Early 20th Century Design and Studio Craft Spark Record-setting Prices in Rago’s $4.38M Design Auction

Oct 09,2019 | 15:00 EDT By Rago Auctions

Lambertville, NJ: Rago Auctions' September 20-21 Design sales brought in a total of $4,385,063 over the weekend. The two-day, 795-lot auction series achieved impressive results, including at least two record-setting prices, for a wide range of property across five sessions: Martin Brothers: The Andrew Furer and Elle Douglas Collection; Early 20th Century Design; Studio Ceramics; Modern Design; and Contemporary Glass featuring Dan Dailey: From The Barbara Tarleton Collection.

Martin Brothers: The Andrew Furer and Elle Douglas Collection Highlights

The auction series commenced on Saturday with “Martin Brothers: The Andrew Furer and Elle Douglas Collection.” Comprised mostly of bird-form humidors, this session represented one of the largest single-owner collections of Martin Brothers ever offered at auction and came to Rago via UK-based dealer, AD Antiques.

Lot 20, Martin Brothers, Tall Bird Tobacco Jar, England, 1899; Sold for $64,000

Highlights include: lot 20, a tall bird tobacco jar made in 1899 which shot past the high estimate of $45,000 to sell for $62,500; lot 16 and lot 7, single bird vessels that sold for $60,000 each; lot 22, a tall and fine bird tobacco jar which sold for $56,250; and lot 22, a small triple bird tobacco jar, which sold for $52,500.

Early 20th Century Design Highlights

Works of Early 20th Century Design performed well in this 234-lot sale. The star of the session was lot 252, a color woodblock print entitled "Grand Canon [Canyon]" by Gustave Baumann from the first printing in 1934 which defied expectations to sell for $27,500 – setting a world record for highest price achieved at auction for this particular Baumann work. Martin Brothers pottery continued to shine in this session as well, as seen with lot 280, a grotesque creature tobacco jar made in 1888 which also sold for $27,500.

Lot 252, Gustave Baumann, Fine color woodblock print; Sold for $27,500

Many works of early 20th century ceramics performed admirably including: lot 100, an exceptional and large vase with calla lilies by Harriet Joor for Newcomb College which sold for $21,250; lot 147, a rare Grueby cuerda seca nineteen-tile ship frieze which nearly tripled the high estimate of $7,500 to achieve $21,250; lot 150, an experimental volcanic oxblood vase by Hugh Robertson for Chelsea Keramic Art Works which shot past the high estimate of $3,000 to sell for $12,500; Lot 127, a fine scroddled bisque vessel made by George Ohr in 1906 which sold for $11,250; and lot 171, a large vase with landscape by Edith Brown of the Saturday Evening Girls which realized a final sale price of $10,625.

Other highlights from the sale include: lot 270, a gilt bronze figural Art Nouveau lamp entitled "Loïe Fuller" by François-Raoul Larche which sold for $18,750; lot 181, a rare Vasekraft boudoir lamp by Fulper which more than tripled the high estimate of $3,000 to sell for $9,375; and lot 301, a fine glass vase signed by Emile Gallé decorated with stars and columbines which also surpassed expectations to sell for $9,375.

Studio Ceramics Highlights

Saturday’s stand-alone session of Studio Ceramics achieved impressive results for some of the most significant masters of the post-war era. The top two lots of the session came from legendary ceramicist Betty Woodman and include lot 500, a Divided Aegean Pillow Pitcher made in 1985 which more than tripled the high estimate of $17,500 to achieve $56,250, breaking the record for highest price achieved at auction for a Pillow Pitcher form vessel by Betty Woodman; as well as lot 505, a two-piece Morning Vase and Shadow from the same year that shot past estimate to sell for $27,500.

