LOS ANGELES – The April 28, 2008, sale of Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles featured property from the estates of Emmy® Award winning television writer James Costigan and famed Hollywood photographer Wallace Seawell and offered a global array of works for all collecting tastes.
The auction, timed to coincide with the 13th annual Los Angeles Antique Show, was of interest to collectors and antiques connoisseurs from around the world; many gathered at the firm’s Sunset Boulevard galleries to vie for showcase pieces from the 16th through 20th centuries.
The spring auction began with several bouts of energetic bidding (both on the telephones and in the room) for an eclectic array of highly sought after works. A selection of tea caddies opened the English section of the sale – highlighted by an octagonal example from the early 19th century. A Regency ivory strung tortoiseshell work brought $8,400, exceeding expectations and surpassing its pre-sale estimate.
“The market for works boasting intricate detail and crafted of exceptional materials is strong. High quality works displaying master craftsmanship continue to fetch solid prices,” said Andrew Jones, director of the European Furniture and Decorative Arts department in Los Angeles.
The top lot of the sale was an understated carved marble figure of a classical maiden. The striking draped torso is depicted in a standing position with bent knees, exposing an intricately detailed sandaled foot. The piece displays a wide array of texture within its classical composition. The marble figure stands four-feet seven-inches high and sold for $66,000, well above the pre-sale estimate.
Another highlight of the spring auction was a large 17th century Italian Baroque monk’s table. The imposing piece is comprised of a hinged oval top over square legs joined by a conforming stretcher. Estimated to bring as much as $20,000, the table of unusual form brought $38,400.
Featured in the French section of the sale was an exquisite and impressive Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted and paint decorated walnut vitrine after François Linke. Its down swept cornice center is topped by a conforming case fitted with glazed doors within cast bandings above painted panels of ladies and gentlemen enjoying leisurely pursuits. Raised on cabriole legs, the work sold for $37,200.
According to Jones, “The cabinet is a magnificent example of French craftsmanship. One can see the intricate detail and striking color in each of the painted panels. This piece well represents the rich tradition for which the French are known.”
Highlights from the estate of famed Hollywood photographer Wallace Seawell included a pair of Continental Neoclassical style rosewood sofas, circa 1900, which sold for $10,800 far above the $2,000-$3,000 estimate, and a suite of Empire style gilt bronze mounted mahogany seat furniture which brought $10,200.
Bidding was strong for other desirable lots, as prices exceeded their estimates for a number of European furnishings and decorative arts as well as a Japanese parcel gilt carved wood panel which sold for $33,600. Two works from the estate of Emmy® Award winning television writer James Costigan included an Aubusson garden tapestry depicting huntsman and lovers in a wooded landscape (brought $9,600) and an unusual 18th century Italian giltwood and polychrome decorated figure of an angel with spread wings, which reached $5,700 after highly competitive bidding. A Louis XVI style gilt bronze and porcelain mounted amboyna and mahogany cabinet surpassed its high estimate to fetch $22,800, and a Venetian polychrome decorated mirror from the second half of the 19th century sold for $20,400.
Sales of Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts are held six times annually by Bonhams & Butterfields, in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, with a fully illustrated catalog available for each. Additionally, through the SoMa and Sunset Estates sales in San Francisco and Los Angeles (respectively), the Furniture and Decorative Arts department offers mid-range and collectible items each month.