Glass and Crystal
Chronology : 18th century 1730-1739 1750-1759 1907 1913 1952
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there is divergence between AP saying that the object was sold, which Xinhua saying, quoting Christie's, that it was withdrawn "by mutual agreement".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!
1737 Falangcai on Glass
2019 SOLD for HK$ 207M including premium
Enamel on glass is the most difficult technique. Each color demands a different baking to be lively, and a little overheating above the enamel melting point damages the glass. The term used is falangcai as for porcelain. The imperial archives do not mention any glass falangcai before 1705. The surviving pieces from the reigns of Kangxi and Yongzheng are incredibly rare.
When he succeeds his father, Qianlong is overflowing with enthusiasm for all forms of art. He expects from his workshops unprecedented technical achievements along with decorations of utmost finesse and originality.
On the 22nd day of the 1st month of the 3rd year of his reign, in 1737 CE, the archives record the presentation to the emperor by three eunuchs of a glass vase shaped like a pouch. This blue vase is immediately returned to the workshops for being copied. It did not survive.
Two glass falangcai with a bright yellow enamel background certainly correspond to this commission. Slightly different in shape and completely different in the decor, they were not scheduled as pendants. All other glass falangcai of this form were failed or broken.
These two pieces are of the largest dimension for this technique, 18 cm high. The pleated ovoid shape imitating the silk is knotted by a ribbon in high relief which very elegantly clasps the upper part of the purse. The imperial mark appears within a flower.
Both objects belonged in the nineteenth century to an imperial prince. They were sold separately by Sotheby's in 1988. One of them, with a dense set of twelve dragons, is now to the collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
The other piece is the best achievement. Its colors are brighter. The picture with two phoenix twirling amidst flowers is very pleasant with flamboyant plumages. The rim is crenellated. Nicholas Chow, chairman of Sotheby's Asia, considers that it is the most important Qing artwork in private hands.
This glass pouch was sold for HK $ 24M including premium by Sotheby's on October 29, 2000, worth US $ 3.1M at that time. The post sale press release announced it as the record for both a falangcai and a Chinese glass. It will be sold by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on October 8, lot 1. The press release of August 28 announces an expected price in excess of HK $ 200M. It is narrated by Nicholas Chow in the video shared by The Value.
1736-1758 Brushpots in Enamel Glass
2008 SOLD for HK$ 73M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The pieces produced without bubble and without crack which deserve to receive the imperial mark are almost nonexistent under Kangxi and Yongzheng. All of the items listed below have the Qianlong imperial mark. The know-how ceases to be maintained after 1758 CE.
Brushpots in enameled glass are extremely rare.
A 8.5 cm high piece with square section and canted corners was sold for HK $ 68M including premium by Christie's in Hong Kong on November 27, 2007, lot 1665. Its buyer, the Taiwanese businessman Robert Tsao, put it back on sale in the same room on May 27, 2008 as a charity lot to help the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. It was sold for HK $ 73M including premium, lot 1525.
A 6.1 cm high cylindrical brushpot was sold for HK $ 49M including premium by Christie's on November 28, 2012 over a lower estimate of HK $ 6M, lot 2124.
An 18 cm high vase in the shape of an ovoid pouch was sold for HK $ 207M including premium by Sotheby's on October 8, 2019. Snuff bottles are less rare. A rectangular piece 8 cm high was sold for HK $ 25.3M including premium by Bonhams on November 28, 2011 over a lower estimate of HK $ 4.9M.
1736-1758 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
1901-1905 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:
1903 The Water Garden of L. C. Tiffany
2018 SOLD for $ 3.4M including premium
Trained as an artist, Tiffany is a great lover of gardens. The first release in his new line of products is the wisteria lamp, with an irregularly fringed lower edge that underlines the shape of the plants.
The Pond Lily lamp designed in 1902 is in line with another preference of Tiffany who maintained water gardens in his country estates. Its bell shaped shade is a technical feat because the upper part showing radiating stems on a blue background is an assembly made entirely of glass pieces not reinforced with bronze. Although it appears in the price list until 1906, it seems that its production has been stopped early.
14 lamps of this model have survived. One of them, with a 46 cm diameter lampshade and a 67 cm overall height, is particularly appealing in its colorful composition. It is estimated $ 1.8M for sale by Christie's in New York on December 13, lot 9. Please watch the very short video shared by the auction house.
This unit is dated 1903 with a near certainty by the rare conjunction of the new Tiffany Studios New York trademark with their old system of nomenclature of the elements.
1903 Shades and Vines
2018 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium
In 1901 he entrusts the realization of lampshades in favrile glass to his Women's Glass Cutting Department. The shade will then be mounted on a bronze base. The whole will display exquisite floral patterns.
