An extraordinary mahogany “Beau Brummel” dressing table fit for a princess has swept into the spotlight of Austin Auction’s Sept. 25-26 Estate Auction.
The circa-1930 triple-mirrored dressing table is of the highest-quality construction and is fitted with a key-lock safe and exquisite 30-piece Art Deco vanity set of sterling silver and cut glass. The well-marked table and its accessories were crafted by the premier London firm Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Ltd.
Each hallmarked vanity accessory is finely enameled and adorned with an Islamic moon-and-star motif as well as one of three images of a regally attired gentleman believed to be Asaf Jah VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad (1886-1967).
In a Feb. 22, 1937 cover story in Time magazine, His Exalted Highness, The Nizam of Hyderabad was reputed to be the richest man in the world, with a fortune of $2 billion. Among those who enjoyed the lavish lifestyle The Nizam provided were his seven wives and 42 concubines. Austin Auction Gallery associate Chris Featherston said “intensive research into the dressing table’s background gives every indication that the piece was commissioned by the Indian prince, perhaps for one of his wives or concubines.”
“We have convincing photo similarities for the three portraits that appear on most of the items in the vanity set, which include hairbrushes, jars, bottles, scissors, nail files and even an 8-day clock,” Featherston said. “Our expert in India told us that, in his opinion, the person whose images are the focal point of the vanity items is, indeed, The Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, one of India’s last princes.” The vanity was purchased by the consignor in the 1990s from a private antiques dealer, the dressing table is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.
Many significant artworks, as well as furniture, decorative art, estate jewelry and ladies’ designer handbags, will be auctioned in the Sept. 25-26 auction. Standing 84 inches tall inclusive of black granite base, a life-size Neapolitan marble statue of Bacchus (a k a Dionysus), the god of wine, is adorned by garlands of grapes around his head and waist, and holds a bowl of grapes with one hand and a cluster of grapes with the other. The mid-18th-century sculpture’s age and region of origin have been authenticated by a Professor Emeritus and PhD from the University of Texas’ Art History department. It carries a presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
The influence of visionary architect Antonio Gaudi (Spain, 1852-1926) is strikingly obvious in the design of a Gothic Revival carved walnut and stained glass armoire consigned to the auction. The circa-1890 design incorporates four decorative glass-embedded doors, the two central doors displaying artistic leaded-glass panels with an intricate botanical theme. A stunning presentation, the 113-inch-tall by 81-inch-wide armoire is entered in the sale with a $2,000-$4,000 estimate.
Other highlights of the furniture section include a 14-foot dining table from northern Spain, 18th- and 19th-century French furniture, a pair of MacKenzie-Childs rattan chairs, and a circa-1890s six-piece walnut parlor set with carved heads, attributed to John Jelliff. Non-traditional and sure to attract attention on auction day, a Carol Hicks Bolton for E.J. Victor “Bollywood” sofa of beaded and sequined burgundy velveteen could make $2,000-$4,000 at auction, while a Renaissance Revival 3-piece parlor set upholstered in long-haired cowhide and embellished with winged-griffin crests and figural hand rests is cataloged with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.
A grand dore bronze figural mantel clock and garniture set by Japy Freres (France) features three winged putti resting over profuse foliate and floral decoration. This exceptionally beautiful ensemble is estimated at $10,000-$15,000. In all, more than 40 figural clocks will be offered, some of them after Auguste Moreau and standing 3feet tall, and others of the Black Forest genre. Within the latter group is a highly detailed 4-foot parcel gilt wall clock mounted with a stag, wolfhound and boar.
Dating to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), a Chinese white jade bear carving is conservatively estimated at $400-$600. Another figural piece with charm and eye appeal is the large presentation drinking horn decorated with a three-dimensional finial shaped as a drunken gnome – estimate $1,000-$2,000. The latter piece is one of a large collection of unusual drinking horns to be auctioned.
The profusion of top-tier antiques continues with a Tiffany dresser set in fitted leather travel case, a scarce and unusual George B. Sharpe gilded sterling ice cream set in fitted leather case from Robbins, Clark & Biddle; and an 1890s handwoven tapestry. Made around 1890 in Leipzig, Germany, an upright Polyphon Musikwereke music box, walnut with crank handle, is accompanied by 36 discs. Its estimate is $4,000-$6,000.
Modern master Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941-) designed and created the three artist-signed glass sculptures included in the auction. Of billowing and striated yellow glass, the “Radiant Persian Pair” is expected to fetch $8,000-$10,000. A marine-blue creation of similar concept, known as “Paradise Persian,” is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
Austin Auction has enjoyed great success in the past with designer handbags. The September event includes an excellent assortment of purses by Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton – one of the Vuitton bags is lotted with matching shoes.
Leading the estate jewelry category are a diamond and alexandrite ring, and several pieces of Brazilian beaded accessories with 18K gold clasps. A selection of coveted David Yurman designs will be auctioned, as well.
All forms of bidding will be available for Austin Auction Gallery’s Sept. 25-26 Multi-Estates Sale, including live via the Internet (austinauction.com). For additional information, call or e-mail. View the fully illustrated catalog online and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at Live Auctioneers.