A pair of rare Secessionist ‘Gitterwerk’ silver flower baskets by the leading Wiener Werkstätte designer Josef Hoffmann will have an estimate of £10,000-£15,000 in an upcoming Works of Art auction at Bellmans in West Sussex on November 22.
Josef Hoffmann was an Austrian-Moravian architect and designer and a founding member of the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops) in 1903. It was an Austrian group formed out of the Vienna Secession that focused on modern decorative arts. The group was influenced by Art Nouveau, as well as Arts and Crafts and was key in pioneering the further development of Modernism. The group focused on bringing all artistic genres together and making designs more commercial.
Before the creation of the workshops, Hoffmann worked with Charles Renee Macintosh in 1900. They shared a mutual aesthetic and both wanted to pull away from traditional styles of architecture and design, many have thus speculated the level of influence each had on the other’s work.
Hoffmann is known for his glass, furniture, and metalwork designs from whichGitterwerk emerged. Recognisable by its lattice metal style the ‘metal grid’ became a renowned feature of Hoffmann’s work and was continually produced between 1905 and 1915. The elliptical baskets and elongated loop handles in the ‘Gitterwerk’ lattice cut-work design are stamped ‘Wiener Werkstätte’ with the maker’s mark for Joseph Hoffman and the Austrian 900 standard silver mark.
Gifted to the current owner by a friend, whose father had, by repute, brought them back to the United Kingdom as gifts after the war. The baskets were also featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow at Caversham Park in 2016.
Another highlight of the auction is a Charles II carved limewood portrait plaque in the manner of Grinling Gibbons or most likely Edward Pearce from circa 1680. It was acquired by F.R. Poke Esq from the 1922 contents sale of Cassiobury Park, then an estate of the Earls of Essex.
The grand staircase of the house, now attributed to Pearce, is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is estimated at £1,000 – £1,500. Of real Grand Tour interest is a life size carved marble figure of the Farnese Hercules after the Antique. The 181.5cm high figure carved in contrapposto, modelled with lion pelt, club and apples was created in the 19th century and was discovered in a rather enchanting garden. It is estimated at £8,000 – £12,000.
Another sculpture after the Antique is a bronze model of the Crouching Venus, assumed to be French or Italian, and from the 18th century. The 30cm-high bronze is expected to fetch £5,000-£8,000.
Other sculptures included in the auction are two works by Marzia Colonna (Italian, b.1951) estimated at £600 – £800 and £800 – £1,200 respectively, and a bronze copy after Auguste Rodin of the figure of Vaslav Nikinsky is expected to sell for £800-£1,200.
Of special interest is a Haida Argillite pipe from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia from the 19th century carrying an estimate of £300 – £500.