Lalique collection goes under the hammer

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th March, 2018

Sotheby’s Australia will auction what it claims to be the most important collection of Lalique glass ever offered in Australia from 6pm Wednesday March 21 at the InterContinental Sydney 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney – appealing to national and international collectors alike.

The 134-piece collection belonged to Hans Mueller, late owner of the Lowes retail empire, and his late wife Gertrud who in the 1980s began amassing glass pieces by the famous French maker.

Born in 1860 and apprenticed as a jeweller, by the 1900s René Lalique had become well known for including innovative materials in his jewellery creations.

In 1913, establishment of a small factory near Paris led to the mass production of vases, ornaments, car mascots and perfume bottles for Coty and d’Orsay.

By the time Lalique opened a glass factory in Alsace in the 1920s producing unique and specialised clear and frosted pieces, his reputation was unsurpassed and his name became synonymous with the Art Deco period.

With World War II looming, Austrian-born Hans Mueller and 20,000 other emigrants fled to China where he met his future wife.

Using her family connections, they migrated to Australia and in 1948 Mueller was able to open a small menswear business in the Sydney suburb of Burwood.

Through determination and hard work, by 1981 he had amassed a chain of stores and bought out the long established family-owned Lowes brand – thereby further expanding his retail menswear empire, which today is run by his son and daughter.

Mueller, who died in December 2016, was then able to indulge his passion for Lalique – the collection including vases, bowls, dishes and statuettes with many of the designs dating from the 1920s and 1930s.

A rare and important 1927 frosted amber ‘Oran’ vase signed R. Lalique carries the highest auction estimate of $30,000-$40,000, while a ‘Bacchantes’ vase in the same colour is bound to generate plenty of excitement.

The auction also contains an impressive array of musical instruments from the private collection of musician Kirk Pengilly from the Australian group INXS.

Australian and European arts and design is another drawcard – in particular the works of Ferdinand Priess who was a master of the art deco style and his detailed and refined sculptures epitomise the period’s dynamism, elegance and glamour.

A rare 1858 oil painting entitled Sandridge Railway Jetty and Pier, Melbourne, Victoria provides an intriguing insight into the shipping and commerce of early Melbourne.

Viewing at 30 Queen Street Woollahra in Sydney.

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