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Decorative Arts and Modern Design

Decorative Arts and Modern Design

Decorative Arts and Modern Design

Decorative Arts and Modern Design features items fashioned through individually recognisable design principles from the mid-19th century through to the present day. Pieces from this specialist area can include furniture, sculpture, silver, ceramics, metal works, glassware and lighting.

We offer two dedicated sections of Decorative Arts and Modern Design in the April and October Interiors auctions, and the category also appears in single owner collections held throughout the year.

The design movement known as Gothic Revival is defined by motifs such as pointed arches, fancy carvings and lace and lattice work primarily seen in architectural features but also reproduced in decorative objects, notably ceramics, carpets and furniture dating from the mid-19th century. Exponents such as Charles Eastlake, A.W.N. Pugin and William Burges are amongst the best known of the designers from this era.

Dating from the second half of the 19th century, the Aesthetic Movement championed pure beauty and the visual and sensual qualities of design. Notable interpreters of the genre include Dr Christopher Dresser, Bruce Talbert, James Shoolbred & Company and Edward William Godwin.

The Arts & Crafts tradition takes its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, held in 1890, and it grew out of a concern for the detrimental effects of industrialisation on design and traditional skills. Objects from this era highlight the natural beauty of materials combined with fine craftsmanship. Ceramics from this period represent a field that has matured considerably over the last 30 years with many collections selling for progressively higher prices. Martin Brothers’ Pottery, William de Morgan, Moorcroft and Pilkington’s Royal Lancastrian to name but a few, are increasingly rare and sought after.

Art Nouveau reached its apex between 1890 and 1910; as a reaction against the rigours of academic art it took inspiration from natural forms and structures, notably the curved lines of plants and flowers. Its roots lay in the Arts & Crafts movement.

Combining modernist styles, notably geometric and angular shapes, with fine craftsmanship and rich materials, Art Deco design was hugely influential from the early years of the 20th century to the outbreak of WWII and continues to be synonymous with luxury, glamour and exuberance.

We offer glassware by René Lalique, Daum and Val Saint Lambert, ceramics by Clarice Cliff, furniture by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, lacquer and sculpture by Jean Dunand, silverware by Georg Jensen, and bronzes by Demétre Chiparus, amongst many others.

Mid-century modern emerged from the upheaval created by WWII and the consequent migration of European designers to America. Its designs possess clean lines and gentle organic curves. Technological advances of the time led to the use of new materials, (such as plastic), with the exploration of innovative textures and effects.

Notable mid-century Modern furniture designers include Charles and Ray Eames, Eileen Gray, Harry Bertoia, Isamu Noguchi and Arne Jacobsen, as well as many others from Scandinavia, complimented by decorative furniture and objects designed by Piero Fornasetti.  

Decorative Arts come up to date with contemporary works from the 1980s by practitioners such as Vladimir Kagan, Philippe Starck, Danny Lane and Zaha Hadid.

Well-known studio potters such as Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Shōji Hamada and Bernard Leach have been collected passionately for many years. Prices for their works have increased greatly in the last few years, not only for the early pioneers but also for the following generation of contemporary potters, including John Ward, Colin Pearson, Gordon Baldwin, Ewen Henderson, Elizabeth Fritsch, Edmund de Waal, Richard Batterham and Walter Keeler.

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