A French Art Nouveau mahogany Ecole de Nancy desk, featuring a hand-tooled leather top, letter rack and bronze drawer pulls with a floral motif. The rounded carved details also draw inspiration from vegetal forms.
A French Art Nouveau marquetry commode by Émile Gallé. With original key. The syncretic influence of Japanese art is keenly felt in Gallé''s commode. The beginning of Galle''s fascination with Japanese art can be traced back to his friendship with Hokkai Takashima (1850-1931), a fellow botanist and member of the École de Nancy. Their botanical dialogue was facilitated by the Shokobutsu mei-i, a book of Japanese names for botanical species. It is from Hokkai that Gallé gained a spiritual and symbolic understanding of nature. Along with other École de Nancy artists, Hokkai and Gallé exhibited together in the display window of René Wiener''s papeterie. The store served as the office of Wiener''s arts journal, the Nancy artiste, which regularly featured on its covers contemporary examples of Gansai (Japanese watercolor), Byobu (folding screens) from the Rinpa school, Sumi-e (ink painting), and Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). As a show of gratitude, Hokkai bequeathed a vast art book collection to Wiener. It is from this record that we know with certainty of which Japanese artists Gallé had knowledge. One of the books in Hokkai''s collection was Hokusai''s Les cent paysages du Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei.) This 1835 expansion of Hokusai''s 36 views of Mount Fuji contained more elaborate iterations of his original compositions. The commode features two drawers and four cabriole legs.
The front of the drawers features a marquetry panel with mountains, unkai (sea of clouds) and usugumo (wisps of clouds) motifs. It is likely from works like Hokusai''s Yama mata yama (Mountains Upon Mountains) that Gallé assimilated the unkai (??) motif. The Yama mata yama is the album''s only zenithal view, allowing this phenomenon which is normally only visible from high elevations. On the top of the commode, a sunset mirage overlooks the entire scene. Meanwhile in the foreground, Gallé has included a usugumo motif rendered in warm brown wood. The wisps of cloud motif originates in a stanza in the Tale of Genji in his mourning for Fujitsubo. Those thin wisps of cloud trailing there over Mountains caught in sunset light Seem to wish to match their hue To the sleeves of the bereaved. There is a distinct temporal quality in the commode''s composition. The left side panel depicts a diurne while the right side panel depicts a nocturne. The juxtaposition of day and night in Japanese ukiyo-e was a subject much beloved by Hokusai and Hiroshige and was termed chuya (chu meaning day and ya meaning night). The Japanese nocturne was clearly a subject of great fascination to Gallé as well as evidenced by his "Nuit Japonais" vase. A similar commode is pictured in: "Gallé Furniture", by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 2012, p. 329, plate 15.
A French carved and fruitwood marquetry inlaid Ombelliféres vitrine by Emile Gallé. The vitrine has marquetry ombelle flowers in its interior and on the panel below the bottom shelf. The interior has two small carved half shelves. The top and bottom have elaborately carved ombelle decorations. It sits on four sinuously carved feet. The vitrine''s front marquetry panel features three Berce des prés composed in a similar manner to Kitao Shigemasa''s Tree peony and Finch. Through Takashima Hokkai, Gallé was able to borrow a copy of Fleurs, oiseaux par Shigemasa (Kachoe shashin zue). Like Shigemasa, Gallé worked in the aesthetic of kacho-e (birds and flower painting) with a thorough understanding of the grammar of ikebana (flower arrangement). Gallé''s expertise was so great that he was entrusted with organizing an ikebana retrospective for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Ikebana is composed of three elements: shin (heaven, sun, male), soe (earth, female), and hikae/tai (humanity, child.) Gallé has arranged his flowers according to the Moribana school, a style of ikebana that came at the apex of the Meiji restoration. Shigemasa had his peonies according to Moribana principles: the right most "soe" flower leans at 45°, the middle "shin" flower at 10° and the leftmost "hikae" flower at 75°. Pivotal to ikebana is the principles of harmony and balance. It is the function of the 4
5° soe flower through angle to balance out the 75° hikae flower. While Gallé did not follow the rigid rules of Moribana, this should not be seen as an indication of inferiority. Rather, Gallé has merely solved the problem of balance in a different manner. While Shigemasa created a sense of balance through angle, Gallé made rendered the leftmost flower in madagascar ebony . The dark value serves as a visual weight, balancing an arrangement that otherwise approaches imbalance. Next to the Berce des prés is an Écaille martre (Tiger moth). Native to the same prairies as the Berce des prés, the inclusion of the Écaille martre gives the vitrine the crepuscular setting that Gallé loved so much. Literature: Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, "Gallé Furniture," Woodbridge, Antique Collector''s Club, 2012, p. 307, pl.42, for a similar example.
