Rare, award winning 1960s Scandinavian 'Bead Bird' leads Fall 20th Century Decorative Arts auction in Los Angeles

20th Century Decorative Arts
1 Oct 2012
Los Angeles

Los Angeles – Bonhams held its fall auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts on October 1. The sale brought more than $1.1-million and offered a diverse group of high quality pieces, spanning a century of design, by well-known figures of the period. Featured works included strong examples of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and works by Contemporary Studio artists.

Highlights from the sale included the auction catalogue's cover lot, a mid-century stoneware and metal bronze 'Bead Bird' figure by Finnish artist, Birger Kaipiainen (est. $20,000-30,000, sold for $55,000). The bird was acquired by the consignor in 1960 at the Arabia store in Helsinki, Finland. After the purchase, the offered lot was submitted to the Milan Triennale where it was one of a group of 'Bead Birds,' which were shown in the Finnish installation and ultimately won the Grand Prix of that year. A version of the bird in the offered lot was put on a Finnish stamp, a testament to Kaipiainen's popularity in the region.

Often called the "prince of ceramics," Kaipiainen's works often include distinctive motifs such as birds, flowers, and fruit. In 1954 he left Arabia for a brief stint in Sweden at the firm of Rörstrand. In 1958 Kaipiainen returned to Arabia and this is when he began work on his famous beaded birds. These rare birds were crafted out of thousands of handmade beads created by Kaipiainen's assistant, Terho Reijonen.

In addition, a strong demand for works from the Arts & Crafts period could be seen throughout the sale. Furnishings and decorative arts of note from the period included a leaded glass Yellow Poppy hanging lamp by Duffner and Kimberly Co., early 20th century (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $45,000); a Favrile glass and patinated bronze Trefoil border hanging lamp by Tiffany Studios (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $25,000); a Favrile glass and patinated bronze seven light lily lamp by Tiffany Studios (est. $12,000-18,000, sold for $23,750); a Favrile glass and patinated bronze Geometric and Turtleback Tile table lamp by Tiffany Studios (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $21,250) and a stunning breakfront cabinet by Greene & Greene made for the Cordelia A. Culbertson house in Pasadena, CA (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $40,000). The cabinet was purchased by the current owners of the house and will be returning to its original home.

Headlining the Hollywood section of the sale was George Maitland Stanley's "Lady and the Fawn," a patinated bronze sculpture from 1938 (est. $5,000-7,000, sold for $21,250). Stanley was a Los Angeles-based sculptor and art educator perhaps most famous for sculpting the Oscar® statuette. Designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, this sculpture has remained the iconic symbol of the Academy Awards since 1929 when the first Oscar was awarded. Throughout his career, Stanley was commissioned to create many important public works in Los Angeles including the Hollywood Bowl Entrance entitled "Sculpture of the Muse of Music, Dance, and Drama." Although "Lady and the Fawn" was meant to be an edition of fifty, no more than five castings of this model are known to have been created by the artist.

Other highlights from the fall auction included a rare, custom Louis Vuitton printed canvas, enamelled metal and wood art trunk designed by Vuitton for his great-nephew René Gimpel, a well-known art dealer of the early 20th Century (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $43,750); a bronze figure titled "Serpentindanserska," by Carl Milles (est. $25,000-35,000, sold for $40,000) and a beryllium copper and brass work titled "Sonambient Sound Sculpture," 1970s by Harry Bertoia (est. $20,000-40,000, sold for $40,000).


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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