The uncompromising Danish furniture designer/carpenter Peder Moos (1906-91) carefully hand-crafted virtually all his distinctive furniture.
Eschewing mass production meant output was
limited, so it was interesting that two recent design auctions
featuring his work should be held within the space of just a week,
bringing no fewer than 30 pieces to market.
The first took place in Copenhagen at
Bruun Rasmussen (24% buyer's premium) where five
of his pieces featured in the auctioneers' 262-lot sale of Nordic
Design held on March 6.
Then in Paris at Piasa Rive Gauche
(23/20/12% buyer's premium) on March 12, the auctioneers
offered a catalogue of 25 lots of furniture that Moos had created
for the Manoir D'Ostrupgaard in Jutland, Denmark, from 1942-45.
This separate catalogue was offered immediately prior to a larger
mixed-owner sale of around 250 lots of Scandinavian, American and
The son of a farmer who studied under Kaare
Klint at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Moos formed his own
carpentry furniture studio in Jutland then worked in Paris and
Switzerland in the inter-war years before setting up his own
workshop in Bredgade in Copenhagen in 1935. In the 1960s he moved
to Bredebro in southern Jutland.
Moos' hand-crafted approach and use of
materials (almost always wood), plus the adoption of dowels and
wedges instead of screws and his preference for a finely sanded
finish, links him more to the Arts and Crafts movement than the
mass production of modern design. In fact, his work straddles both
camps. With its clean spare lines and reliance on wood grain and
restrained touches of inlay, it also has much in common with
Scandinavian inter- and post-War Modernism and Moos had a lasting
influence on Scandinavian post-War design.
"There simply isn't enough Peder Moos to
start a collecting culture," observed Bruun Rasmussen's design
specialist Peter Kjelgaard, who feels instead that his work is more
generally appreciated by those who collect Scandinavian design.
Within the admittedly narrow confines of his
oeuvre, the two consignments of Moos furniture offered last month
were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Bruun Rasmussen's pieces were more complex
creations in combinations of exotic and native woods like rosewood,
walnut, maple, elm and box with small subtle inlays. They included
a delicate, almost airy glass-topped tea table in rosewood with box
inlay made as a special commission for the Danish Embassy in
Washington in 1956 and a 1960's walnut sewing table opening to
reveal a compartmented drawer.
The 25 lots of furnishings that Moos had
created for the Manoir d'Ostrupgaard in Jutland were a wartime
commission and simpler in conception. Virtually all were made from
pine, the only wood available at the time, and were unadorned
except for the decorative 'marquetry' effect from the use of dowels
The five Copenhagen lots, which came from
three different sources and were first under the hammer, all found
buyers, four of them at prices that were above estimate.
Topping the bill at a double-estimate
DKr540,000 (£63,230) and up there with some of the highest prices
paid for Moos' work was the Danish Embassy tea table. A piece which
was beautifully worked right down to the pierced circular wooden
castors and signed with his distinctive marquetry monogram, it had
featured in the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers Guild Exhibition
"It was so detailed it really stood out in
comparison to the other pieces," said Peter Kjelgaard.
Following at DKr150,000 (£17,565) was a 21in
(55cm) high four-shelf wall cabinet in solid walnut with maple
joints and a pair of tambour-fronted doors, signed with a monogram.
From the same vendor came the 2ft 1in (66cm) wide, slender-legged
sewing table made from the same materials. This came with the
original receipt and care instructions and made DKr145,000
The other two lots - a solid walnut
monogrammed pipe stand with eight holders also from the same vendor
and a signed nest of three small tables in solid elm with circular
boxwood inlays - realised DKr14,000 (£1640) and DKr110,000
The 25 lots that were offered for sale by
Piasa were more of an ensemble, having been created to furnish a
specific residence. They ranged from three dining tables and
smaller occasional tables to three-legged stools, a serving
trolley, a desk, two day beds and various smaller fittings like
mirrors and coat hooks. These had remained within the same family
and this provenance presumably gave them an added attraction.
Here there was more variation in the
results. Nine lots failed to sell but, of the 16 that found buyers,
around half a dozen went way over estimate while the others sold
more in line with expectations. Frédéric Chambre, Piasa's vice
president, felt that this variation was determined by personal
preference: what people deemed significant or aesthetically stylish
pieces and what was easiest to display.
Buyers, he said, were an international mix
of American, Scandinavian and other Europeans.
Perhaps the most dramatic result here came
with one of the smaller fittings and one of the few non-pine
creations. This was an adjustable wall light of 1943 made from
beech with brass screws and looking for all the world like a
side-mounted Anglepoise. Piasa's estimate of €8000-12,000 was left
behind as the bidding sailed to €44,000 (£38,260).
The same price was paid for a pair of 18½in
(47cm) wide occasional tables, one signed 1944 Moos on the
underside, the other dated 1944. They had been guided at
The opening lot, a 5ft 5in (1.65m) pine
trestle-ended dining table of the same date, realised €40,000
By contrast, the highest estimated piece, a bureau with three
pullout leaves and a compartmented pedestal from 1942 which was
signed on the pedestal shutter, came in towards the lower end of
its €30,000-50,000 guide at €36,000 (£31,305).
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