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Twentieth-Century Decorative Arts

Lita Solis-Cohen | June 14th, 2013

Sable Antelope from the “Canopic Jar” series by William Morris (b. 1957) is hand-blown glass. The neck interior is inscribed “William Morris 1995.” The overall height is 48" and the diameter is 12". It sold for $290,500 together with a copy of the original 1995 invoice from the artist’s studio. A tremendously skillful glass technician, William Morris explored animal forms, burial urns, bones, and cave paintings (among other themes) in his glass art. This is an auction record for the artist.

William Morris created Zhejiang Man in his“Man Adorned” series in 2001. It is blown and applied glass with copper wire and a metal stand, inscribed “William Morris 2001.” It is (including the stand) 77" x 16" x 13". It was sold for $206,500 together with a copy of the original invoice from the artist’s studio, dated February 3, 2003.



This circa 1900 fruitwood marquetry-inlaid mahogany three-tier shelf is decorated with fuchsia and moths in the marquetry. The 24" x 43" x 10" piece is signed in marquetry“Gallé” and sold for $13,750 (est. $4000/6000).


This circa 1925 Camille Fauré enameled metal covered vase, manufactured by Limoges, is signed in gilt “FAURE ­Limoges FRANCE.” The 11½" vase sold for $23,750 (est. $4000/6000).

These two circa 1897 lithographs are 19¼" x 17¼" each and created by Alphonse Mucha. Têtes Byzantines (Brunette and Blonde) are printed in colors by F. Champenois, Paris, and signed in the plate. Each is laid down on paper and framed individually. The pair sold for $18,750 (est. $6000/8000).

This Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte illuminated glass mirror, called thePistil,model 2044, circa 1961, and with a diameter of 24½", sold for $21,250 (est. $5000/7000).

Bonhams, New York City

Photos courtesy Bonhams

Since 1993, major auction houses have from time to time been offering things that once were categorized as American studio crafts and now are known as American art and design. They are by artists in traditional and new craft mediums such as glass and ceramics, fiber arts, wood, metals, and mixed media.

Frank Maraschiello, director of 20th-century decorative arts for Bonhams in New York City, has long been a champion of this corner of the art market and has held the record high price for contemporary studio glass at auction since 2007. That was when $480,000 was paid at Bonhams for Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova’s monumental Green Eye of the Pyramid. Now Maraschiello has added an artist’s auction record for a work by glass master William Morris. On June 14, Sable Antelope from the“Canopic Jar” series sold for $290,500 (including buyer’s premium), paid by a collector for a blown glass lid in the form of an animal head on a blown glass jar decorated with a petroglyphic motif.

The Morris jar came from the studio glass collection of Dr. Anthony Terrana, who was thinning out his collection and consigned 23 impressive works to auction at Bonhams. Sixteen items of the 23 sold. Three other works by Morris sold well. Zhejiang Man, 2001, from his “Man Adorned” series sold for $206,500 (est. $180,000/240,000). It was inspired by ancient Chinese grave figures. Lechwe Situla, a 2000 blown and applied glass animal head with glass vessel attached, sold for $60,000, double its high estimate. And Suspended Petroglyphic Urn with Horn, a 1994 work of clay-cast glass, slumped with copper, and decorated with animals inspired by cave paintings, sold for $50,000 (est. $45,000/65,000). The top three lots by Morris were accompanied by a copy of the original invoice from the artist’s studio. Assuming the price paid was on the invoice, how did the collector do? Maraschiello replied, “He just about broke even.”

 Morris has explored animal forms, burial bones, and cave paintings, and his work has an ethnographic quality. It is mysterious, magical, and technically skillful. “He can do what any glass artist can do, but no one can do what Billy Morris did,” said Donna Schneier, who is one of the few dealers in the secondary market of works of art in glass and ceramics. Morris, born in 1957, retired from working in glass in 2007.

Works by glass artists Paul Stankard and Dan Dailey sold within estimates. A Stankard Nantucket Bouquet assemblage sold for $22,500. Dan Dailey’s Flying Goats from the “Circus Vases” series, 1998, sold for $21,250. Lino Tagliapietra’s Madras vase, 1999, 17" high, exceeded expectations and sold for $25,000 (est. $10,000/15,000). A blown, engraved, and electroplated glass with copper work by Michael Glancy, 1997, sold for $15,000 (est. $15,000/20,000).

The Terrana consignment attracted to Bonhams some other, similar works by studio artists in glass. A Harvey Littleton untitled two-piece blown, laminated, polished, and internally decorated work sold for $18,750 (est. $8000/12,000). A 1988 vase from Dale Chihuly’s “Soft Cylinder” series in lime green with line decoration and mint lip wrap sold for $21,250. A bowl by Toots Zynsky of fused and slumped glass threads made $9375 (est. $6000/9000). Two of Sam Maloof’s iconic rocking chairs fetched $27,500 and $26,250 (each was estimated at $18,000/25,000).

Although studio work performed well, the sale as a whole was a bumpy ride. There were some high points and plenty of passed lots among the 304 total. Nevertheless, the market seems to be on the upswing. There is a stronger market for the best examples, though the more ordinary things struggle.

A Tiffany Turtleback chandelier sold for $68,500 (est. $50,000/70,000), a price much higher than the  $37,500 that a similar but smaller one sold for at Sotheby’s. A suite of eight lacquered and gold leaf panels from the Roseland Ballroom in New York City sold for $68,500 (est. $20,000/30,000), and a group of four Alphonse Mucha posters depicting the Four Seasons sold for $62,500 (est. $60,000/80,000). A Gallé fruitwood marquetry-inlaid mahogany étagère with dragonfly motif, circa 1900, sold for $48,750 (est. $12,000/18,000).

There was good competition for some Camille Fauré enameled metal vases, manufactured by Limoges circa 1925. One with a garden of flowers on an acid green ground sold for $23,750 (est. $4000/6000). Another with blue delphinium sold for $11,875 (est. $4000/6000), and one with a geometric pattern sold for the same price (est. $3000/5000). A Loetz iridescent glass Peacock vase sold for $10,625 (est. $4000/6000), but a Tiffany Peacock vase failed to sell. Two high-priced Tiffany lamps with floral designs also were passed.

Bonhams had the last of seven sales of 20th-century design in a week: Wright in Chicago; Treadway/Toomey in Oak Park, Illinois; Rago in Lambertville, New Jersey (two sessions); and Christie’s (three catalogs, two sessions), Phillips, and Sotheby’s in New York City. Just over $34 million worth of 20th- and 21st-century design changed hands.

For more information about the Bonhams auction, see ( or call Frank Maraschiello at (212) 644-9059.

William Morris created Lechwe Situla of blown and applied glass with glass powders. On a metal stand, the glass is inscribed “William Morris 00” and is overall17¾" x 12" x 13". It was sold for $60,000 (est. $25,000/30,000) together with a copy of the original invoice from the William Morris studio, dated May 18, 2000.

This circa 1900 fruitwood marquetry-inlaid mahogany étagère is decorated with dragonflies and signed in marquetry “Gallé.” The 53½" x 35" x 23½" piece sold for $48,750 (est. $12,000/18,000).

Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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