From the rarest Lalique car mascots to the genius of Josef Hoffmann and Lucie Rie, the Lyon & Turnbull (25% buyer’s premium) spring Design series embraced 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 £2m with selling rates consistently above 80%.
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 Werkstätte 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 servants’ quarters, their stepped façades 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, they sold some way above expectations for £26,000 (estimate £3000-5000).
A textbook work of French Art Nouveau sculpture, a white marble bust of a girl with flowers in her hair by Agathon Léonard (1841-1923), doubled hopes to sell for £28,000.
Léonard is best known for the series of works inspired by the dancer Loïe Fuller he modelled 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 the same flowing lines.
Following a near sell-out auction 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.
Rose wrote one of the first collecting articles on WAS Benson’s Arts & Crafts style lighting in 1985.
Rose and Gallichan owned many examples including two hall lanterns worked in copper and brass with glass shades by James Powell & Sons of Whitefriars. An example with an opalescent tear-drop shade (£4200) and another with a frosted glass shade and a spiral of copper (£4000) were both those pictured in Ian Hamerton’s book WAS Benson: Arts and Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design (2005).
The dedicated Lalique sale conducted from the Mall Galleries, London, on April 28 featured a complete set of the car mascots produced by the factory between 1925 and 1931. Highlights, including the £34,000 Hibou owl mascot and the £65,000 Renard leaping fox were featured as part of the Automobilia & Petroliana feature in ATG No 2541.
The sale also included one of the largest vases designed by René Lalique – the 16in (41cm) high Palestre vase from 1928 moulded with male nudes sold for £36,000 – and a number of rarely seen models. Some of these L&T specialist Joy McCall was offering for the first time after 25 years of handling Lalique.
These included the Quatre Masques decanter, an early design from 1912 (£7500); the Chrysanthemum pattern coffret, with its foil-backed glass panel set in a rosewood and walnut carcass (£7000); and a Medallions vase, a relatively late model from 1937 (£8500). The sale, attracting buyers from the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and China, Japan and Hong Kong, was 90% sold by lot.
Rie market thrives
The market for the Austrian-born British studio potter Lucie Rie (1902-95), which has reached new heights in recent years, was thriving at the mixed-discipline Modern Made auction held the following day (April 29).
This sale included two 8in (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 £46,000 (estimate £30,000-50,000) while the other in a vibrant jade green made £40,000 (estimate £20,000-30,000).
The Anglo-Japanese potter Akiko Hirai (b.1970) is among the most admired of the current generation of contemporary ceramicists. Her 14in (36cm) grogged stoneware Moon jar, remarkable for its rugged surface and ash glazes, sold for £11,000 (estimate £3000-5000).
Textiles and wood objects from the British post-war craft revival have been slower to catch fire in the market. However, this sale recorded notable results for both a Peter Collingwood ‘microgauze’ weaving and three works by the wood turner and design theorist David Pye (1914-93).
Trained at the Architectural Association and professor of furniture design at the Royal College of Art from 1964-74, the latter reacted against the trend for man-made materials and instead specialised in wood. A lot comprising two bowls fashioned in walnut and a small, lidded box in yew took £6500, many times the £300-500 estimate.
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.
Prices for this group ranged from £700 for a three-ring set in white metal, enamel with gold dust from the Indian Collection hallmarked for 2001 up to £4000 for a ‘Teddy Bear’s Eyes’ six-part ring set in gold, silver, glass and enamel on acrylic stand.
Although the latter had an enamelled band hallmarked for London, 1985, it had been revisited and finished by Ramshaw in 2007.
Go for a Danish
L&T specialist Philip Smith had been particularly pleased to receive for sale a single-owner collection of Danish furniture and decorative arts which 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 midcentury 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 (1914-72) in 1967 for Fredericia Stolefabrik, sold at £2800 and £3200 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 £5500.