Published: February 21, 2023
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Fontaine’s Auction Gallery
PITTSFIELD, MASS. — The first Fine & Decorative Arts sale of the year at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery took place on January 28, showcasing 550 lots of furniture, fine art and jewelry. The bidding pool consisted of 7,021 in-house and remote bidders, 188 of which were on the phone and 348 absentees. Tiffany glass is a favorite of Fontaine’s frequent bidders, and this sale’s top bids showed that this auction was no exception. Yellow diamond jewelry from a Los Angeles collection made a sparkling splash, occupying almost as many top lots as the Tiffany glass. Other decorative arts also bid to success, and the sale totaled more than $2.5 million, more than its $2.4 million high estimate, with a sell-through rate of 91 percent. Fontaine’s was very happy with these results. “It’s not often that auction totals surpass their overall estimate,” said John Fontaine.
The top highight of the auction was a monumental Tiffany Studios window showing “Jesus in a Field of Lilies,” circa 1898, comprised of leaded, plated, “ripple” and “confetti” glass. The window came from a private collection in Danbury, Conn., and had “a spectacular natural and supernatural visual presence.” In very good overall condition with some cracks and old repairs, the window was bought for $237,500 by a church that declined to give its name, but will be putting the window to use. Another leaded and confetti glass Tiffany window in excellent condition, displaying flowers and ribbons, bid to success in the sale at $34,375.
A single collection in Los Angeles sold 22 lots of fine jewelry that included 11 pieces of 18K yellow gold, white gold, clear and yellow diamonds. This stunning display amounted to 86.29 carats of diamonds in the upper listings alone. The top of the treasury placed second in the auction, a ring with a 10.02-carat yellow diamond surrounded by round, brilliant diamonds weighing a total of 2.02 carats. One of these was missing, yet the ring still sold for $181,250. Next in price was another ring with a 9.12-carat fancy light yellow diamond with 0.90 round brilliant accent diamonds for $62,500. This was followed by another ring with a 6.67-carat fancy yellow diamond enclosed within 1.08 carats of round and trapezoid-shaped diamonds that achieved $34,375. The jewelry from this collection was bought mostly by domestic bidders, but some jewels will be going overseas.
Tiffany Studios’ lamps have become a specialty of Fontaine’s, and this sale added significantly to that reputation. Two floor lamps commanded the highest prices in this category. The first was a Curtain Border lamp, circa 1910, with “Tiffany Studios” impressions on both the leaded glass shade and the patinated bronze base, which stood at 78½ inches and closed at $100,000. From the same production period and 64 inches high, a Peony floor lamp sold next in price for $93,750.
One lamp stood out among the usual floral patterns, or more accurately, hung above them. Tiffany’s “Moorish” chandeliers were designed in many shapes and mostly made with dreamy Favrile glass contrasted with dark bronze fixtures, adding a mysterious, exoticized flair to the fashionably dim living spaces of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Fontaine’s example showed Favrile Turtle-back panels on the chandelier’s upper body with eight matching tulip shades, all of which were marked. Their apparent fluidity contrasted with the bronze balls hung by chain links from the upper half of the chandelier, and it sold for $65,000. A set of seven Pulled Feather Favrile glass shades from Tiffany Studios in similar colors multiplied their estimate to $26,250 ($6/8,000).
The top Tiffany Studios table lamps formed a garden of leaded glass and patinated bronze, all appropriately marked on their shades and bases. First was a Poppy lamp, circa 1910, with an unusual azure and teal field that was bid to $59,375. Next at $50,000 was a Dragonfly table lamp with a Mushroom base, circa 1910, with jeweled glass accents. Following these was a Pansy lamp for $37,500 and an Apple Blossom lamp at $31,250, both of which sold within estimate.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Fontaine’s next Fine and Decorative Arts auction will be on May 20. For further information, www.fontainesauction.com or 413-327-9686.
September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023
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