Strong Prices Achieved for the Fine and Decorative Arts of the Belle Epoque
Featuring a Selection of Lamps and Other Objects by Tiffany Studios
Consignments Are Currently Being Accepted for Doyle's September 2016 Belle Epoque Auction
Doyle's Belle Epoque auction on June 8, 2016 showcased fine and decorative arts reflecting the opulence of the Belle Epoque. Elegant furniture and decorations of the Louis XV and XVI Revivals, Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras were offered, as well as art glass, porcelain, silver, marble statues, bronzes, clocks, sconces, chandeliers and rugs. Complementing the furniture and decorations were an assortment of fin de siecle paintings.
With international competitive bidding from the salesroom, the telephones and the Internet, the sale totaled $970,913 with 80% sold by lot and 95% sold by value.
The top lot of the day was a colorful Tiffany Studios Favrile leaded glass Spring Peony shade, diameter, diameter 18 1/4 inches, that exceeded its estimate of $25,000-35,000 and fetched $37,500. Also from Tiffany Studios was a group of objects from the collection of Tiffany Studios decorator Julien Joseph Cuny, led by a Favrile ribbed glass Agate vase that sold for $23,750, well over its estimate of $4,000-6,000.
The personal life and professional career of Louis Comfort Tiffany is very well documented. Much less is known, however, about the contributions and involvement of the many other individuals employed by Mr. Tiffany. It is fortunate that a new figure has now come to light in the person of Julien Joseph Cuny. The son of immigrants from Alsace Lorraine, he was born on July 11, 1891, in Union City, New Jersey. His father, also named Julien, was a glass and mirror manufacturer who had come to America in the 1880s. Julien Jr. began his career at the young age of twelve as an apprentice at Tiffany Studios in the decorating department. His hard work, determination and skill allowed him to rise in the ranks at the still expanding Tiffany Studios firm until he became a highly skilled decorator, specializing in church and private commissions. He died in August 1973 in New Jersey. Doyle was pleased to offer property from the Collection of Julien Joseph Cuny, which have descended in the family to the current owner. They comprised lots 463-470 in the sale.
An exquisite box in the style of French ébéniste André-Charles Boulle was the subject of strong trans-Atlantic competition that sent the price soaring to $16,250, far surpassing its estimate of $800-1,200. The box was elaborately decorated with finely crafted brass and tortoiseshell veneer depicting Venus in a chariot pulled by swans and attended by cupids beneath a baldequin, and further enhanced with gilt metal mounts.
A colorful Russian cloisonné enameled silver beaker vase and undertray made in 1877 by Moscow silversmith and Court Jeweler Pavel Ovchinnikov achieved $15,000 from a Russian buyer, many times its estimate of $3,500-4,500. It was consigned by the Estate of Theodore Hicks Lee, whose forebears include Mary Hicks, the stepmother of art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner and wife of landscape painter Albert Bierstadt.
Highlighting the furniture in the sale was a graceful French Art Nouveau cold painted bronze and copper mounted marquetry inlaid part ebonized work table by Charles-Guillaume Diehl created for the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. This “Souvenir de l’Exposition” with its unusual cinqfoil shape and three inturned curved legs was decorated with naturalistic leaf, dragonfly, butterfly and applied insect motifs, and numbered VIII. The work table more than doubled its estimate of $3,000-5,000, selling for $11,875. A related table is in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
The silver section of the sale offered an extensive selection of objects by such prestigious makers as Tiffany & Co., Gorham, Georg Jensen, Buccellati and Black, Starr & Frost. Flatware services included an elegant Tiffany & Co. service in the English King pattern from the Estate of Doris Tracy Driscoll that fetched $10,000 against an estimate of $5,000-7,000.
Also noteworthy was an exquisite Gorham Martelé vase chased with flowers and vines that sold for $8,750, surpassing its estimate of $6,000-8,000. Gorham introduced its line of hand-wrought Martelé silver in 1896 with designs that represent the epitome of American Art Nouveau silver. The time and expense required to make each hand-made piece were such that Gorham ceased production by 1912.
The fine art section of the sale offered over 70 lots encompassing genre scenes, still lifes, urban views, landscapes and Orientalist works. Highlights included examples by two Eastern European artists whose works rarely appear in the United States.
Romanian artist Stefan Luchian (1868-1916) executed the vibrant Still Life with Goldenrods in an Earthenware Pitcher at the turn of the century, subsequent to representing Romania to great acclaim at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. A student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Luchian strayed from academic norms and ultimately founded Bucharest’s first Salonul Independentilor. The current still life, executed oil on panel, is titled and inscribed on the reverse by Virgil Cioflec, a Romanian government official and Luchian’s biographer. Estimated at $4,000-6,000, the work sold for a stunning $23,750 to a buyer in Romania.
Best known for his plein-air landscapes, of which Mules Pulling Hay on a Country Road is paradigmatic, Hungarian artist Geza Meszoly (1844-1887) studied law at Budapest University prior to pursuing art as a full-time endeavor. He ventured to Vienna and Paris, where he was heavily influenced by the Barbizon school, before returning to Budapest in 1886 and remaining in Hungary in his later years. The work sold for $11,875 to a Hungarian buyer, more than doubling its estimate of $3,000-5,000.
All prices include the Buyers' Premium.
Next Belle Epoque Auction: September 21, 2016
Consignments are currently being accepted for the September 2016 Belle Epoque auction. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection.
For information, please contact Malcolm MacNeil at 212-427-4141, ext 218, or email [email protected]