Get Free ACN Daily Headlines


Search Auction Central News

Bookmark and Share
Auction Talk Germany

Auction Talk Germany: With changing vision

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 14:47
View of new presentation in the Gerhard Richter rooms of the Albertinium, photographs of the Abstrakte Bilder (937/ 1-4), are on view through Sept. 27 in the New Master Gallery. © Gerhard Richter Archive, Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. Photo by Oliver Killig

DRESDEN, Germany - A change of style or medium can be a career killer for an artist. Be an impressionist one day and an expressionist the next, or switch from painting to sculpture? Critics and the general public won’t know what to think.

But two of Germany’s best-known contemporary artists have built their careers on new ideas. Gerhard Richter and Günther Uecker, now in their 80s, have thrived on a palette of change. Contrary to killing their careers, their work is highly sought after and their prices only climb. Richter and Uecker’s work can be viewed in two new exhibits this year.

The Albertinium, part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden, has had two rooms devoted to hometown son Gerhard Richter since 2004. These were recently updated by the artist. The Kunstsammlung is also keeper of the Gerhard Richter Archives, a cache of catalogs, correspondence and photographs. This documentation of Richter’s career is especially important because of his chameleon-like way of moving among different styles and media. The sheer volume of his work in realistic and abstract paintings and prints, a type of paper and photo documentation he calls “Atlas,” photographs, artist books, sculpture and installation work, and even film, is astounding.

Richter’s work has been called “Capitalist Realism,” which amuses him. The moniker comes from a happening he created with artist Konrad Lueg in 1963. Richter had just defected from East Germany in 1961 where Socialist Realism prevailed, and decided “Manifesto of Capitalist Realism” would be a fitting title for the event. Certainly he has been commercially successful, setting auction record prices for a painting by a living artist in 2012 at $34 million (31 million euros); topped in 2013 at $37.1 million (33.9 million euros); and recently exceeded that in February, 2015, when one of his abstract paintings sold for $45.2 million (41.3 million euros) at Sotheby’s, London.

Visitors to the Albertinium can now enjoy four new large abstract paintings by Richter Abstrakten Bilder (937/1-4). They resemble mirage landscapes of striated gray with flashes of red and green. Their somber feeling can be traced to their inspiration: photographs taken by a Birkenau camp prisoner in 1944. The holocaust is a revisited theme for Richter. In keeping with his fascination for mirrored images, the artist has added four full-size color photographs of the works, creating a reflected image between photography and painting.

The 20-part color chart 180 Farben (1-20), 1971, is the core of Richter’s second exhibit room. Other new additions at the Albertinium include his daughter’s portrait, Ella, 2014, and the still life Tulips, 1995. Richter’s new exhibit continues through September. www.SKD.Museum.

Günther Uecker’s Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen exhibit at the K20 Grabbeplatz, Düsseldorf, is aptly titled Mehr als nur Nägel (More Than Just Nails). It’s easy to categorize Uecker as “The Nail Painter,” he is that inseparably identified with his nail relief images. The pictures are unmistakable – a pale painted background pierced with a pattern of nails, their three-dimensional aspect playing games with light and shadow, making the pattern appear to undulate. Yet Uecker is also a sculptor and installation artist. His use of words and text in his art adds the role of poet, designer and social commentator to his repertoire.

Like Richter, Uecker fled East Germany, settling in Düsseldorf in 1953. He actualized his wish of studying with artist Otto Pankok at the Kunst Akadamie Dusseldorf. It was during 1956-57 that Uecker created his first nail picture. He began to use everyday objects, such as furniture, as his “canvas” for nail sculptures. As a member of the Zero Group, Uecker experimented with kinetic light sculpture. His Terrororchesters (Terror Orchestra) in the Kunsthalle Baden Baden was a memorably noisy installation that included 20 washing machines and reflected the banal background noise of life.

Decades worth of Uecker’s nail reliefs are on exhibit in the Klee Hall exhibit of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen. This is a chance to properly experience the power of these seemingly simple works; one must walk past them to appreciate the light and perspective changes that bring them to life.

