Summers & Odundo Set Pace For £2.65M Design Series

Summers & Odundo Set Pace For £2.65M Design Series

An Autumn 2022 Deign Season Review

Soaring to £2.65million*, our Autumn 2022 four-part series of Design sales comprising of Design Since 1860, Lalique, Travel & Vintage Posters and MODERN MADE were led by the largest collection of Summers' Simple Furniture to come to auction and a superb £225,000* vase by Dame Magdalene Odundo.

MODERN MADE

 

An exceptional collection of plywood furniture by English modernist designer Gerald Summers (1899-1967) - the largest of its type to come to auction - proved a sell-out when offered for sale in London last month. Our MODERN MADE sale held at the Mall Galleries on October 28 included 23 pieces of 1930s furniture by Summers from a collector who has long championed his work. 
Gerald Summers and his partner Marjorie Butcher opened their London shop, Makers of Simple Furniture, in 1931. For a decade, until the firm’s closed with the onset of the Second World War, Simple Furniture produced more than 200 designs conceived in the modernist creed as “furniture for the concrete age.” The emphasis was very much on function, modern materials, and machine methods of manufacture. Having worked as an apprentice within the aviation industry, Summers had seen the benefits of birch plywood that could be versatile, strong and cheap but also avant garde. He sold his furniture to forward-thinking members of the British public through department stores and furnishing shops in London, such as Heal’s.

 

GERALD SUMMERS (BRITISH 1899-1967) FOR MAKERS OF SIMPLE FURNITURE | ARMCHAIR, 1933-34 | £7,000-9,000 + fees

GERALD SUMMERS (BRITISH 1899-1967) FOR MAKERS OF SIMPLE FURNITURE | ARMCHAIR, 1933-34 | Sold for £25,200*

 

View Lot 42 ⇒

 

Like so much of British inter-war design, Summers’ work was largely forgotten by the market until the advent of the 21st century. Summers’ reputations in particular had paled in comparison with contemporaries such as Marcel Breuer or Alvar Aalto who worked in much the same medium. However, increasingly today he is seen as a pioneer and his works the precursor to the ubiquitous moulded plywood chairs made later in the century by Charles and Ray Eames. 
Martha Deese, an authority on Gerald Summers who provided the introduction to the catalogue, will publish a book on Simple Furniture next year.

 

GERALD SUMMERS (BRITISH 1899-1967) FOR MAKERS OF SIMPLE FURNITURE | RARE TYPE P CHAIR, CIRCA 1934 | £12,000-18,000 + fees
GERALD SUMMERS (BRITISH 1899-1967) FOR MAKERS OF SIMPLE FURNITURE | RARE TYPE P CHAIR, CIRCA 1934 | Sold for £22,680*

 

View Lot 62 ⇒

 

The collection included a fine example of Summers’ best-known design, his armchair c.1933-34 made form a single sheet of birch plywood. Summers had the ingenious vision to try and construct a chair that would require no joins and create very little waste, relying instead on simple incisions and mould bending. The example here was purchased new by the Oxford artist Juliette May Lucille Edwards (1909-2011) and acquired by the vendor from her estate in 2011. It was estimated at £7,000-9,000 but sold for £25,200*.
Another piece with a provenance to its original owner is as a set of three nesting tables c.1935 sold at £6,930*. These came by descent from Cecil Handisyde (b.1908), one of a team of architects who designed the Lansbury Estate in Tower Hamlets, London. The first phase of building was undertaken as the 'live architecture' element of the 1951 Festival of Britain exhibition. 
A stained ash plywood and brass trolley c.1936 is Summers' only documented design for Isokon, the design firm founded by Jack Pritchard and Welles Coates. Both Isokon and Simple Furniture used the same birch plywood manufacturer Venesta in their furniture making. Although a series of copies have been produced this century, only 20 or so original trolleys were thought to have been made before plywood became difficult to source with the onset of the Second World War. A similar piece (perhaps this one) featured in the Bent Wood and Metal Furniture 1850-1946 exhibition organised by The American Federation of Arts which travelled to nine institutions around the US in the 1980s. Estimated at £12,000-18,000, it sold for £35,200*. 
Another particularly rare piece is a Type P chair. With legs formed from single strips of bent plywood, which rise to form the back supports. The Italian architect and designer Carlo Mollino created a pair of plywood chairs for the Casa Cattaneo using a similar technique two decades later. This is believed to be the only example of this chair to exist, though it is known that two were originally produced. It was described in the Makers of Simple Furniture advertising as: "Suitable for occasional or dining use. Constructed of selected birch and finished in clear polish". The Type P chair sold for £22,680*.