A patinated bronze humidor by Tiffany Studios New York with cedar lining and interior cover with bronze knob. The top edge of the humidor is decorated with stylized flowers. The body has textured bumps all around. The top of the humidor has a sculpted design reminiscent of a volcanic crater. Volcanos were a central leitmotif throughout Tiffany''s oeuvre. In 1870, a 22-year-old Tiffany and the eminent Hudson River School painter Robert Swain Gifford visited Pompeii. While excavations had begun well over a century earlier, they were still mostly incomplete. The city''s dramatic history and the looming reminder of Vesuvius''s destructive potential stirred the romantic passions of 19th-century painters. The volcano reprised itself in Tiffany Studios'' largest mosaic commission, the crystal curtain at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The mosaic depicted the everlasting snows of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, the extinct volcanoes that look down upon the valley of that city. Flowers blanket the volcanoes. Similarly, in the "Volcano humidor," the top edge of the humidor is decorated with stylized flowers, perhaps evoking the renewal of life after a volcanic eruption. An identical humidor belongs to the collection of Edgar Kauffman, Jr. at Frank Lloyd Wright''s Fallingwater. Fallingwater was home to an exclusively Japanese and Japonisme collection. Kauffman chose the
humidor for its Japanese- inspired metalwork and design. A similar humidor is pictured in: "Tiffany Lamps and Metalware: An illustrated reference to over 2000 models," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge: Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1988, p. 450, plate 1793; and in: "Louis Comfort Tiffany at Tiffany & Co.," by John Loring, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002, p. 238, "Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection," by David A. Hanks, Richard H. Driehaus, Richard H. Driehaus Museum, The Monacelli Press, LLC, 2013, p. 164 fig. 55
A set of two Austrian Art Deco nickel-plated Jazz Band sculptures, comprising a saxophone player and a drummer, by Franz Hagenauer. Karl Hagenauer was an influential designer in the Art Deco style. He enrolled at the Vienna School of Applied Arts at age eleven. He studied with Josef Hoffmann and Oskar Strnad and created designs for the Wiener Werkstätte art collective. After wartime service in the infantry, he resumed his training and qualified as an architect. He joined the family business in 1919 and soon took on leadership in both design and management. Karl Hagenauer was responsive to the change in public taste influenced by the popularity of the Vienna Secession. While Karl was the principal designer of everyday objects (and some sculptures), his younger brother Franz specialized in sculpture. Franz Hagenauer also studied from an early age with Franz Cižek at Vienna''s School of Applied Arts, and joined the family business at age twenty. His interest and talent lay in sculpture with sheet metals rather than cast figures. Later in his career he was head of metalwork and metal design classes at the Academy of Applied Arts. Franz took over the running of the company after Karl died in 1956.A band of seven musicians sold Sotheby''s, New York, June 15, 2011, lot 81. Base dimensions: Saxophone 18-3/4" x 12-1/2 ". Drum 12-3/4" diameter
An Art Nouveau style wall shelf with Calla Lilies, also known as bog arum. The Calla lily was endemic to the lakes of the Vosges, the mountain range of the Alsace-Lorraine region. The Vosges were of considerable inspiration to the artists of the ecole d''nancy and the eighteenth century of the Hautes Vosges frequently attracted the school''s botanical artists.
