On December 14, Bonhams sale of Modern Decorative Art + Design will offer over 150 works featuring rare designs of furniture, glass, and ceramics from the most sought-after Italian designers of the 20th century such as Osvaldo and Valeria Borsani, Fausto Melotti, and Carlo Mollino. Following this sale, Bonhams will also offer Fire and Light: A Selection of Highlights from the Cenedese Archive.
Highlighting the sale is a unique occasional table by Osvaldo (1911-1985) and Valeria Borsani, 1971 (estimate: $15,000-30,000). This is a tour de force of amalgamated geometries and one of Borsani’s last great designs. Essentially one folded sheet of steel serves double duty as both “leg” support and “table top” surface. Taking the X motif from the console tables, but rendering it in the negative, this leaves just half of the X outline to carry the split oval top. A doubling up of two cantilevers fused into one functional item, it is meant to be used as both magazine container and coffee table. The design is a coda for the rest of the pictorial geometries used throughout this domestic program and is illustrated in the interior plan for the salon by Osvaldo and Valeria Borsani.
This sale draws together rarely-seen works and features seminal pieces of Italian design including a group of ten glazed stoneware sculptures by renowned artist Fausto Melotti. Leading the group is a rediscovered Vaso Pavone, circa 1955 (estimate: $15,000-20,000) and Coppa, circa 1950 (estimate: $15,000-20,000), both now registered with the Archivio Fausto Melotti in Milan.
Another highlight is three pivoting doors by Carlo Mollino, 1944-46 (estimate: $50,000-70,000). It was Mollino’s earliest and most accomplished interior design for the house of Ada and Cesare Minola. These three doors were sited at the threshold between the entrance vestibule and the large reception room. Within each panel there are six triangular frosted glass sheets, a nod to Japanese use of paper screens, whereby both natural and artificial light become diffused. These doors are registered with the Museo Casa Mollino archive.
Additional highlights include a unique and monumental ceiling light for Arredoluce, 1964-65 (estimate: $30,000-50,000), created by the seminal Lebanese architect and artist Sami El-Khazim for the World's Fair in New York in 1964. The work was acquired after the fair by The Shah of Iran for use in the palace dining room. The ceiling light was sent to the Arredoluce factory in Monza where it was dismantled and re-engineered into the present smaller proportioned work.
“Early Imprint of an Angel” represents a high-point in the career of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, the internationally acclaimed, Czechoslovakian-based, husband-and-wife team (estimate: $70,000-90,000). This work comes from a final chapter of works that featured a limited number of technically masterful, large-scale creations in cast glass that focused on themes of the human spirit and what the artist referred to as the "inner-light".
Another highlight is an important ceiling light, 1901, designed and produced by Louis Majorelle for use in his home, Villa Majorelle, Nancy (estimate: $60,000-80,000). The villa features an overriding theme of monnaie du pape flowers in the design of its fixtures and furnishings. This motif is displayed prominently in the design of the front door, as well as two windows in the stairwell which also incorporate glass by Jacques Gruber.