Published: September 24, 2019
PITTSFIELD, MASS. – The artisans at Tiffany Studios were world renowned for their craftsmanship, and not surprisingly, a bevy of rare and striking items made by them led the day at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s September 14 auction. From leaded glass lamps to vases, punch bowls, decanter sets, perfume bottles and inkwells, several Tiffany Studios lots performed at or above estimate. Also vying for bidders’ attention were a monumental set of leaded glass windows, a Pablo Picasso ceramic pitcher and fine marble sculptures. In all, the sales grossed just over $1.5 million.
“We wanted to kick off the fall/winter auction season with a really strong auction filled with great antiques and statement pieces,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “This auction was a hit across the board, and we saw strong prices where we had expected and there were a few happy surprises too.”
Topping the auction was a Tiffany leaded glass aquatic fish lamp, estimated at $80/100,000, that incited a bidding war seeing determined bidders drive the lamp to a final price of $193,600. The lamp is a standout example embodying the fine craftsmanship that Tiffany goods were renowned for. Set on a bronze pumpkin base on five arms, the lamp shade is what is most striking here. “The shade depicts five swimming fish made of mottled gold glass and each has red and green glass eyes that are just so striking,” Fontaine said. “The fish are swimming amid blue and green panels of water and rippling seaweed, making for a very picturesque scene.”
Several other Tiffany Studios table lamps also crossed the block, including a Daffodil lamp with a 20-inch diameter shade featuring long green and blue leaves with amber stems that sold for $21,175; a Poppy lamp having a 16-inch diameter shade depicting orange-amber poppies that brought $19,965; and an Acorn lamp, also with a 16-inch shade, which nearly doubled its high estimate to earn $18,755.
Among other fine Tiffany works were a favrile glass inkwell with multicolor iridescence and applied designs on each side, which left its $3/5,000 high and dry to bring $21,780, and an overlaid and wheel-carved vase that sold just over high estimate for $20,570. The 16Ã½-inch tall vase featured daffodil decoration with leaves and vines rising from the bottom. Another highlight was a Gladioli paperweight vase standing 15 inches tall and having an iridescent amber interior that realized $16,940.
Also attracting much attention in the auction was a Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) “Taureau” faience pitcher, Madoura edition, 49/100, standing 12-1/8 inches tall. The striking pitcher, featuring a portrait of a bull, comfortably hit mid-estimate at $54,450.
Tiffany Studios glass lamps and decorative accessories were not the only fine examples of artistic glass crossing the block. The auction featured a monumental grouping of religious stained glass windows attributed to Joseph Lauber, who apprenticed under John La Farge and then worked for Tiffany from 1888 to 1892 and created many stained glass windows for churches in the New York-Connecticut area. The windows in the sale were likely made after Lauber left Tiffany Studios.
This set of windows, measuring 16 feet wide by 25 feet high, portray Jesus giving his famed sermon on the mount and achieved $36,300. “Lauber was an exceptionally gifted artist and these windows not only display remarkable detail but beautiful color and excellent use of technique,” Fontaine said. “The four main windows are made with heavy drapery glass, multiple plating and acid burned flash glass while figural elements such as faces and hands are reverse painted enamel decorated.”
Besides glass and silver, marble sculpture was also sought-after by buyers. A Nineteenth Century set of “Four Seasons” carved marble sculptures, each over 6 feet tall, sold mid-estimate for $30,250. The sculptures depicting spring, summer, fall and winter are raised on four matching carved bases with cartouche shields, ribbons and fruit cluster garland.
Highlighting the furniture category was a Gustav Stickley No. 409 library table that performed above high estimate, bringing $14,520. “Some furniture styles are sometimes soft at auction but Stickley is usually a safe bet,” Fontaine said. “This circa 1901 table with its original leather top was in good, untouched condition and retained its original brown finish.” Heavily carved furniture also resonated with buyers here, and a three-piece carved oak dining room set brought $13,915. The sideboard and server each had figural winged griffin supports on the heavily carved back panel and base with turned columns, scrolling filigree, seashell handles, urns with fruit on top ending in large claw front feet. The china cabinet has turned columns with griffins below, scrolling filigree, urns with fruit on top and large claw front feet.
Rounding out the auction was an Italian micromosaic panel of an Islamic scene showing a nighttime attack by a soldier on horseback on an enemy soldier that went for $15,125, and a sublime Jack-In-The-Pulpit vase in a multicolored purple, green, gold and blue iridescence hue that more than doubled its $2,5/3,500 estimate to make $12,100.
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is the oldest operating auction gallery in Western Massachusetts and has been voted “best auction house” numerous times by collectors, designers, dealers and the public. For more information, 413-448-8922 or www.fontainesauction.com.
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