DALLAS – A set of six zodiac-themed mosaic panels created by Tiffany Studios will headline the Pursuit of Beauty: Art Nouveau, Art Deco & Art Glass Signature® Auction, a sale taking place at Heritage Auctions on Wednesday, September 28. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Beloved landmarks are often distinguished by decorative signature flourishes that are embraced by generations, and throughout the 20th century, exclusive dining establishments tucked within famous department stores were no exception.
Rarely, however, do such treasures end up in private collections. The Men’s Grill, which opened in Chicago in 1914 in the original Marshall Field & Company, was famously appointed with a grand fountain and dome produced by Tiffany Studios, as well as mosaic panels depicting the signs of the zodiac set into mahogany-paneled columns in the stately dining room. Diners and shoppers alike flocked to see the groundbreaking glass designs.
Sixty-four of these bespoke mosaic panels graced the Chicago restaurant, and on September 28, Heritage Auctions will offer half a dozen of them in one lot estimated at $50,000-$70,000. The panels, which depict Aquarius, Libra, Leo, Cancer and two Capricorns, are accompanied by original loose Favrile tiles salvaged at the time of removal.
“We are honored to present such a large group of mosaic panels from Tiffany Studios’ most significant commission for a retailer, Marshall Field & Company in Chicago,” said Heritage’s Consignment Director of Decorative Arts & Design, Samantha Robinson. “The panels depict signs of the zodiac, a theme favored and oft employed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studio, executed in striated, mottled and iridescent Favrile tiles with tremendous visual impact. These panels demonstrate the studio’s decades-long pursuit of beauty, drawing upon traditional, even ancient techniques and leveraging modern technologies in the creation of a new aesthetic befitting the historical moment.”
Alongside the zodiac panels in this auction are other rare and exceptional examples of Tiffany Studios’ work, perhaps most notably a circa-1910 leaded glass and bronze lamp, estimated at $50,000-$70,000. This large hanging lamp depicting a signature abstracted dogwood design “is saturated with intense color,” said Robinson. The auction also includes a massive leaded glass and patinated bronze Curtain Border floor lamp with pigtail, also circa 1910, as well as an especially dynamic Favrile glass paperweight vase from 1905. The vase’s compact size intensifies its decoration of abstracted leaves and vines in teal, lapis and green atop a ground that shifts from ochre at the rim to chartreuse at the foot.
At the turn of the 20th century, glass studios in the United States and Europe introduced remarkable innovations to the medium. Another highlight of the auction is the strong selection of French glass from the era.
“This is one of the most spectacular selections of French and European art glass Heritage has ever offered,” said Heritage’s Senior Vice President of Special Collections, Nicholas Dawes.
French highlights include an R. Lalique Serpent vase in highly sought-after amber glass. Lalique’s masterful play with surface and texture is also seen in a cased red glass Perruches vase from 1919, with a gorgeous blossom detail supporting a flock of paired-off parakeets. The Perruches vase carries an estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
Select glass works by venerated French concerns Daum and Galle join Lalique in this auction; one choice Galle work is a significant wheel-carved glass verrerie parlante vase decorated and signed by Irenee Jacquemard circa 1900. A notable work by Daum is an exquisitely detailed enameled and acid-etched glass Rain table lamp.
In addition to glass, the auction boasts early 20th-century works in several other media, including a sculpture by Wiener Werkstatte designer Vally Wieselthier. “A monumental, dynamic and subversive work, Mme. Potiphar encapsulates many of Wieselthier’s strengths as an artist,” said Robinson.
Also offered is a delightful and distinctive Grueby fireplace surround, coming to Heritage from the collection of the Birks Museum at Millikin University in Illinois. The surround includes a five-tile Oxen frieze, featuring a farmer accompanying an oxen-drawn wagon, executed in the rich greens, earthy yellows and warm browns Grueby is known for, and 36 matte green glazed tiles.
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