High-Profile Private Collections Span a Century of Important Design

Launch Slideshow

The upcoming Important Design auction on December 13 presents a defining selection of historic and post-war furniture and objects from several esteemed private collections including the Jerome and Ellen Stern Collection, the Collection of Hana Soukupová and Drew Aaron, and the Jacqueline Fowler Collection. A charming Bugatti elephant originally owned by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Joris Laarman’s mesmerising Bone Chair and works from Claude Lalanne’s fantastic Crocodile series are among the many highlights coming to auction. Click ahead to see more. 

Important Design
13 December | New York

High-Profile Private Collections Span a Century of Important Design

  • Claude Lalanne, Pomme. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    This spectacular Pomme by Claude Lalanne anchored the entrance hall of Drew Aaron and Hana Soukupová’s Connecticut home. The work epitomises the Surrealist influences in Claude Lalanne’s work. Inspired by natural forms, she transforms these organic shapes into whimsical and striking sculptures.

  • Charlotte Perriand, Nuage Bookshelf. Estimate $70,000–100,000.
    The Nuage Bookcase is among Charlotte Perriand’s most iconic creations. This particular example – remarkable for its grand scale, impeccable provenance and excellent condition – was a centrepiece in the Connecticut home of Hana Soukupová and Drew Aaron. The piece demonstrates Perriand’s genius in combining both functionality and aesthetics.

  • Jean Royère, Pair of Ambassador Armchairs. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    Coming to auction from the renowned collection of fashion designer Wolfgang Joop, this elegant pair of armchairs embodies Jean Royère’s unique design synthesis of tradition, comfort and modernist aesthetics. Possessing sculptural yet organic silhouettes, these armchairs are at once unique and timeless.

  • Line Vautrin, Folie or Le Soleil A Rendez-Vous Avec La Lune Mirror. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    The title of this extraordinary mirror has likely been inspired by Charles Trenet’s eponymous song of 1939, which evokes an impossible encounter between the sun and the moon. Line Vautrin worked in bronze for many years in the post-war period, but by the mid-1950s began to incorporate resin into her distinctove, neo-romantic creations. This wonderful mirror reflects not only Vautrin’s developing creative process, but also the inspiration of poetry, music and magic that typifies her oeuvre.

  • Claude Lalanne, Pair of Crocodile Armchairs. Estimate $300,000—500,000 each.
    Claude Lalanne’s ‘Crocodile’ series includes some of her most iconic creations. These two spectacular armchairs incorporate cast bronze crocodiles with ‘galvanoplastie’ cabbage leaves from the artist’s garden. The offering of these two lots presents a unique opportunity to acquire a pair of armchairs coming from an Important Manhattan Collection.

  • Greene & Greene, An Important and Rare Lantern from The Stairwell of The Robert R. Blacker House, Pasadena, California. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Birds in flight were a favourite subject of Charles Sumner Greene, who with his brother, Henry, formed the Pasadena architecture firm Greene & Greene in 1894. In this Japanesque lantern from the Blacker House, the brothers used white glass for the first time in order to create the silhouettes of birds, which appear on two sides of the lantern. Brilliantly iridised amber glass surrounds these birds, shimmering in a wide range of jewel tones.

  • Harvey Ellis, An Important and Rare Settee. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    This settee has descended through the family of its original owner since the early 20th century. The elegant proportions and exquisite inlaid decoration make this work a superb example of Harvey Ellis’s style, which was influenced by the European Arts & Crafts masters. The settee possesses the sensibility of both Josef Hoffmann and Baillie Scott, while the stylised inlaid motif makes reference to the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

  • Rembrandt Bugatti, Petit Eléphant Au Repos. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    This exquisite elephant sculpture was originally in the collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany, a passionate admirer of Bugatti’s work. Fascinated by wild animals, Bugatti worked primarily outdoors at the Jardin Zoologique in Antwerp. “I will work with all my strength to go as high as I am able," the artist once stated. “I hope and I believe that I will succeed in creating a work such as no other animal sculptor, ancient or modern, has achieved before.”

  • René Lalique, A Rare Palestre Vase, Marcilhac No. 1012. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    This rare Palestre vase, remarkable for its grey colour, showcases René Lalique’s magnificent narrative style and his exacting attention to detail. In the present work, the artist renders a gathering of men at a palaestra, or an ancient Grecian wrestling school, and imbues each figure with his own sense of individuality through details from posture to hairstyle.

  • Harry Bertoia, Maquette for the Comet Sculpture Designed for W. Hawkins Ferry. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    Intensely intricate and domestic in scale, the present work is a maquette for Comet, a 1964 monumental sculpture that Harry Bertoia designed for the home of W Hawkins Ferry, an acclaimed 20th century collector and architectural historian. Commissioned in collaboration with architect William Kessler, the large–scale sculpture was designed to be hung from the ceiling, ultimately descending fourteen feet. 

  • Paul Evans, Wavy Front Cabinet. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    The dynamic S-curves of this Wavy Front cabinet create a visual tale of movement and dimensionality that Paul Evans became increasingly known for in the 1960s. In the present work, the artist uses the rough surface of welded steel as a canvas of sorts to explore an array of vibrant textures and tonalities.

  • George Nakashima, Conoid Bench. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    This sculptural bench, commissioned directly from George Nakashima in 1965, exemplifies a period in which Nakashima further actualised the dramatic possibilities of freeform wood. The bench’s original owner, DH McCowan, assembled a diverse collection of Nakashima works over the course of twenty years, developing a close relationship with the artist in the process.

  • Maria Pergay, Dining Table. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    Describing herself as a ‘captor of ideas,’ Maria Pergay infuses a sense of playful whimsy into her stainless steel works while pushing the material to its physical limitations. The present dining table demonstrates Pergay’s mastery of the medium and her ability to transform the unforgiving metal into a sculptural form as beautiful as it is functional.

  • Joris Laarman, 'Bone' Armchair. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Undeniably sculptural, yet innovatively functional, Joris Laarman’s ‘Bone’ Armchair utilises 3-D technology to realise a completely new approach to furniture design. Laarman intended for the series to purvey a sense of what he calls ‘High-tech Art Nouveau,’  a perceptive twist that reconciles the machine efficiency with the plant-like forms that were iconic at the turn of 20th Century.

  • Yoichi Ohira, Unique Colata Di Lava N. 23 Vase. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    This Lava vase reflects Ohira’s fascination with glass’s inherent relationship between the clear and the opaque: dramatic swaths of molten reds and oranges run amidst tar-like pools of pitch black, evoking the fiery aftermath of a volcanic explosion.


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