The wisteria lamp demonstrates the feasibility of the project. On a flared bell shaped wooden mould, the Tiffany Girls assemble about 2,000 tiles in all colors, with a fringed lower edge that underlines the descending bunches of flowers. Bronze vine shoots provide the rigidity to this fragile form.
The mould of the wisteria lamp is then used with other color combinations composed of bigger tiles. The diversified offering now includes Trumpet Creeper, Grape and Apple Blossom shades. Three of these four variants illustrate vines, obviously matching a botanical preference of the boss.
For each model, the units are distinguished from each other by the small details of their color schemes. The passion of the amateurs generates now the diversity of the auction prices.
Made around 1905, a wisteria lamp with gradual luminous colors was sold for $ 1.57M including premium by Sotheby's in New York on December 18, 2013 over a lower estimate of $ 600K. It comes to the same auction room with the same estimate on December 12, lot 326.
The same sale also offers a rare Trumpet Creeper lamp made around 1903. It is estimated $ 800K, lot 327.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Wisteria lamp SOLD for $ 950K
Trumpet creeper lamp SOLD for $ 2.3M
1900-1910 Lotus Lamp by Tiffany Studios
1997 SOLD for $ 2.8M including premium by Christie's
1913 Winter Egg by Fabergé
2002 SOLD for $ 9.6M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The eggs supplied by Fabergé in 1913 are the Romanov Tercentenary egg for the tsarina and the Winter egg for the dowager empress Maria Feodorovna. Billed for 24,600 rubles, the Winter egg is the most expensive of all Fabergé eggs. By its theme, it is also one of the most delicate. It is the first imperial egg from a design by Alma Theresia Pihl, the niece of the head jeweler Albert Holmström who ensured its realization.
With a total height of 14.2 cm, the Winter egg is made of transparent rock crystal chiseled to symbolize frost or crushed ice. The actual egg, 10.2 cm high, is detachable from its base. It contains the surprise, a basket of white wood anemones with a total height of 8.2 cm. This early blossom is a symbol of the end of winter.
Of course, the richest materials were used. The basket is in platinum. On a gold moss, the flowers are in quartz centered by a garnet, with stem and stamens in gold. The leaves are in nephrite. The whole is paved with nearly 3,000 tiny diamonds.
The Winter egg was sold twice by Christie's : for CHF 7.3M including premium on November 16, 1994, lot 464, and for $ 9.6M including premium on April 19, 2002, lot 150. It was reported that the buyer was the Emir of Qatar. Please watch the video prepared by AP during the 2002 sale, shared on YouTube by AP Archive.
1929 Porte aux Moineaux by Lalique
2011 SOLD for € 2.02M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
In terms of the monumental application of glass, his masterpiece is the double door in the gate of his own townhouse in Paris. The decoration of pine branches and cones is spread over nine rows of eight glass panels, with even an extension on the wall of the building. The Hôtel Lalique and its door are still in existence.
His competence in luxury decoration is recognized. In 1925 he creates the glass fountain for the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, and he decorates the Côte d'Azur Pullman Express train in 1929 and the Normandie liner in 1935.
On November 22, 2011, Sotheby's sold for € 2.02M including premium over a lower estimate of € 400K a double door made in glass by Lalique in 1929, lot 131.
This 270 x 180 x 13 cm piece is composed of two elements, each one made of four vertical compartments in white glass delimited by glass rods. The mounting frame is in nickel plated steel. The decoration is not on the windows but on the rods, with figures of sparrows in the round, distributed upside down within the full height.
The glass sparrow was regularly offered by Lalique, notably as paperweight and, from 1933, for a decorative bar with six life size birds. Its application in the round on an architectural structure anticipates by two decades the small animals perched within Diego Giacometti's furniture.
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.
1952 As Happy as Fish in Air
2019 SOLD for $ 17.5M including premium
On May 15 in New York, Christie's sells Fish, hanging mobile 39 x 112 cm made by Calder around 1952, lot 14 B estimated $ 12.5M. The outline of this nice fish is made of a few metal rods in the style of a child's drawing. The mouth is wide open. The crossing of two rods binds body and tail. The signature of the initials CA of the artist, made in two folded strings, hangs from that place.
In this subtle frame that might seem rudimentary, the artist has positioned an eye and 33 fish scales. An inner circle reinforces the figure of the eye. A piece of broken glass is tied by a string in each cell. Each piece of glass has another shape and the colors are of high diversity. The movement of the mobile changes the shining effect of these colored elements.
Made in 1957, a hanging fish 2.26m long was sold for $ 26M including premium by Christie's on May 13, 2014 over a lower estimate of $ 9M. This terrible specimen is entirely made of black painted metal. The body is bulky. The prey hangs in front of the voracious mouth. The tail is a mobile with three branches in the signature style of the artist with a total of 14 plaques.