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Jasper52 auction March 4 devoted to decorative art, silver

Exquisite European ceramics, impressive sterling silver flatware and hollowware, and colorful Murano glass are among the unique treasures in a decorative art auction that will be conducted Wednesday, March 4, by Jasper52.

Barbedienne-style French gold-plated bronze Louis XVI mantel clock and two matching candelabra, early 1800s. Estimate: $39,000-$47,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Decorative art auction Feb. 25 reprises Art Nouveau, Deco

A Jasper52 online auction on Tuesday, Feb. 25, recalls the luxury and glamour of the most iconic eras in history with a specially curated collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau. This sale offers decorative art, sculpture and lighting that capture the spirit and excitement of ages past.

Art Deco Gerdago-style girl pixie Harlequin mantel lamp by J.B. Hirsch, 15¼in long x 10½in high x 6in wide. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Fine jewelry, fashions, decorative arts go up for bid Feb. 11

From iconic Bulgari jewelry to Georg Jensen silver, rare Versace designs and more, a Jasper52 online auction of Jewelry & Decorative Arts Inspired by Miami Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 11, features the best in jewelry, decorative art and fashion.

Signed David Webb diamond and enamel bracelet, Animal Kingdom Collection, 1990s, 18K gold, platinum, enamel, diamonds, rubies. Estimate: $42,000-$50,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 aims to enhance elegant home decor Jan. 29

A Jasper52 online auction of fine decorative arts on Wednesday, Jan. 29, provides an opportunity for bidders to express their individual tastes in decorating their homes. They can enhance their tabletops, mantels, shelves and more with this diverse array of antique to modern decorative objects.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, ‘Le Petit Forgeron,’ bronze sculpture, circa 1916, 12¾in high x 12in x 7½in. Estimate: $5,500-$7,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Sterling flatware sets featured in Jasper52 auction Jan. 8

More than 100 lots of exquisite decorative arts are offered in an online auction that will be conducted Wednesday, Jan. 8, by Jasper52. Sterling silver is an important segment of the sale that includes a 290-piece hallmarked set of French flatware worthy of a palace.

French sterling silver flatware set, 290 pieces, 20th century. Estimate: $30,000-$36,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Tapestry: portable woven wall art

Imagine myth, legend and art that lasts centuries with the simple positioning of wool, cotton, silk and threads of gold and silver. These woven murals are tapestry: colorful creations that were functional and decorative that last lifetimes.

The art of weaving fabrics to form clothing and other decorative items can be traced to linen examples in ancient Egypt in the 15th century B.C. and throughout the area of the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq. Fragments of Greek tapestry have been found in China as far back as the third century B.C., and tapestry was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey about the eighth century B.C. Weaving has been found in cultures around the world throughout ancient times, but many examples of early tapestry were woven into clothing, rugs and upholstery. Today, tapestry is defined as an art form specific to wall hangings.

Flemish tapestry, 18th century, depicting Cupid and Psyche, within a floral foliate border, 103in x 98in. Sold for $32,000 + buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of New Orleans Auctions Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

The need for tapestry

Cold, dark and dank. Life inside castle battlements was anything but comfortable. Stone walls, while excellent for protection, did little to provide warmth or color. From the 11th to the 16th centuries a castle was first and foremost meant for defense, a classic ‘form following function’ in architectural engineering. It wasn’t much different in a large palace either.

From the 14th to the middle of the 18th century, weaving techniques allowed large “nomadic murals,” as 20th century painter and architect Le Corbusier once described them, to be created and hung along castle stone walls mostly as insulation against the cold. Being visible required ornamentation and so an elaborate Biblical story, commemorative event, personal coat-of-arms, or hunting scene (the most popular subjects) was ordered specifically for the great rooms throughout the castle or palace with each taking at least a year to weave. For this reason, only the wealthiest could afford them.

Detail of a 16th century Flemish wool tapestry depicting a royal procession featuring griffins, maidens and mythological vignettes that sold for $200,000 + buyer’s premium in 2009. Image courtesy: Skinner and LiveAuctioneers.com

Because tapestry was so expensive to own, each became a status symbol of sorts. When the royal or wealthy household traveled to another of their properties, the tapestries were taken down, rolled up and moved to the next location with them, thus the nomadic description. King Henry VIII is said to have at least 2,000 woven tapestries at any one time.

