Are You Sitting on a Small Fortune?

Are You Sitting on a Small Fortune?

An important example of Vienna Secession furniture, bought earlier this year for just £5, is expected to make between £2,000-3,000 in our auction of Design in the New Year. The elm and wicker highback chair, designed by Koloman Moser (1868-1918) in 1902, has been consigned to our 25 January sale.

3 November 2021

The chair was found in a junk shop on the south coast earlier in the year. The vendor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: ‘When I got the chair home, I had a closer look and thought it looked really interesting. I emailed some pictures to the V&A museum but had no response. My next stop was Sworders. I emailed Design specialist, John Black, and he responded immediately'. 

Vienna Seccession Chair

Koloman Moser (1868-1918)
a highback chair,
c.1902, produced by Prag-Rudniker Korbwarenfabrik, Austria
elm, with woven wicker back sections and seat

£2,000-3,000

 

John Black had been pleasantly surprised to see an image of a scarce but familiar design on his screen.  ‘My first reaction was "how rare is that!" The vendor had done some research but was unsure if the attribution was correct, so I decided the best course of action would be to speak to Dr Christian Witt-Dörring, a specialist on the Vienna Secession and curator of many exhibitions. He confirmed the attribution and praised this example for ‘the dignity of its original condition’.’

The chair is a prime example of the artistic achievements of the Vienna Secession movement. Designed in 1902 by Koloman Moser (1868-1918), a teacher at the Vienna School of Applied Arts, it is a modern reinterpretation of a traditional 18th century ladder-back chair. The lone decorative element is the chequerboard-like grid of the webbing on the seat and the back of the chair.  Members of the Vienna Secession were concerned about the negative consequences of industrial production. Among other things, students at the Vienna School of Applied Arts were engaged in providing modern designs for the wickerwork factory of Prag-Rudniker. In 1903, the magazine Das Interieur published a whole series of new designs (including this chair), which was followed in 1904 by a whole article devoted to modern Austrian wicker furniture in the influential UK publication The Studio. 

A similar chair to this example sold for $22,000 at Christie’s New York in December 2019. 

 

 

 


 

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