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Post auction highlights | Design For Living, 11 May 2021

The second Design For Living auction, held on 11th May, featured an interesting blend of quirky, decorative and antique pieces. Here we present a few of the highlights, and look forward to the next auction in the series which takes place on 19th October 2021.


These 19th century French panels of scenic panoramic en grisaille wall paper depict various Italian views, and are in the manner of Joseph Dufour & Co., Paris. The firm was founded in Macon in 1797 by brothers Joseph and Pierre Dufour. Joseph had trained and worked in Lyon – the centre in France for wall paper and textiles – and they were joined by designer Jean-Gabriel Charvet. However, by 1800 the business was in liquidation and Pierre had left the company. A year later the enterprise was operating under the name of Joseph Dufour et Cie and grew rapidly – by 1805 Dufour employed more than 90 workers. The company’s major success came with the 20-panel panoramic, Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, designed by Charvet and exhibited at the 1806 Exhibition of Products of French Industry to great acclaim, which enabled Dufour to move the business to Paris. Dufour produced not only panoramics but also repeating pattern wallpapers for the European and American markets and in addition to Charvet, the design skills of Xavier Mader and Evarist Fragonard were also engaged. Dufour died in 1827 and thereafter the business was run by his son-in-law, however, he sold it a few years later and sadly the wood blocks used in the production of paper panels were dispersed.

A remarkable set of six vintage Fortnum & Mason bamboo chairs date from the mid-1930s and bear the label of the shop’s gift department. Their sloping backs and low seats are thoroughly conducive to lounging, whether in a conservatory or perhaps on board deck, and they perfectly evoke the precious years between the wars when the stylish Art Deco aesthetic dominated design, architecture and the visual arts. The chairs were formerly the property of the late Winnafreda, Countess of Portarlington (d. 1975), the wife of the 6th Earl whose taste was noted by the romance novelist Barbara Cartland when writing about her house in Vogue, 1965, ‘the eye is constantly interested but never jarred by what it sees’.

This striking George I style red japanned low table features a distinctive projecting shaped top heightened with gilt chinoiseries, and the japanning technique as deployed on tin, known as tôle, was used in the late 19th century Dutch polychrome tulip planter.  Japanning imitates Asian lacquerwork and the term was first used in the 17th century when genuine Asian lacquered pieces were first seen in Europe; the high demand for these items brought about the production of imitations notably initially in Italy, although Britain and the Low Countries were to become centres for japanning. Until the mid 18th century japanning was seen as a pastime for young ladies, and a number of guides were aimed at a female audience as well as being written by female authors. Thereafter japanning operated on a commercial scale, with japanned ware present in every middle class home, until the late 19th century, when inevitably fashions and tastes changed. The prices realised for both items in this month’s auction confirms an enduring interest in japanned objects.

Created in Spain, these handsome vintage tan leather and elm slipper chairs convey a bold, yet relaxed style.  They were designed in the 1920s by French designer and architect Pierre Lottier, for Valentí – based in Barcelona. Valentí was originally founded as a silversmithing business in the late 18th century, however, the burst in modernism experienced by the city from the late 19th century drove Valentí to add furniture to its output.  Whilst Spanish furniture is not without its decorative qualities, with silk weaving a major Spanish industry and silk often used in cushions for chairs and sofas, perhaps the most definitive material for Spanish furniture is leather. Rustic, and with traditional ‘X’ form legs, these chairs are comfortably classic and beautifully made.



Next auction: 19th October 2021 ● Contact us for an auction valuation: | +44 (0)207 281 2790

Detail from a wall paper by Joseph Dufour et Cie.

Detail from one of seven panels of 19th century French scenic panoramic en grisaille wall paper ● Sold for £8,750

One from a set of six vintage Fortnum & Mason bamboo chairs, circa 1935 ● Sold for £2,125

Labelled to the reverse with a Fortnum & Mason's tag

Detail of the gilt chinoiseries from the George I style red japanned rectangular low table ● Sold for £1,250

Detail of the table's distinctive rounded projecting shaped top and cabriole legs

Late 19th century Dutch polychrome tôleware tulip planter ● Sold for £2,875

One of a pair of vintage Spanish tan leather and elm slipper chairs by Pierre Lottier for Valentí ● Sold for £1,625