Chairs Linking Lockwood De Forest and William Randolph Hearst on Offer at Bonhams New York

Fine American & European Furniture, Decorative Arts & Silver
25 Sep 2013
New York

NEW YORK — Bonhams will offer an exceptional pair of chased brass-overlaid teak chairs designed by Lockwood de Forest in the Fine American & European Furniture, Decorative Arts & Silver auction to be held at the Madison Avenue galleries on September 25 (est. $50,000-80,000). Made in Ahmadebad, India, circa 1881-1882, de Forest modelled the chairs after one he had discovered while visiting an ancient Indian palace during his honeymoon.

De Forest was an instrumental figure in the Aesthetic and Orientalist movements during the last decades of the nineteenth century, leading a revival of East Indian techniques within American decorative arts. He appreciated these chairs as representatives of a centuries-old craft tradition, untouched by modern practices. Surviving in astonishing original condition, he actually placed them in the entry of his own legendary house in New York City (which still stands at 7 East 10th Street). When de Forest moved to California in the early 1920s, the chairs were purchased at auction for William Randolph Hearst by his private secretary. At that time, Hearst was spending millions of dollars annually to acquire the most extraordinary art and antiques available.

Pinpointing and substantiating the chairs' important provenance was the result of a tremendous amount of diligent research by Bonhams specialists. The chairs, also the subject of an article written by author Roberta Meyer for Bonhams Magazine, have created quite a stir in the field of American decorative arts.

"I am delighted to bring these superb chairs to auction. They were purchased from the Hearst collection in 1941 and have remained with the same family ever since. It's an important opportunity for both private collectors and institutions alike," said Madelia Hickman Ring, Bonhams American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts specialist.

The auction's cover lot is a Johnstone & Jeanes mahogany expanding dining table, featuring leaves that can be added and then removed to accommodate different numbers of guests, made circa 1850 ($120,000-180,000). The clever and revolutionary design is called a "Jupe" table, as it was patented in March of 1835 by Robert Jupe and John Johnstone. The tables quickly gained in popularity, however, the partners had a falling out in 1840, leading Johnstone to form a new business called Johnstone & Jeanes in 1842. Only a small number of "Jupe" tables from the Johnstone & Jeanes partnership survive, making these tables, such as the offered lot, quite desirable.

This Johnstone & Jeanes table, together with the twelve chairs in the following lot, were ordered directly from the company as a wedding gift to Noelie Christine Parrott and Joseph Augustine Donohoe II. Married in San Francisco, the table travelled around Cape Horn, and has been in the Donohoe family since 1888.

Additional highlights include a fine and rare pair of George IV sterling silver wine coolers offered on behalf of the estate of Jasper Moore, Birmingham, Michigan (est. $50,000-70,000). The wine coolers, created by John Edward Terrey in 1827, are styled in the antique campagna form, perfectly embodying the period's reverence for the Greco-Roman aesthetic. From the other side of the world comes a splendid pair of Chinese Export silver figural centrepieces by Wang Hing. Created in Hong Kong during the late 19th/early 20th century, they feature a bamboo-form central stem and delicate ornamental cranes (est. $4,000-6,000).

A significant selection of elegant bronze and marble sculptures from private collections will also be offered. Of particular note is a late 19th century Carrara marble sculpture by Italian sculptor Donato Barcaglia depicting putti reading and playing music (est. $12,000-18,000).

Bonhams auction of Fine American & European Furniture, Decorative Arts & Silver will take place on September 25 in New York. The auction will preview September 21-24.

A fully illustrated catalogue is available at:


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

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