Glass and Crystal
A Fatimid Rock Crystal Ewer
2008 SOLD 3.1 M£ including premium
The rock crystal ewer found by Christie's comes from that time. Associated Press tells the story of this discovery. In January, a small English auction house proposed a French wine jug of the nineteenth century, estimated one hundred pounds. Fans were excited on the unusual nature of this object, and they spoke quickly into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here there is divergence between AP saying that the object was sold, which Xinhua saying, quoting Christie's, that it was withdrawn "by mutual agreement".
It is a true treasure: it is comforting to know that there are still some of them circulating on the market. The challenge is to detect them. Christie's offers this item for sale in London on October 7, announcing in its press release that it could exceed £ 3 million.
It is one of seven identified copies of Fatimid rock crystal ewers from the Fatimid royal treasure of Cairo. It was carved in a block of flawless rock crystal, and is decorated with cheetahs in chains. The six other copies belong to museums. Each one is decorated with a different animal in relation to the theme of hunting.
The ewer of our article has been gold mounted in the middle of the nineteenth century by a French goldsmith who once worked for Queen Victoria. That may probably explain the January initial error of description.
Such works are fragile. The one that belonged to the Pitti palace was broken in 1998 beyond repair during a fall. The scarcity is created and strengthened by the disappearance of objects. This one is exceptional.
POST SALE COMMENT
The specialists at Christie's were right in their estimates. The ewer was sold £ 3.1 million including expenses.
A Mamluk Finger Bowl
2009 SOLD 1.55 M£ including premium
21 cm high, it is conically shaped. Its top diameter is 20 cm. The base diameter is not indicated but as seen in the photos of the catalog, it is 15 cm. It is very nicely decorated, including palmettes and animals in three crowns of similar heights. An inscription in cursive style indicates that it contains cool water and serves as a finger vessel. The colors are bright and contrasting.
The old glasses are very rare, I had already many opportunities to say it. The catalog indicates that there is no more than four other remaining pieces of this type. Such object is difficult to be dated, but by comparison of its decorative motifs with other Mamluk art, it is about 650 years old, which makes its creation in the early eighth century of the Hegira.
POST SALE COMMENT
The object is admirable (it's a word I use rarely) and deserves its price: £ 1.55 million including premium.
Buyers are still there for lots of very high quality. Hopefully the sellers will realize!
early Qianlong - The Tobacco of the Europeans
2011 SOLD 25.3 MHK$ including premium
These small bottles, like the vases, are decorated with an infinite variety. The charming portraits of young white women or children appear as a thank you from China to the Europeans who had exported this new pleasure.
For one year and a half, Bonhams auction the extraordinary Bloch collection, which included over 1700 snuff bottles.
Since the first sale on May 28, 2010, it is successful.
4.22 cm high, a bottle in enamelled copper with European subject and the mark of Qianlong was sold HK $ 9.3 million including premium on an estimate of 1.8 M. It was in a fantastic state of preservation, as if it had just come out of the imperial kilns.
Estimated HK $ 4.9 million, the star lot of the fourth Bloch sale, on November 28 in Hong Kong, has great qualities. Also with European subjects, also with the Qianlong mark, this rectangular bottle is very high for its class, 8.07 cm, and includes Chinese landscapes in its lateral panels.
Last but not least, it is made in the most exquisite material, the enamelled glass.
POST SALE COMMENT
I was hoping for a long time to introduce in our discussions a piece in enamelled glass, in order to confirm that it is the finest material of Chinese art. It is done. Despite being only 8 cm high, this snuff bottle reached the remarkable price of HK $ 22M before fees, 25.3 million including premium.
According to the title of this lot in the catalog, it may be dated between 1736 and 1760, corresponding to the first half of the reign of Qianlong.
This lot is illustrated in the post sale release shared by AuctionPublicity.
1900-1902 Spider Webs with the Girls
2017 SOLD for $ 1.15M including premium
Tiffany takes a social risk and does not brag about it. The competition is tough and hostile between the men's workshop and the Tiffany Girls. The girls do not have the right to join unions and must leave the company when they get married.
The name of their workshop manager, Clara Driscoll, surfaced in 2006 after the discovery and study of her family correspondence. Tiffany had rehired this young widow after the temporary disappearance of a second suitor. Tiffany was lucky : Clara had great artistic skills.
Clara adapted the workshop to create naturalistic lampshades composed of a multitude of colored plates. Her name appears only once in period, in an article of the New York Daily News in 1904 : she is credited with the creation of the Dragonfly lamp which earned a bronze medal to the Tiffany Glass Company at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1900.
Girls vary the design. Some early lamps also have a bulging glass body decorated in a mosaic pattern and framed by metal studs. The 61 cm high Cobweb and Apple Blossom table lamp belongs to that category. The spider webs set beautiful radiating areas around which the colors of the flowers are positioned elegantly.
This model is extremely rare, perhaps made obsolete after the development by the Tiffany Girls at the end of 1901 of the Wisteria lamp in which the extraordinary complexity of glass assembly is only applied to the lampshade.
