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Lot 1054

Description

Tiffany Havemeyer House Armchair. This armchair was created by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, New York, early 1890's; and designed by Samuel Colman. American white oak fumed with ammonia sulfide to highlight the graining, then layered with rosin and wax to provide a polished surface. Carved throughout with a Celtic-inspired design extending along the chair's front and back legs, backrest, armrests, crestrail, stiles, seat rails, and stretchers. Examination of this armchair, unrecorded until it emerged recently from a collection in Berlin, Germany, establishes that it was made in the same Tiffany workshops as the two other known examples. One formerly in the collections of the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum (and sold in these rooms in May 2013) and the second in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, were part of the furnishings which Louis C. Tiffany, in collaboration with Samuel Colman, designed for the library in the residence of the sugar refinery tycoon, Henry O. Havemeyer, and his wife Louisine, at #1 East 66th Street, Manhattan, in the late 1880's. This chair has the exact same massive dimensions as those two, and is nearly identical in construction: for example, the arched stretchers are mortised on the three chairs into the seat rail above and the stretcher below with an identical row of circular tenons, all approximately 1 cm in diameter and spaced equally apart. And whereas the two other examples have casters on their front legs, presumed original inset with a 2.5 cm. plate, this chair has evidence of identically-sized caster plates (now missing) on its front legs. In its Celtic ornamentation, this chair varies slightly from that on the other two, including the addition of punched detailing in the background areas to the relief carving, perhaps an element of "artistic license' invoked by the chair's carver to enhance the decorative effect. The period illustration of the library in the Havemeyer residence, known as the Rembrandt Room as it housed the owners' collection of Dutch masters (Architectural Record, January-March, 1892, n.p.), includes a complete view of one armchair and partial views of three others, indicating that at least four (and perhaps more) examples of the armchair were manufactured for the Havemeyer interior. It is plausible, therefore, that this example was part of the same commission. If so, it would in likelihood have been included in the auction of the home's furniture and architectural elements conducted by Anderson Galleries, Manhattan, on April 22, 1930, less than a year after Louisine Havemeyer's death. By this reasoning, the armchair could have made its way into a Berlin collection at, or at some point following, the 1930 auction. Samuel Colman(1832-1930) was a landscape artist who served as a mentor to L.C. Tiffany during his initial career as a painter, following which the tow came friends and occasional collaborators when Tiffany turned his energies in the late 1870's to interior design and furniture manufacture. Colman worked on several Tiffany interiors during this period before retiring to Newport to concentrate on painting. A friend from the mid-1870's also of Mrs. Havemeyer, whose interest in Chinese porcelains and textiles he shared, Colman came out of retirement in 1888 to work with his former associate on the Havemeyer commission. He is credited specifically with the designs of the furnishings in the residences library. In her book The Proud Possessors, Aline B Saarinen provides a description of Colman's role, "the furniture and the woodwork in the library were based on Viking designs and Celtic motifs. In order to stain the oak woodwork the exact color of a Japanese lacquer he admired, Mr. Colman invented a system of acid stinging that intrigued Mrs. Havemeyer so much she busily diverted herself for many years experimenting with it..." Colman repeated the scroll motifs that he designed for the carved detailing on the room's mantel on the room's frieze, stenciled wall papers, carved seat furniture, and quilted upholstery. Tiffany designed matching andirons and fireplace tools for the room's hearth. If the armchair was not part of the original Havemeyer commission, might it have been commissioned from the Tiffany workshop shortly after the Havemeyer interiors were completed in the Spring of 1892? This could explain its slightly modified construction, introduced by the cabinetmaker to refine the design of the Havemeyer prototypes. If so, might the purchaser have been German? In this, one can speculate that the armchair was ordered by the renowned Hamburg-born art connoisseur and dealer, Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) for a client of his. Bing is today known as the owner of the upscale gallery, L'Art Nouveau, which opened in December, 1895, at 22 rue de Provence, Paris, and which took its name from the modernist decorative arts movement which he helped sweep to fashionability at the fin-de-siecle. Well before this, in the 1880's Bing had established showrooms in New