The 20th Century Design auction November 18 at Heritage Auctions will showcase 11 pieces of highly collectible Martin Brothers stoneware, the third largest group ever offered in a single auction. Most recently, a collection of 23 Martinware pieces from the British ceramics maker realized $1,592,250 at Phillips.
The motifs, at once grotesque and playful, are the innovation of Robert Wallace Martin, the sculptor-turned-potter at the design helm of the Martin Brothers workshop. Production began around 1877 and continued through 1915. Heritage will offer eight of the iconic stoneware birds dating from 1884 -1913. The wares are representative of the Victorian period’s great transition – a time when Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species set in motion a chain of events that challenged church teachings and divided the public mindset on evolution. Other English pottery houses were preoccupied with increasing trade with the east and adapting styles to create the Aesthetic Movement, but it was the astute and insurgent Martin Brothers whose anthropomorphic facial expressions both embraced and chided the public’s fascination with Darwinian theories. The largest and most impressive bird on offer is pictured on the cover of the auction catalogue along with an important Tiffany bronze mirror.
Large and Impressive Martin Brothers Glazed Stoneware Bird Jar and Cover
Tiffany Studios Bronze Fern Table Mirror
In addition to the birds, the Martinware session includes an example of the popular double-sided face jug.
Martin Brothers Glazed Stoneware Grotesque Double-Sided Face Jug
All of the Martinware items are property from two Dallas/Fort Worth area private collectors.
The fern motif table mirror anchors the Tiffany Studios session, which also includes the private collection of the very public Maryland Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley – a champion of civic development who spent 10 years on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Bentley’s carefully curated, lifetime collection of Tiffany is comprised of more than 100 piece of glass, most of which have never appeared on the auction market. Most of Bentley’s collection was acquired prior to 1980; her interest spanned across Tiffany Studios’ masterworks.
Large Tiffany Studios Gold Favrile Glass Foliate Vase
From The Estate Of Helen Bentley
Rounding out the Tiffany session are numerous lamps, including an early 20th century example of the iconic tulip lamp.
Tiffany Studios Leaded Glass and Bronze Blue Tulip Table Lamp Circa 1905-1910
Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000.
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