Decorative Arts Auction in Melbourne

Christie’s have catalogued a diverse selection of Decorative Arts in a $1.5 million offering, including furniture, porcelain, silver, jewellery and works of art to be auctioned in Melbourne in August.

Christie’s Director, Richard Gordon, said “The buoyant conditions in the market this year has encouraged vendors to submit a wide variety of items, including a complete Private Collection, likely to be of great interest to collectors. Several items are historically noteworthy, which always adds to the lustre and appeal of any object.”

A Café Australia Dining Chair designed by Marion Mahony Griffin/Walter Burley Griffin and produced in Melbourne circa 1915 is especially historic. In Japanese oak, the chair, with a triangular framed partially padded back and padded circular seat, supported by gently tapering legs was produced for the highly fashionable ‘Fern Room’ in Melbourne’s Café Australia. Considered one of the most exiting early 20th Century interior spaces, it was remodelled in 1927 before being demolished and replaced by the Hotel Australia in 1937. The chair is one of very few pieces known to have survived and has a pre-sale estimate of $8,000-10,000.

The sale also features a particularly fine selection of art deco bronze sculpture at prices estimated upwards from about $1,000. The highlight is an Austrian Bronze Equestrian Group of an Amazon – the naked female warrior, wearing a plumed helmet, and preparing to throw a spear, rides her steed bareback and grasps its mane is set on a tall moulded plinth. It is cast after the model by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928), Munich, circa 1905 and carries a pre-sale estimate of $8,000-10,000.

A Presentation Gold Cigarette Case in the auction represents a unique item of world aviation history. The rectangular case is engraved ‘Smithy Old Son, We Made It, Charles’. It was presented to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith by his friend and fellow aviator Charles Ulm. The case was a gift to the present owner’s father by Charles Kingsford Smith. In 1927 Smith and Ulm circumnavigated Australia in a Bristol Tourer in 10 days 5 hours, halving the established record. In 1928 they became international heroes with the first Trans-Pacific flight from the USA to Australia in a borrowed three-engined Fokker, later named the ‘Southern Cross’.

The pair went on to form many other businesses and achieve record breaking flights. Ulm was lost, between California and Hawaii, in 1934 when he disappeared on a Trans-Pacific flight and Kingsford Smith disappeared over the Indian Ocean on a flight from England to Australia the following year. This remarkable souvenir of one aviator’s respect for his comrade has a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-6,000.

The historic associations with internationally renowned Australians continues in the jewellery section where a fascinating Art Deco Garnet and Diamond Brooch is featured. The brooch was once part of the collection of opera singer and recording artist Dame Joan Hammond. Set in 18 carat white gold, it is designed as a microphone, with a cushion shape hessonite garnet surrounded by rose cut diamonds and a row of similar diamonds forming the stand. It carries a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000.

Another famous Australian woman, Dame Mabel Brookes D.B.E., was once the owner of a Charles II Silver Gilt Oval Dish which is in the sale. This impressive dish bears the maker’s mark of Jacob Bodenick, London 1676. Embossed and chased in high relief it depicts Hercules drawing his bow on the centaur Nessus, who carries away his wife Deianira, the border is pieced and chased with large flowers and matted foliage. It carries a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000.

The entire sale will be on view at Christie’s in Melbourne from Saturday 5 August. The auction will be conducted over two sessions at 6.00pm on Tuesday 5 (Lots 1 V 291), and 6.00pm on Wednesday 5 (Lots 352- 626) of April 2003. Catalogues are now available from Christie’s offices.

Published in: on August 1, 2003 at 1:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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