LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Early 20th century design and studio craft sparked record-setting prices at Rago Arts and Auction Center Sept. 20-21. Rago’s Design Auctions brought in a total of $4.38 million over the weekend. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
The 795-lot auction series achieved impressive results, including at least two record-setting prices, for a wide range of property across five sessions: Martin Brothers: the Andrew Furer and Elle Douglas Collection; Early 20th Century Design; Studio Ceramics; Modern Design; and Contemporary Glass featuring Dan Dailey: from the Barbara Tarleton Collection.
The auction series commenced on Saturday with “Martin Brothers: the Andrew Furer and Elle Douglas Collection.” Composed mostly of bird-form humidors, this session represented one of the largest single-owner collections of Martin Brothers ever offered at auction and came to Rago via UK-based dealer AD Antiques.
Highlights included lot 20, a tall bird tobacco jar (below) made in 1899 which shot past the high estimate of $45,000 to sell for $62,500; lot 16 and lot 7, single bird vessels that sold for $60,000 each; lot 22, a tall and fine bird tobacco jar that sold for $56,250; and lot 22, a small triple bird tobacco jar that sold for $52,500.
Early 20th Century Design Highlights
Works of early 20th century design performed well in this 234-lot sale. The star of the session was lot 252, a color woodblock print titled Grand Canon [Canyon] by Gustave Baumann from the first printing in 1934 which defied expectations to sell for $27,500, setting a world record for the highest price achieved at auction for this particular Baumann work. Martin Brothers pottery continued to shine in this session as well, as seen with lot 280, a grotesque creature tobacco jar made in 1888 which also sold for $27,500.
Many works of early 20th century ceramics performed admirably, including lot 100, an exceptional and large vase with calla lilies by Harriet Joor for Newcomb College, which sold for $21,250; lot 147, a rare Grueby cuerda seca 19-tile ship frieze, which nearly tripled the high estimate of $7,500 to achieve $21,250; lot 150, an experimental volcanic oxblood vase by Hugh Robertson for Chelsea Keramic Art Works, which shot past the high estimate of $3,000 to sell for $12,500; Lot 127, a fine scroddled bisque vessel made by George Ohr in 1906, which sold for $11,250; and lot 171, a large vase with landscape by Edith Brown of the Saturday Evening Girls, which realized a final sale price of $10,625.
Other highlights from the sale include lot 270, a gilt bronze figural Art Nouveau lamp titled Loïe Fuller by François-Raoul Larche, which sold for $18,750; lot 181, a rare Vasekraft boudoir lamp by Fulper which more than tripled the high estimate of $3,000 to sell for $9,375; and lot 301, a fine glass vase signed by Emile Gallé decorated with stars and columbines which also surpassed expectations to sell for $9,375.
Studio Ceramics Highlights
Saturday’s stand-alone session of Studio Ceramics achieved impressive results for some of the most significant masters of the postwar era. The top two lots of the session came from legendary ceramicist Betty Woodman and include lot 500, a Divided Aegean Pillow Pitcher made in 1985, which more than tripled the high estimate of $17,500 to achieve $56,250, breaking the record for highest price achieved at auction for a Pillow Pitcher form vessel by Woodman; as well as lot 505, a two-piece Morning Vase and Shadow from the same year that shot past estimate to sell for $27,500. Additional Studio Ceramic highlights included lot 600, a large Corrida charger by Pablo Picasso for Madoura, which sold for $25,000; and lot 599, another Picasso/Madoura collaboration titled Wood Owl with Feathers (Chouette aux Plumes), which sold for $11,250.
Modern Design Highlights
The Modern Design auction performed well on Sunday, with particularly admirable results achieved for works of Delaware Valley Modernism by makers such as George Nakashima, Paul Evans and Phil Powell. The top lot of the session was lot 1017, a set of 10 Conoid chairs by George Nakashima that sold for $50,000 against a high estimate of $27,500. Several other Nakashima works achieved notable results including: lot 1032, a triple chest of drawers that sold for $32,500; lot 1027, a triple sliding door cabinet that achieved $30,000; and lot 1016, a Conoid dining table that doubled the high estimate of $15,000 to sell for $30,000.
Additional Delaware Valley Modernism highlights include lot 1204, a custom sculptured metal cabinet by Paul Evans that achieved $35,000; lot 1022, a deep relief cabinet by Paul Evans for Directional which sold for $32,500; lot 1001, a wall-hanging drop-front cabinet (below) by Phil Powell that sold for $32,500; and lot 1172, a dictionary stand by Wharton Esherick, the father of the Studio Furniture Movement, that exceeded the high estimate of $20,000 to sell for $25,000.
Additional Modern Design highlights include: lot 1159, a fine Art Deco eggshell inlay vase by Jean Dunand, previously owned by Andy Warhol, that sold for $43,750; and lot 1156, a set of eight Pierre Jeanneret V-leg side chairs from the Chandigarh administrative buildings, which shot past their estimate of $16,000 to sell for $27,500.
Contemporary Glass Highlights
The top lots from the Contemporary Glass auction came to market fresh from the Barbara Tarleton Collection of Dan Dailey, partial proceeds of which the artist will donate to the nonprofit education center Tarleton Castle Arts in Bath, New Hampshire. This includes lot 1500, a fine and tall female figurative floor lamp that sold for $40,000 and lot 1517, a Birds in Flight chandelier by Dailey for the Waterford series, which achieved $27,500.
Other contemporary glass highlights include: lot 1552, a fine spinning sculpture by Jon Kuhn titled Impressive Jewel that sold for $21,250, nearly twice the high estimate; lot 1562, a cast glass Little Arcus sculpture by the glass-making duo Libenský and Brychtová, which realized $20,000; lot 1545, a massive petroglyph vessel by William Morris that sold for $17,500; lot 1559, and an exceptional small dinosaur form by Lino Tagliapietra that achieved $17,500.