Collectively the Summers lots made over £205,000* with bidders and buyers from the UK, America and China. The vendor declared “I have for many years sung the praises of this great British designer. This body of work whilst including only a fraction of his 200 designs, has given a voice to Gerald Summers and hope that it will encourage debate and much deserved greater inclusion in the history of the Modernist movement.”

 

DAME MAGDALENE ODUNDO O.B.E.

DAME MAGDALENE ODUNDO O.B.E. (KENYAN 1950-) | UNTITLED, VESSEL, 1986 | Sold for £225,200*

 

View Lot 303 ⇒

 

MODERN MADE was also memorable for the fine array of studio wares by post-war and contemporary women potters offered. Foremost among these was a signature vase by Kenyan born ceramicist Dame Magdalene Odundo (b.1950) whose work now enjoys the sort of financial rewards shared only by a small handful of post-war studio potters. The 27.5cm high Untitled Vessel from 1986, painstakingly fashioned in the burnished and carbonised terracotta that is Odundo’s signature medium, assumes an asymmetrical form evocative of the human body. It was acquired by the vendor at auction more than 25 years ago at a time when the market was in relative infancy. Here, estimated at a modest £10,000-15,000, it sold for a mighty £225,000*. This was the second highest price paid for the potter who holds the auction record for a work by any living ceramic artist. A simpler form by Odundo, a burnished and carbonised terracotta bowl, sold for £31,450*. It had formed part of the Royal College of Art Degree Show, London, 1982 where it was acquired by the current vendor.

Akiko HiraiAKIKO HIRAI (JAPANESE 1970-) | LARGE MOON JAR, 2017 | Sold for £6,930*

 

View Lot 299 ⇒ 

 

The Anglo-Japanese potter Akiko Hirai (b.1970) is among the more admired of the current generation of contemporary ceramicists, blending Japanese and British pottery techniques results in her celebrated, asymmetrical natural forms. The sale included 12 lots from across her career that began in London at the turn of the 21st century. They range from a group of 12 ‘Morandi’ stoneware bottles (so-called as they mirror the bottles and jars used by Italian artist Giorgio Morandi in his still life paintings) sold at £3,528* to a series of the grogged stoneware vessels inspired by the Korean pots that shock and surprise with their rugged surfaces and ash glazes. A 48cm ‘Moon’ jar bought by the vendor at the exhibition Akiko Hirai: In Praise of Shadows at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh in 2017 took £6,930*.

DAME LUCIE RIE (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL | Sold for £9,450*DAME LUCIE RIE (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL | Sold for £9,450*

 

View Lot 255 ⇒

 

A footed bowl with a pale blue glaze by the doyenne of the medium Dame Lucie Rie (1902-95) sold at £9,450*. Displaying a mastery of form and glaze, it is part of a collection of studio pottery assembled in the 1980s that specialist Philip Smith first travelled to see at the end of lockdown. At the equivalent sale earlier this year, two particularly fine bowls from the same source made substantial sums - one in pink with a turquoise banding, sgraffito design and a bronzed rim brought £57,500* while the other in a vibrant jade green made £50,000*.

 


 

DESIGN SINCE 1860

 

MODERN MADE was just part of our four-part £2.65million* series of Design sales that began in Edinburgh on October 12 with Design Since 1860 where key proponents of the Glasgow School dominated. One of the highlights was a stunning Glasgow School collar, embroidered by the celebrated artist Ann Macbeth (1875-1948) which realised £11,970*. This collar, shown worn by Macbeth in a contemporary photograph of circa 1900 was found by the keen-eyed vendor in a box of fabric at a Glasgow market and instantly stood out for its quality. An inspiring artist, teacher and women’s rights activist, Macbeth was the most talented student of Jessie Newbery who ran the embroidery department at the Glasgow School of Art. Her striking embroideries and accessories in the Glasgow style were a regular feature in The Studio with this collar illustrated in the magazine’s 1908 edition and later shown as part of The Crafts Exhibition, Old Bluecoat School, Liverpool, 1912. Detachable collars and cuffs, that added colour to the plainest outfits, were frequently used by the embroiderers of the Glasgow School of Art.

