Works by Margaret MacDonald, Josef Hoffmann and Alphonse Mucha come under the hammer at Dorotheum

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Works by Margaret MacDonald, Josef Hoffmann and Alphonse Mucha come under the hammer at Dorotheum
Josef Hoffmann, Centrepiece, silver, this centrepiece was shown in October 1906 in the exhibition "The Table Set" in der rooms of the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, Neustiftgasse, estimate € 40,000 - 80,000. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

VIENNA.- The range of applied art in the Fin de Siècle is illustrated by the auction on 11 December 2019 at Dorotheum, whether in the form of Viennese stars, including Josef Hoffmann, Margaret MacDonald, the Scottish designer and craftswoman, or the famous Czech Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

A new discovery
Dorotheum specialist Magda Pfabigan came across a minor sensation during her research on two reliefs. She was able to attribute the two silver-plated metal works ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ to the Scottish art nouveau artist Margaret MacDonald. They came from the smoking cabinet designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (the designer and architect was Margaret MacDonald’s husband) and, like the cabinet, were previously considered lost. With an estimated value of 40,000 to 80,000 euros, they are a highlight of the auction. The cupboard, of which these reliefs were a part, was exhibited in 1900 at the Eighth Secession Exhibition in the "Scottish Room" in Vienna and then became the property of Hugo Henneberg, displayed in his house built by Josef Hoffmann on the Hohe Warte in Vienna.

Pretty and chic
Another piece at the auction was also the focus of an exhibition: Josef Hoffmann’s silver centrepiece was shown in October 1906 in the exhibition ‘The Table Set’ in the rooms of the Wiener Werkstätte in Neustiftgasse. The contemporary art critic Ludwig Hevesi described the show in his work ‘Altkunst – Neukunst’ as follows: ‘[..., here] everything is pretty and chic and reasonable for reasonable people. And the ‘W.W.’ could cover 60 tables with all sorts of variations of these pieces, some of which are astonishingly simple in themselves, but can appear so pretty in their composition.’ The estimated value of this silver ‘piece of jewellery’, with Art Deco features referring to the reduced geometric forms that represented the canon of this early epoch, is given as 40,000 to 60,000 euros.

Two reliefs by Alphonse Mucha, also one of the most famous representatives of Art Nouveau, are up for auction. Two bronze/metal works called ‘Poetry’ and ‘Music’ from the ‘Les arts series’ from 1898 will be auctioned off (estimate € 15,000 – 30,000 each).

Other items among the 320 plus lots: Wiener Werkstätte ceramics, e.g. sculptures of heads by Vally Wieselthier and Gudrun Baudisch (including a double head by Gudrun Baudisch, estimate € 20,000 – 40,000), and French glass, such as a vase with etched polar bear décor by Emile Gallé, Nancy, from around 1925 (€ 15,000 – 30,000).

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