The Warshawsky Collection. Sotheby’s to Offer a Landmark Collection of Tiffany & Prewar Design. Comprising Masterworks by Tiffany, Liberty & Co, Lalique, Sullivan and More. Assembled over Three Decades by Chicago Collectors Roy & Sarita Warshawsky.
NEW YORK, 29 April 2015 – On 19 May 2015, Sotheby’s will offer a landmark collection of Tiffany and Prewar Design: The Warshawsky Collection.
Collecting was an abiding passion for noted Chicago businessman Roy Warshawsky and his wife Sarita, who assembled the present works from the 1960s through the 1990s. The Warshawsky name is synonymous with Chicago industry: for nearly five decades, Roy served as president of the original Warshawsky & Co., a major auto parts retailer that his father Israel founded in 1915.
The Warshawsky Collection is highlighted by an encyclopedic selection of Tiffany Studios works that spans every artistic discipline of the famed firm: leaded glass lighting and windows, favrile glass, enamels, pottery, bronze ‘fancy’ goods and more. The dedicated auction also will offer important European and American Prewar Design by such artists as Archibald Knox, Louis Sullivan and René Lalique, which were collected by Warshawsky with the same curatorial approach and connoisseur’s eye. With estimates ranging from $1,000 to up to $1 million, this auction event presents a unique opportunity for both new and established collectors to acquire an extraordinary piece of design history.
In addition to the dedicated auction of Tiffany and Prewar Design on 19 May, the Warshawky Collection also includes Norman Rockwell’s 1926 The Bookworm (estimate $1.5–2.5 million) as well as two 19th century American landscape paintings, which Sotheby’s will offer as part of the American Art auction in New York on 20 May.
Jodi Pollack, Director of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design Department in New York, commented: “The Warshawsky Collection is the most quintessential offering of Tiffany to come to auction since 1995, when Sotheby’s held the market-defining sale of the John W. Mecom Collection. Roy Warshawsky immersed himself in assembling the collection from the late 1960s through the early 1990s – a time when access to objects of extraordinary quality abounded. Today, such access is a true rarity.”
Carol Warshawsky and Ilene Shaw, daughters of Roy and Sarita Warshawsky, said: “Our parents found beauty in the world surrounding them, whether in their beloved city of Chicago or on their many travels, and acquiring beautiful objects was an extension of this. Their collection was further shaped by their prolific study of stylistic traditions and art forms – our father was a master at choosing the perfect piece to enrich the larger group. Whether a Tiffany lamp, a landscape painting or a piece of Arts and Crafts silver, each work was lovingly and thoughtfully chosen.”
AN ENCYCLOPEDIC COLLECTION OF TIFFANY
Approximately 90 examples of Tiffany Studios works from the collection are led by the “Elaborate Peony” Lamp, circa 1910 (estimate $600/900,000) – one of the firm’s most illustrious and iconic floral lamp patterns. This outstanding example displays a rich and highly-varied glass selection, showing the lush, wind-swept peony blossoms in a full range of deep purple, magenta and red hues amidst a bright aqua sky, harmoniously paired with a rare, sculptural “Leaf and Arch” base.
An extraordinary “Iris” Lantern circa 1905 (estimate $400/600,000) – one of only a few known examples of the model – shows Tiffany’s love of nature and his organic approach to design. Each of the six sides of this leaded glass hanging lamp is masterfully articulated with distinct depictions of the iris blossom against a dramatic sky transitioning from dawn to dusk. The panels are framed within a highly-sculptural bronze armature of interlacing leaves.
The “River of Life” Window (estimate $200/300,000) was a prevalent motif for Tiffany’s landscape windows. These works are evocative of landscape painting, but achieved through the masterful use of glass, which introduces a sense of luminous beauty and nature into the domestic interior. The present window, signed and dated 1915, depicts a meandering river and mountains framed by lush fields of iris blossoms and magnificent Chinese magnolia trees, boldly displayed through the use of sculpted dimensional “Drapery” glass.
One of the great rarities in the collection is the magnificent “Pebble” Lamp (estimate $400/600,000) by Tiffany Studios, one of a small number of examples presently known of the model. Dating to the firm’s earliest lamp production, the Pebble lamp shows Tiffany’s early explorations in the use of innovative materials and techniques. The shade displays irregular bands of flower heads that diminish as they ascend, all exquisitely crafted from natural sea-shore pebbles and meticulously cut glass. The matching base is ornamented with bezel-mounted pebbles and an ornate bronze filigree mount, showing Islamic and Middle Eastern design influences.
MASTERWORKS BY LIBERTY & CO.
The Warshawsky Collection includes one of the most important offerings to appear at auction of silver and metalwork designed by Archibald Knox for the famous London-based firm Liberty & Co. Comprising approximately 40 lots, the collection includes many unique and rare examples of tablewares, tea and coffee services, clocks and photograph frames, including this exceptional “Cymric” Clock (estimate $20/30,000).
EUROPEAN ART NOUVEAU
René Lalique’s mastery of design is on display in this Gold, Aquamarine, Diamond and Plique-`a-Jour Enamel Dragonfly Pendant-Necklace, made circa 1903-1904 (estimate $70/100,000). Created at the height of Lalique’s inventiveness, this pendant exhibits a delicate balance of forms, subtle use of color, and imaginative techniques and execution of enamel work.
AMERICAN ARTS & CRAFTS
The Warshawskys were passionate about Chicago’s rich architectural legacy, and actively collected artifacts from many of the city’s most illustrious historic commissions. Highlighting this architectural collection is an iconic Elevator Grill from the Chicago Stock Exchange, designed by architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan (estimate $70/100,000).
Sotheby’s auction of American Art on 20 May will offer Normal Rockwell’s The Bookworm from 1926 (estimate $1.5–2.5 million). Considered a tribute to German artist Carl Spitzweg’s painting The Der Bücherwurm from 1852, Rockwell’s homage reverses the stance of the original painting both literally and figuratively: whereas Spitzweg depicts a respectably-dressed German burgher in a large library, Rockwell paints an eccentric and absentminded reader lost amongst his findings at an outdoor bookstand.
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