DALLAS – After almost a century of illuminating the conservatory of the same Illinois house, a rare suspension lamp by renowned French designer Jean-Michel Frank has a new place to call home.
Commissioned by influential decorator Frances Elkins for a grand Georgian-style manse belonging to a prominent Lake Forest family, the circa 1928 light made its auction debut at Heritage’s Sept. 30 Design Signature Auction. With its gracefully curved inverted dome form and subtle scalloped edges, it’s understandable how the handmade plaster marvel created by a modernist design genius could garner enough attention to realize $87,500 — the auction’s top price.
“Jean-Michel Frank is the epitome of elegance,” says Heritage Auctions Design Director Brent Lewis. “There’s always interest from some of our most important clients when we have work by him. This piece has the added benefit of having this really interesting provenance of having been hung for nearly 100 years in the same house and placed there by one of America’s most important decorators. Both these people are celebrated, but here they’re combined together in this one object.”
The auction’s ceramics offerings also performed exceptionally well, including Jennifer Lee’s Smoky Vessel with Sand Band and Rust Flash, 2001, which fetched a record-breaking price of $68,750. “We rarely see her work in the U.S.,” Lewis says of the contemporary U.K. ceramicist who this year received an Order of the British Empire for service to ceramics. “So we were proud that we could reach a buying audience and get record prices for her work here in the U.S.”
Other ceramics standouts included Toshiko Takaezu’s Tall Closed Form, which realized a record price of $30,000, and Jun Kaneko’s Untitled (Dango), which sold for $25,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a work of his in this size.
Several pieces by popular American woodworker and furniture maker George Nakashima had a fine showing, too, including a 1964 walnut dining table that went for $32,500 and a pair of Conoid lounge chairs. The chairs — which sold for $17,500, a record price for that model — are each signed by Nakashima and dated June 9, 1990, meaning they are some of the final pieces completed by Nakashima studios prior to the craftsman’s death on June 15 of that year.
Other top lots included:
An early illuminated Architettura Trumeau bar-cabinet by Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti, designed in 1951 and produced in the 1950s, which sold for $45,000.
Toots Zynsky Allontanarsi (to swerve), dating to 2015, which sold for $32,500.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/