by Louis Bofferding


Lundie drawing edited

In 1925 Mrs. Theodore W. Griggs, née Livingston, inherited her family’s Summit Avenue mansion overlooking St. Paul, and embarked on a decade-long renovation program.   First, she persuaded Allen H. Stem, co-architect with Whitney Warren of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, no less, to take on the relatively small job of reconfiguring the interior, and installing an Elizabethan-style drawing room, while leaving the handsome but unfashionable Victorian facade relatively untouched.  Then, she hired the high-society New York decorator Mrs. Philips Brooks Robinson, known professionally by her maiden name Miss Gheen.  In landing the job she beat out Elsie de Wolfe, who, in her 1935 autobiography After All, trashed the decorator and her client, without naming names. 

In the span of a few years, Mrs. Griggs and Miss Gheen acquired ten period rooms, and a slew of 18th-century furniture from Jansen in Paris, Adolfo Loewy in Venice, and a still-smarting Elsie de Wolfe in New York.  Installing period rooms is a complicated business, so Edwin Lundie, architect of choice to the local gentry, deserved a gold star in pulling it off.  That, along with his charming manner and eye for detail, prompted Mrs. Griggs to commission him to create an “amusement room” in her capacious basement, where her daughter Mary could entertain friends and suitors on her coming out.  After marrying, she went on, as Mary Burke, to assemble the most important collection of Japanese art outside Japan, inspired, she said, by her mother’s collecting.  When Mrs. Burke died at ninety-six in 2012, her collection was divided between the Metropolitan Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where she had passed many a happy hour in her youth.  Both museums would mount major exhibitions to commemorate those bequests in 2016.

The amusement room was entered through an unprepossessing oak door in the foyer, which opened to an exquisite stairwell, hewn out of creamy marble, and swagged with a white silk-rope handrail.  Guests descended to a silver-leafed room paved with mirrors, and grisaille reverse-painted-glass panels decorated with cavorting commedia dell’arte figures.  Among the furnishings were silvered banquettes, a mirrored Serge Roche cocktail table, a Laurence Colwell glass sunburst clock, a pair of Steuben glass-and-chrome andirons, and an embarrassment of glittering Steuben glass ornaments.  On December 23rd, 1935, Mary was launched in society at a debutante ball at the Minnesota Club in downtown St. Paul.  On the 29th Mrs. Griggs launched the amusement room with a party for her daughter.  On that frigid night guests sloughed off their furs, and entered this frosty jewel-box of a room — the Art Deco equivalent, you might say, of Doctor Zhivago’s icicled dacha.

Steuben Glass was established in the town of that name, in New York State, by Frederick Carder in 1903.  He remained as artistic director after Corning Glass, owned by the Houghton family, purchased Steuben in 1918.  But by 1933, with the onslaught of the Great Depression, and decimated sales, their old-fashioned product line in yesterday’s colors was gathering dust on the shelves.  And so the firm was turned over to the family’s young scion, Arthur Houghton, Jr., for a revamp that made design history.  He brought in industrial designers and sculptors, like William Dorwin Teague and Sydney Waugh, who came up with streamlined designs executed in a newly invented, and startlingly translucent, uncolored glass.  To showcase the line, a modern glass-block building went up on Fifth Avenue, where, in a bright, white, double-height showroom, a selection of stunning objects was purchased, commissioned, and shipped to Summit Avenue.  And there they remained, with the 18th-century furnishings upstairs, until the 1980s when, after a brief stint as a house museum, the mansion was sold and the contents dispersed.



Lamps 1

Pair of silvered and clear glass lamps by Steuben, circa 1935, originally placed on Edwin Lundie designed mirrored pedestals as seen below.  H: 14″.  Sold

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Andirons 1

Pair of glass, chrome-plated metal, and wrought iron by Steuben, circa 1935, that can be seen in the fireplace below.  H:  13″.  Sold

Griggs ballroom edited



Clock 1

Wall clock with a molded glass frame by Laurence Colwell, circa 1935, who also used the frame for a sconce illustrated in Vogue, October 15th, 1937, page 83, as seen below.  Dia:  19 1/2″  Sold




Dishes 1

Pair of silvered ashtrays by Steuben (one with the Steuben adhesive label), circa 1935, that was illustrated in an article on wedding gifts in Vogue, 1934, page 78, as seen below.  L: 7 1/4″  D: 4 3/4″  H:  1 1/4″    $4,500




Horses 3.jpg

Pair of horse sculptures in cast glass by Steuben (one with diamond-point signature), circa 1935, that appear in a period catalog of the firm’s designs, as seen below.  H:  7:  L:  10 1/2″.  Sold

Edited (1)




Steuben glass urn designed by Sidney Waugh, 1930s, with diamond-point signature.  H: 6″ Dia: 6″ $2,500


Star Candlestick 1

Candlestick by Walter Dorwin Teague for Steuben, circa 1935.  Cast glass, silvered-cast glass, chromed-metal fittings.  H:  2 1/2″ Dia:  5″.  Bibliography:  Harper’s Bazaar, “Glass on Your Table,” August 1933, page 97.  $1,250


Chandelier 2 (1)

An Austrian chandelier with a silvered-steel frame with cut and blown crystal prisms, circa 1850.  H:  57″  Dia:  48″  Provenance:  Nicholas Salgo, New York.  $30,000



Tiffany cut-glass obelisk, acid mark, 1970s.  H: 14″  $2,500



Pair of rock-crystal and ormolu candlesticks by Bonzano, French circa 1950.                   H:  13 1/2″  $20,000


Blue Spiral CDSK 1

English candlestick, circa 1800.  Blown and cast glass with blue-and-white spiral.  H:  13 1/2″.  Provenance:  Baron Max Fould-Springer, Palais Abbatiale de Royaumont.  $3,750