Weaving one line at a time

The reason tapestry was only for the wealthy was that each tapestry, no matter the size, was done by hand, one thread at a time.

First a detailed, life-size drawing or painting of the subject was created, called a cartoon. If the tapestry was a series of panels or just one large tapestry, a complete cartoon was required. Once completed, a cartoon is placed behind the weaver with a mirror in front of the loom so that each strand corresponds exactly to the pattern of the cartoon. The weaver sits at a loom (there is a high-warp and low-warp loom depending on size) with warp threads (vertical ones that form a grid for the pattern) stretched tight at the top and bottom on rollers. This keeps the grid tight with the rollers adding additional warp threads as needed.

Closeup of the weft lines of a 17th century Flemish tapestry that sold for $4,000 + buyer’s premium in 2017. The dyed colors are uneven and have faded over time, indicative of its age. Image courtesy: Material Culture and LiveAuctioneers

Weft threads (horizontal ones that the weaver moves from “weft to wight” as weavers like to say) are dyed wool that placed strategically form the design of the cartoon, one weft thread at a time, one segment at a time using a smooth wooden bobbin. Weavers pass the bobbin through one or several warp threads and build up the pattern over time, perhaps a square meter a month.

As soon as one weft line is completed, it is tamped down with a comb, awl, or even long fingernails to compact the threads and disguise the warp threads. With several weavers working on one tapestry, depending on the complexity of the pattern, it can be completed in about a year or longer.

A smaller version of the high-warp loom used for smaller tapestries. The rollers at top and bottom provide new warp as the weft is added rolling up as each weft line is completed. Gregors Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Industrial Revolution and technology have revolutionized tapestry allowing it to be first mechanized and now computerized. The cost is still high, about $35,000 a yard, and depending on the complexity of the design, still more than a year to produce, but the colors are more vivid “… with more life to them …,” said Noami Robertson, a weaver at Dovecot, a British tapestry studio.

In fact, there is a new resurgence in tapestry as an art form. Abstracts from artists such as Henri-Georges Adam, Jean Arp and Salvador Dali as well as artwork by Henri Matisse and Picasso have been woven into tapestry. Still, there are companies such as Gobelins Manufactory in Paris, France, that still handcrafts tapestry the same way it has been done since at least 1602.

A Salvador Dali design titled ‘Burning Giraffe’ is an example of a highly woven, vividly colorful modern type of tapestry that sold for $400,000 + buyer’s premium in 2017. Image courtesy GWS Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

What Collectors Need to Know

Identifying an early medieval or Renaissance-era tapestry is usually by the type of thread used throughout. Wool was most common, but cotton and linen were used as well. Any other type of thread suggests it is more modern. The use of silver or gold thread interwoven with other thread suggests a royal commission.

Each weft thread should not be completely even throughout. Since the tapestry was hand sewn a certain unevenness along each weft line should be expected. The colors of the weft threads were usually dyed, and some fading is expected over time, especially on the front since that side was exposed (the reverse should be more vibrant). If the design is shown only on the front, then it is definitely more modern. Always check with an expert for a complete examination.

Design is important, too. Biblical stories, hunting scenes, important events, personal coats-of-arms were the themes most reproduced in detailed, colorful tapestry during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Late 15th/early 16th century Franco-Flemish Gothic Biblical tapestry fragment, possibly depicting the life of David. Sold for $24,000 + buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of Gray’s Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

And finding tapestry of this period should be easier because the cost of acquiring Renaissance-era tapestries has fallen in recent years, according to a New York Times article in 2018. “[N]ow these historic hangings sell for much less than they originally cost, and sometimes for less than they were selling even 40 years ago,” wrote Scott Reyburn.

With new techniques, colors, designs and collectibility, tapestry is no longer intended as only insulation for a drafty castle or a status symbol that is rolled up and moved from place to place, although the originals are still appreciated for their history.

Instead, tapestry has evolved as an expression of individual artistic personality finally freed from the confines of the earthly necessity of existing solely for warmth and status. Tapestry, whether old or new, still makes your home a castle.

Miami Beach style packaged in online auction Nov. 19

Two hundred lots of “Jewelry and Decorative Arts Inspired by Miami Beach” are available in a Jasper52 online auction to be held Tuesday, Nov. 19. Victorian-era estate jewelry, sterling silver serving pieces and flatware sets, and rare wristwatches are featured. Dozens of lots of sterling silver are presented in the sale. An important lot in this category is a pair of large George III covered entrée dishes made by renowned London silversmith Paul Storr in 1805.