Terrororchester can be seen in the Grabbe Hall. Works with text that engage the viewer as reader include Brief an Peking (Letter to Beijing) and the Verletzungsworte (Wounding Words). In Sandmühle (Sand Mill) a rope rake perpetually spirals through a circle of sand. The simple materials and easy motion impart a universal message on the passage of time. But, as Uecker says,“Where language fails, the image begins.” With Uecker, you need to be present to receive the whole message. His work will be on view through May. .


Upcoming Auctions:

Henry’s Auktionshaus, Mutterstadt

April 10 - Young Timer Modern and Classic Timepieces

April 11 - Oreintal Carpets


Bassenge, Berlin

April 15 – History, Geography and Travel

April 16 – Valuable Books (Varia), Handwritten and Old Prints

April 17 – Literature of the 17th-19th Centuries, Autographs

April 18 - Modern Literature


Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen, Heilbronn

April 16 - Russian Art & Icons


Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich

April 17-18 – International Postage Stamps


Auction Team Breker, Cologne

April 18 – Technological Firsts


Galerie Widmer, St. Gallen

April 24 – Important works of various artists in the new auction rooms in St.Gallen. Work by Cuno Amiet, Philipp Bauknecht, Rudolf Belling, Max Bill, Martha Cunz, Ignaz Epper, Max Gubler, Ferdinand Gehr, Carl August and Carl Walter Liner, Albert Manser, Italo Valenti, Johannes Zülle and vielen mehr.


Winterberg Kunst, Heidelberg

April 25 – Comtemporary Art


Dobiaschofsky, Bern

May 6-9 – Spring Auction


Van Ham Kunstauktionen, Cologne

May 15 – Jewelry and Watches, Art

May 16 – European Arts & Crafts


Koller Auktionen, Zurich

May 13 – Style, Luxury & Vintage; Wine

Gerhard Richter, Abstrakte Bilder (937/ 1-4), 2014, oil on canvas, © Gerhard Richter Archive, Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. Photo by David Brandt. Photos courtesy S.K.D. Gerhard Richter during the new arrangement of his exhibit rooms at the Albertinium, with the inkjet print ‘Ella’ in his hands. © Gerhard Richter Archive, Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. Photo by Oliver Killig Günther Uecker, Bewegtes Feld, 1964, nails, oil, on linen and wood. Collection Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. © VG Bild Kunst, Bonn 2014. Photos courtesy Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen View of an installation in the Günther Uecker exhibit, with ‘Sandmuhle’ in the foreground. © Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen. Photo by Nic Tenwiggenhorn. Günther Uecker during the hanging of his exhibit. © Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfallen. Photo by Andreas Endermann.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 15:48

Auction Talk Germany: Basically Belsnickle

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 14:56

Many of the Belsnickle candy containers, like this judgmental fellow, were glued together at the base for later use as a Christmas decoration. With his decorated tree and heavy coating of sparking micra, this Belsnickle still brought $9,500 at Dan Morphy Auctions’ September 2011 sale. Photo courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions LLC.

SAXONY, Germany – Twenty years ago, Lorraine Jones of Peabody, Mass.,, told her husband she thought she would be content if she bought just one Belsnickle candy container. Forty-nine Belsnickles later, Jones has collected a small troop of the fragile German papier-mâché candy containers that bring her year-round joy.

“I see a Belsnickle and get all excited. I live my life being a little child in my heart,” said Jones, trying to contain her laughter. “I guess I’m keeping that childhood excitement alive. My mother is gone, and she had such a love of Christmas. The Belsnickles keep that alive for me.”

Belsnickle is no Santa Claus. Although his true origins have vanished with the Christmas snow, he is the stern character who visited children a few weeks before Christmas to see who was naughty and who was nice. His thin, scowling presence, a sack of goodies in one hand and a bundle of whipping switches in the other, was enough to terrify the goodness into any child.