French clock, 1930s.  Engraved mirror plate, metal.  Dia: 24″  Provenance:  Mr. & Mrs. Watson Blair, Chicago and Palm Beach.  Bibliography:  Arts & Decoration 1933.  Sold


Mirror 1 edited

Italian mirror, circa 1710.  Mirror, with walnut and pine backing.  H: 24″ W: 15 1/2″  $4,750



Pair of sconces attributed to Bagues, circa 1950.  Rock crystal, silvered brass.  H: 23″   Sold



Napoleone Martinuzzi bowl made by Venini, Italian 1920s.  Glass with gold leaf.  H: 7 ½” Dia: 15″ $3,750



Venini glass egg paperweight with purple and orange internal spirals, Italian 20th century.  H: 4″.  $2,000



Table 3

Neo-Rococo French side table, circa 1930.  Walnut, marble, and bronze.  H: 25 1/2″ W: 25″ D: 19 3/4″  Sold



Mirror Front View

German mirror, circa 1830, by Georg Andreas Steinhäuser (born 1779), which is nearly identical to a mirror in the collection of the Clark Institute.  Gilded wood and plaster, mirror plate.  H:  43″ W: 41″  $18,000



Louis XV armchair, circa 1760.  Painted wood, upholstered in “shocking pink” silk satin.  Provenance:  Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris; Pierre Le-Tan, Paris.  H: 36″  $15,000


BB 1

Sèvres dish mounted in ormolu, 1832.  Painted and gilded porcelain.  H: 9″ W: 11 1/2″ D: 10″ Provenance:  King Louis Philippe of France.  $5,000


Sofa 1

Louis XV sofa, circa 1760.  Walnut, silk-satin upholstery.  H: 43 1/4″ L: 73 1/4″ D: 33″  $20,000



French 18th-century sculpture of a female nude, circa 1760, on a modern bronze base.  Gilt, gesso, wood.  H: 18″ (with stand) L: 27″ D: 9″  $20,000



Louis XVI stool, French 18th century.  White-painted wood frame, upholstered.  H: 17″ W: 22″ D: 14″.  Provenance: Mrs. Paul (Bunny) Mellon.  Sold


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French, 20th century.  Small painting by Jean Hugo, 1927.  Gouache on paper, matted and in original oak frame.  10 3/4″ x 11 1/2″ $10,000



Belle Epoque chaise longue, French circa 1900.  Giltwood, caning. H: 39″ L: 62″ D: 26″ $15,000



German, porcelain Belle Epoque vase made by KPM, Berlin, circa 1910. H: 19 ½”  $2,500



George Platt Lynes photo of Mrs. Harrison Willams (later Countess Mona von Bismarck), circa 1940.  10″ x 8 1/4″ unframed.  $4,000


Lotus 3

Japanese sculpture of a lotus, circa 1900, retailed by John Bradstreet, Minneapolis.  Bronze.  H: 9″ Dia: 14″  Provenance: Governor John S. Pillsbury.  $5,000



Alessandro Albrizzi rug, 1960s.  Wool.  15′ 4″ x 10′ 6″.  Provenance:  Alessandro Albrizzi.  $20,000



American, 20th century table, attributed to Eugene Schoen.  Macassar-veneered mahogany, black glass.  H: 30 1/4″ L: 79 3/4″ D: 40 1/4″  $20,000



Jasper Morrison table prototype (not from production) made from industrial parts, with an adjustable top, circa 1988.  Glass, steel, paint, rubber.  H: 25 3/4″ to 43 1/2″  Dia: 20 1/2″ top; 23″ base.  $6,000


IMG_5413 (1)

Pair of Jasper Morrison side tables, prototypes not production, 1988.  Welded steel, sand-blasted glass.  H: 26″  Dia: 13″, distance between struts 17″  $6,000


Drum Table 2

English drum table (Royal Dublin Fusiliers), circa 1900.  Painted brass, wood, iron, glass.  H: 15″ Dia: 14 1/2″  $4,000




Pair of American circa 1940 pedestals, attributed to McMillen.  Walnut, marble, bronze.  H: 40″ Dia: 20″  Provenance:  Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Salgo.  $12,000


TL 1

French trompe l’oeil drawing, circa 1800, in walnut period frame.  Paint, silver pigment on paper.  11 3/4″ x 17 1/4″ sight; 18″ x 23 1/4″ framed.  $5,500



Ruby-glass lamp, American circa 1890, now electrified.  Glass and brass.  H: 24″ including shade.  $3,750



Pair of Jean Perzel standing lamps.  Brass and glass.  H: 67″ Dia: 22″ each.  $30,000



Adjustable deck chair by J-P Hagnauer, French circa 1950.  Mahogany, brass, upholstered.  H: 43″ L: 36 W: 24 ½”.  $15,000



Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 – 1912), Japanese.  Portrait of Emperor Meiji, his consort and son, 1887.  Color woodblock triptych, in gilded frame with silk-wrapped mat.  14″ x 18 1/2″ image, 19 1/2″ x 33 1/2″ framed.  $8,000


Bofferding Image-1 Court Scene

Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 – 1912), Japanese.  Female courtiers, 1890s.  Color woodblock diptich, in gilded frame with silk-wrapped mat.  Image 14″ x 18 1/2″ image, 19 1/4″ x 24″ framed.  $5,000


Fornasetti 1

Fornasetti “nugget” paperweight, Italian circa 1970.  Gilt and transfer-printed porcelain.  L: 4″.  $1, 250


Justen MB Round Mirror[1]

Justen Ladda, AMG Mirror, American 20012.  Ink jet on metal-leafed wood, epoxy resin.  Dia: 11″.  $4,000