Estate platinum GIA Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring, mid-20th century. Estimate: $4,500-$5,500. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 switches to vintage French lighting fixtures Oct. 30

From French Modernist chandeliers to mid-century industrial lamps, a Jasper52 online auction to be held Wednesday, Oct. 30, has everything needed to light up a room or desktop.

French Art Deco modernist chandelier, 1940s or early 1950s, 39in. high x 20in. wide x 30in. long. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

The wide world of tin-glazed earthenware

NEW YORK – Earthenware has a long history dating back nearly 30,000 years. The ability to form earth and clay into storage, drinking, cooking and household utensils proved helpful, especially as a nomadic life transitioned into more stable communities.

Process

Earthenware by its nature is porous. Forming earth and clay into a pot or utensil, then allowing it to dry has limited use. It is fragile, unable to hold liquid and cannot be made too large as it is bulky, heavy and easily damaged. Firing it at temperatures as high as 1,100 degrees C (2,000 F) is the only way to strengthen it for daily use as a storage container.

However, to make it impermeable for the storage of liquids, a thin, clear coat of lead glaze and other oxides was fired to seal the pot. Later a tin oxide was added to form a white glaze from which a hand-painted decorative element could be applied.

A Rouen faience tray, mid 18th century, “decorated in the Rococo manner with an amourous Watteauesque couple set in a stylized garden setting,” according to the auction description. It sold for about $12,000 + the buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy: Dreweatts Donnington Priory and LiveAuctioneers

Lead glaze vs. tin glaze

To fire correctly, the basic composition of clay used for earthenware today is 25% kaolin (a silicate), 25% ball clay, 35% quartz and 15% feldspar. When formed together and fired the result is a biscuit, or bisque, from which the final product is glazed and decorated.

A lead-based vitreous compound consisting of powdered glass melts over the earthenware at very high temperatures to create a glossy, transparent, impermeable coating. This type of “enameling” has been found in China as early as the 13th century B.C. Lead glaze is more durable than the tin-glazed compound and is used for molded decorative items that are painted after firing. Lead glaze alone was largely replaced by tin glaze about the 15th century.

Tin oxide was added to the lead glaze about the eighth century in region that is now Iraq to create a white opaque compound allowing colorful overglazes and design to be painted directly onto a mostly flat surface before being fired. This process required more skill since mistakes couldn’t be corrected and therefore was more expensive to produce. Tin oxide became difficult to get during World War I and zirconium and zircon has since been substituted as a cheaper alternative, except in very small quantities.

Identifying tin-glazed earthenware

Once tin oxide was added to lead glaze, most collectible earthenware is made with this formulation.

Faience

This is the French name for tin-glazed pottery first produced during the 15th century Renaissance period in the Italian city of Faenza, near Ravenna. Today, it is more of a catch phrase for white tin-glazed pottery glaze that doesn’t have its own particular style. Usually the term refers only to the tin-glazed wares made in France, Germany and Scandinavia.

Two 19th century Italian majolica plaques depicting saints “in the manner of Benozzo Gozzoli (Italian, 1421-1497),” according to the auction catalog description. The pair sold for $38,000 + the buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy of Cottone Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Maiolica, Majolica

Said to have come from the Spanish island of Majorca to Italy in the 15th century, this style of tin-glazed pottery is highly decorated with vibrant stylized natural or historical events known as istoriato. It is common in collector circles to identify lead-glaze pottery as majolica and tin-glaze pottery as maiolica.

Mid-18th century Dutch blue and white delftware, the smaller plate hallmarked with ‘IVDH’ for Jan van der Hagen of the ‘Het Jonge Moriaanshooft’ workshop. Image courtesy: Thomaston Place Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Delftware

A vibrant blue and white tin-glazed pottery from the city of Delft in the Netherlands. This style is easily recognized in the Delft blue tiles and jars showing Dutch scenes such as windmills. The heyday of Delftware is from 1640 to 1740 but became popular in England (known as English Delftware), Japan and China in the 18th century. Delftware production continued at a greatly reduced level through Victorian times into the 20th century. 

