Published: June 6, 2017
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Rago Auctions
LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – It was an exciting weekend at Rago’s annual late spring sale as the firm packed in five individual sections spanning the very best of the Twentieth Century. In addition to Modern design, Midcentury Modern, early Twentieth Century decorative arts, and glass and ceramics, the auction house brought to market the Solana collection of Lalique glass, a single-owner sale with rare offerings from the French maker that were assembled in the 1990s. Between the five sections, the May 20-21 sale grossed just over $4 million.
Many of the weekend’s top lots marched across the block in the Modern design sale, which featured a smattering of the top names from the Twentieth Century, including Paul Evans, George Nakashima, Gio Ponti, Piero Fornasetti, Wendell Castle, Michael Coffey, Philip Laverne, Carlo Bugatti and Vladimir Kagan.
Paul Evans claimed the highest lot of the day in the form of a bench-made sculpture-front cabinet with slate top and welded metal elements applied to its face. Descending through the artist’s family, the cabinet had desirable provenance and a wealth of detail that pushed it just over the high estimate to land at $175,000. Coming in at $56,250, the second highest lot from this section, was another piece by Evans, this one a chrome faceted cabinet for Directional from the 1970s.
The other New Hope, Penn., wonder, George Nakashima, claimed a few solid results with various forms in tables and cabinets. A Minguren coffee table in a rich English oak burl top went out at $53,125, more than double its high estimate, while a Conoid dining table in an English walnut from 1976 sold for $46,875. A hanging wall case with slatted sliding doors over pandanus cloth and a walnut top bested its $20,000 high estimate to bring a strong $50,000.
Every color in the spectrum was present in the Solana collection that featured rare examples of Lalique glass. The offerings included a wide range of vases with subjects that spanned the natural world, including turtles, snakes, grasshoppers, fish and birds with other examples of Art Deco imagery and mythical scenes.
At the top of this section was a Tortues vase in red amber with turtle shell forms and geometric textures subtly bubbling out from the sides. It brought $25,000 against a $15,000 high estimate. A Poissons vase in red cased glass, designed in 1921, brought $18,750. A clear glass Terpsichore vase featuring two nude women holding up a curtain around them tripled high estimate to land at $18,750. In a clear glass form with an amber patina, which lent the work a warm earth tone, was a Salmonides vase featuring a school of high relief salmon appearing to swim around one another. The work fetched $17,500. Finally, in a bright, frosted yellow glass was a Ceylan vase featuring a pair of repeating parakeets in front of a light foliate background, which found a new owner at $17,500.
Early Twentieth Century works seemed to have a stronger than usual showing at the top end of the sale, with rare examples of lighting and objects taking away honors for the most desirable lots. A pair of Greene & Greene leaded slag glass sconces ran away with the top lot from this section, selling for $75,000, more than triple the high estimate. The sconces were originally on the Adelaide A. Tichner House in Long Beach, Calif., before hitting the market and winding up in the Barbara Streisand collection.
A widely published and exhibited lamp from Ernest Batchelder and Douglas Donaldson found considerable interest as it sold for $62,500. The Peacock lamp featured a slag glass and copper shade over a glazed earthenware base. The Magnus clock from Archibald Knox, named after Thirteenth Century Scottish King Magnus Olafsson, in the maker’s signature sterling silver and blue/green enamel aesthetic, brought $43,750. Knox replaced the traditional clock face numbers with a comedic expression: “TEMPUS FUGIT,” or “time flies.”
Finally, a work of outstanding metal craftsmanship was found in a hammered copper lamp by Elizabeth Burton. Elaborately formed and textured, the table lamp featured abalone shells set into a copper shade that provided a warm glow from within. It finished at $31,250.
From the Mid-Mod section came more modestly priced works from the Twentieth Century. At the head of the herd was an attractive Finn Juhl adjustable lounge chair with cane back and upholstered seat. With some cracks and repairs, the chair still found multiple interested parties, selling for $11,875.
Also of note was a Widdicomb-made George Nakashima dresser and mirror from the Long Origins series that brought $10,000. Selling for $6,875 was a more traditional French cabinet in the manner of Andre Arbus in ribbon mahogany and brass inlay. On the less traditional side, a stereo unit from Italian designers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Brionvega featured both a turntable and RR126 radio. With a sleek design in walnut and aluminum, it attracted a buyer to the tune of $6,875.
The Modern glass and ceramics section was led by foremost American glass artist Dale Chihuly, with an Amber Lustre chandelier, circa 2000, attaining $50,000. The chandelier had provenance to the Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyln Harbor, N.Y.
A collaborative vase between Chihuly and Italian master glassmaker Lino Tagliapietra, circa 1995, found interest from a handful of buyers, reaching $26,250, well over the $15,000 high estimate. With blown and applied glass and gold foil, the piece was executed by Tagliapietra after a Chihuly design. Also by Tagliapietra was a Dinosaur vase featuring yellow, green and blue designs under a tapering and winding stem.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Rago’s next design sale will be in September.
For additional information, www.ragoarts.com or 609-397-9374.
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