On December 13 in New York, Sotheby's sells a Cobweb and Apple Blossom table lamp made circa 1900 by Tiffany Studios, lot 222 estimated $ 700K. The ante quem ending date attested by the monogram Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company stamped on its base is 1902.
The Cobweb lamp is made on a similar design. A 77 cm high electrified specimen was one of the two flagships from the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum collection in Matsue, Japan, discussed in this column before it was dispersed at auction by Michaan's in November 2012. The lampshade is entirely composed with webs and the body is decorated with wildflowers.
#AuctionUpdate Featuring a rare mosaic glass “Wheat” base, this important '"Cobweb and Apple Blossom" Table Lamp' brings $1.2 million. One of three known lamps executed in this intricate motif, the work highlights two of Tiffany’s most ubiquitous inspirations: insects & nature. pic.twitter.com/bTz6bz1Z7N— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) December 13, 2017
One down, two to go! #SothebysDesign's auctions continue in #NYC with 'Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass'. Join us now in our saleroom, and stay tuned for 'Masterworks by Tiffany Studios: The William A. Richardson Collection' immediately after: https://t.co/tobsWTHx4K pic.twitter.com/YmtpvKGO6r— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) December 13, 2017
1901 The Lamps of Tiffany Studios
2008 SOLD 930 K$ including premium
On June 14 in New York, eight of them will go under the hammer at Sotheby's. These eight are important pieces.
The Magnolia lamp at number 115 is monumental: 2 metres tall, with a shade diameter of 70 cm. Made around 1915, it is today at 700 K$. The other lamps that I speak below are table lamps.
With its fringe edged hat constituted with 2000 assembled glass pieces and its tree shaped foot with prominent roots, the Wisteria lamp, designed in 1901, was the luxury model of its time. Lot 70 is estimated 500 K$. This lamp is 68 cm high and 47 cm shade diameter, which gives a good idea of its covering shape typical of best Tiffanys.
On a less complex assembly but of similar shape and same size, here is an Apple Blossom lamp, lot 21, estimated 250 K$.
A smaller Wisteria, lot 114, expects 180 K$.
The four others have such a mushroom shape that looks more familiar with European habits. At lot 96, a very colourful Dragonfly lamp is estimated 200 K$. Another Dragonfly, slightly larger but perhaps less aesthetic, at number 38, may stay at 120 K$. The Peony with conical hat of Lot 97 is at 220 K$. Under its hemispheric hat the Begonia lamp at lot 37 is estimated 200 K$.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is the passion of buyers, and not the forecasts of experts, that made the prices of these lamps. It is a clear sign of momentum for this market sector. I could spend hours searching a history of sales of Tiffany lamps, I would not have anticipated the results below. Fortunately for me that I did not do it!
Of the two lamps that I had identified as similar, the less complex, the Apple Blossom at number 21, foiled all expectations by selling 930 K$ costs included on an estimate of 250 K$.
The other, the Wisteria number 70, whose implementation had been an achievement, was sold 600 K$, a price to be considered as reasonable.
The lamps 114, 96 and 38 have all exceeded their estimates, respectively at 220, 270 and 230 K$ fees included.
Probably more cumbersome than exceptional, the lamp 115 remained unsold. It is interesting to note that the last two of my article, where I considered that the shapes were classic, did not find anybody to collect them at 220 and 200 K $.
1901-1905 Two Adjacent Wisterias
2014 SOLD for $ 1.2M including premium
The team of the Tiffany Girls is responsible for preparing and cutting the glass plates. It is operated by Clara Driscoll, whose designing skill was decisive for the development of the most complex and most beautiful shades of Tiffany Studios.
For the fall of 1901, the Wisteria table lamp is ready for commercial release. Its most innovative feature is the elegantly irregular edge of its shade which was inspired by the wisteria. The individual assembly of about 2000 colored elements is a feat of craftsmanship.
The larger Wisteria, 18 inches in diameter, was the most prestigious model offered by Tiffany Studios, although they also produced larger shades for the Cherry Tree and Dragonfly lamps.
A Wisteria lamp dated ca 1905 with a 17 3/4 " shade was sold for $ 1.56M including premium by Sotheby's on December 18, 2013.
Collecting can provide an intense joy. Sandra van den Broek, who specialized in Tiffany lamps, bought several years apart in different circumstances two Wisteria 18" lamps that had an adjacent serial number, and the characteristics of the colored elements showed that they had been cut on the same glass plates.
On December 17 in New York, Sotheby's sells seven lamps which had belonged to van den Broek. Both Wisterias are sold separately, which is not a nonsense since they were not intended to be used as pairs. Each Wisteria is estimated $ 700K, lots 215 and 216. This model was available from 1901 to 1906. The Tiffany number does not enable to identify a more specific date.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Lot 216 : 1.2M.
