by Louis Bofferding
R. LOUIS BOFFERDING FINE & DECORATIVE ART 232 EAST 59TH STREET NYC 10021 TELEPHONE 212.744.6725 / LOUIS.BOFFERDING@VERIZON.NET
ONE DESIGNER — TWO COUTURIERES
Jean-Boris Lacroix (1902 – 1984). Table lamp, circa 1930. Nickel, ebonized wood, and acid-etched glass. Height 14 “ $15,000
Jean-Boris Lacroix’s name is an amalgam of those of his unmarried parents, Jeanne Lacroix, a fetching parisienne, and Boris Vladimirovich Romanov, a Russian grand duke. In the 1920s young Boris [below left] went to work for Madeleine Vionnet designing jewelry, handbags, and dresses before going on to redesign her three homes and fashion house [below right]. In 1938, the year she closed her business, he went to work for her rival Jeanne Lanvin, when her decorator, Art Deco master Armand Rateau, died prematurely. Unlike him, Lacroix was a Modernist. Then as now, he was celebrated for his lighting fixtures. This lamp consists of a metal circle, a wood sphere, and a glass cylinder that takes the place of the traditional lampshade, which would undercut its geometry, and contradict Lacroix’s dictum, “furniture should just occupy the space which is needed and preferably no more.”
SECULAR OR SACRED?
Italian flowering urn, possibly Genoese, circa 1720. Gilt cut metal, gessoed and silvered wood. Height 24” $10,000
This flowering urn of gold flowers in a silver vase was probably made in Genoa in the early 18th century. If the flowers are carnations, symbol of the Virgin’s love for her Son, and lilies, symbol of the Immaculate Conception, it most likely would have been made to decorate the altar of a church [see below]. But if the lilies are actually tulips — and they may well be — which don’t symbolize much of anything, it most likely would have been made to decorate a grand house. After all, flowering urns on altars were seen frontally, and were typically one-sided, but this one is sculpted in the round. Whether destined for a sacred or a secular setting, the sophistication of form, fine workmanship, and costly gilding, point to a prominent studio and a patron of note.
A SHAPE-SHIFTING TABLE
French gate-leg table, circa 1650. Oak with metal fittings. Height 28 ¼“ Width 54“ Depth 20 ½“ / 41 ½“/ 62“ $20,000
This solid-oak French Baroque table has two pivoting legs on each side to prop up hinged leaves. With leaves hanging the table’s a compact rectangle, with one raised it’s a half circle, and with both raised it’s an oval that seats six for dinner. Between meals, with cutlery stashed in two long narrow drawers, it does triple duty as a desk or a display table. Its versatility suits the small Manhattan apartment. And when fully extended and heaped with books and objects, it makes a grand statement that suits the Hamptons manse.
CAFÉ SOCIETY CHAIRS
Pair of American chairs, 1930s. Mahogany, brass, leather studded with nail heads. H: 38 ½“ W: 21 ½” $15,000
In the 1930s, gossip columnists christened the sophisticates who frequented swank restaurants and nightclubs, and lent their presence to opening nights, “Café Society.” When it came to furnishing, they favored streamlined takes on classic styles over hard-edged modernism and genuine antiques. This pair of over-scaled chairs were said to have been designed by Chicago architect Sam Marx, but they were probably made by William Quigley, whose workshop and showroom [below left], supplied much of Marx’s furniture. The sweeping lines of back and seat, the white leather upholstery, and the fluted mahogany legs, are a sleek riff on the George III style. And the brass-rope handles, which allow the chairs to be dragged hither and yon, must have come in handy at the cocktail hour on the servants’ night off.
Hispanic jug. Coper-luster-glazed earthenware. Height 10 ½“ $3,000
The origin of this jug, with its sculptural form and copper-luster glaze, is a mystery to us. Its form is typical of Renaissance and Baroque metalwork [below left], as the copper glaze is of Hispano-Moresque ceramics made in Spain [below right]. But it might also have been made in Latin or South America by an artisan inspired by those wares — or, for that matter, in Spain, or the Hispanic New World, around 1900 when vernacular traditions were revived. In any case, the monumental form and gutsy decoration endow our jug with a boldness that bears witness to the mastery of an unsung craftsman.