York, London, and Berlin, through which to sell Oriental ceramics and textiles. Amongst his wealthy clientele and art world acquaintances in New York at the time were the Havemeyers, who, as established collectors of Oriental art, in 1894 purchased from his inventory a collection of Japanese textiles that they then donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The business relationship and friendship that Bing cultivated with Tiffany at the same time was ultimately even more closely foraged and mutually beneficial: in the report he published in 1895 for the French government on his observations of current developments in American painting, sculpture, architecture, and the industrial arts, entitled La Culture Artistique en Amerique (Artistic America), Bing wrote glowingly of Tiffany's multidisciplinary operation, "Tiffany saw only one means of effecting this perfect union between the various branches of industry: the establishment of a large factory, a vast central workshop that could consolidate under one roof an army of craftsmen representing every relevant technique: glassmakers, and stone setters, silversmiths, embroiderers and weavers, case makers and carvers, gliders, jewelers, cabinetmakers-all working to give shape to the carefully planned concepts of a group directing artist, themselves united by a common current of ideas".Bing toured the Havemeyer residence shortly after is completion and later wrote of its unifying impact on the viewer, "Art objects of the most far-flung origins are placed side by side, but the ingenious eclecticism responsible for these interiors has so skillfully combined disparate elements, integrating them so artfully, that we are left with an impression of perfect harmony". Bing returned to Paris around 1894 with a contract for the sole distribution of Tiffany wares in Europe and the British Isles, and the following year included 10 Tiffany windows in his display at the annual Salon du Champ-de-Mars. Between this time and him death in 1905, he continued to champion Tiffany's achievements while selling a host of his artworks to numerous European museums, including, in Germany, those in Krefeld, Berlin, Kaisserslautern, Leipzig, Hamburg, and Nuremberg. Familiar with the Havemeyer armchair, Bing may well have commissioned an example of it from Tiffany for a private or institutional German client. A copy of the wood analysis report and opinion letter from Margaret B. Caldwell may ve found in the condition report on this lot posted at Michaans.com.Bibliography:Louisine W. Havemeyer, Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector, New York, 1961, p. 18.Robert Koch, Lois C. Tiffany Rebel in Glass, Crown Publishers, New York, 1964. pp. 72-75.Robert Koch (introduction), Artistic America, Tiffany Glass, and Art Nouveau Samuel Bing, MIT Press, 1970, pp.3-4, 6, 146.Gabriel P. Weisberg, Art Nouveau Bing Paris Style 1900, Harry N. Abrams, 1986, pp.34, 49.Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, et al.,Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, exhibition catalogue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993, pp. 176, 182, 196-197.Louis C. tiffany: Meisterwerke des Amerikanischen Jugendstils, exhibition catalogue, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 1999, p. 69.Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany The garden Museum Collection, Antique Collectors' Club, 2004, pp.90-91. The underside bearing a faded ink stamp, Fritz Hohenwald Berlin W15....39/49. Note: F. Hohenwald was listed in a mid-20th Century Berlin business directory as a local upholsterer. Examination of this armchair, unrecorded until it emerged recently from a collection in Berlin, Germany, establishes that it was made in the same Tiffany workshops as the tow other know examples. These in the collections of the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum, Matsue Japan, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, were part of the furnishings which Louis C. Tiffany, in collaboration with Samuel Colman, designed for the library in the residence of the sugar refinery tycoon, Henry O. Havemeyer, and his wife Louisine, at #1 East 66th Street, Manhattan, in the late 1880's. This chair has the same massive dimensions as those two, and is nearly identical construction: for example, the arched stretchers are mortised on the three chairs into the seat rail above and the stretcher below with an identical row of circular tenons, all approximately 1 cm in diameter and spaced equally apart. And whereas the two other examples have casters on their front legs, presumed origin, inset with a 2.5 cm. plate, this chair has evidence of identically-sized caster plates (now missing) on its front legs. In its Celtic ornamentation, this chair varies slightly from that on the other two, including the addition of punched detailing in the background areas to the relief carving, perhaps an element of "artistic license' invoked by the chairs carver to enhance the decorative effect. The period illustration of the library in the Havemeyer residence, known as the Rembrandt Room as it housed the owners' collection of Dutch