Published: March 7, 2023
By Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Heritage Auctions
DALLAS – Good things came in pairs at Heritage Auction’s Curated Home sale on February 24, with the majority of the top bids being in groups of at least two per lot. The auction offered more than 300 lots of fine decorative arts, mostly European, and the total sales added up to $821,232. Each of the top lots also reached the five-figure mark. “Auction day was exciting,” said Karen Ridgon, vice president of silver and decorative arts at Heritage. “With so many clients bidding live online, we have a limited picture of where bidding will go before the auction.” Buyers logged on from the United States and overseas, and were both collectors and dealers. “The low estimate was surpassed and there were lots that far exceeded expectations,” Rigdon added. “Using incredibly conservative estimates on furniture that has been performing poorly, we saw frenzied bidding.”
First among these was a pair of Louis XVI-style commodes that achieved $47,500. These were made circa 1900, modeled after an original pair in Versailles that were crafted by master craftsman Jean-Henri Riesener (German, 1734-1806). Many of his works are in the palace’s collections and dispersed throughout the world, as Riesener was one of Marie Antoinette’s favorite ébénistes, or cabinetmakers. This reproduction pair showed no less skill in its marquetry throughout its outer surfaces, which were mounted with bronze gilt decorations and topped with marble slabs. This lot was followed in price by an Italian pair of carved, partial gilt grotto-style armchairs with embroidered seat cushions that bid to $38,750.
The third highest selling piece was one of the few single lots of the auction, a Nineteenth Century English secretary with a Japanned surface. The desk had a drop-front writing surface on its four-drawer case, which when opened revealed many smaller drawers and compartments for stationery. On top was a bookcase with two glass doors, which enclosed shelves and even more letter compartments. Altogether, the secretary closed at $30,000. The only other single-item lot in the top results was a continental portrait bust carved in marble, supported by a bronze-mounted pedestal. Although the bust’s subject was not identified, it was still bid to $10,625.
One of the more unusual top sales was a pair of Newton, Son & Berry globes, one celestial and the other terrestrial, marked and dated 1836. Newton, Son & Berry were Regency-era globemakers, located at 66 Chancery Lane, London. Examples of their work exist in many prominent collections as works of art and scientific artifacts, from large models to diminutive pocket globes. The pair was in excellent condition and spun to $26,250.
Porcelain sets were popular with high bidders. The most achieved by a single set was $15,000 for a 101-piece Royal Crown Derby service. Although not a complete set, the 1975 Paradise cobalt blue pattern with partial gilt on porcelain surfaces is striking and highly desirable. Two lots of Meissen’s Blue Onion porcelain also bid to success; both were made in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. “The service came down through the family of Hermann and Julie Rubensohn of Kassel, Germany, with each subsequent generation adding rare forms,” Rigdon explained, and the collection descended to a relative in La Quinta, Calif. The higher selling group lot was comprised of 108 pieces and achieved $12,500. This was followed by a 166-piece set that sold for $10,625.
Lighting fixtures also did well in the sale. A figural pair of silver and partial gilt candelabra in the form of centaurs with cherubs on their back galloped to $13,750. Both were marked and presented well, despite some bending in one candelabrum and a possible loss to one of the cherubs. Next in the lot listings by price was a pair of Louis XIV-style lanterns with etched glass after the Versailles originals that bid to $12,500.
The only non-European objects in the top lots was a pair of red lacquered Chinese cabinets that sold together for $11,875. Standing at 94 inches tall, the cabinets were intricately carved with decorative motifs surrounding images of household accessories. Despite one latch key rod is missing crescent handle, bent latch key rods and missing interior drawers from one cabinet, the large cabinets were striking to behold and inspect in detail.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Heritage Auctions’ Fine & Decorative Arts Showcase auction will occur on April 13. For information, 214-528-3500 or www.ha.com.
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