SIGNED BY STEUBEN
Large urn bearing the acid-etched Steuben mark, mid 1930s. Blown and cut glass. Height 9” Diameter 10” $4,000
In 1933 Arthur Houghton Jr., scion of the family that owned Corning Glass, took charge of an underperforming subsidiary, Steuben. In short order he pink-slipped the founder, had the unsalable inventory of saccharine-colored, Victorian-looking wares smashed to bits, and hired the young sculptor Sidney Waugh to revamp the product line. Thus began Steuben’s golden age. Just then, Corning had developed a highly refractive glass for optical purposes. Its translucent beauty prompted Houghton to requisition the formula for the production of luxury goods. The form of this urn, derived from ancient Greek mixing bowls, or kraters [below left], was an early smash hit. It was produced in different sizes, of which this is the largest and rarest. In 1934, Vogue had Edward Steichen photograph one of the urns [below right], cradled in fashionable hands, at the firm’s Fifth Avenue showroom.
AN ALLEGORY OF SUMMER
Overdoor painting of an allegory of summer, French circa 1800. Oil on canvas, unframed. Height: 33“ Length: 72“ $20,000
This Neo-Classical painting, an allegory of summer, would have been hung, along with others representing fall, winter, and spring, over the doors of a salon [below left]. Here, Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, points to her handmaidens harvesting wheat, wearing a few springs of it as a tiara in her hair, while a child toys with succulent fruits in a basket [below right]. The harvest, a child, and fruit, symbolize fertility and, by extension, summer. Our panel was painted to imitate a carved stone bas-relief, with shadows cast upward to conform with light emanating from windows and candlelight below. Trompe l’oeil panels were in vogue, but not invented, in late 18th century France when Belgian-born artist Piot-Joseph Sauvage, who specialized in them, was appointed Peintre du Roi under Louis XVI of France on the eve of the Revolution.
Set of six American 1930s sconces. Chromed metal, and acid-etched glass beads. Height: 9” Width 10 ½” Depth 6” $9,000
The fanciful geometry of the Art Deco style was supplanted in the 1930s by the pared-down sleekness of the Streamline Moderne. Then, industrial designers used wind tunnels to test their models of airplanes, cars, trains, and ships, for wind and water resistance [below left]. It might also seem that furniture designers did too, judging from the aerodynamic contours of their stationary furnishings. This set of six streamlined sconces has chromed back plates that amplify light, and ropes of acid-etched pearls that diffuse it [below right]. The effect would have flattered the platinum goddesses of that age, as it will with the more casually-dressed ones of our own.
MONA VON BISMARCK: “THE BEST DRESSED WOMAN IN THE WORLD”
George Platt Lynes (1907-1955). Mrs. Harrison Willams, later Countess Mona von Bismarck, circa 1940. Photograph. 10″ x 8 1/4″ unframed. $4,000
Mrs. Harrison Williams, known universally as Mona, was the beautiful wife of the first billionaire, and the world’s richest man. In 1933 she set her own world record when a panel of experts, which included Coco Chanel, voted her “Best Dressed Woman in the World,” the first American to be so honored. Mona also smashed records for the accumulation of luxury goods, and speed of social ascent (the daughter of a Kentucky stableman, she went on to marry Count Edzard von Bismarck). All this took effort, and didn’t leave much time for reflection. Our 1940s photograph by George Platt Lynes [below left] captures her hard glamor, and hints at a lack of substance in juxtaposing her perfectly coiffed head with that of the fluffy dog, the perforated-paper backdrop, and the carved openwork back of a settee. We lent this vintage print, the only one known to exist, to the exhibition Magnificent Mona Bismarck [below right] at the Frazier Museum in Louisville. No catalog was published, but the curator, Scott Rogers, is writing a book on her life, and, that fugitive and nebulous thing, her sense of style, which continues to enthrall fashion world insiders.
