Karl Muller Centennial Vase Sold in Heritage Decorative Arts Auction

A Karl Müller-designed and signed Union Porcelain Works Centennial Vase, manufactured in Greenpoint, NY, circa 1876-1885, sold for $47,800 on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 to lead Heritage Auctions’ Signature® Decorative Arts & Design and Gentleman Collector Auctions at the company’s Design District Annex in Dallas. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.

The auction realized a total of $1,018,813 on 586 lots, with 741 bidders vying for offerings, including strong international online buying contingents.

“The result on this vase is spectacular by any account,” said Tim Rigdon, Director of Decorative Arts at Heritage. “There are likely only about 16 of these vases known and we’ve seen none in better condition. Add impeccable provenance and history and it’s easy to see why an advanced collector thought enough of this piece to pay $47,800.”

The baluster-form Centennial Vase with sculpted North American bison head handles, portrait medallion of George Washington to either side, and a series of relief plaques at the base depicting scenes of America’s history during its first century, was created for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

“The design of this vase is based on a pair of earlier vases and measures 10 inches shorter than the original design,” added Rigdon. “This vase is one of a pair – the other example of which sold for $28,680 in Heritage’s May 21 Grand Format Americana & Political Memorabilia Auction – but is of particular significance as it’s incised with the designer’s signature under the shoulder of the relief of Washington.”

The only other known signed example is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it has been suggested that the inscription, combined with hand detailing seen in this example and its mate, indicates Muller’s personal hand.

Selections from the Malcolm S. Forbes Collection also performed admirably in the auction, several gem, mineral and precious metal floral studies by Cartier leading the bidding. Two separate studies led the way with a lot of two hardstone, gold and rock crystal floral studies of Raspberry and Blackberry plants bringing $3,107, a mark that was matched by a trio of three hardstone, gold and rock crystal studies of Strawberry, Jacob’s Ladder and Dutchman’s Breeches plants. A single hardstone, gold and rock crystal floral study of a Lily plant provided significant bidding fireworks as it rose to finish the day at $2,629.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

A pair of Diego Giacometti Bronze Chien et Faucon Lamps: Paris, France, circa 1965. Unmarked. The lamps, purchased in the early 1970s from a Palm Beach estate, are accompanied by a certificate of authentication issued by Denis Vincenot on January 21, 2011. Realized: $38,850.

A French Gilt Wood and marble Pier Table with Gilt Bronze Mounts: Unknown maker, probably Paris, France, circa 1840. Unmarked. Realized: $38,838.

Tiffany Studios Leaded Glass and Gilt Bronze Lamp: Tiffany Studios, Corona, NY, circa 1915. Realized: $15,535.

A Patinated Bronze and Stained Glass Pendent Lamp from a fixture from the National Farmer’s Bank, Owatonna, by Louis H. Sullivan and George Grant Elmslie, circa 1908: Manufactured by Winslow Brothers Company, Chicago, Illinois. This piece was originally one of four pendents hanging from a series of fixtures mounted above the teller’s station of Louis Sullivan’s acclaimed masterpiece, the National Farmer’s Bank of Owatonna, MN. The pendent was removed from the bank in the 1940 renovation. Realized: $13,145.

George Nakashima Cherry Credenza with burlap cloth lined doors: Manufactured at the Nakashima workshop in New Hope, PA, circa 1970. Marks: in pencil to back MCFADDEN, #3179. Realized: $11,353.


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