October's end brings strong results at Bonhams Furniture & Decorative Arts auctions

Fine European Furniture & Decorative Arts including The Estate of Gloria Lowengart
29 Oct 2012
San Francisco

San Francisco — Bonhams celebrates its fall season with two successful furniture and decorative arts auctions under its belt: the sale of Fine European Furniture, Decorative Arts and Export Porcelain, Including the Estate of Gloria Lowengart, October 29, and The Ronald F. Antonioli Collection of Fine Continental Furniture, Decorative Arts & Paintings, October 30.

The first sale, timed to coincide with the separately-occurring San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, was led by furniture & decorative arts highlights from various owners, including a fine, 18th century, Chinese 12-panel coromandel screen, sold for $52,500 (est. $15,000-25,000); a mid-18th century, George III mahogany silver table, in the manner of the "Gothik" taste, sold for $25,000 (est. $6,000-8,000); and, from a notable California residence designed by Michael Taylor, a large, 19th century, Venetian Baroque style mirror, sold for $22,500 (est. $6,000-9,000).

The strength of the sale continued with lots from the French Furniture & Decorative Arts sector, including an early-19th century, important and fine, Empire gilt bronze mounted and parcel gilt thuya wood console table, attributed to Jacob Desmalter, sold for $50,000. It is highly probable the table was made for Napoleon and Josephine's apartments at the Palais Tuileries. Additionally from this section came a monumental Louis XV style gilt bronze porcelain mounted mantel clock, sold for $24,375, and a pair of fourth-quarter 19th century, Louis XVI style, gilt and patinated bronze five-light candelabras, together with a pair of Louis XVI style painted and parcel gilt pedestals, sold for $22,500 (est. $10,000-15,000).

Notable top lots of Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts also brought the sale success, such as a pair of mid-18th century, Venetian Rococo paint decorated and scagliola consoles, sold for $27,500 (est. $15,000-20,000) and a pair of late-18th century, Italian Neoclassical painted and parcel gilt console tables, sold for $21,250 (est. $4,000-6,000).

One of the great draws of the sale was Property from the Estate of Gloria Lowengart (1927-2012). Ms. Lowengart hired Sister Parish to design the interior of her Pacific Heights home in the early 1980s. Sister Parish (Dorothy May Kinnicutt), 1910-1994, was a most important American interior designer who decorated the family rooms of the White House for former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Highlights from the Estate included a set of four, fourth quarter-18th century, statuesque Louis XVI painted fauteuils a la reine, sold for $18,750 (est. $8,000-12,000); a pair of Qianlong period, ruby backed, Canton enamelled metal deep dishes, sold for $18,125 (est. $6,000-8,000); a Kangxi period, fine famille verte enamelled deep dish of a beauty, sold for $17,500 (est. $10,000-15,000); and a pair of Qianlong period, Canton famille rose enamelled metal dishes, sold for $17,500 (est. $4,000-6,000).

Of further importance in the sale was Property from the Estate of Charles and Eleanor de Limur, San Francisco. The de Limur's started an important collection two generations ago, and most items were acquired during their long tenure living in Paris at the Palais Royale in the 1960s. Highlights included a French, patinated bronze figure of Lady Constance Stewart Richardson, after a model by Paul Petrovich Troubetzkoy (1866-1938), Valsuani foundry, circa 1923, sold for $15,000 (est. $6,000-9,000) and a superb, early-18th century pair of Queen Anne black japanned and parcel gilt engraved mirrors, sold for $13,750.

Property from a collection of decorative arts and furniture from a private San Francisco Estate, whose residuary beneficiary is the California Pacific Medical Centre Foundation, included a fourth-quarter 18th century, Louis XVI parcel gilt painted trumeau mirror, sold for $10,000 (est. $5,000-7,000); a pair of late-18th century, Italian Neoclassical giltwood two handled urns, sold for $5,625 (est. $2,500-3,500); and a first-quarter 19th century, Austrian Biedermeier parcel gilt and gilt metal mounted mahogany centre table, sold for $5,625 (est. $2,500-3,500).

Souvenirs from the Grand Tour portion of the sale, purchased by travellers in Europe on their obligatory "grand tour," included an Italian carved marble bust emblematic of Autumn, Giovanni Maria Benzoni (Italian, 1808-1873), circa 1860, sold for $8,500, and a 16th century, French or Italian Renaissance polychrome decorated frame, now as a mirror, which was sold to benefit future Museum acquisitions of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, sold for $6,875 (est. $2,000-3,000).

Rounding out the sale was a superb, 18th/19th century, Spanish polychrome Chinoiserie decorated leather mounted six-panel floor screen, sold for $16,250 (est. $7,000-9,000) and two separate lots of similar Italian Renaissance style white marble fountains, sold for $17,500 and $15,000, respectively (both est. $8,000-12,000).

The second sale of the season was The Ronald F. Antonioli Collection of Fine Continental Furniture, Decorative Arts & Paintings. Mr. Antonioli (1929-2010) grew up in San Francisco and Marin County, Calif. He started his building company Ronald Antonioli, Inc., in the 1950s, and subsequently became well-known for his early use of the Pop-Up Warehouse, which became an international success. He simultaneously devoted much time to playing the piano and supporting the arts. He was an avid collector and connoisseur of French and Italian 18th and 19th century furniture, paintings, export porcelain, sculpture, clocks and decorative arts, so much so that he built his own Italianate villa with breathtaking views overlooking the Napa and Marin hills to house his collection.

Comprising the sale's top lots were a fourth-quarter 19th century, important and fine Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted marquetry commode by Paul Sormani, sold for $116,500 (est. $75,000-100,000); two oil on canvas lots by the Circle of Antonio Joli (Modena circa 1700-1777 Rome), "Christ at the Pool of Bethesda," sold for $74,500 (est. $10,000-15,000) and "An architectural capriccio with Christ raising Lazarus," sold for $18,750 (est. $12,000-16,000); a late-19th century, fine, Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted mahogany and kingwood bureau plat, sold for $43,750; and a late-19th century, fine, Italian marble group, likely depicting the Pharaoh's daughter and the infant Moses, by Pietro Bazzanti (Italian, 1825-1895), sold for $43,750 (est. $20,000-30,000).

Additional highlights included a set of four, fourth-quarter 18th century, French, Neoclassical painted canvas allegorical panels, sold for $27,500 (est. $8,000-12,000); two separate late-19th century, fine, Louis XV style gilt bronze mantel clocks (one gilt and patinated and the other with its dial signed by Paul Sormani), Pendule à la Gloire du Roi, after models by Edmé-Jean Gallien (French, 1720-1797), sold for $22,500 (est. $12,000-18,000) and $21,250, respectively; a pair of late-19th century, Régence style gilt, patinated bronze, enamel and marble figural chenets, sold for $18,750 (est. $5,000-8,000); and a late-19th/early 20th century, fine, Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted marquetry and mahogany table a jeux, sold for $18,750 (est. $9,000-12,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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