News-Antique.com - May 20,2013 - WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Great Gatsby would feel quite at home at Palm Beach Modern’s May 25 auction. A free-spending millionaire bootlegger, the fictional Jay Gatsby was the quintessential literary embodiment of Jazz Age extravagance. Living a life of unbridled excess, Gatsby decorated his spectacular Long Island mansion with the finest Art Deco furnishings money could buy – the type that have endured to this day as icons of classic design. Palm Beach Modern’s May 25 auction pays homage to the Gatsby era, with 357 lots of furniture and art objects that perpetuate or complement the Art Deco aesthetic.
“Without Art Deco to serve as its inspiration, mid-century modern might never have happened. There is an evolution from Art Deco to Moderne to mid-century design that cannot be denied, and that’s the focus of our next auction,” said Rico Baca, auctioneer at Palm Beach Modern Auctions.
Three outstanding French Art Deco period pieces represent the “Gatsby era” in Palm Beach Modern’s sale. The first of these items is a fine and rare 1939 rosewood sideboard/dresser designed by Alfred Porteneuve (1896-1949) specifically for the SS Pasteur ocean liner. It features six drawers and a single center door that smartly conceals two shelves. It is expected to make $15,000-$20,000 at auction.
Art Deco elegance is expressed to perfection by a pair of important circa-1923 Jules Leleu (French, 1883-1961) chairs with matching cushioned ottomans of rosewood with ivory upholstery. The chairs are illustrated on Pages 28 and 29 of Viviane Jutheau’s reference Jules et Andre Leleu, as well as on Page 133 of The House of Leleu by Francoise Siriex. Effortlessly chic and of impeccable quality, the pair is estimated at $50,000-$70,000.
A substantial matched pair of Egyptian Revival candelabra reflects the frenzy for Egyptian design in the decade following the 1922 discovery of King Tut’s Tomb. The motif on each silvered-bronze candelabrum includes bas-relief pharaohs’ heads and mythological imagery on fluted columns. Made in France around 1930, the pair is entered in the sale with a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
Art Deco or mid-century modern? One would be hard pressed to tell the difference in quite a few of the 1950s-1970s pieces featured in the May 25 sale. A convincing case could be made either way for Lot 71, a circa-1975 Jacques Duval-Brasseur dining table with a whimsical dragon-sculpture base, est. $30,000-$35,000; or Lot 81, a circa-1950 Andre Arbus (French, 1903-1969) bronze-mounted cabinet of ebonized wood with Greek-key motif, ex Christie’s London, est. $20,000-$30,000.
Another mid-century interpretation of the Art Deco taste is seen in Lot 143, a rare and important Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891-1979) walnut desk with asymmetrical cutout drawers and brass sabots. Ponti said of this desk: “…this is my masterpiece, it is a piece of furniture that is very simple but not formally inert.” It is illustrated on Pages 8 and 166 in Lisa Licitra Ponti’s 1953 reference Gio Ponti The Complete Work 1923-1978. Estimate: $50,000-$70,000.
A pair of timeless 1970s Karl Springer (American, 1931-1991) torchieres/floor lamps (Ref: Karl