professor of Furniture Design at the Royal College of Art from 1964-74, British wood turner and design theorist David Pye (1914-1993) reacted against the trend for manmade materials and instead specialised in wood. A lot comprising three of his works - two bowls fashioned in walnut and a small, lidded box in yew - took an impressive £8,125.

The sale included a total of nine ring sets from the estate of jeweller Wendy Ramshaw (1939-2018). Largely self-taught, Ramshaw was first noticed in the 1960s when selling her colourful, flat-pack paper jewellery at Mary Quant’s London store Bazaar. Her ‘stacking rings’ displayed on novel upright posts were developed around 1965 and eventually won her the Design Council Award for Innovation in 1972. They now feature in over 70 public collections worldwide.

Prices for this group ranged from £875 for a three-ring set in white metal, enamel with gold dust from the Indian Collection hallmarked for 2001 up to £4000 for a three-part ring set in gold, silver, enamel and tourmaline on acrylic stand, from 1994.

Specialist and Head of Sale Philip Smith had been particularly pleased to receive for sale a single owner collection of Danish furniture and decorative arts that had formed party of a recent travelling exhibition. The 65 lots that opened the sale had toured cities in South Korea, Japan and New Zealand between 2016 and 2021. It included good examples of well-known mid-century classics such as a 1951 oak and cane easy chair (model CH27) designed by Hans Wegner (1914-2007) for Carl Hansen & Son and the oak and leather armchair (model 2225) designed by Børge Mogensen (1914-1972) in 1967 for Fredericia Stolefabrik sold at £3500 and £4000 respectively. The designs of Finn Juhl (1912-89) were particularly sought-after. A 1946 teak and cloth armchair (model FJ46) designed for Neils Vodder achieved £6000 while a teak and rattan upholstery chair (model 96) designed in 1956 for Søren Willadsen Møbelfabrik took £6875.

The sale totalled £1.3million with a selling rate across 374 lots of 86%. Philip Smith commented “Modern Made has proved to be a winning concept which has produced extraordinary results across the categories of Modern & Post War Art, Design and Studio Ceramics. Loved by collectors for its unique curated approach, it has set new benchmarks for numerous artists and makers and stands out as one of the flagship sales in the London art season.”

The design element of Modern Made made £537, 500. The next MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics sale is scheduled for October 28.

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