Lalique Alicante vase takes centre stage

An Alicante vase, one of the most famous designs from sought-after glassmaker, Rene Lalique, took centre stage in a recent London sale.

Chiswick Auctions’ recent Design sale saw the vase, signed R Lalique, France, offered with a guide price of £5,500-£7,500, eventually sell for a total of £13,750.

A glass vase from Rene Lalique

The popular form modelled in low relief with parrot heads (model No. 998 in Félix Marcilhac’s Lalique catalogue raisonné) was made in a number of different colourways. The example in the sale was double-cased with opalescent glass core and a frosted and polished outer, highlighted with a blue-grey stain.

The auction house’s quarterly design sale included pieces from most European progressive design movements from the Arts and Crafts to the contemporary. 

Among the most eagerly-contested lots was a Georg Jensen silver bangle from the Lamellae collection designed by the architect-turned-designer Zaha Hadid. The twisted cuff was the collection’s silver piece and sold out quickly at the Georg Jensen stand at Baselworld 2016. The example sold at £4,000 – close to double the original retail price for this piece. 

Georg Jensen silver bangle from the Lamellae collection

Another contemporary bestseller was a small crocodile skin ‘aeroplane’ coin tray by Hermes. Designed by Gilles Jonemann (b.1944) this limited model with moveable wheels and propellor was part of ‘petit h’ initiative, hiring with guest artists and designers to use leftover materials from already-made Hermès products to create unexpected items. Offered in its original box, it sold for £2,250. 

Post-war Italian design was a particularly strong category. These included seating furniture from the leather-upholstered and chrome ‘Soriana’ range designed by Afra and Tobia Scarpa for Cassina in 1969. A two-seater sofa in cream buttoned upholstery and a matching easy chair and ottoman both dated from c.1970 sold at £5,000 and £4,250 respectively. 

Among the best-known works of Gabriella Crespi (1922-2017) is the Kaleidoscope series of c.1970 table lamps with elongated octahedron shaped shades. An example in the sale sold for £4,750. A patinated bronze ‘Hydra’ side table, a 2009 design by the Paris-based artist and designer Mattia Bonetti (b. 1952) had expectations of £4,000-6,000 and realised £8,750. 

A patinated bronze 'Hydra' side table, a 2009 design by the Paris-based artist and designer Mattia Bonetti

Works by Piero Fornasetti included a set of six plates from the ‘Tema e Variazioni’ series, each parcel-gilt and transfer printed with the face of Lina Cavalieri in various guises, sold for £1,188 and a 1960s ‘Cammei’ table lamp with gilt cameo motifs on a green ground, sold for £1,625.  

A rare design by Charles and Ray Eames, a ‘La Chaise’ lounge chair in fibreglass, wood and tubular steel, sold at £3,250. While the chair was a 1990s reissue by Vitra, the original model was among the designs created for the 1948 Low Cost Furniture Design competition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

In the wake of an auction record for an ‘aquarium’ lighter at Chiswick Auctions set in December 2022, two more of the classic 1950s Dunhill accessories came for sale. The sale’s examples were both 10cm lighters engraved with fish. One with a front panel depicting grey and orange sweetlips fish with three angel fish to the reverse took £3,250 while another decorated with three grey fish to one side and a pair of black Betta fish brought £2,750.

Twelve months ago, the auction house saw a lighter depicting a pair of water birds to one side and a snowy heron to the other race away to bring £13,000.