Design of the Century – Bonhams Celebrates Greene & Greene in December

AuctionPublicity.com – International fine arts auctioneers Bonhams will celebrate 20th Century design in December with an auction of decorative arts and furniture comprising examples spanning a century of innovation. The December 19, 2007 auction at Bonhams New York features works of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modern design, including an important collection of Greene & Greene furnishings with seating from the noted Cordelia Culbertson House (1911) in Pasadena, California expected to attract serious interest.

Brothers Charles and Henry Greene began their education at Calvin Woodward’s Manual Training School of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The school’s educational format was groundbreaking for the time, basing its curriculum on “education of the hands” as well as the mind. This early training was the foundation of the brothers’ focus and interest in tools, materials and craftsmanship. The Greenes went on to complete their education as architects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After a trip to Pasadena, California to visit their parents, the Greenes opened an architectural firm in that city. With a primary focus on residential design, the Greene & Greene office bustled with activity for several decades. By 1903, the firm began to offer integrated design services, which included furniture.

Over the decades, the Greenes’ distinct style garnered widespread recognition. Scholars credit Greene & Greene with the introduction of high-art aesthetics and superb craftsmanship to the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The Greene & Greene legacy remains today and their works continue to be exhibited at museums and stand among “favorite pieces” within fine collections around the world.

Bonhams is pleased to offer the seating furniture from the noted Cordelia Culbertson House, 1911-13, by brothers Charles and Henry Greene. The current owner purchased the chairs in an estate sale in the1980s. When the pieces were found, the consignor did not initially know of their importance, but thankfully appreciated the items for their aesthetic beauty. While the chairs have been reupholstered, the original fabric, along with the ebony tacking strips, has been saved and will be offered along with the furniture. The present owner considered herself a caretaker of these pieces, with a responsibility to the distinguished Greene & Greene history.

Another fine example of Greene & Greene designs for the Culbertson House will also be offered, a three-panel screen could bring as much as $50,000. According to Department Director Frank Maraschiello, “With the recent renewed interest in the their work, Greene & Greene pieces are enjoying new appreciation and have achieved record prices at auction. Their work continues to inspire new generations of architects, designers and collectors who share an appreciation of pure materials, highly skilled construction and the Greene & Greene philosophy of viewing furnishings as works of consummate artistic craft.”

Also on offer in December, from the collection of Leah Margulies Roland, comes a fine selection of European Arts and Crafts containing works by Christopher Dresser, Archibald Knox, W.A .S. Benson, Otto Prutscher, Georges De Feure, Carl Klimpt and Frank Brangwyn, among others. This collection is comprised of a wide range of 20th Century decorative arts. A fine incised and glazed ceramic Iris vase by Sara Galner for Saturday Evening Girls (est. $3/5,000) will round out the Arts & Crafts section.

A strong group of cameo glass vases are among the works by Emile Gallé to be featured in the Art Nouveau section, including a fine enameled “Persian” bowl (est. $20/30,000) and a “verre parlant” cameo glass shoe, wheel carved with existential poetry by Victor Hugo (est. $10/15,000). A fine fruitwood marquetry-inlaid dragonfly cabinet with frog feet is expected to sell at $30,000 to $40,000, while a good Daum Nancy cameo glass lamp with applied escargot could bring $40,000 to $60,000.

Additional highlights from the winter 2007 sale include Art Deco furniture and decorations from the private collection of Dr. Tina S. Alster and Paul D. Frazer, including a two pairs of silvered bronze sconces by Parisian anthropomorphic designer Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann. His “Lotus” (est. $40/60,000) and “Antelope” (est. $20/30,000) sconces should attract serious collector interest. An important Jules Leleu mahogany dining suite, comprising dining table, eight dining chairs, buffet and bar will do likewise. This model is identical to Leleu’s prize-winning example originally debuted at the 1925 Paris Exhibition.

Also offered will be a selection of Lalique molded glass works from a private collection, including a rare “Belecour” vase (est. $20/30,000); a “Tortues” vase in deep amber (est. $20/30,000); an enameled “Oranges” vase (est. $25/35,000) and an opalescent “Oran” vase (est. $20/30,000).

Seminal designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, arbiter of Neo-Classical taste and designer of California’s celebrated “Casa Encantada,” home to Conrad Hilton, will also be represented in the sale with two works produced by Saridis: a bronze and walnut table #10 (est. $6/9,000) and a walnut, brass and leather “Diphros” stool (est. $5/8,000).

A selection of works by contemporary glass artists will be offered including pieces by Kuniaki Kuroki, Sydney Cash, and a fine glass sculpture by Czechoslovakian glass artists Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova (est. $40/60,000). In the June 2007 sale, Bonhams set a world record auction price of $480,000 for an important Libensky/Brychtova work.

The December sale will open for preview at Bonhams in New York City December 15-18, 2007. The illustrated catalogue will be online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com/us.

Top