Lot 500, Betty Woodman, Exceptional large Pillow Pitcher; Sold for $56,250

Additional Studio Ceramic highlights include: lot 600, a large "Corrida" charger by Pablo Picasso for Madoura which sold for $25,000; lot 599, another Picasso/Madoura collaboration entitled "Wood Owl with Feathers (Chouette aux Plumes)" which sold for $11,250; lot 606, a large knitted bowl by British studio potter Lucie Rie, which achieved $13,750; lot 604, a fine large flaring vase also by Lucie Rie, which sold for $11,250; lot 533, an early bottle by Peter Voulkos which sold for $12,500; and lot 587, a massive sculptural vessel entitled "Daughters of the Finnish Witch" by Rudy Autio which exceeded the high estimate of $9,500 to sell for $12,500.

Other notable ceramic lots include: lot 540, a signature stem-necked gourd form vessel by Gertrud and Otto Natzler that sold for $9,375; lots 511 and 512, stoneware vessels by Robert Turner that sold for $8,750 each; lot 657, a large porcelain sculpture by Sunkoo Yuh that achieved $8,125; stoneware vessels by Richard DeVore, including lot 589 which realized $8,125 and lot 588 which sold for $7,500; and lot 638, a flattened striped vessel by John Ward that exceeded the high estimate of $2,000 to sell for $6,875.

Modern Design Highlights

The Modern Design auction performed well on Sunday, with particularly admirable results achieved for works of Delaware Valley Modernism by makers such as George Nakashima, Paul Evans, and Phil Powell. The top lot of the session was lot 1017, a set of ten Conoid chairs by George Nakashima which sold for $50,000 against a high estimate of $27,500. Several other Nakashima lots achieved notable results including: lot 1032, a Triple Chest of Drawers that sold for $32,500; lot 1027, a Triple Sliding Door Cabinet that achieved $30,000; and lot 1016, a Conoid dining table that doubled the high estimate of $15,000 to sell for $30,000.

Lot 1017, George Nakashima, Set of ten Conoid chairs; Sold for $50,000

Additional Delaware Valley Modernism highlights include: lot 1204, a custom Sculptured Metal cabinet by Paul Evans that achieved $35,000; lot 1022, a Deep Relief cabinet by Paul Evans for Directional which sold for $32,500; lot 1001, a wall-hanging drop-front cabinet by Phil Powell that sold for $32,500; and lot 1172, a dictionary stand by Wharton Esherick, the father of the Studio Furniture Movement, that exceeded the high estimate of $20,000 to sell for $25,000.

Additional Modern Design highlights include: lot 1159, a fine Art Deco eggshell inlay vase by Jean Dunand, previously owned by Andy Warhol, that sold for $43,750; lot 1156, a set of eight Pierre Jeanneret V-leg side chairs from the Chandigarh administrative buildings, which shot past their estimate of $16,000 to sell for $27,500; lot 1148, a set of eight V-leg arm chairs, also by Pierre Jeanneret from the Chandigarh administrative buildings, which sold for $23,750; lot 1100, a Cassetto cabinet by Jean de Merry, which exceeded the high estimate of $9,000 to sell for $25,000; lot 1169, three verre églomisé panels by Jean Dupas from the SS Normandie which sold for $22,500; lot 1168, a group of four contiguous verre églomisé panels, also by Jean Dupas from the SS Normandie, which sold for $20,000; lot 1228, a massive Carini-Lang Tree and Cloud rug, which soared above the high estimate of $8,000 to sell for $22,500; and lot 1058, a silvered mahogany Hand Chair by Pedro Friedeberg that doubled the high estimate of $10,000 to realize a final price of $20,000.

Lot 1058, Pedro Friedberg, Hand chair; Sold for $20,000

Several wall-hanging tapestries After Alexander Calder shot past their estimates including: lot 1152, entitled “Swirl” which exceeded the high estimate of $6,000 to sell for $16,250; lot 1161 which sold for $13,750 againt a high estimate of $6,000; lot 1154, entitled “Floating Circles” which defied the high estimate of $8,000 to achieve $18,750; and lot 1155, entitled “Star” which sold for $20,000 against a $6,000 high estimate.