Published: August 9, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Capsule Auctions
WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The Capsule Gallery Auction continued its sale of entertainment magnate Seymour Stein’s collection with an onsite auction in its Westhampton Beach warehouse on July 28. The sale was part of an ongoing series hosted at the warehouse and follows Capsule’s Deco + Design II show featuring Stein’s ceramics collection on June 15. With a few fine works of art and large-scale advertising pieces in the catalog, the majority of lots offered were early Twentieth Century decorative arts, predominantly furniture. With almost 200 items to be picked up at the warehouse within the next two days following the auction, the sales totaled $186,464.
First among these was a pair of sculpted leather chairs with a distinct stitching chain down the center, as well as an old Christie’s tag, designed by William “Billy” Haines (American, 1900-1973). A man with a colorful past, Haines had a host of jobs after running away from home at 14, eventually being spotted by a talent scout and becoming an actor in the early film industry. Haines was an openly gay man whose sexuality made him a target for the law and society at large, and after being fired from Metro Goldwyn Mayer he and his longtime partner began an interior design and antiques dealing business. These chairs are believed to be from a limited production run, showcased in the “Desert Living Room” at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939, and they sold for $11,250.
Second place belonged to “The Competitor,” an almost-nude bronze of a runner by Robert Tait Mackenzie (American, b Canada, 1867-1938), kneeling to lace his shoe before a race. Mackenzie was a practicing physician and the director of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania; one wonders where he found the time to be a sculptor, as well. The bronze achieved $8,125. Joining the figure in the top lots was a large terracotta group of “The Wrestlers” after the antique marble in the Uffizi Gallery from the First Century CE, pinning down $4,250.
Armchairs and chaises were popular in the sale, foremost among them being an Art Deco “Cloud” suite by Harry and Lou Epstein, brothers who designed and produced furniture in London from the 1930s to the 1950s. The sofa and two lounge chairs showed pearlescent fabric upholstery stretched over shagreen-clad wraparound frames, carved in the shape of fluffy, curved clouds. Despite some condition issues visible on the fabric, the suite sold for $5,500. It was followed in this category by a pair of Art Deco club chairs upholstered in black painted leather for $4,750, and a Warren McArthur (American, 1885-1961) circa 1935 chaise longue for $4,500.
Fourth in the sale was a stunning Art Deco bed by Paul Poiret (French, 1879-1944), which achieved $5,125. Known primarily as a fashion designer, Poiret is credited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for “[elevating] fashion to the status of artform.” This bed is an indication of that mastery, with a lacquered, silver-leafed and gold-leafed wood frame that seems meant to fold around a mattress. Shown in teal, this bed was offered in the September 1929 issue of Arts & Decoration in purple and lavender.
An interesting lot was a tufted leather hall porter’s chair, with appropriate aging on the wooden frame and deep red leather upholstery in great condition. These domed chairs were built specifically for porters in hotels or stately homes who needed to be at their post at all times to assist arrivals. Porters would sometimes sleep in their chairs overnight, protected from drafts in chilly entry halls. The chair went to work for $3,375.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Capsule’s Contemporary Art and Photography sale is September 14. For information, 212-353-2277 or www.capsuleauctions.com.
December 6, 2022
December 6, 2022
December 6, 2022
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