Beloved landmarks are often distinguished by recognizable signature flourishes that are embraced by generations, and throughout the 20th century, exclusive dining establishments tucked within famous department stores were no exception.
Rarely, however, do such treasures end up in private collections. The Mens Grill, which opened in Chicago in 1914 in the original Marshall Field & Company, was famously appointed with a grand fountain and dome produced by Tiffany Studios, as well as mosaic panels depicting the signs of the zodiac set into mahogany-paneled columns punctuating the stately dining room. Diners and shoppers alike flocked to see the groundbreaking glass designs.
Sixty-four of these bespoke mosaic panels graced the Chicago restaurant, and on September 28, six of them will appear in Heritage Auction
s Pursuit of Beauty: Art Nouveau, Art Deco & Art Glass Signature® Auction. The panels, which depict Aquarius, Libra, Leo, Cancer, and two Capricorns, are accompanied by original loose Favrile tiles salvaged at the time of removal.
We are honored to present such a large group of mosaic panels from Tiffany Studios most significant commission for a retailer, Marshall Field & Company in Chicago, says Samantha Robinson, Heritages Consignment Director of Decorative Arts & Design. The panels depict signs of the zodiac, a theme favored and oft employed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his studio, executed in striated, mottled and iridescent Favrile tiles with tremendous visual impact. These panels demonstrate the studios decades-long pursuit of beauty, drawing upon traditional, even ancient techniques and leveraging modern technologies in the creation of a new aesthetic befitting the historical moment.
Alongside the zodiac panels in this auction are other rare and exceptional examples of Tiffany Studios work, perhaps most notably a leaded glass and bronze lamp circa 1910. This large hanging lamp depicting a signature abstracted dogwood design is saturated with intense color says Robinson. The auction also includes a massive leaded glass and patinated bronze Curtain Border floor lamp with pigtail, circa 1910, as well as an especially dynamic Favrile glass paperweight vase from 1905. The vases compact size intensifies its decoration of abstracted leaves and vines in teal, lapis and green atop a ground that shifts from ochre at the rim to chartreuse at the foot.
At the turn of the 20th century, glass studios in the United States and Europe introduced remarkable innovations to the medium. Another highlight of the auction is the strong selection of French glass from the era.
This is one of the most spectacular selections of French and European art glass Heritage has ever offered, says Nicholas Dawes, Heritages Senior Vice President of Special Collections.
French highlights include an R. Lalique Serpent vase in highly sought-after amber glass. Laliques masterful play with surface and texture is also seen in a rare cased red glass Perruches vase from 1919, with gorgeous blossom detail supporting a flock of paired-off parakeets.
Select glass works by French glassworks Daum and Gallé join Lalique in this auction; one choice Gallé work is a significant wheel-carved glass verrerie parlante vase decorated and signed by Irénée Jacquemard circa 1900. A notable work by Daum is an exquisitely detailed enameled and acid-etched glass Rain table lamp.
In addition to glass, the auction boasts early 20th-century works in several other media, including a sculpture by Weiener Werkstatte designer Vally Wieselthier. A monumental, dynamic and subversive work, Mme. Potiphar encapsulates many of Wieselthier's strengths as an artist, says Robinson.
This auction also includes Art Nouveau & Art Deco bronze sculpture. One highlight in this category is Claire Jeanne Roberte Colinets Danseuse de Carthage. The gilt and cold-painted bronze and marble depiction of a dancing figure playfully entwined with a snake appears in the larger of the two sizes produced and is signed Cl. J. R. Colinet.
Also offered is a delightful and distinctive Grueby fireplace surround, coming to Heritage from the collection of the Birks Museum at Millikin University in Illinois. The surround includes a five-tile Oxen frieze, featuring a farmer accompanying an oxen-drawn wagon, executed in the rich greens, earthy yellows and warm browns Grueby is known for, and 36 matte green glazed tiles.