by Kate Nixon
Early 20th Century Design Auction
September 21st, 2023 starting 11:00 AM Eastern.
Hosted by Rago Arts and Auction Center
Rago Arts and Auction Center presents Early 20th Century Design on September 21st, a smaller curated showcase featuring 209 lots of decorative arts, ceramics, and furniture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Art pottery is led by a collection of George E. Ohr works and ceramics from Albert R. Valentien, a rare Robineau piece, Artus Van Briggle, Grueby, Newcomb College, Rookwood, Overbeck, and others. Furniture designers featured include the Roycrofters and Gustav Stickley among others.
Specifically the latest historically significant work to be offered in the auction is a rare large vase with a California Poppy design ($40,000-$50,000) by Albert R. Valentien for Valentien Pottery: Rago himself notes the vase as a product of the former Rookwood artist Valentien’s move to San Diego, California and creation of Valentien Pottery, and their involvement with the commission made from philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps on watercolors of California’s local flora. The vase itself was a representation of Valentien’s interest in representing the state’s flora for a book even before the Scripps commission came along, the visual representation of the Poppy itself, and the quality of the red clay coming from the state itself into a beautiful representation of the California Arts & Crafts Movement. Watch the video below of David Rago below on the Valentien Poppy vase. (produced by Rago Arts)
As Rago Arts is often a source for historically important works, that distinction continues for not just the Valentien vase, but a rare Aztec style crystalline-glazed porcelain vase ($20,000-$30,000) gifted to Taxile Doat during their time at University City and later offered as part of the Dr. Martin Eidelberg collection. Another rarity comes in the form of a rare toast cup designed when Artus first came to Colorado Springs; this early glazed earthenware toast cup ($25,000-$35,000) is seen in a historic image (see this link on the Rago Arts page to see the historic image) of Artus working on the mermaid-inspired design. Naturally, it wouldn’t be a Rago auction without an impressive selection of works by the Mad Potter himself – an exceptional teapot made by Ohr ($15,000-$20,000) with a green and gunmetal speckled glaze with ochre interior is a highlight of 32 lots of Ohr vases and ceramic works.
It should be noted in this auction that four of the lots offered in this auction are from the collection of Andy Warhol. From the lot of three Ohr saucers that comes with a small cup ($1,500-$2,000) to a twisted gunmetal glazed vase ($3,000-$4,000), the works of Ohr appealed to modern artists like Warhol and artist Jasper Johns.
Among the other highlights include: two rare Vasekraft table lamps one with a Flemington Green Flambé-glazed stoneware base and a leaded glass shade ($10,000-$15,000) and the other a Leopard Skin Crystalline-glazed stoneware base and a leaded glass shade ($8,000-$12,000), a number of ceramic works with natural scenes including a Saturday Evening Girls bowl designed by Sara Galner ($1,500-$2,000) and a Leona Nicholson Newcomb College vase with the New Orleans skyline ($6,000-$9,000), a rare Grand Feu Art Pottery stoneware vase with a Moss Agate-glaze ($6,500-$9,500), and a Mary Frances Overbeck large vase featuring children picking berries ($5,000-$8,000).
Notably, this auction has 12 “No Reserve” lots in this auction including a Roycroft chair ($600-$800) with the letters “GWW” carved at the top, a McHugh Furniture chair ($400-$600), an armchair believed to be attributed to the Rose Valley style ($1,000-$1,500), and a tray and bud vase holder by Roycrofter Karl Kipp ($1,000-$1,500) among others.
Click here if you’d like to see the entire catalog or look at our picks below.
This lot has been featured in books and museum catalogs — The Ceramics of William H. Grueby, Montgomery, pg. 58 Fireworks: New England Art Pottery of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Royka, pg. 95 . The exhibit American Art Pottery, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, pg. 82, no. 43 and At Home with Gustav Stickley: Arts & Crafts from the Stephen Gray Collection, Roth and Kornhauser (eds.), ppg. 13, 71.