The German tradition dates back to a time when St. Nicholas and the Kristkind or Christ Child, represented as a blond angel dressed in white, made the rounds together. But after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, St. Nicholas was frowned upon. In order to fill the void, various regions devised their own character. In Hessen he became “Pelznickle,” which means “Nicholas in Fur.” In Schwäben it was “Pelzmärtle.” In Rheinland Falls they pronounced the “P” as a “B” and he became Belznickle.

The tradition spread as Germans emigrated to other countries. In Brazil Pelznickle flourished.

“The northern Germans brought Belsnickle with them when they moved to Pennsylvania.” explained Jones. Indeed the Pennsylvania Dutch (which comes from Deutsch, i.e. Germans), still have the tradition of Belsnickle.

Around 1870 papier-mâché composition Belsnickles began to be made in Sonneberg, Thuringia, Germany, for export. The crafting of Belsnickles there was fitting, as the area was already renowned for their expressive and beautiful dolls.

A Belsnickle was formed in two plaster molds, front and back. Then the two halves were dried and joined together, finished and painted. Some were purely decorative; others were made into candy containers given to children at Christmastime.

The Belsnickles’ hands are usually tucked tight inside their coat sleeves, but sometimes they strike a more relaxed pose. Some of them look a little hunch-backed. They have arresting faces, with expressive eyebrows, looking stern but wise. It is the perfect expression for meting out punishment for naughty behavior. While children were probably scared of Belsnickle, his image on a candy container was loveable in an overbundled sort of way.

“With the candy containers, some separate at the legs – the boots slide off; and some separate at the waist,” notes Jones. “Inside there is a little paper tube. I think it was used for candy, cookies, nuts or little toys.”

Jones has been collecting these fragile Belsnickle candy containers for 20 years, scouring antique shops, auctions and even Ebay. During this time she has watched the price increase from a few hundred dollars to literally thousands for a large Belsnickle in very good condition. Of course, she never forgets her first one.

“I look at my first Belsnickle and he is not such a good one. Only about 5 inches high, and his tree is worn down to a wire, he has no color left, and his eyes are chipping away,” said Jones. But you can tell by the tone of her voice that she is like a mother describing a homely but well-loved child. He has earned a special place in her mirror-backed glass display cabinet. Artist Scott Smith of Rucus Studio in Michigan can sympathize. His Belsnickles hold a place of honor in a glass display case in his studio. He draws inspiration from their detailed faces.

“I collect all antique Christmas, but the candy containers appeal to me because they have a mix of concept and function – it’s a decorative figurine, but it also had another use,” said Smith. “I like the Belsnickles because they have that elf-like, woodland appeal. They can be cute and simple or elaborate and menacing.”

After working for years as a commercial artist and art director, Smith opened his own studio in 2000. Using a similar molding process, he sculpts his own whimsical characters – owls, moons, pumpkin-headed people – that look like they stepped from the pages of a story book.

“I try to use the same methods, but we don’t have the same materials and recipes they had,” noted Smith.

He related that the making of Belsnickles was truly a cottage industry. Whole families worked on the project, using their own hand-carved plaster molds and secret recipes for the papier-mâché or chalk “clay” that was pressed into them.

“Sometimes they had to make do with the materials they had,” noted Smith. “The Belsnickles could not mold or rot or be eaten by animals. Yet I’m sure they had no thought in their minds that these things would last for 100 years or more.”

It is remarkable that the candy containers survived not only their first opening by little fingers, but sometimes even being glued together to use as a Christmas decoration for generations to come.

The variety of Belsnickles is truly amazing. They can be found with hooded coats of many different hues, from red, to deep plum purple, pink, yellow, white, blue, green and even sometimes brown. Often their coats sparkle with mica glitter or are trimmed with real fur. They perch in their black boots on snow-covered mounds or in front of trees. Many carry feather trees or baskets of toys, sometimes with a tiny American flag, as virtually all were made for export.

