Exotic art deco bronzes exhibit Melbourne auction appeal

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 2nd September, 2019

Two 1930 exotic bronze and ivory dancers (lots 83 and 100) by Austrian artist ‘Gerdago’ (1906-2004) and belonging to a prominent Melbourne identity are among the more appealing highlights of Philips Auctions Fine and Decorative Arts sale from noon Sunday September 8 at 47 Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

Born Gerda Gottstein in Vienna, Gerdago trained in Berlin and from 1925 to 1930 designed numerous art deco style colourful, cold-painted enamel and richly gilded statuettes, predominantly in dramatic postures wearing futuristic costumes with eccentric headgear, for the Artur Rubenstein foundry.

From 1931 to 1934, she designed clothes for the stage “Femina” where she was discovered by director Will Forst who hired her as costume designer for his early productions.

Austria’s annexation in 1938 by Nazi Germany curtailed her career with only her marriage to a non-Jew saving her from a fate worse than death.

However, her parents were not so lucky with her father being transferred to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and her mother to Auschwitz, where both died.

After World War II, Gerdago was able to return to costume design with enormous success and from 1955 to 1980 supervised all operetta performances at the Viennese Raimundtheater. She is buried at Doblinger cemetery in Vienna.

The auction features a range of clocks including an unusual and fine 1990s Swiss-made Jaeger-LeCoultre ‘Atmos’ timepiece (lot 57).

Sterling silver is a strong point with a set of six 1980s Gary Bradley artisan silver and copper goblets, matching sugar bowl and amethyst set spoon (lot 223) among the top attractions.

Cute is the early 20th century Hanau silver bird pounce pot (lot 220) with removable head revealing a grill.

Porcelain is another drawcard with a pair of figural Bocage candlesticks after Chelsea worth a second look.

An 1820s English porcelain inkwell in the manner of Coalport (lot 290) should attract plenty of attention, while among the art are several Leonard Long (1911-2013) paintings including lot 311 The gathering, Goodradigbee River, Wee Jasper, NSW 2004.

Long, an Australian painter from the Australian School of landscape painters, was raised in Mittagong in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands where he showed an early aptitude for drawing and painted his first painting at 16.

Despite staring his working life as a watchmaker, by 1939 he became seriously interested in landscape painting and within 16 years was a full-time artist.

During his career, Long held many successful solo exhibitions and travelled extensively both within Australia and overseas, while also befriending and painting with many other Australian artists including Albert Namatjira.

Moving to Melbourne in 1980, Long continued to paint every day even when he reached 100 and staged his centenary exhibition on May 14, 2011 at Nelson Fine Art & Editions in Yass.

Among the furniture on offer is lot 401, an 1830s William IV rosewood stretcher-based table.

Philips Auctions Monday night (from 6pm) jewellery sale features an impressive vintage diamond set brooch  (lot 88) with a catalogue estimate of $25,000-$35,000 and a large three-stone 4.0-carat ring (lot 89) - $20,000-$25,000.

Watches are another attraction with lot 167, a solid 18-carat gold mid-sized Jaeger Le-Coultre wristwatch, bound to bring collectors running.  

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