Saturday, June 18, 2011

Unusual Tiffany Clock Sells at Bonhams

Despite a few bright spots, for the most part the June design auctions were a pretty standard affair. Bonhams however presented a delightfully odd yet art historically interesting clock. I have gushed in the past about Tiffany Studios lamps and glass but I have also tried to enlighten my readers on the less commercially popular areas of the firm's production. I present this unique Tiffany & Co. carved mahogany and enameled hall clock.
Now I admit it is a bit quirky but it was produced in 1887 so the decorative vocabulary is straddling a ménage à trois of aesthetic movement, beaux arts and budding art nouveau sensibilities. While it wouldn't qualify as a "hot mess" in todays terms, it definitely has a lot going on. This is understandable as it was made to be a tour de force showpiece likely destined for a world exposition. While people are very familiar with the glass production, most are not aware that Tiffany Studios had a substantial furniture workshop and an enameling division...both seen at work on this piece.

The teardrop face is exquisitely enameled and the resulting design falls somewhere between Anglo-Japanese and art nouveau and as the lot footnote indicates it was likely the handiwork of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's design director who had a keen interest in the firm's enamel workshop.
The waves and cascades of the case are virtuosic and are only limited by the constraints of the rather traditional silhouette of a conventional tall-case clock. While it is not everyone's taste it achieved $91,500 blasting past its pre-sale estimate of $25,000-35,000. The bold price comes down to rarity...where else are you going to find a Tiffany clock of this stature? But if you are interested in Tiffany Studios furniture pieces, they can be had at more modest levels.
This rather traditional gate-leg table was produced in the heyday of Tiffany Studios and can be purchased from M. S. Rau Antiques for the asking price of $29,850. But don't fret dear readers if you watch the auctions models such as these appear at more realistic estimates of $2000-3000.
Detail of the Tiffany brand.
This finely carved Queen Anne style stunner was sold at Burchard Galleries last fall for a reasonable $400.
Detail of brand.
This pair of baroque style hall chairs surfaced at Rago Arts and Auction Center in the summer of 2005 and brought a tidy $4250 against a $5000-7000 estimate. They are similarly branded as the others.
This Italian rococo style console table forms part of an extensive Tiffany Studios "Royal Venetian" bedroom suite that Bonhams offered in the summer of 2010 at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 but it failed to find a buyer... perhaps it was too much of a "look" but lets not digress.
This Tiffany Studios mahogany what-not was sold by Treadway Gallery in December of 2007 for $2500. As you can see, when it comes to Tiffany there is something at every level spanning a broad range of tastes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Madonna Wears the Duchess of Windsor's Cartier Bracelet?

Just a quick post. I must say with all the advising at the end of the auction season I can barely keep up with current events. If it were not for dinner parties I don't think I would ever get a sufficient dose of pop culture. For it was a dear friend that gave me this little tidbit over the weekend. It appears that when Madonna paid tribute to Oprah Winfrey last month she may have been wearing the Duchess of Windsor's storied Cartier cross bracelet.
The images from the March 17th taping are compelling especially given her directorial debut in the forthcoming W.E. a modern retelling of the love affair between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Madonna has a very soft spot for American divorcee Wallis Simpson, obviously as they are both women of style who courted controversy throughout their lives and both very similarly obsessed with crafting their public image.
Detail of engravings.

The fantastic jewel sold last fall at Sotheby's London for £601,250 and was a very personal piece for the Duchess, comprised of eight gem set crosses (one platinum) on a platinum and diamond bracelet. Each cross was engraved with a special date in the life of the couple and it was worn on their wedding day... the beginning of their luxurious life in exile.
Madonna was rumored to have purchased the Duchess' Cartier Panther bracelet that fetched £4.5 million but it has yet to surface publicly so it is anyone's guess. The cross bracelet is a far better fit as it was much more personal to the couple marking their romance over the years and it seamlessly meshes with Madonna's ever evolving crucifix laden personal style. Until Madonna confirms, we are left to wait...perhaps only until the film's premiere at the Venice Film Festival at the end of August.