masters (Architectural Record, January-March, 1892, n.p.), includes a complete view of one armchair and partial views of three others, indicating that at least four (and perhaps more) examples of the armchair were manufactured for the Havemeyer interior. It is plausible, therefore, that this example was part of the same commission. If so, it would in likelihood have been included in the auction of the home's furniture and architectural elements conducted by Anderson Galleries, Manhattan, on April 22, 1930, less than a year after Louisine Havemeyer's death. By this reasoning, the armchair could have made its way into a Berlin collection at, or at some point following, the 1930 auction. Samuel Colman(1832-1930) was a landscape artist who served as a mentor to L.C. Tiffany during his initial career as a painter, following which the tow came friends and occasional collaborators when Tiffany turned his energies in the late 1870's to interior design and furniture manufacture. Colman worked on several Tiffany interiors during this period before retiring to Newport to concentrate on painting. A friend from the mid-1870's also of Mrs. Havemeyer, whose interest in Chinese porcelains and textiles he shared, Colman came out of retirement in 1888 to work with his former associate on the Havemeyer commission. He is credited specifically with the designs of the furnishings in the residences library. In her book The Proud Possessors, Aline B Saarinen provides a description of Colman's role, "the furniture and the woodwork in the library were based on Viking designs and Celtic motifs. In order to stain the oak woodwork the exact color of a Japanese lacquer he admired, Mr. Colman invented a system of acid stinging that intrigued Mrs. Havemeyer so much she busily diverted herself for many years experimenting with it..." Colman repeated the scroll motifs that he designed for the carved detailing on the room's mantel on the room's frieze, stenciled wall papers, carved seat furniture, and quilted upholstery. Tiffany designed matching andirons and fireplace tools for the room's hearth. If the armchair was not part of the original Havemeyer commission, might it have been commissioned from the Tiffany workshop shortly after the Havemeyer interiors were completed in the Spring of 1892? This could explain its slightly modified construction, introduced by the cabinetmaker to refine the design of the Havemeyer prototypes. If so, might the purchaser have been German? In this, one can speculate that the armchair was ordered by the renowned Hamburg-born art connoisseur and dealer, Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) for a client of his. Bing is today known as the owner of the upscale gallery, L'Art Nouveau, which opened in December, 1895, at 22 rue de Provence, Paris, and which took its name from the modernist decorative arts movement which he helped sweep to fashionability at the fin-de-siecle. Well before this, in the 1880's Bing had established showrooms in New York, London, and Berlin, through which to sell Oriental ceramics and textiles. Amongst his wealthy clientele and art world acquaintances in New York at the time were the Havemeyers, who, as established collectors of Oriental art, in 1894 purchased from his inventory a collection of Japanese textiles that they then donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The business relationship and friendship that Bing cultivated with Tiffany at the same time was ultimately even more closely foraged and mutually beneficial: in the report he published in 1895 for the French government on his observations of current developments in American painting, sculpture, architecture, and the industrial arts, entitled La Culture Artistique en Amerique (Artistic America), Bing wrote glowingly of Tiffany's multidisciplinary operation, "Tiffany saw only one means of effecting this perfect union between the various branches of industry: the establishment of a large factory, a vast central workshop that could consolidate under one roof an army of craftsmen representing every relevant technique: glassmakers, and stone setters, silversmiths, embroiderers and weavers, case makers and carvers, gliders, jewelers, cabinetmakers-all working to give shape to the carefully planned concepts of a group directing artist, themselves united by a common current of ideas" Height 44 inches, Width 29 3/4 inches, Depth 27 1/2 inches. The chair has been reupholstered.

Condition

- Finish appears to have been over coated with shellac applied over the original finish which appears to be intact - 3 inches of abrasion on left front leg (facing chair) - Small amount of scraping on edge of bottom right front leg - Some chips and losses to front feet of chair - The structure is very solid and strong

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Tiffany Havemeyer House Armchair.

Estimate $50,000 - $75,000Apr 12, 2014
Starting Price $35,000
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Ships fromAlameda, CA, US
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2751 Todd Street
Alameda, CA 94501
USA
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