A Greek modern 18 karat gold "Double Clenched Fist" bangle bracelet by Ilias Lalaounis, Athens. The hinged form with hammered surface is designed with scrolling fist terminals.A graduate of LaGuardia, the legendary New York performing arts high school, Arthur Mitchell entered the cloistered classical ballet world in the 1950s. By virtue of his exceptional talent, he blazed a trail into the exclusive New York City Ballet, desegregating the company. George Balanchine, the great artistic director, countered resistance to his new principal dancer with a simple reply: "If Mitchell doesn''t dance, New York City Ballet doesn''t dance." Together, Balanchine and Mitchell advanced new choreography and dance to heights that neither artist could have achieved alone. Inspired by the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell founded The Dance Theater of Harlem in 1968, spending $25,000 ("all the money I had") and dismissing objections that kids there would not take to classical ballet, Mitchell explained that his young people "wanted structure and discipline in their lives, and I was going to give it to them." Mitchell''s dancers performed worldwide, touring South Africa at Nelson Mandela''s invitation, and he received numerous honors, including a "Genius Award" (MacArthur Fellowship). Streamlined and subtle in design, this elegant, hand-hammered "Clenched Fist" bracelet by Lalaouni
s captures something of Mitchell''s determination, resilience, and artistic grace.Provenance: Estate of Mr. Arthur Mitchell, (1934-2018), Cofounder of the Dance Theater of Harlem.
An important American Arts & Crafts decorated silver box by Elizabeth Ethel Copeland. This rectangular box rests on four compressed bun feet. Decorated on all faces and the slightly raised lid with orange flowers and green leaves in polychrome enamel in octagonal cloisonné plaques amid ornamental designs in silver wire. The lid is hinged. Elizabeth Edith Copeland was a talented enamellist and metalsmith of the Arts & Crafts period. Despite having her artistic ambitions repressed for years, Copeland at the age of 30 managed to juggle her daily duties on her family''s dairy farm with art and design classes in Boston. Back on the farm, she pored over her notes while ironing, remarking drolly that "No doubt the garments suffered." Thankfully, she persisted, attracting the attention of a wealthy patron, Sarah Choate Sears, herself an accomplished photographer and watercolorist who had won prizes at four world expositions. Sears sent Copeland to London for a year to apprentice under the great enamellist Alexander Fisher. Along with the extraordinary Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Copeland earned the prestigious "Medalist" title from the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts. Her metalwork and jewelry have entered the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This silver box shows Copeland at her best, with richly colo
red orange poppies attesting to her deep affinity with the Renaissance enamellists of centuries past.A student of medieval enameling, Copeland believed the ''honest'' hand work and craftsmanship of her unique creations should be celebrated, differentiating her work from the meticulously finished objects of the 19th century. Many of her pieces reflect her appreciation of Limoges enamels from the 12th through 15th centuries. Elizabeth Ethel Copeland was born with her twin sister, Frannie, in North Chelsea (now Revere), MA on August 23, 1866. By the late 1870''s, her family had moved to a farm in Bedford, where they sold a range of products - dairy, eggs, chicken, and fruit - with an estimated value of $1,345.00 in 1879. (2) An image from Google Maps shows the farm house (with later front room addition) at 394 North Road in Bedford. Period maps show a small barn behind where the garage is today. Even though Copeland and her sister moved to Boston, land records indicate they continued to own and rent the farm into the 1920''s. In her 30''s, Copeland started traveling into Boston once a week for art instruction. During a metalworking class, she became friends with Sarah Choate Sears, a philanthropist and leader of the Arts and Crafts movement. Sears became Copeland''s patron and financed her for a year in London to study metalsmithing and enameling. Copeland produced work that was widely acclaimed as some of the finest of her era. Considered one of the best colorists of her time working in the very difficult (not to mention unforgiving) medium of enamel, she sold her works through arts and crafts societies with many of her boxes priced around $100.00 (3). Her work was included in juried Arts and Crafts exhibitions in Boston, Chicago and Detroit; she exhibited at the Saint Louis ''Louisiana Purchase'' Universal Exposition of 1904 (4) and won a bronze metal at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 (5). In 1916, she was awarded the ''Medalist'' designation by