Artist William Morris’ 1995 masterwork, Artifact: Shard with Bone Pins more than tripled its estimate at Bonhams 20th Century Decorative Arts sale on December 16, reaching $62,500 after a lengthy phone bidding war.
Made entirely of cast glass imbued with warm southwestern tones recalling sandstone and leather, the piece is an iconic example of Morris’ work from the Artifact series. Painted figures by Jon Ombrek, recalling the cave paintings of Lascaux, grace the surface of the glass.
An additional Morris highlight, Rarotowgan Man, from his Man Adorned series, achieved $42,500. Bonhams holds the record for a William Morris piece at auction, having sold Canopic Jar: Sable Antelope for $290,500 in June.
“Bonhams is proud to be the auction leader in American Studio Glass,” said Frank Maraschiello, Bonhams director of 20th Century decorative arts. “The market is clearly embracing the field’s luminaries, including William Morris, Michael Glancy, Richard Marquis, Mark Peiser and the late Harvey Littleton.”
Innovative ceramics from Japanese artist Jun Kaneko were also well received. Kaneko’s monumental earthenware sculptures of abstracted human heads, glazed in a striking black and white pattern, pushed the boundaries of the medium’s possibilities. Standing nearly seven feet tall, a single example brought US$25,000, while a pair of the heads reached US$43,750. Another highlight was iconic furniture maker George Nakashima’s maple burl and walnut Print Stand from 1980, which more than doubled its pre-sale estimate to sell for US$35,000. The stand was created for the express purpose of viewing Japanese prints.
Continental decorative arts of note included Marcel Andre Bouraine’s patinated and cold painted bronze, carved ivory, glass, and Portor marble Arlequine Lamp, which brought US$62,500. Fritz Preiss’ cold painted bronze, carved and painted ivory, and onyx sculpture of Diana as an archer was the sale’s top lot, achieving US$81,250, while Rembrandt Bugatti’s patinated bronze figure, Portrait d’un General, sold for five times its pre-sale estimate, reaching US$40,000.