“They were made with high-end craftsmanship, from very elaborate to cheap and affordable for the average consumer,” said Smith. “They made everything from a 2-3 inch (5-7cm) ornament, to 6-8 inch (15-20cm) candy container – that was the average size, to 14, 24, or 36 inch (35, 61, 92cm) larger ones for very wealthy families or for store displays to attract customers into a shop.”

World War I took its toll on the Belsnickle industry. Many of the plaster molds were destroyed; materials were scarce. Belsnickles made after this time period were more like cardboard, sometimes even stapled together at the sides. Japanese Belsnickles also appeared on the market, “But,” says Lorraine Jones referring to skin color, “They were pink, pink, pink!”

Belsnickle fell out of fashion. German children became more interested in the Weihnachtsmann, who brought their presents on Christmas Eve. In the U.S. Santa Claus was becoming a jollier, happier old elf, helped along by the illustrations of Thomas Nast in the early 1880s and the red-suited Coca Cola Santa of the 1930s. Even so, another more sinister form of “the punisher” persisted in Austria.

When Bill Steely of Westchester County, N.Y., attended his first Golden Glow of Christmas Past convention, the only family member willing to go with him was his then 6-year old daughter Chloe.

“At our first room hop we discovered Krampus, and said, ‘Woa! What does a devil have to do with Christmas?”

Some eastern Germans still know Belznickle as Knecht Ruprecht. But Austria clings to a hooved and horned creature called Krampus.

“Of all the bad personas, Krampus was quite severe,” explained Steely. “He would put you in his sack and take you to the depths of hell. So if your goal is to scare your children into being good, Krampus really meets that goal.”

Chloe is now 19, and the Steelys have a full range of Krampus collectibles. But they also have a soft spot for Belsnickle. After all, fair is fair.

Take a peek at these websites for more information:;


Many of the Belsnickle candy containers, like this judgmental fellow, were glued together at the base for later use as a Christmas decoration. With his decorated tree and heavy coating of sparking micra, this Belsnickle still brought $9,500 at Dan Morphy Auctions’ September 2011 sale. Photo courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions LLC.

Like many Belsnickle candy containers, this one separated at the boots to reveal an intact tube for stashing candy or a small toy. It sold for $7,000 in Bertoia Auctions’ September 2014 auction. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

All Belnickles are fragile, but it’s especially amazing that this 20-inch figure with glass eyes and a glass icicle beard survived intact. The rare figure, standing on a mica-flecked snow mound and cradling a feather tree, fetched $17,000 at Bertoia Auctions’ November 2013 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

An unusual crowned Belsnickle, early 20th century, with yellow flocked trim sold at auction by Pook & Pook in October 2010 for $3,800. Photo courtesy Pook & Pook.

This stunning 18-inch gold Belsnickle candy container brought $6,000 at Dan Morphy Auctions’ September 2011 sale. Photo courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions LLC.

A few Belsnickles from the collection of Lorraine Jones. The Peabody, Mass., accountant says she often goes into the room where they are stored in a glass case just to look at them. Photo courtesy Lorraine Jones.

Jones uses her Belsnickles to decorate with at Christmas time. Here a few Belnickles on her fireplace mantel with an advertising painting of Santa Claus by artist Fred Craft. Photo courtesy Lorraine Jones.

This Belsnickle, with his fabric coat and soulful eyes, looks nearly like a modern-day Santa. Photo courtesy Lorraine Jones.

Scott Smith’s collection of Belsnickles spend most of their time in a glass display case in his art studio. Photo courtesy Scott Smith, Rucus Studios, Michigan.

A pair of figures from the collection of Scott Smith shows Belsnickle the punisher, with his bundle of sticks, and the Christmas Angel or Kristkind with a sack of presents. Photo courtesy Scott Smith, Rucus Studios.

One of the typical ways Scott Smith uses his Belsnickles to decorate for the holidays. Photo courtesy Scott Smith, Rucus Studios.