A 19th century luster glazed Etruscan-style charger featuring bulls, lions and other animals surrounding a large rooster in iridescent black, red and gold from the Italian potter Ulisse Cantagalli recently sold for $2,500 + the buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of Neue Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Lusterware

Tin-glaze pottery having a golden iridescent sheen is aptly named luster, or lusterware. Originating in the Middle East in the ninth century, this metallic glaze of copper and other metallic oxides provides an earthy brown to the white tin-glaze underglaze. Luster decoration became popular with English potteries in the first quarter of the 19th century.

Tin glazed Hispano-Moresque copper luster charger, probably 16th century, decorated with leaves, flowers and acorns with luster gold rings and small circles decorating the reverse that sold for $2,200 + the buyer’s premium in 2012. Image courtesy of Hyde Park Country Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Hispano-Moresque ware

Produced during the period of Muslim Spain beginning in the eighth century, tin-glaze earthenware was originally produced using Islamic and Christian elements, particularly the “IHS” monogram and personal coats-of-arms for export to Europe. The 14th and 15th centuries constituted the peak period before the Italian maiolica earthenware become prominent.

Specialty ware

Saint-Porchaire Ware

From 1520 to 1550, a specialized and highly detailed bas relief white lead glaze earthenware was produced in the French city of Saint-Porchaire intended only for high-end collectors of the time. Known as Henri II ware or Saint-Porchaire Ware, only about 70 pieces survive from the period.

Palissy Ware

French potter Bernard Palissy (1510-1590) created high relief, polychrome lead-glaze natural scenes such as fish, snakes, frogs and even mussels often from taking casts of the real thing. Known also as “rustic ware,” most examples at auction are 19th and 20th century reproductions attributed to the style of Palissy while the 16th century originals are considered museum pieces.

Made for export to the United States, this early 19th century English creamware jug made in Liverpool features President Thomas Jefferson surrounded by a garland and the 13 original states that sold for $5,500 + the buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy: Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Creamware

Making use of the white, glassy lead-glaze coating, potters in 18th century England, particularly from Staffordshire and Leeds, created a relatively inexpensive substitute for porcelain. Josiah Wedgwood’s production of what was called pearlware was so prolific by 1780, that his mass- produced transferware was exported throughout Europe and undercut the more expensively produced tin-glazed, hand-painted earthenware.

Collectibility

When reviewing auction values for vintage lead-glaze or tin-glaze earthenware, it doesn’t seem as if there is a significant difference in the final hammer prices. The style, period, age and condition dictate what is more collectible.

Tin-glazed earthenware doesn’t hold up as well as lead glaze, however. Edges, posts and the feet of tin-glazed objects are prone to crack and decay more often than the harder edge lead-glaze pottery.

While most early tin-glaze and lead-glaze pottery have higher auction values, a resurgence in replicating early Renaissance tin-glaze pottery in Italy in the early 20th century can be an alternative. Artists such as Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Alan Caiger-Smith and others from the 1920s to the 1950s can be the start of an alternative collection. Even Picasso has his own brand of tin-glaze earthenware design.

There is a lot more to glazed earthenware to discover. With so many design elements and periods to choose from, tin-glaze and lead-glaze earthenware easily lends itself to the collector mantra: Collect what you like first.

Russian Lacquer Boxes

Lacquered wares – wood or metal objects decorated with coats of lacquer – date from antiquity. This opulent art, however, reached Russia in the 18th century when Peter the Great “Westernized” the country.
Over time, four great schools of Russian lacquerware arose in villages near Moscow, each developing a distinct style based on specific traditions and techniques.

Russian lacquer snuffbox, circa 1860, its hinged lid finely painted with scene of a family at the market, the interior in faux tortoise shell. Lukutin mark beneath the Imperial Warrant. This item was acquired by the consignor from the noted exhibition, “Russian Lacquer Art From Two Centuries,” Museum For Lacquer Art, Münster, Germany, 1996. Sold for $1,200 + buyer’s premium in 2013. Images courtesy of Jackson’s Auction and LiveAuctioneers

The earliest, dating from 1795, produced lacquered, papier-mâché visors for army helmets, as well as lacquered snuffboxes. When inherited by Piotr Lukutin, this workshop also produced papier-mâché match boxes and cigar cases, typically depicting sentimental scenes of Russian life.
Preparation was extensive, generally taking an average of six weeks. Yet boiling these lightweight, handcrafted boxes in linseed oil, then oven-drying, priming, polishing, and lacquering them, made them not only durable but also impervious to water.

