Rare Prayer Bench By Antoni Gaudi To Be Sold At Bonhams New York On July 31

New York – On July 31, Bonhams sale of Modern Decorative Art + Design will be highlighted by a rare prayer bench by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), dating from 1913-1914. Fresh to the market, this bench is among the few remaining examples from the original commission of 20 for the crypt of the Colonia Güell church, located in Santa María de Cervelló (Barcelona). It is estimated at $200,000-300,000.

Benjamin Walker, Bonhams Global Head of Design, comments: 'It is extraordinarily rare to offer any work of art from Antoni Gaudi especially with certification of authenticity. The fact that this bench was executed by one of the masters of 20th century design and has been in a private collection for more than four decades makes it even more remarkable."

Gaudi's works were primarily influenced by architecture, nature, and religion. A devout Catholic, his faith grew throughout his life, with religious imagery appearing in many of his works meant as a tribute to both God and the Roman Catholic Church. Seven of Gaudi's works in the Barcelona area are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Parque Güell, Palacio Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Gaudí's work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and the crypt of Colonia Güell church.

The Colonia Güell, built between 1908 and 1916, was commissioned by Gaudí's great patron Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi as a residential space for his textile factory workers in the working-class neighborhood. Gaudi built the crypt and then designed the benches so that parishioners could attend religious services. The seat for two is divided by a central carved scallop shell, symbolizing the patron saint of Spain, St. James. Gaudi then entrusted completion of the 20 benches to carpenter Tomàs Bernat.

Most of the furniture was built from recycled materials, such as wood taken from crates shipped from England containing machinery for the textile factory. Additionally, the steel frameworks were repurposed from straps wrapped around bales of cotton imported from Egypt and the United States.

Other benches from the original set of 20 are located in collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museo Casa Gaudí, Barcelona, the Museu Nacional d'Art Cataluña, Barcelona and The Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

The sale will be a live 'behind-closed-doors' auction. An auctioneer will be present on the rostrum, and bids will be accepted in the following formats: online, on the phone, or by leaving an absentee bid. All bidding will be done remotely in accordance with the latest government guidelines.


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