Bill Steely has assembled a collection of Belsnickles with exposed hands and relaxed poses. Photo courtesy Bill Steely. 

Compared to Belsnickle, Krampus is a really scary character. Here a decorative Krampus mask from the collection of Bill Steely, Westchester County, NY. Photo courtesy Bill Steely.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 17:31

Auction Talk Germany: The whole house

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 14:57

Back view of the Brigitte IV shows its placement on sloping ground at Burg Kipfenberg. Riemerschmid’s simple wooden house has practical wooden shutters for privacy and insulation. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

MUNICH – If you long to live in well-designed Arts and Crafts simplicity, an unusual object has come to market. Quittenbaum in Munich is auctioning an entire house designed in the early 1920s by renowned painter, architect and designer Richard Riemerschmid.

There are only two strings: First, the dismountable house will come disassembled and the buyer will have to move it onto a suitable building lot for reassembly. Secondly, the building lot will have to be in Bavaria because the house is on the Bavarian A List of Historical Landmarks. Quittenbaum estimates that this 1926 example of the Brigitte IV will sell for between 100,000 and 150,000 euros ($127,000 to $190,000).

The house is a fine example of Reform Architecture that appeared in Germany after World War I. Riemerschmid’s designs were offered by catalog and came in a variety of sizes. Customers could choose from many built-in furniture options, such as cabinets, display cases and sitting benches. Nut wood and oak gives the house interior a dark, yet cozy appeal. Riemerschmid also offered moveable furnishings that could be ordered at the same time as the house.

Workers in dirty, overcrowded industrial areas were happy to move into the garden communities designed by Riemerschmid. The houses were simple but pleasant. The commute to work was short. This particular Brigitte IV is a mid-size, two-story example, crafted and assembled by the Munich company Kowalsky & Glasser. Its first location was Jaiserstrasse 33 in Pullach, near Munich.

Renate and Peter Schuck, Jugendstil collectors and current owners of the house, lived out a dream by decorating it with Riemerschmid paintings, furniture, dishes, glasses, table linens and rugs, as well as the work of other period designers. It became a stunning private museum. Brigitte IV has nestled comfortably on the Schuck’s estate, Burg Kipfenberg in the Altmühltal, but now the couple is parting with not only with the house, but its amazing contents.

Richard Riemerschmid’s work spans the gap between ornamental Jugendstil and sturdy British Arts and Crafts. Taking the grace from one and the practicality of the other, he created designs that were lovely, yet able to be produced in larger quantities. The Deutsche Werkstatten für Handwerkskunst, Hellerau (Dresden) and Meissen Porcelain were two of the companies that brought his designs to life.

Scare raw materials in post-World War I Germany made wood Riemerschmidt’s building material of choice. The Brigitte IV offered at Quittenbaum was most likely insulated with a surprising material in its first incarnation – sawdust. The brilliant reuse of this construction by-product kept Riemerschmid’s houses toasty warm. To view all of the objects up for auction Nov. 13, visit


Upcoming Auctions


Nov. 14-15: Auction Team Breker, Cologne – science and technology, office antiques, and toys, including tin toys, dolls, trains and more.

Nov. 17-23: Vienna Art Week, podium discussions in the Palace Dorotheum, plus auctions of modern art, jewels and watches.

Nov. 20-22: Auktionshaus Selzer, Rüdesheim am Rhein, antique trains, steam machines, tin toys.

Nov. 26-29: Villa Grisebach, Berlin, autumn auctions with 19th century art, photography, modern art and more.

Nov. 29: Anticomondo, Cologne, 900 books from 1720 to 1960, mostly picture and children’s books.

Nov. 29: Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen, Heilbronn, art and antiques.


