Fine European Furniture and Decorative Arts on Offer at Bonhams & Butterfields in September

. July 29, 2008

Fall auction features a pair of rare Caribbean ecclesial chests and Elsie de Wolfe commissioned pieces

ecclesial-chest.jpgBonhams & Butterfields is pleased to offer Fine European Furniture and Decorative Arts on September 8, 2008 in Los Angeles. The eclectic auction will offer a global array of works, showcasing pieces from the 16th through 20th centuries along with a selection of English, French, Italian, Spanish and German property, including clocks, silver by prominent makers, garden furniture, architectural elements, carvings and offerings for all collecting tastes and styles.

Highlights from the 500-lot sale will include furnishing and decorations by renowned interior designer Elsie de Wolfe, furniture from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel of Laguna Niguel, CA, from the Estate of Philo Woodrow Van Wagoner and others.

The marquee lot of the spring auction is a pair of Cuban Baroque sacristy chests from the second quarter of the 18thcentury (est. $150,000/200,000). Baroque serpentine-shaped mahogany sacristy chests of this type were influenced by the English chest of drawers and the French Rococo-style commode. A quintessential Cuban furniture form, the sacristy chest historically functioned as an architectural fitting in churches, holding accessories used throughout the mass. During the 18th century, elite Cubans commissioned local cabinetmakers to create smaller freestanding versions for their private homes. These commissions became more sumptuous in design as the fashion trends favoring French Rococo became more popular. Examples of both ecclesiastical and domestic sacristy chests still adorn churches, museums, and private residences across the island, including the famous Baroque Havana Cathedral in Cuba, but are rarely found in pairs.

Next up on the auction block are a set of ten Chinoiserie painted wallpaper and mirrored tiled panels (along with several partial panels) created by designer and tastemaker to society Elsie de Wolfe for the dining room of the James P. Flannigan House, Tulsa, OK.

Elsie de Wolfe is commonly referred to as the first American professional interior designer. She believed in composing a single, agreeable overall design statement with the notion that the decoration of the home should reflect the owner’s personal style and taste rather than simply reflecting the economic status of the household. De Wolfe introduced fresh décor inspiration to her clients in contrast to the elaborate, heavily ornamented Victorian style that was popular in her time.

De Wolfe began designing interiors for friends and acquaintances around 1900. Before this time, upper class American homes had never been “designed.” Families would call upon an army of craftsmen — from curtain makers to wallpaper hangers, in an attempt to compile these elements themselves. De Wolfe worked tirelessly to clear away the heavily curtained and upholstered appearance of the 19th century homes to create harmonious interiors and modern livable spaces.

The ten complete panels in all (est. $40/$60,000) will be offered on September 8th along with several pairs of copper and paint decorated wall sconces (est. $2/3,000) also by de Wolfe. Each of the sections is unique, adorned with a different array of flowers, birds and greenery.

Additional highlights from the fall sale include: from the Estate of Philo Woodrow Van Wagoner a stunning and charming late 18th century Anglo-Indian ivory work box in the form of a cottage (est. $3/5,000) and a sterling silver tea and coffee service by Buccellati (est. $5/6,000). Property from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel, CA will include a group of three French patinated bronzes (estimates range from $3,000-$6,000) and a handsome George III inlaid mahogany breakfront bookcase, estimated to bring $5,000-7,000.

The auction catalog will be online for review and purchase at www.bonhams.com/us. Previews of the property will open to the pubic September 5-7, or by appointment.

Category: Auction News

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