This autumn, our Interiors auction on 26 October, marks the return of the bi-annual offering of Decorative Arts & Modern Design. The auction features a strong offering of items from the Reformed Gothic to the present day. Ahead of the auction, Head of Sale, Ashley Matthews takes a look at some of the highlights from this specialist section.
The offering of Decorative Arts and Modern Design includes three pieces from one of the key designers of the Aesthetic Movement - William De Morgan. A highlight is Lot 78, an 'Isnik' charger decorated by De Morgan's chief assistant Charles Passenger. Shaped after an Iznik metalwork original, it features a central floral boss with a bird, surrounded by a band of tulips and the outer rim with five panels of leaves. The reverse is then further decorated with concentric circles in blue and turquoise. The present lot was formerly in the Mohamed Makiya Collection.
Moving into the Arts & Crafts period, the sale includes a needlework panel attributed to Lucy Faulkner (Lot 84). It is woven with a scene depicting a hunt. One can see a woman holding a falcon, sitting side saddle, with her attendant walking alongside, with dogs and other wildlife filling the rest of the scene. It is signed with the initials 'LF'.
Lucy Jane Faulkner Orrinsmith (1839-1910), was a sister of Charles Faulkner, a co-founder of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Together with her sister Kate she worked for the company producing embroideries and going on to paint tiles and produce woodcuts.
The William Morris Museum in London holds a selection of her work for Morris including painted tiles mostly depicting tales nursery rhymes after designs by Burne-Jones and various embroidered coverlets, dress cases and curtain straps.
The stand out lot from the auction has to be Lot 89, a rare stoneware grotesque tobacco jar and cover. Dated March 1900, it was made by R W Martin for Martin Brothers. The seated grotesque is modelled grasping its protruding chest with its long bony fingers and pointed nails, eyes narrowed above a grimace, with shaved monk`s pate. Standing at 13.5cm high, it carries an estimate of £30,000-50,000 (+ fees).
Grotesque figures were a characteristic design of the firm and were something of an obsession for Robert Wallace Martin. The rarity of this piece is also due to the fact that the Martin Brothers had an idiosyncratic way of working, with only lighting the kiln once a year and without protective saggars, leading to a high rate of losses and therefore a small output – it was even reported that one year, only one work survived!
The rarity of this jar and cover can be seen in comparison with Lot 88, with its far more modest estimate of £150-250 (+ fees). This stoneware vase hails from the same company but was probably modelled by Walter Martin rather than Robert Wallace Martin who was the oldest, lead designer and founder of the company.
The sale also contains a wide selection of Art Deco bronze models of both figures and animals. Starting with Lot 113 a figure of ‘Dawn’ by French Impressionist & Modern sculptor Dominique Alonzo. The bronze figure is portrayed standing with her right arm up to her head, her left out to her side, stood on an octagonal green onyx base and is inscribed for the artist.
We then have Lot 119, an Art Deco cold painted bronze group of dancers by Bruno Zach, titled 'Pair of Dancers'. They are portrayed in a light grasp each on one leg and with extremities outstretched. They stand atop a green onyx columnar base with spread foot, with the rear of the base inscribed ZACH. It is interesting to note that in Bryan Catley’s book ART DECO and other FIGURES, (1995) it is noted that in 1936, one would have only paid £9 for this bronze group! Today they carry an auction estimate of £2,500-3,500 (+ fees).
Continuing through the sale, we then have these rather fun two German Art Deco silver plated items inspired by the glamour and romance of early air travel, each taking the form of a stylised 1920's monoplane by J. A. Henckels.
Firstly, we have Lot 129, a smoker's compendium. The fuselage with hinged cover is designed to store cigars or tobacco, flanked by a pair of cigarette-box wings, with three ashtrays. The propeller then conceals a cigar cutter and the ribbed top cap vesta. It is then stamped with 'DRGM Germany' to the wheels.
The second piece is Lot 130, a cocktail set. It is designed with a fuselage flanked by a pair of hip-flask wings. The whole fully disassembles to reveal a full complement of accessories including the fuselage cocktail shaker with strainer/lemon squeezer and lid, further cylindrical drinks flask and a set of four gilt-lined stacking shot cups. The cups are then marked 'Made in Germany'.
The Decorative Art selection brings us through to the mid part of the 20th century and into the present day with consignments of Lalique glassware including tableware and drinking glasses. A highlight is Lot 159, a pair of Reverie pattern clear and frosted glass figural bookends. They come to auction in very good condition and in their original fitted box. These are estimated at £800-1,200 (+ fees).
Tuesday 26 & Wednesday 27 October | 10.30am BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Day One | Browse the auction
Day Two | Browse the auction
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