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1902 Despondency vase by Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery, which sold for $104,800 with buyer’s premium at Rago.

Artur Van Riggle, Harry Bertoia, Paul Evans, and other design greats charmed bidders at Rago

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Back-to-back design sales in mid-January at Rago delivered typically strong results. Early 20th Century Design, held on January 18, posted high numbers for ceramics, while Modern Design, which took place January 19, saw triumphs for furniture and sculpture. Both sales were presented via LiveAuctioneers.

The crowning glory of the January 18 sale proved to be a 1902 Despondency vase, made by Artus Van Briggle for his self-named pottery firm. Estimated at $20,000-$30,000, it hammered for $80,000 and achieved a staggering $104,800 with buyer’s premium. The vase dated to soon after Van Briggle established his pottery in Colorado Springs in 1901, a location he chose in hopes it would ease his tuberculosis. Sadly, he would succumb to the disease in July 1904, at only 35 years old. The Despondency vase, possibly influenced by Rodin figures Van Briggle would have seen when studying in Paris in the late 1890s, is a coveted form of his. An example is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A 1901 piece by Anna Marie Valentien for Rookwood Pottery also handily beat its $4,500-$6,500 estimate. The large, yellow-beige modeled matte vase that featured the figure of a young woman clinging to one side hammered for $26,000 and sold for $34,060 with buyer’s premium. In addition, a circa-1920 Dinanderie vase by Jean Dunand charmed bidders, hammering for $21,000 and selling for $27,510 with buyer’s premium against an estimate of $7,000-$10,000.

Earning top-lot status in the January 19 auction was a circa-1968 bronze by Harry Bertoia, dubbed Untitled (Bush Form) and estimated at $50,000-$70,000. Bidders evidently liked that it had been in the same collection since it was made and that it is listed in the Harry Bertoia catalogue raisonné, because it rose to a hammer price of $100,000 and sold for $131,000 with buyer’s premium.

Another clear winner was a lot consisting of an armless sofa and matching chairs in teak, created in the 1950s by Pierre Jeanneret for Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. Estimated at $40,000-$50,000, the group hammered for $65,000 and sold for $85,150 with buyer’s premium.

Paul Evans is a perennial favorite at Rago; more than two dozen pieces by the New Hope, Pennsylvania furniture artist appeared in the January 19 lineup. A circa-1968 loop cabinet with a pleasing green-patinated copper exterior romped past its $12,000-$16,000 estimate to hammer for $60,000 and sell for $78,600 with buyer’s premium.