Functional, Fashionable, and Fun: Skinner’s 20th Century Design Auctions Offer a Rich Spectrum of Furniture, Art, and Ceramics

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Ceramic Cavalier and Horse Pitcher (Lot 253, Estimate $4,000-6,000)

MARLBOROUGH, MASkinner presents two auctions that span modern design from its beginnings in art nouveau to pieces by artists and artisans still active today.

Jane Prentiss, Department Director, observes that both auctions celebrate the innovative use of materials and the adventurous concepts that characterize 20th century design. Wood and ceramic, fiber and laminate, metal and glass were re-imagined and used in new ways to meet the needs and tastes of a forward-looking, dynamic culture.

20th Century Design | Live Auction | August 24

The 20th Century Design live auction will take place in Skinner’s Marlborough Gallery on August 24 at 12PM. The auction of nearly 450 lots includes pieces from the collection of George Wald, and notable material ranging from Scandinavian furniture to American ceramics.

George Wald, a Nobel Prize winning biochemist, and his wife Ruth, were discriminating and enthusiastic collectors beginning in the 50s and 60s, a seminal period in design innovation. Each item in the Wald’s collection was mindfully acquired and lovingly cared for. George was intrigued by indigenous cultures and he collected their art and artifacts, as well as the highly refined creations of such artists and personal friends as woodworker George Nakashima (Conoid chair, Lot 279, estimated between $3,000-5,000) and ceramicists Edwin and Mary Scheier (Large bowl, Lot 277, $2,000-3,000). Ruth Wald was especially interested in Scandinavian design and enriched their collection with such acquisitions as several pieces of furniture by Hans Wegner, including two Papa Bear chairs (Lots 217, 218, $6,000-8,000).

Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) Armchair (Lot 100, Estimate $30,000-50,000)

Another notable collection is from the estate of Father Paul Plante. Himself an accomplished artist in pastels, Plante acquired a large number of ceramics by Brother Thomas Bezanson. Bezanson’s restrained functional wares are distinguished by complex Asian-inspired glazes. (19 pieces including chalices, plates and tea bowl, Lot 357, $1,000-1,500).

Among the iconic pieces highlighting this auction:

♦ Jean-Michel Frank armchair by the legendary French designer who epitomized luxurious minimalism. Lot 100 is a rare surviving original, circa 1925 ($30,000-50,000).

♦ Claude Conover “Chulub” stool, one of this inventive potter’s seemingly simple stoneware pieces with a mysterious archeological quality (Lot 214, $6,000-8,000).

♦ Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Untitled Wood Assemblage, an impressive 34” by 68” environmental sculpture in cedar (Lot 292, $19,000-21,000).

Other notable offerings include several lots of Dunbar and George Wormley furniture, American-made icons of sleek design for the mid-century modern home; numerous examples of studio pottery as well as outstanding production pieces from Clewell, Rookwood, and Moorcroft; works on paper by Larry Rivers, Robert Freeman, and Roy Lichtenstein; Tiffany glass; and silver from Mexico by legendary artisans including William Spratling and Matilde Poulat.

Modern Design Online | August 17 – 25

Tom Paiement (American, 20th/21st Century) Fret Series 35: Harmonic Minor, Key of C (Lot 1599, Estimate $600-800)

The online-only Modern Design auction continues the over-arching theme of functional design with more than 250 lots of appealing and approachably priced furniture, accessories and fine and decorative art.

Charles Webb, Massachusetts architect turned furniture designer who re-imagined the classics for contemporary living, is well represented with a number of pieces, including a cherry wood dining table (Lot 1506, $300-400).  Other famous names in modern furniture design offered in this sale include Alvar Alto (Bench, stool, and table, Lot 1525, $500-600) and Charles and Ray Eames (Two office chairs, Lot 1549, $450-650).

The online sale also offers the opportunity to acquire works by contemporary American artists:

♦ Ellen Rich painting, “Dots and Spots” (Lot 1501, $500-700)

♦ Keith J. Tabellione, “Headrest” steel and bronze sculpture (Lot 1558, $400-600)

♦ Tom Paiement, “Fret Series # 35” mixed media (Lot 1599, $600-800)

The dynamic format of this timed online auction is especially suited to the up-to-date nature of its contents and to busy bidders with an adventurous spirit.

Previews, Catalogs, and Bidding

Auction previews are free and open to the public and held in Marlborough Wednesday January 11, 12PM-5PM and Thursday, January 12, 12PM-8PM. The print catalog is available for purchase from the Subscriptions Department at Prices realized will be available at during and after the sale. The Skinner website enables users to view all lots in the auction, leave bids, and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Miami, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


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