In the spring of 1903, Gustav Stickley hired a talented architect by the name of Harvey Ellis to execute designs for his Craftsman Workshops. Ellis designed a unique line of furniture distinguished by lighter, sophisticated lines and inlaid decoration articulated in copper, pewter and contrasting woods. Although Ellis died in January 1904, only seven months after joining Stickley, his new designs left an enduring legacy on Stickley's repertoire, which evolved to incorporate lighter structural forms. The iconic desk offered here, along with the Rocking Chair (lot 232, est. $15/20,000) and Superb and Rare Armchair (lot 233, est. $60/80,000), exemplifies the harmony and refinement emblematic in Ellis' limited oeuvre.
An offering of designs by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld includes the sale’s cover lot, a rare “RoodBlauew Stoel” (Red Blue Chair) est. $200/300,000 (lot 240). This chair is an icon of early modern design and represents one of the first explorations of the De Stijl art movement in three dimensions. The sale slao includes a pair of “Zig-Zag” Chairs (lot 242, est. $20/30,000) from the Jesse family, which Gerrit Rietveld had given them to show his appreciation for hiding him from the Germany army at the
end of WWII.
An exciting group of American Modernist material includes An Extremely Rare Centrepiece Bowl by Eliel Saarinen, circa 1929 (lot 259, est. $35/45,000). For the eleventh installation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition series entitled The Architect and the Industrial Arts in 1929, Eliel Saarinen designed a dining room, which marked the emergence of more modern sensibilities in his work. The focal point of the room was a large silver prototype bowl surrounded by four place settings.
The present lot was part of a limited commercial design based on the silver bowl featured in the 1929 exhibition. Offered in three sizes, the present lot is the smallest measuring 11 inches in diameter. Only three other examples of this bowl are presently known to exist, including examples in the Cranbrook Museum of Art and the John C. Waddell Collection. Also included is a Collection of Twelve American Modernist Microphones, circa 1925-1946 and consigned by a New York collector, which represents a definitive survey of the form (lot 252, est. $25/35,000). Each pieces remains in its original condition and comes together with its original floor stand.
The December sale also boasts an extremely rare offering of Ten Panels from the “Birth of Aphrodite” Mural from the Grand Salon of the S.S. Normandie by Jean Dupas, son of a Bordeaux sea captain (lot 270, est. $200/300,000). Normandie’s Dupas panels have long been revered as the holy grail for Art Deco and ocean liner collectors alike. Dupas painted each mural on the reverse of glass using a technique called églomisé which meant that highlights traditionally final adornments, had to proceed the layering in of back painting. Needless to say it was a demanding and time consuming process for each of the 4 panels which were over 32 feet in height.
The theme of the works blended classical mythology