From French works of art and KPM porcelain to 20th Century Design and English furniture, private collections at Freeman’s May 20 English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts auction attracted competitive bidding from around the globe and brought $1.6 million. The star lot of the day was a pair of Russian hand-painted and gilt decorated blue ground vases, mid-19th century, purchased by a Russian woman in the room for $230,500. The vases were a few of the remaining contents of Vaux Hill featured in Tuesday’s sale. In September 2013, most of Vaux Hill was sold in The Collection of Robert & Barbara Safford auction, which achieved $4.3 million.

“The May 20th auction did so well due to several important collections, including those of Dr. Alex Titomirov and Robert and Barbara Safford. There was also strength in depth as Chinese export, modern design and other mixed vendor selections fared well too,” said Vice President and English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts Department Head David Walker.

Porcelain made at the royal factory in Berlin remained popular with buyers as an enormous late 19th century urn painted with numerous 18th century scenes fetched $86,500; while a KPM style hand-and-gilt painted porcelain urn decorated in the manner of Hans Zatka brought $50,000. A similar urn was exhibited by KPM in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Another KPM highlight was a fine painted porcelain, ebonized, and gilt bronze mounted cabinet, third quarter of the 19th century, which achieved $17,500.

French Furniture & Decorative Arts
French furniture and decorative arts offered in the auction were some of the most sought after works of the day.  A Louis XV carved and gilt salon suite in early tapestry upholstery comprised of a canapé and bergère achieved $33,750 and a Fine Louis XVI style gilt bronze mounted malachite veneered vitrine cabinet, early 20th century, fetched $26,250. In addition, a pair of bronzes by Ferdinand Pautrot, “Gun Dogs with Game,” late 19th century, sold for $18,750—soaring past the estimate of $6,000-10,000—and a Louis XVI style gilt and painted bronze mantel clock, 19th century, brought $15,000, also surpassing its estimate of $4,000-6,000. 
20th Century Design
From the 20th Century Design section of the sale, iconic chairs by designer and architect Finn Juhl brought strong prices. A circa 1949 “Chieftain” armchair achieved $55,000, more than double the estimate and a pair of “NV-53” chairs also by Juhl brought $20,000, shattering the initial $4,000-6000 estimate and nearly setting a record for the model. Other notable works of 20th century design included a French Art Deco burlwood, mahogany and rouge marble sideboard, circa. 1930, that sold for $7,040 and a Lalique crystal Tête De Cheval or modeled horse’s head, second half 20th century, that achieved $7,680.

“Works by Finn Juhl continue to dominate the market for Scandinavian furniture of the mid-20th century and prices show no indication of slowing down.  Original receipts helped bolster the iron-clad provenance for these celebrated models, garnering strong overseas interest,” said 20th Century Design Department Head and Specialist Tim Andreadis.

English Furniture
Last but not least, works of English furniture achieved substantial prices as well.  A George III Irish mahogany four poster bed, 18th century and later, brought competitive bidding. Initially estimated at $1,000-1,500, the carved bed with a motif of trailing leaves and vines, raised on claw feet achieved $17,500. Another highlight was a collection of English oak room paneling, 16th century and later, estimated at $3,000-5,000. The panels were purportedly from Fleming Hall, the English manor house that was updated in the 16th century in two phases. The rare panels sold for a handsome $13,750.

Top Lots

  • Lot 177: $230,500, Pair of Russian hand-painted and gilt decorated blue ground vases, mid-19th century
  • Lot 176: $86,500, Large and Impressive KPM white ground porcelain vase, late 19th/early 20th century
  • Lot 414: $55,000, Finn Juhl “Chieftain” armchair, Niels Vodder, Denmark, circa. 1949
  • Lot 369: $50,000, Exceptionally fine Vienna decorated KPM style hand-painted and-gilt green ground porcelain urn
  • Lot 257: $33,750, Louis XV tapestry upholstered salon suite