 Back view of the Brigitte IV shows its placement on sloping ground at Burg Kipfenberg. Riemerschmid’s simple wooden house has practical wooden shutters for privacy and insulation. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

A portion of the auction lots set up in a cozy corner inside the Brigitte IV: wicker chairs by Theodore Reimann, Dresden, 1906 (estimate €1200 to €1500 – $1,500 to $1,900 per chair); oak long-case clock by Deutsche Werkstatten, Hellerau, 1908 (€800 to €1,000 – $1,200 to $1,275); open and lidded beer steins by Villeroy & Boch, 1900 (€150 to €300 – $190 to $382 per stein); blue Reinhold Merkelbach Narrow-necked vase, 1903 (€1,400 to €1,800 – $1,785 to $2,295).  Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH. 

In the dining room a Richard Riemerschmid carpet for the Villa Rittmeister Jännicke, Colmar, 1905 (€3600 to €4500 – $4,590 to $5,700);  clever oak corner cabinet by Deutsche Werkstatten, Hellerau, 1911 (€800 to €1,200 – $1,020 to $1,500); and on the wall, one of Riemerschmid’s own landscape paintings, 1932 (€1,500 to €2,000 – $1,900 to $2,550).  Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH. 

Large covered porcelain dish designed by Richard Riemerschmid for StPM Meissen, 1903-05. Estimate €600 to €700 ($765 to $893). Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

Called “Sonntagsreiter” (Sunday Rider), this wooden toy circa 1904 comes with a separate paper that depicts the rider in different positions. Richard Riemerschmid, Dresdener Werkstätten. Estimate €800 to €1,200 – $1,020 to $1,530. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

The larch wood bed from the main bedroom of the Brigitte IV. Richard Reimerschmid, Dresdener Werkstätten, 1905. The house also has a girl’s bedroom. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

Richard Riemerschmid covered stoneware punch bowl in celadon green and cobalt made by Reinhold Merkelbach, Grenzhausen, 1906. Estimate €600 to 800 – $756 to 1,020. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 15:37

Auction Talk Germany: The Chair

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 12:55

Hans J. Wegner lounges with some of his most memorable chairs. Photo courtesy Design Museum Denmark.

SAXONY, Germany - Mass-produced furniture before 1950 had a tendency to be dark, ponderous and often uncomfortable. But in 1949 one man’s personal search for comfortable, well-designed seating resulted in a sensation that changed what everyone wanted in their living rooms.

“Just One Good Chair,” documents designer Hans J. Wegner’s search for the perfect place to sit. This extensive exhibit at Design Museum Denmark in Copenhagen is on display through Dec. 7, and worthy of a trip from nearby Germany for all Danish Modern enthusiasts.

Even as a student at the Danish Furniture School, Wegner’s brilliance was combining streamlined shapes with a perfect balance of form. His drawing for a set of silverware, unadorned and with a simple tapering at the top and bottom of each utensil, hinted at his future style.

There was a moment when everyone at school marveled over a curve-backed wooden chair from China, made with no nails or glue. This moment was breakthrough for Wegner, who later experimented with curved-back forms, as well as a Windsor-based design he called “Peacock Chair.”

Wegner’s modernism was inspired by simple tools humans have used for centuries. One only need say “boat paddle” to really understand the flaring and narrowing of the wooden arms of his chairs, “spear” to define their tapering, pointed legs.

When Wegner’s new design for a chair appeared at the Cabinetmakers Guild Exhibition in Copenhagen in 1949, it was the antithesis of traditional furniture. Appearing light in weight because of its open-backed design and light in color due to its natural wood, “The Round One” as Wegner referred to it, was refreshingly spare, yet comfortable.

Interiors magazine published an article on “The Chair” in 1950, and America went crazy for the new style. The Chair was launched it into mass production, nervously supervised by Wegner to ensure quality of craftsmanship was not compromised. The style became so popular that CBS bought Wegner chairs for the televised Nixon-Kennedy presidential debates.

Wegner never stopped pushing his idea of creating the perfect chair, designing more than 500 seating options and continuing to make them larger, more aesthetically pleasing and more comfortable. Although Wegner died in 2007, his work continues to inspire designers. It is also highly collectible. Depending on age, materials and condition, you can expect to pay upwards of 800 euros ($1,000) for one of his simple chairs.