AN UNUSUAL LAMP
Double-shaded French lamp, circa 1850. Bronze, and textured-paint on sheet metal. Height: 20 ½” $3,000
This French lamp was probably made in the late 1840s, during the reign of King Louis-Philippe. Its pair of textured, black-painted shades are unusual. They were mounted to a base of finely worked and turned patinated bronze, which was spot-burnished to bring out gold highlights. Originally candle powered, has since been delicately drilled for electrical wiring.
ALSO BY STEUBEN…
A large pair of sculptural, silvered, cut-glass Steuben ashtrays (or, in our non-smoking age, a pair of vide poches). Illustrated in a 1934 Vogue article on wedding gifts (as seen below), one still bears, miraculously, the original Steuben label. L: 7 1/4″ D: 4 3/4″ H: 1 1/4″. Sold
Candlestick by Walter Dorwin Teague for Steuben, circa 1935, of cast glass, silvered-cast glass, and chromed-metal fittings. It was reproduced in an article on table settings in Harper’s Bazaar 1933. Height 2 1/2″. $1,250
OTHER THINGS THAT GLITTER…
An Austrian chandelier with a silvered-steel frame decorated with cut- and blown-crystal prisms, circa 1850. H: 57″ Dia: 48″ Provenance: Nicholas Salgo, New York. $30,000
During the first half of the 20th century, Baguès Frerès of Paris produced the world’s most fashionable lighting fixtures. Their major commissions ranged from 18th-century-style chandeliers laden with prisms for a restoration of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, to the glass-beaded Art Deco chandeliers of the Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice, the pleasure dome built by American tycoon Frank J. Gould. Like much of the work of Baguès, our madcap tendril-sprouting urn-form lamps can be situated, designed wise, between Louis-Louis gentility and Art Deco flash. 24″ high. $10,000
Tiffany cut-glass obelisk, signed with an acid mark, 1970s. H: 14″ $2,500
Pair of French, rock-crystal and ormolu candlesticks made by Bagues and retailed by Bonzano, circa 1950, and reproduced in Plaisir de France 1950 (see center candlestick below). Height 13 1/2″ $18,000
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
Northern European, probably German mirror, circa 1710. Mirror, with walnut and pine backing. H: 24″ W: 15 1/2″ $5,000
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
KK AUCHINCLOSS – FOUR HUSBANDS AND SIX HOUSES
In the 1940s KK Hannon, a Boston-born socialite in the making, moved to Manhattan, launched a clothing line, designed jewelry for Tiffany, and said yes to a marriage proposal from “Shipwreck” Kelly, the legendary football hero — and then yes again to Peter Larkin, an heir to the 825,000 acre King Ranch in Texas. She would come to say yes twice more before she breathed her last as Mrs. James D. Auchincloss at age 89. Over the span of those years she had come to call New York, the North Shore of Long Island, Dark Harbor, Hobe Sound, London (the Albany), and Paris (the Place des Etats Unis), home. Among her stateside possessions was this superbly carved pair of Louis-Philippe rosewood armchairs, now upholstered in grey felt. Each 37″ tall. The pair $15,000
THE DIVA AS MUSE
The very definition of haute bohème, Misia Sert, a musical prodigy who once played the piano on Franz List’s knee, married, successively, an art publisher, a newspaper baron, and the high-society painter José-Maria Sert. A raving beauty when young, and the apogee of chic to the bitter end, she was also a divining rod for talent. With her affinity for the modern she inspired Renoir [see his portrait of her below], Mallarmé, Cocteau, Satie, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and even Coco Chanel, whom she introduced to opium and, it was rumored, sapphism.
