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, mademoiselle 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 fashion house [below right], and her three homes. 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 a traditional lampshade, which would have undercut the geometry, and contradicted 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 are lilies, symbol of the Immaculate Conception, and carnations, symbol of the Virgin’s love for her Son, it may have been made for the altar of a church [see below]. But if those lilies are actually tulips, which don’t symbolize much of anything, it may have been made as a decoration for a grand private house. Flowering urns on altars, it should be noted, were typically one-sided, since they were seen frontally, whereas this one was sculpted in the round. Whether destined for a sacred or 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 French Baroque, solid-oak table has two pivoting legs to prop up hinged leaves. When left hanging the table’s a compact rectangle, with one raised it’s a half circle, and with both raised it’s an oval seating six. Between meals, with cutlery stashed in two long narrow drawers, it does triple duty as a desk and a display table. Its versatility suits the small Manhattan apartment, and when fully extended, and heaped with books and objects, it makes the grand statement in a 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 classic styles over genuine antiques, and hard-edged modernism. This pair of over-scaled chairs were said to have been designed by Chicago architect and interior designer Sam Marx, but they were probably made by William Quigley, whose workshop and showroom [below left] supplied Marx with furniture. The sweeping lines of the back and seat, the white leather upholstery, and the fluted mahogany legs, are a sleek riff on the George III style. And those brass-rope handles, which permit the chairs to be dragged hither and yon, would have come in handy at the cocktail hour on the servant’s 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 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 an unknown craftsman’s mastery.
SIGNED BY STEUBEN
Large urn bearing the acid-etched Steuben mark, mid 1930s. Blown and cut glass. Height 9” Diameter 10” $4,500
In 1933 Arthur Houghton Jr., scion of the family that owned Corning Glass, took charge of their underperforming subsidiary Steuben Glass. 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 Steuben’s 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 Edward Steichen photographed one for Vogue [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 with representations of fall, winter, and spring, over the doors of a salon [below left]. Here, Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture, points to her handmaidens harvesting wheat, and wears a few springs of it in her hair. A child toys with succulent fruits in a basket. The harvest, a child, and fruit, symbolize fertility, and, by extension, summer itself. Our panel was painted to imitate a bas-relief carved in stone, with shadows cast upward to conform with light emanating from windows and candles 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.
Set of six American 1930s sconces. Chromed metal, and acid-etched glass beads. Height: 9” Width 10 ½” Depth 6” $9,000
In the 1930s, the fanciful geometry of the earlier Art Deco style softened to the sleekness of the Streamline Moderne. Then, industrial designers employed wind tunnels to study drag on airplane, car, train, and ship models. Judging from appearances, it would seem that furniture designers did too, given the aerodynamic contours of their stationary furnishings. This set of six streamlined sconces have chromed back plates that amplify light, and ropes of acid-etched pearls that diffuse it. The effect would have flattered the platinum goddesses of that age, as it will 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 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 the speed of her social ascent (the daughter of a Kentucky stableman, she would go on to marry Count Edzard von Bismarck, among others). All this took some effort, and left little time for reflection. Our 1940s photograph by George Platt Lynes [below left] captures her hard glamor, and hints at a lack of substance, by juxtaposing her perfectly coiffed head with a fluffy dog, a perforated-paper backdrop, and the carved openwork back of a settee. We lent this vintage print, the only one known, to the exhibition Magnificent Mona Bismarck at the Frazier Museum in Louisville [below right]. No catalog was published, but Scott Rogers, the curator, is writing a book on her life, and that fugitive thing known as style. Hers, however, continues to enthrall the fashion world to this very day.
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. Sold
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 Manhattan, 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 left], 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 an ex-libris that depicts a potted flowering plant on a dining room table, set for just one, in her country house. The scene, and the first name only, suggests their intimacy, and her celebrity in a world where there was only one Misia. Bonnard made just one other bookplate. It was for the art historian Charles Terrasse, who wrote about the artist’s work, and contributed an introduction to Francis Bouvet’s 1983 catalog of Bonnard’s prints. There, an etched study for Misia’s bookplate is reproduced [below right], which shows the artist experimenting with various motifs, including the flowering plant. That our bookplate isn’t in the book indicates the rarity of impressions. 4 3/8″ x 2 6/8″, the giltwood frame 12″ x 9 1/4″. $4,000
ROBERT BLOCK – ROBERTO BLOCK
The designer Robert Block achieved considerable success in 1930s Paris. 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 and settled in Mexico. In Mexico City he achieved success once again, as Roberto Block. Until recently, Latin and South American designers didn’t figure prominently on the cultural map, but now they’re the focus of curators and collectors worldwide. And so Block’s work is ripe for a rediscovery. Our table is a inventive riff on the traditional French guéridon, and a nostalgic, over-the-shoulder gaze at the land of his birth. It 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 is a natural substance, one that’s built up layer on layer, each laboriously polished before the next can be applied. This creates richness and depth, in contrast to the artificial lacquered surface of a Steinway grand, which, by comparison, is more like the paint job of an automobile. Our small, exquisite, early 20th-century Japanese table, with its delicate fretwork rails and gilded brass mounts, was lacquered in a rich black — one 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 Lajos Kozma (1884-1948) left Hungary for Paris, like many aspiring artists, designers, and architects from around the globe. Kozma landed an apprenticeship under the great 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. Still young and impressionable, his next inspiration was the local iteration of the Baroque. By 1930 he 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 came to prosper again when 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 to a 1923 small commode in the Wolfsonian in Miami, which is close in spirit. 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