 

ANN MACBETH (1875-1948) GLASGOW SCHOOL COLLAR, CIRCA 1900ANN MACBETH (1875-1948) | GLASGOW SCHOOL COLLAR, CIRCA 1900 | Sold for £11,970 incl premium

 

View Lot 248 ⇒

 

Leading the sale was a dark-stained and waxed oak ladderback chair with original drop-in rush seat designed by the architect and polymath Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Catherine Cranston’s Argyle Street tearooms in 1898. It was the second time the Glasgow architect and entrepreneur had worked together. Used at one end of the Luncheon Room about 20 chairs of this robust design appear in contemporary photographs, of which five are known to survive. Estimated at £8000-12,000, it sold at £32,700*. 

LOT 249 | CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH (1868-1928) FOR MISS CRANSTON’S ARGYLE STREET TEAROOMS | CHAIR, 1898 | £8,000 - £12,000 + fees

CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH (1868-1928) FOR MISS CRANSTON’S ARGYLE STREET TEAROOMS | CHAIR, 1898 | Sold for £32,700*

 

View Lot 249 ⇒

 

A writing desk designed by the artist trebled hopes to realise £30,200*. Now converted to a table, the lattice form pedestal once formed the base of a four-person desk made by Frances Smith for the Ladies' Rest Room at Miss Cranston's Ingram Street Tearoom in 1909. It had been purchased by the owner in around 1960. John Mackie, Head of Sale, has a long-standing interest in Mackintosh’s work and is member of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and a trustee of the Willow Tearooms regeneration project in Glasgow.

 

LOT 250 | CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH (1868-1928) FOR MISS CRANSTON'S INGRAM STREET TEAROOMS | WRITING TABLE, 1909 | £4,000 - £6,000 + fees

CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH (1868-1928) FOR MISS CRANSTON'S INGRAM STREET TEAROOMS | WRITING TABLE, 1909 | Sold for £30,200*

 

View Lot 250 ⇒

 

Gavin Morton and GK Robertson are well regarded for their high quality hand-knotted Arts & Crafts carpets, made by Alexander Morton and Company. The example here, that came for sale from the collection of the late Sir Richard Shepherd, MP, was worked across an ivory field with bold palmettes and stiff leaves in tones of blue, green and pastel. Measuring 6.52 x 3.35m, it was admired both for its scale and condition and took £24,444*.

 

AFTER GAVIN MORTON AND G.K. ROBERTSON | ARTS & CRAFTS HAND-KNOTTED CARPET | Sold for £24,444*

View Lot 139 ⇒

 

 


 

LALIQUE

 

Lalique led by Joy McCall and Travel & Vintage Posters conducted in partnership with specialists Tomkinson Churcher captivated specialist collectors and casual furnishers alike at the Mall Galleries on October 27.

LOT 174 | ◆ ‡ RENÉ LALIQUE (FRENCH 1860-1945) | CARAVELLE TABLE CENTREPIECE, DECORATED WITH COLONY OF SEAGULLS | designed 1938 £60,000 - £80,000 + feesRENÉ LALIQUE (FRENCH 1860-1945) | CARAVELLE TABLE CENTREPIECE, DECORATED WITH COLONY OF SEAGULLS
designed 1938 | Sold for £75,200*

 

View Lot 174 ⇒

 

A particularly rare piece of Lalique in this biannual offering was the so-called Caravelle table centrepiece in clear and frosted glass sold at £75,200*. The design, centred by a 17th century style man-of-war gunship, was first produced in 1931 (the galleon is an emblem on the coat of arms of Paris) but this piece was one of three created for the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1938. To complement the gift of a large dinner service featuring seagulls, a series of 13 gulls in flight (three on the front, 10 to the reverse) were added. Only two other examples are known to exist – the example in the Royal Collection and another version held in the Musée Lalique.