As one might expect of a muse to the intelligentsia, she had a library, which, in that genteel day, meant having a bookplate. And so, sometime around 1920, Pierre Bonnard, who had painted her often, etched one for her that depicts a potted, flowering plant on her dining room table, set for just one. The scene, and a first name without the last, suggests their intimacy, as well as her celebrity in the world of the arts, where there was only one Misia who counted. Her position in it prompted Proust to label her “a monument of history.” Bonnard designed only one other bookplate, for the art historian Charles Terrasse, who wrote on the artist’s work, including an introduction to Francis Bouvet’s 1983 book, Bonnard: The Complete Graphic Work. There, an etched study for Misia’s bookplate is reproduced [below right], showing Bonnard experimenting with various motifs, including the flowering plant he’d use, although the actual bookplate itself isn’t included. It must have been unknown to the author, which is an indication of rarity. 4 3/8″ x 2 6/8″, the giltwood frame 12″ x 9 1/4″. $4,000
ROBERT BLOCK – ROBERTO BLOCK
The Paris designer Robert Block achieved considerable success in 1930s. But the outbreak of war left him, as a Jew, facing a fate worse than career disruption. And so, along with his brother Mita, he high-tailed it out of France to settle in Mexico. In Mexico City he achieved success once again — this time as Roberto Block. Until recently, Latin and South American designers didn’t figure prominently on the cultural map, but now that they’ve become the worldwide focus of curators and collectors, Block’s work is ripe for rediscovery. Our table is a inventive riff on the traditional French guéridon, as well as his nostalgic, over-the-shoulder gaze at the land of his birth. The table was flawlessly constructed of white-painted-steel, milk-white marble, and crisply machined brass mounts. Height 26 1/2″, diameter 31 1/4″. $15,000.
Take a close look at a black-lacquered Asian object and you’ll find the suggestion of a color. That’s because true lacquer, a natural substance, is built up layer upon layer — each laboriously polished before the next one is applied. This creates richness and depth, in contrast to the artificial lacquered surface of a Steinway grand, which, in comparison, looks like an automobile paint job. Our small, exquisite, early 20th-century Japanese table, with its delicate fretwork rails and gilded brass mounts, was lacquered in a rich black that has an undertone of plum. 16″ high, 24″ long, 13 3/4″ deep. $6,500
A rare Japanese 19th-century rack on which to hang obi, the sash that binds the waist of a robe. Exceptionally fine gold decorations on a black-lacquered ground, with brass fittings. 24″ x 22 1/4″ x 10″. $6,000
A 19th-century Japanese miniature offering table from the Meiji period. Carved, gilded, with speckles of gold on a brown lacquer ground, and fully gilded underneath, with brass mounts. Height 5 1/2″, length 10″, depth 8 1/2″. $3,750
A Vietnamese gold-decorated, red-lacquered carrying bowl, circa 1900. 15″ x 15″. $800
SET OF EIGHT LAJOS KOZMA DINING CHAIRS
In 1909 the young Lajos Kozma (1884-1948), arrived in Paris from Hungary. In that day, many aspiring artists, designers, and architects from around the globe did the same. Kozma managed to land an apprenticeship under the great artist Henri Matisse — yet, surprisingly, neither his art nor the milieu influenced Kozma in the least. Rather, on returning to Budapest the following year, he worked in a style inspired by the Vienna Sessession and Hungarian folk art. The high style of the former, and the nativism of the later, led him to his next inspiration, the local iteration of the Baroque. By 1930 he had moved on to Modernism, designing tubular furniture and glass-walled villas. At the outbreak of World War II, Kozma, a Jew, had much to fear, yet he stayed put, survived, and prospered once peace returned. Our eight walnut dining chairs date to his middle, Neo-Baroque period. They can be compared to a nearly identical 1925 chair in the Budapest Museum of Applied Art, and a 1923 small commode in the Wolfsonian in Miami. Back height 38″. $40,000