Lot 215 : 1.15M.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's for introducing the sale:
1905-1906 Lovely Wisterias by Tiffany Studios
2010 SOLD 840 K$ including premium
Offered for the very expensive price of $ 400 in the catalogue of Tiffany Studios in 1906, the Wisteria lamp was one of the high end items of that brand. It is now the star of the specialized Tiffany auction sales and is regularly discussed in this column.
One of them was sold for $ 840K including premium by Christie's on December 15, 2010 over a lower estimate of $ 400K. This unit is now estimated $ 600K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on December 14, lot 447.
The discussion below is based on my 2010 post to which I added more recent results. The prices below include the premium.
The Wisteria is one of the most famous and sought after lamps by Tiffany Studios. It is a table lamp 70 cm high composed of a shade 49 cm in diameter made of a multitude of small pieces of brightly colored glass and of a bronze foot.
Designed in 1901, this model is inspired by botany. The foot looks like a gnarled trunk extended with protruding roots, and the bell shaped shade falls in hemmed clusters like a wisteria. Auction catalogs generally date these productions circa 1905.
At Sotheby's on 14 December 2007, a wisteria lamp was sold for $ 880K. Also at Sotheby's, another wisteria reached $ 600K on June 14, 2008 while a copy with the same shade design but other colors fetched $ 930K under the name of Apple Blossom.
In the Christie's sale on December 15, 2010 already referred here above, another wisteria lamp was sold for $ 480K over a lower estimate of $ 350K. I commented after the sale that both units certainly had some difference in quality since there was a difference of $ 50K in their estimates but exceptional lots widen the gap.
Another Wisteria lamp was sold for $ 1.56M including premium by Sotheby's on December 18, 2013. Two Wisteria with adjacent serial numbers were sold separately by Sotheby's for $ 1.2M and 1.15M respectively on December 17, 2014.
1900-1910 Lotus Lamp by Tiffany Studios
1997 SOLD for $ 2.8M including premium by Christie's
1910 Dragonflies and Golden Flames
2014 SOLD for $ 965K including premium
Produced around 1910, this large model 83 cm high offers some major changes compared to the lamps from the beginning of the 1900s decade. The pattern moves more and more away from realism without yet becoming really abstract.
Everything is designed so that the light creates spectacular effects. The glass elements of the lampshade are made in saturated colors dominated at the top of the piece by golden flames. The shape of the base as a tree trunk has been abandoned in favor of a bulky and bulbous structure adorned with cabochons in order to accompany the light.
The diameter of the shade, 22 5/8 inches (57 cm) is one of the largest that have been proposed by Tiffany for table lamps. The lower edge of the shade is less irregular than for Wisterias. Its gentle undulations underline the bodies and wings of the dragonflies.
<1932 Lalique Mascots
2012 SOLD 800 K$ including premium
His perfume bottles made for the top brands are soon becoming popular. His glass statuettes get an industrial application: the automobile mascot.
Through the catalogs of his company, Lalique models are perfectly listed and dated. So it is well known that he created 27 mascots from 1927 to 1931. The diversity of themes (animals, allegories and even two female nudes) is also typical. They are often inspired by speed.
On March 10 in Amelia Island FL, RM Auctions sells as a single lot a complete collection of Lalique automobile mascots. Not only this collection includes the rarest piece, the fox, but also the three paperweights (including two earler pieces) that had been grouped in the same section of the catalog of 1932 due to similarity in size, for an overall figure of 30 pieces.
This exceptional collection is estimated $ 800K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The collection sold as a single lot reached $ 800K, but including premium. It is indeed a very good result.
1935 The Grand Salon of the SS Normandie
2017 SOLD for $ 1.4M including premium
Twelve months later the Queen Mary achieved similar performances but as far as luxury is concerned the Normandie conceived as a showcase for French modern arts will remain unrivaled. Her architects use to compare the opulence of her interior design to the Galerie des Glaces in the Palace of Versailles.
A special attention is paid to brightness. The huge dining room is equipped with Compiègne glass walls and lighted by chandeliers, wall lamps and cascades by Lalique. The columns of the Grand Salon are made of Lalique glass.
Artists and craftsmen of the Art Déco style are solicited. Jean Dupas, a specialist in decorations of monumental dimensions, draws for the Grand Salon the doors made in gold lacquer by Dunand and the angular walls in Saint-Gobain glass églomisé by Champigneulle. That églomisé technique of painting on the back side of the glass brings a mirror effect into the decoration of the lounge.
For the angle murals Dupas and Champigneulle realized four artworks for a total surface of 400 square meters on themes mixing symbols of navigation and mythology. Each one is composed of one hundred plates assembled on bronze brackets. The whole was dismantled when the liner was militarized in 1941 and most of the plates were scrapped.
Malcolm Forbes who was a great fan of liners and travels hurries at Christie's on March 21, 1981 to buy a joint set of two rows of four elements each from the upper part of La Naissance d'Aphrodite, which will be on display until 2014 at the Forbes Gallery.
This set 250 x 310 cm overall is for sale by Sotheby's in New York on June 6, lot 64. The auction house revealed to The New York Times an estimate in the region of $ 1M.