While five-figure sums for top-end 20th century design furniture are familiar in the international centres of New York, Paris and London, fewer pieces appear in the UK regional market.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Terence Ryle
Perhaps the best on offer in recent months was the Marcel Beuer Isokon maple plywood chaise offered at Bellmans (22% buyer’s premium) in Wisborough Green on November 3.
Designed for Jack Pritchard at the Isokon company shortly after Breuer emigrated to London in 1936, this was the model pictured on the front of the catalogue for the Contemporary Furniture by 7 Architects exhibition held at Heal’s that year.
This example – in good unrestored condition with an ivorine Heal’s label to the frame – came for sale as part of the collection of the late film actor Marius Goring (1912-98) and his wife Prudence. It had been found in the loft of the family house in East Sussex.
One of these made $65,000 hammer (then about £43,000) at Chicago design specialist auction house Wright (plus 25% buyer’s premium) in November 2015.
At Bellmans’ November 3 sale the chaise was estimated at £6000-8000 but sold at £20,000.
The winning bid came from a Continental buyer on the phone.
Another emigré who fled Berlin for London in 1936 was Russian-born designer and sculptor Naum Gabo (1890-1977) who, 10 years later, followed Breuer across the Atlantic to further his reputation as an influential designer and sculptor.
Shortly before going to the US, Gabo lived in Cornwall where he became friends with a professional couple who commissioned two fireplaces in local Delabole slate.
One, in brown slate, was later destroyed but the other, illustrated on this page, was consigned to the December 6-7 sale at David Lay’s (15% buyer’s premium)Penzance rooms.
Offered with three original hearth tiles, it was estimated at £500-1000 and went over the phone to a UK bidder at £2900.
Seating furniture at Roseberys’ (23% buyer’s premium) 20th Century Design sale on December 4 included a sofa attributed to Kaare Klint (1888-1954), known as the father of modern Danish design.
Klint designed the sofa, Model No 5011, in 1935, and the one offered at the West Norwood auction was catalogued as c.1950.
Pitched at £500-1000, it sold to a London bidder at £2100.
A particularly Italian take on the modern furniture movement was the c.1950s coffee table by Fontana Arte. The reverse-painted glass top featured an abstract design by Duilio Barnabe (1914-61), the existentialist painter who came to prominence after the Second World War.
He collaborated with the Milan manufacturer during the 1950s and ’60s to produce these reverse-painted glass tables.
This one, raised on brass and black enamelled steel legs and inscribed Dube Fontana Arte, was estimated at £1200-1800 and sold to the London trade at £2500.
A Scandinavian classic, a Model 34/402 laminated birch armchair designed in 1933 by Aalvar Aalto, was among the 20th century furniture included in Kingham & Orme’s (22% buyer’s premium) December 8 sale in Evesham.
It bore the original label for Finmar, the wholesaler set up to market Aalto’s designs. Against a £800-1200 estimate, it sold at £1500 to a UK private buyer.
Holding parallel appeal for Arts & Crafts aficionados was a group of brass lighting pieces by WAS Benson (1854-1924). The most eagerly contested of these was a wall light together with an opal shade by Whitefriars glass founder James Powell & Son. Signed to the brass, the 9½in (24cm) high lamp went to a collector well above hopes at £3600.