Lyon & Turnbull are to sell the contents of the New York home of Donald and Eleanor Taffner, important collectors of works by the Glasgow School.
A chance encounter over dinner in the
mid 1980s with the Scottish artist Barbara Rae saw the Taffners,
both native New Yorkers, introduced to the work of Charles Rennie
Mackintosh and his circle. They quickly became both ardent
supporters of the Glasgow School of Art and its educational
activities and keen collectors of 20th century Scottish
In a quintessential 'American dream'
story, Donald Taffner (1930-2011) and his wife and business
partner, Eleanor, who died in 2010, specialised in taking British
format television shows to the American public.
Their company DL Taffner Ltd
took Three's Company (the US version
of Man About The House) and The
Benny Hill Show to the US and more recently,
produced As Time Goes By and My
Family for the BBC.
Success bought an early 19th century
home in Greenwich Village furnished with drawings, paintings,
furniture and works of art by the Glasgow Four and permitted the
creation of the Taffner Mackintosh Curator at the Glasgow School of
Art, a position which assisted with the promotion of Mackintosh's
masterwork and safeguarded the extensive collections owned by the
Thanks to the Taffners' support,
Glasgow Museums' Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition (which opened
in 1996) went on tour to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the
Art Institute of Chicago and Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
while four years later they provided the necessary funding to send
one of Mackintosh's recently restored tea rooms to an exhibition at
the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The Taffners also
donated a substantial piece of Mackintosh furniture to the Hill
House in Helensburgh after learning they had outbid the National
Trust for Scotland at auction.
More than 100-plus works with a value
of over £1m will be sold - on behalf of the couple's children Karen
and Donald Jnr - at Lyon & Turnbull's Edinburgh saleroom on
These include both a pair of mahogany
card room chairs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, made especially for
his greatest patron Miss Cranston for her home in Glasgow (estimate
£20,000-30,000), and a group of the architect-designer's
Two of the highlights are
Bouleternère, painted around 1925-7, from his period
in the south of France and estimated at £80,000-120,000; and
Yellow Tulips, a remarkable still life dated to 1919
and estimated at £100,000-150,000. Both were previously sold by
Christie's: in 1989 and 1994 respectively.
Elsewhere, Girl with Blue
Butterflies (estimate £60,000-80,000), leads an
important group of watercolours by Frances MacDonald, while works
by her husband Herbert MacNair and sister Margaret Macdonald are
also included in the sale alongside oils by the Scottish Colourists
F.C.B. Cadell and J.D. Fergusson.
One of the more unusual lots is an
intriguing self-portrait by Sir John Lavery pictured alongside the
child star Shirley Temple. It was after his wife's death in 1935,
and at the age of 80, that Lavery went to Hollywood with the idea
of painting portraits of the 'stars'. This, the solitary result, is
estimated at £30,000-50,000.