A complete set of twelve Stoviglia (“Crockery”) plates by Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), all marked, numbered, and dated 1955. Gilded and transfer printed on porcelain, each plate 10 1/4″ diameter. $15,000
Fornasetti “nugget” paperweight, circa 1960, of gilt and transfer-printed porcelain. Length 4″. $1, 250
20TH CENTURY BERLIN BLANC DE CHINE
Two large porcelain sculptures of a Nereid and Triton, and a Nereid on a hippocamp, modeled by Paul Scheurich (1883-1945) for KPM, produced in 1941 as table decorations, and bearing their mark. Their heights are 20″ and 16″ respectively. $12,500
KPM porcelain wall bracket, attributed to Alexander Kips (1858-1910), circa 1900. Height 13″. $3,750
A circa 1900 KPM porcelain vase, attributed to Alexander Kips, modeled in a style that blends Art Nouveau with Rococo. Height 19 1/2″. $3,750
FLORAL DUMMY BOARD
A large 19th-century European trompe l’oeil dummy board of a stone urn filled with flowers. Oil on panel, 41″ x 42″. $5,500
English Regency library steps, with a secret compartment, circa 1810. Mahogany, gold-tooled leather. Height: 26 1/2″ Width: 31″ Depth: 18 1/2″. $7,000
Two French Empire nightstands, both circa 1810. Mahogany, marble, bronze. Circular table: Height: 31 1/2″ Diameter: 17″. Square table: Height: 29 1/2″ Width & Depth: 15″. $10,000
A lovely pair of Louis-Philippe urns of mat-finished opaline glass, with gilt- and red-painted decorations, circa 1840. Height 14″. $1,250
ELSA SCHIAPARELLI’S ARMCHAIR
Louis XV armchair, circa 1760. Painted wood, upholstered in “shocking pink” silk satin. Provenance: Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris; Pierre Le-Tan, Paris. Height 36″ $15,000
Louis XV sofa, circa 1760. Walnut, silk-satin upholstery. Height 43 1/4″ length 73 1/4″ depth 33″ $20,000
French 18th-century sculpture of a female nude, circa 1760, on a modern bronze base. Gilt, gesso, wood. Height 18″ (with stand), lenght 27″, depth 9″ $20,000
JEAN HUGO WATERCOLOR
Small painting by Jean Hugo, signed and dated 1927. Gouache on paper, matted, and in its original oak frame that’s 10 3/4″ x 11 1/2″ $10,000
JOHN BRADSTREET LOTUS
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, his London shop (as seen below), and then his New York apartment. $20,000
Large American Art Deco table, attributed to Eugene Schoen, of macassar-veneered mahogany, black glass top. Height 30 1/4″, lenght 79 3/4″, depth 40 1/4″ $20,000
JASPER MORRISON TABLES
Jasper Morrison 1988 table with adjustable top, not from the later production (see original invoice below), that was made from industrial parts. Glass, steel, paint, rubber. Height ranges from 23″ to 43 1/2″, diameter 20 1/2″. $6,000
Pair of Jasper Morrison side tables from 1988, prototypes (see invoice above), not from later production, of welded steel and sand-blasted glass. Height 26″, diameter 13″, distance between struts 17″. $6,000
English drum table (Royal Dublin Fusiliers), circa 1900,of painted brass, wood, iron, and modern glass. Height 15″, diameter 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
TROMPE L’OEIL WATERCOLOR
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. Height 24″ including shade. $3,750
AN IMPORTANT PAIR OF JEAN PERZEL TORCHERES
Pair of Jean Perzel standing lamps from the 1930s of brass and sand-blasted glass. Height 67″, diameter 22″. $30,000
JEAN-PIERRE HAGANAUER DECK CHAIR
Adjustable mahogany and brass deck chair by Jean-Pierre Hagnauer, French circa 1950. H: 43″ L: 36 W: 24 ½”. $15,000
Portrait of Emperor Meiji, his consort, and son, by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912), 1887. Color woodblock triptych in silk-wrapped mat and giltwood frame. Image 14″ x 18 1/2″, framed 19 1/2″ x 33 1/2″. $8,000
Japanese female courtiers by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 – 1912), from the 1890s. Color woodblock diptych, in a silk-wrapped mat and a giltwood frame. Image 14″ x 18 1/2″ image, framed 19 1/4″ x 24″. $5,000
Justen Ladda 2012 painting of an AMG Mercedez-Benz engine, executed by ink jet on metal-leafed wood, with epoxy resin. Diameter 11″. $4,000
R. LOUIS BOFFERDING FINE & DECORATIVE ART 232 EAST 59TH STREET NYC 10021 TELEPHONE 212.744.6725 / LOUIS.BOFFERDING@VERIZON.NET