RENÉ LALIQUE (FRENCH 1860-1945) | CHRYSANTHEME VASE, NO. 1057 | Sold for £18,900*RENÉ LALIQUE (FRENCH 1860-1945) | CHRYSANTHEME VASE, NO. 1057 | Sold for £18,900*

 

View Lot 27 ⇒

 

The other top lots of the sale were the Chrysanthéme vase and cover in clear, frosted and sepia stained glass on carved stained walnut base at £18,900*, and the rare Vigne Cave à Liqueurs at £18,900* – a lockable nickel-plated tantalus with three clear and frosted bottles.

Joy McCall said, “the sale attracted good international interest but the UK yielded the most participants with much of the action coming from online bidders” She added that the department is “now looking forward to offering a single-owner collection of Lalique in February.”

 


 

TRAVEL & VINTAGE POSTERS

 

It was a classic Scottish scene for LNER that topped the 50 lots of vintage posters selling for £12,600*. Over the Forth to the North from 1928 depicts the iconic railway bridge that, crossing the Forth estuary in Scotland, had the world’s longest span when it opened in 1890. Henry George Gawthorn's bold Art Deco style scene in shades of blue conveys the industrial aesthetic and structural impact of this remarkable feat of engineering.

 

HENRY GEORGE GAWTHORN (1897-1941) | OVER THE FORTH TO THE NORTH | Sold for £12,600*
HENRY GEORGE GAWTHORN (1897-1941) | OVER THE FORTH TO THE NORTH | Sold for £12,600*

 

View Lot 7 ⇒

 

Another Art Deco travel sheet, this time created in 1926 for Imperial Airways, depicted a large passenger bi-plane enroute across the Channel to France. Deigned by Dorothy Braddell (1889-1981), a British writer and designer of kitchens and domestic appliances, this rare poster sold for £5,292*.

 

DOROTHY BRADDELL (1889–1981) IMPERIAL AIRWAYS, THE BRITISH AIR-LINE
DOROTHY BRADDELL (1889–1981) | IMPERIAL AIRWAYS, THE BRITISH AIR-LINE | Sold for £5,292*

 

View Lot 15 ⇒

 

*All sold prices include buyer's premium.

 

Auction Information

 

DESIGN SINCE 1860

Wednesday 12 October at 10am

Live Online | Edinburgh

 

View the auction results ⇒

 

LALIQUE

Thursday 27 October 2022

Live Online | London

 

View the auction results ⇒

 

MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

Friday 28 October 2022

Live Online | Mall Galleries, London

 

View the auction results ⇒

 


 

Decorative Arts & Design 

 

Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts & Design specialists are renowned for both their knowledge and their sales of artworks conducted from London and Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on design from 1860 to the present, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to any successful auction.

 

Learn more ⇒

 


 

The Lalique Department

 

Lyon & Turnbull’s Design Department is delighted to have introduced Lalique as a new biannual sale category in April 2021. No other auction house offers specialist sales devoted entirely to the work of René Lalique.

Senior Specialist, Joy McCall heads these sales as she previously did at Christie’s, London for many years. She has over 25 years of experience selling Lalique and brings to the process her knowledge and expertise together with a personal passion for the subject.

 

Learn more ⇒

 


 

Modern Design

 

Lyon & Turnbull are a leading auction house in Modern, Post War and Contemporary Design, holding specialist live and online Design auctions in London and Edinburgh that are known for their international reach and strong results.

Our sales cover all the major movements from Pre-War French and British Modernism and Art Deco, to works from the Mid-Century and Post-War, including Italian and Nordic Design, European and American Modernism, Studio Craft through to Contemporary Design, Glass and Studio & Contemporary Ceramics 

 

Learn More ⇒

  

 


 

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

 

 

John Mackie

 

JOHN MACKIE | DESIGN SINCE 1860

0131 557 8844

john.mackie@lyonandturnbull.com

 

 

 

JOY MCCALL

 

JOY MCCALL | LALIQUE

0207 930 9115

joy.mccall@lyonandturnbull.com

 

 

   

Philip Smith

 

PHILIP SMITH | MODERN DESIGN

0207 930 9115

philip.smith@lyonandturnbull.com

 

 

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