Wednesday - 23 July 2014

Scandinavian taste in design strengthens

22 March 2002Written by ATG Reporter

DENMARK: Given the continuing vogue for Scandinavian interiors, it comes as no surprise that the first modern art and design auction to be held by Danish auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen (25% buyer’s premium including VAT) in Århus last month on February 12, met with very favourable results.

From now on Bruun Rasmussen’s Pedersholm, Vejle rooms will host only pre-20th century art and antiques sales, while four themed auctions each year devoted to items from 1900 to the present day will be held in Århus.

This debut had two halves, each with their own strong focus. The afternoon session of paintings, prints and sculpture offered a broad mix of European artists, with as its focal point a 16-lot collection of works by Maar Julius Lange. The evening session of Scandinavian design featured a wide range of furnishings by leading names, with a particularly strong section devoted to Hans Wegner, including an important roll-front cabinet and a writing desk from the Århus town hall.

It was these pieces that opened the evening sale. Both formed part of Wegner’s first commission at the age of 24, from architects Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, which was to design all the furniture and fittings for their newly constructed Århus town hall (1938–1942).

The important Cuban mahogany roll-front cabinet which featured prominently in the auctioneers’ pre-sale publicity was designed by Wegner to house the town councillors’ pigeonholes, and the desk for use by a high-ranking councillor. The vendor had discovered the two pieces at a fleamarket, where he had invested a total of DKr3000 in them, a factor which naturally attracted a lot of attention from the press. The cabinet was catalogued at DKr20,000-25,000 and made a double-estimate DKr48,000 (£3955), but it was the Cuban mahogany writing desk that led the sale. This measured 6ft 3in wide by 3ft 11/2in deep by 2ft 51/2in high (1.9m x 95cm x 75cm). It clearly had a much wider appeal, and the UK dealer who purchased the cabinet had to go to more than three times the upper estimate – DKr70,000 (£5770) – to win the desk as well.

The classic simplicity of Scandinavian design proved irresistible to the sale audience – a pretty even mix of private collectors and interior designers, with the result that many entries by key Scandinavian designers fetched prices way beyond hopes.

A Wegner valet chair (1953), for example, made DKr25,000 (£2060); a Verner Panton Wire Cone chair went to DKr24000 (£1980); a Jacob Kjaer FN chair in palissander and soft leather made a triple-estimate DKr22000 (£1810), while a pair of Børge Mogensen mahogany and leather armchairs went to a double-estimate DKr10,000 (£825), as did a Mogensen Spanish chair in oak and canvas. Six lots of Mogens Koch floor-standing wall cabinets and shelf units sold particularly well. The units were of a modular format at 2ft 6in (76cm) square, but the shelving sections were slightly shallower so that they could sit on top of the cupboards.

Bruun-Rasmussen’s Sabrina Winter told the Antiques Trade Gazette that in 15 years the auction house had never had any unsold Mogens Koch, not only because he is extremely popular, but his pieces are often more popular secondhand than new because when well maintained the wood acquires a golden patina. The shelves and cupboards had been catalogued as separate lots to appeal to a wider public, and, of course, to get the best possible price. Each lot carried estimates of DKr6000-8000 but the shelves sold for DKr10,500 (£865), DKr14,000 (£1155) and DKr11,000 (£905), while the cupboards fetched DKr12,500 (£1030), DKr15,500 (£1275) and DKr16,500 (£1360).

Of the decorative objects, it was an impressive Axel Salto stoneware vase decorated with birds, fruit and branches, signed and stamped to the underside with Kgl. P (Royal Copenhagen Pottery) that fetched the top price of DKr47,000 (£3870) – way over estimate.

Twenty seven lots by Just Andersen met with a mixed response: all of his sculptures failed to sell, while his lamp stands, bowls, vases and other fittings were keenly contested – a strong indicator of what buyers really came here for. The most expensive price among these was paid for a pair of table lamps in Andersen’s trademark green patinated diskometal (the name he gave, and stamped on his bronzes, which he treated in a particular way to achieve
a lustred, patinated effect); these
made more than double estimate at DKr24,000 (£1980).

£1 = DKr12.14/€1.63

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