the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, their highest achievement - and the first enameler so honored (6). Boston directory listings indicate that over her career, Copeland variously called herself a ''metalworker'', ''enameler'' and ''artist''. Indeed, her work includes all these talents. In Boston, she lived in boarding houses, primarily on Brimmer and Newbury Streets. She retired at about the age of 70 in 1936, around the time that Social Security was being introduced. The Arts and Crafts movement, meant to bring ''honest'' handwork back into craftsmanship, coincided with many other important changes in American society. Women started asserting themselves in the workplace, at the craft bench, in sport and in the voting booth. At the same time, American society changed from predominantly rural and agrarian to urban. Copeland''s life was on the vanguard of many of these important changes. Today, her work appears on the market only rarely and is highly sought after by museums and collectors. Many major museums have her work in their collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (promised gift); and the Art Institute of Chicago. The following engaging account of her story and workshop is by Hazel Adler in the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine of 1916: In Boston our first objective point was the workshop of Elizabeth Copeland, enameler. Entering the dim room on the second floor back of an old building, we came upon a tall woman, garbed in an all-inclusive apron, moving with business like precision between two long tables laden with an assortment of tools and broken bits of colored glass and wires. As we approached one table we saw a little silver box the cover and sides of which were being filled with brilliant, translucent enamels of such colorful and imaginative charm that for a moment we almost imagined that we were looking at the opalescent green lights in the depths of the sea or the blue of deep evening or the purple shadows of the moon. One needs to know very little about enamel to feel the spontaneity and beauty of this work, but when one stops to consider that enamel is one of the most difficult means of artistic expression and has deteriorated gradually since its high-water mark in the fifteenth century, we turn to look again at this retiring New England woman whose art rivals some of the glorious achievements of the Renaissance. The story of Miss Copeland''s life is touched with many of the romantic qualities which lie in her work. From the endless duties of a rural household she managed with great effort to escape once a week during four years to come up to Boston to an art school without hope or possibility of ever increasing her vision or powers beyond what this school had to give her. In the fourth year she entered the metal-working class, and there attracted the attention of Mrs. J. M. Sears, a patron of enamels and herself an enameler. Through her sympathetic understanding and beneficence the gate of opportunity was suddenly flung open to the unbelieving girl, and she was sent abroad to study enameling under the greatest teachers the time afforded. Making herself independent of Mrs. Sears''s generosity as soon as possible, although her kindness is still a source of inspiration for every new piece of work, she established herself in the little back room in Boylston Street, and worked away day after day from early morning until evening, evolving new ideas and new possibilities, knowing her existence will never be long enough to achieve them all. Some of her work has found its way into Mrs. Sothern''s [Julia Marlowe Sothern was a famous Shakespearean actor and important patron of the arts & crafts movement, including Arthur Stone''s shop] notable collection of American craftsmanship, and into a few of our most progressive American art museums. (7) Endnotes: 2. ''Schedule 2. - Productions of Agriculture'' in Bedford, 9 & 10 June 1880, Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, from Ancestry.com accessed 23 March 2015. 3. Pricing information is culled from surviving financial records of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Detroit in the Archives of American Art. 4. Official Catalog of Exhibits: Universal Exposition Saint Louis 1904, (St. Louis: Official Catalog Company, 1904), p. 77. 5. Jeannine Falino and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds., "Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000," (Boston: MFA Publications, 2008), p. 337. 6. Karen E. Ulehla, The Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston Exhibition Record 1897-1927, (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1981), p. 59 and Allen H. Eaton, Handicrafts of New England, (New York: Harper Brothers, 1949), p. 285. 7. ''American Craftsmen'' by Hazel H. Adler in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, The Century Co., May - Oct, 1916, pp. 890-892.
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