Bonhams & Butterfields to Celebrate Work of Famed Interior Designer John Dickinson in April 2008

Spring auction highlights work of anthropomorphic designer, along with a strong selection of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and works by Contemporary Studio artists.

Bonhams & Butterfields’ April 7, 2008 auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts will include prints and posters, offering a diverse group of works spanning a century of design. To be held in Los Angeles, the sale will highlight the diverse range of 20th century artistic output — from the important early years through the modern period. Featured movements will include Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and works by Contemporary Studio artists.

One highlight of the Spring 2008 sale is a pair of John Dickinson console tables. Classically influenced, the 1970s works are cast in white plaster and estimated to bring $10,000-$15,000.

“Bonhams has a distinguished history of offering works by Dickinson. In Fall of 2005, the firm offered one of the largest collections of pieces by the famed mid-century legend ever to come to auction. The 16 offered lots were key pieces representing the development of late century modernism. We are pleased to continue the support of groundbreaking 1970s modernism,” said Frank Maraschiello, Director, 20th Century Decorative Arts.

Dickinson was raised in Berkeley, California and attended the prestigious Parson’s School of Design in New York City. Upon graduation he worked in display at Lord & Taylor before moving to San Francisco in 1956. Already an accomplished conventional decorator by the age of 40, Dickinson shifted his career focus, deciding to become an interior designer. Dickinson’s own sense of color, spatial design and tactile materials soon became apparent.

Working mainly in the monochromatic, Dickinson is best known for what might be characterized as “severe interiors,” as well, his ability to bridge the gap between furniture and sculpture is obvious and appreciated by collectors. Influences in his designs include elements from a variety of genres including Tribal, Classical, Egyptian, Etruscan, Regency and French Art Deco.

Also included in the April sale is a creation by the noted French interior decorator and furniture designer Jules Leleu. Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France to a family in the commercial painting business, by the age of 26 Leleu had succeeded his father as president of the family firm. In conjunction with his brother, Leleu began work in the field of interior design and decoration. In 1924 he opened a gallery in Paris and contributed to the prestigious Exposition Industrielle et Arts Decoratifs of 1925. Commissions of note for the designer include: the Grand Salon of the Ambassadors at the Society of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, several French Embassies and numerous furnishings and interior elements for various steamships in the 1930s. This April, Bonhams & Butterfields is offering a set of four Art Deco wall sconces by Jules Leleu. Crafted from bronze and glass, the two-light fixtures are typical of the designer’s graceful early century style (est. $10/15,000).

Works by Contemporary Studio Artists will include three highly collectible works by Beatrice Wood from the Collection of photographer Marlene Wallace. According to her biography, Wallace took her first official photograph at the age of four, using a box camera to take a picture of her sister. Today, she is a leading artist of photographic portraiture and commercial art, having had portraits commissioned by an impressive array of luminaries such as: former President Jimmy Carter, poet Maya Angelou, athlete Kobe Bryant, news anchor Dan Rather, and celebrities Leslie Caron, Dizzy Gillespie, Teri Hatcher, John Huston, Anthony Quinn, Sissy Spacek and violinist Isaac Stern, among others.

Wallace as a teenager met Beatrice Wood in a modern dance class. The photographer’s collection consists of three marquee works. The first, City of Night, is a vertical 3- dimensional piece (est. $8/12,000). The second, Queen Elizabeth, is a vibrant charger depicting the English royal (est. $2,500/3,500) and the third is 3- dimensional highly figurative work (est. $3/5,000).

Additional offerings include a 1950s Gio Ponti walnut and travertine coffee table made for Singer & Son (est. $2/3,000); an Agathon Léonard bronze figure of a dancer (est. $10/15,000) and a Venetian glass figural chess set, circa 1962, made for Pauli & Co. (est. $7/9,000).

Works in glass by Contemporary Studio Artists will also be included in the April 7 sale.

Los Angeles preview events are scheduled for April 4-7 in Bonhams & Butterfields’ Sunset Blvd. gallery. The auction’s illustrated catalog will be online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at

The 20th Century Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Bonhams & Butterfields presents two auctions each year held in the firm’s Los Angeles salesrooms and two sales in the Bonhams New York galleries. Virtually every major design movement of the 20th century is well-represented in these sales with fine examples executed in the mediums of ceramics, metalwork, glass and furniture regularly offered and bringing strong prices.