Russian lacquered covered box, Fedoskino, depicts a Snow Girl from a Russian fairy tale, hand-painted. Realized $300 + buyer’s premium in 2010. Image courtesy of DuMouchelles and LiveAuctioneers

When Lukutin’s workshop closed in 1904, its craftsmen continued independently under the name of their village, Fedoskino. “Fedoskinos,” created with successive layers of thin oil paint, agleam with mother-of-pearl, metallic powders, or gold-leaf underlay, are famed for their detail, visual depth, and luminescence. Many portray realistic scenes of rustic landscapes or peasants dancing, fetching water or assembling tree-bark shoes. Others depict famous personalities, miniature reproductions of classic paintings, or favorite fairy tales, like Father Frost and the Maiden, The Frog Princess, and Ruslan and Ludmila. “Fedoskino” typically appears at the center or left lower margin of these miniatures. Artists’ signatures, rendered in complementary shades, appear to the right.

A rare, very fine, highly detailed icon “Praise the Lord From the Heavens,” Central Russian, Palekh, circa 1800. Image courtesy of Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf and LiveAuctioneers

After the 1917 Revolution, Russian authorities widely suppressed religious expression, so craftsmen of Palekh, a village long recognized for its superb Russian Orthodox icons, applied their extraordinary skills to lacquered boxes instead. Like their icons, “Palekhs” feature brilliant, egg-based tempera images against dark, solid grounds, enhanced by fine gold or silver leaf ornamentation.

Russian Palekh lacquer box, signed Alexei Vatagin (1881-1947), dated 1926 and N 1838. Realized $1,800 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy Soulis Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Many portray popular folk songs, legends, ballets, operas and poems with images of elongated, icon-like figures. Others feature traditional images, like fierce Cossacks atop majestic steeds, spirited “troikas,” or three-horse teams, pulling sledges through the snow; or unfolding folk narratives like “The Tale of the Humpback Pony.” More contemporary Palekhs depict dramatic scenes of Soviet life , the USSR emblem or portraits of Joseph Stalin. Many are signed in fine gold script.

Agitlak papier-mache Palekh miniature box, tempera on varnished papier-mache depicting scenes of Soviet life with portrait of Joseph Stalin and USSR emblem. Realized $24,000 + buyer’s premium in 2014. Image courtesy of Shapiro Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Some describe Palekh miniatures as “small miracles,” owing to their fine workmanship and illustrious lineage.
Craftsmen in nearby Kholui also originally made icons before venturing into lacquer boxes. While their boxes feature egg-based tempera images embellished with gold-leaf highlight, their designs are more realistic, less nuanced, and bolder. In addition, “Kholui” palettes feature employ reds, yellows, browns, and orange against bright, dramatic, swirled backgrounds.
Kholui lacquer boxes often depict ancient cathedrals, churches, convents, monasteries, or the architectural glories of historical cities like Suzdal or Yaroslavl. Many, celebrating the joys of nature, depict local landscapes, like the springtime floods along Kholui’s picturesque river, the Teza. Some are more fanciful and portray sweeping oral epic poems or beloved fairy tales like “Seven Semeons” or “Scarlet Flower.” Others depict traditional Russian customs, like greeting guests with loaves of bread and loaves of salt.

Russian hand-painted lacquer box, “Bread & Salt,” depicting a woman in kokoshnik [traditional Russian headdress] offering traditional welcome of loaf of bread and cup of salt. Made in Kholui, artist-signed and dated “Rozova 2012.” Image courtesy of Auctions at Showplace and LiveAuctioneers

Mystera was once an icon-making village, too. But unlike Fedoskino, Kholui, and Palekh boxes, their designs were decorated only the lids. Some are edged in lacy gold or silver and depict fine, floral bouquets. Others portray villages, fields, or forests (replete with faraway blue and lilac-hued hills and dales), romantically melting into pale, egg-based tempera pink, blue, gold, or ivory backgrounds.
Other “Mysteras” depict seasonal fairs, festivities, or traditional Russian activities like mushroom or berry-picking. More dynamic examples commemorate historic events or heroic battles. Others feature colorful fantasies inspired by Russian songs, legends, fairy tales, and literary works like Pushkin’s “Tale of the Golden Cockerel” and “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen.
Antique Russian lacquer boxes are prized not only for their beauty and exquisite craftsmanship but also for the passion and national pride their images evoke. Because each box is a handmade artwork, collecting opportunities are endless, and the potential discovery of a new addition to one’s collection is always just around the corner.