Design Museum Denmark’s exhibit displays so many of the design highlights of Wegner’s very productive life. And unlike many such exhibits, you can actually sit in some of the chairs.

If you do venture to Denmark, the Fuglsang Kunstmuseum situated in the wildly remote landscape of the island of Lolland is not to be missed. It showcases an excellent overview of Danish art history, with masterworks by P.C. Skovgaard and Anna Ancher. The white cube-like building designed by British architect Tony Fretton is, itself, a part of the artwork. A special room designed with glass walls looks like three paintings, but it is actually a framed view of an ever-changing landscape of stormy skies and lazily moving sheep.

For information on both museums please see and


Upcoming Auctions

Oct. 15-18: Bassenge Buchauktionen, Berlin. Valuable books, autographs, modern literature and art documentation.

Oct. 17-18: Schwarzenbach Auktion Zurich presents stamps and postcards from Liechtenstein, Germany, Switzerland and West Europe, including special collections on the history of flight.

Oct. 21-23: Dorotheum, Vienna. Old Master paitings, antique furniture and acessories, jewels.

Oct. 23-25: Leipziger Münzhandlung & Auktion Heidrun Höhn combines their September and December sales into one enormous Autumn auction. Fine gold and silver coins and medals from Germany form the bulk of the sale, with interesting additions from Austria and the Czech Republic, as well as antiquities, paper money, stock shares, and antique maps.

Nov. 11-13: Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen, Munich: Art Nouveau & Art Déco; Private Collection Richard Riemerschmid; Bohemian glass by the Elisabeth glassworks.


Hans J. Wegner lounges with some of his most memorable chairs. Photo courtesy Design Museum Denmark.

‘The Chair’ in all its color variations. Wegner’s design had the ability to stack, making it good for mass production and transport. Photo by Heidi Lux.

Wegner’s design for the Wishbone Chair from 1950. Photo courtesy Design Museum Denmark.

Eye-popping, yet simple in design: Wegner’s Two-Part Shell Chair from 1963. Photo by Heidi Lux.

The Fuglsang Kunstmuseum sits in a dramatically lonely location, yet houses examples of the important periods in Danish art history. Photo by Heidi Lux.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:04

Auction Talk Germany: Auction house anniversaries

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Thursday, 01 May 2014 14:16

The rare School set by Steiff with its delightful tiny details like a functional abacus and a chalkboard. Photo courtesy Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen.

LADENBURG, Germany – Seeing a museum close is never a happy event. But when Katharina Engels shut the door of her doll and toy museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in January, it turned out to be a joyous culmination of her life’s work. For 30 years she shared her expertise and affection for toys with more than 2 million visitors. Now it was time to share her favorites one last time with collectors who would treasure them as much as she had.

Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen, with whom Engels had worked closely to build her collection, is marking a milestone of its own in 2014 – 25 years in business. Although auction houses in the U.S. and Asia were interested in auctioning Engel’s collection, she chose to return to her trusted friend Ladenburger to hold the sale.

More than 1,300 lots were auctioned to an appreciative audience, among them a rare School by the German toy maker Steiff. Its charming school desks, lesson books and round-faced student dolls went from an opening bid of 2,800 euros to an end price of 15,500 euros.

Lot 1144 was a breathtaking dollhouse decorated as a Vienna Café in the Biedermeier style with gothic details. The  café came complete with pastry-filled glass cases and guest dolls in their original 1880 finery. It was quickly bid from 3,800 to 16,500 euros.

Great interest was shown in a Humpty Dumpty Circus made by the German emigrant toymaker Schoenhut in the USA. The colorful tent and jointed figures, including a strong man, elephants and clowns, brought 8,000 euros.

Ladenburger owner and auctioneer Götz Seidel was pleased to mark the company’s 25th anniversary by being able to serve Engels one last time.

Auktionshaus Kaupp, Sulzburg, rings in their 20th year in business with a two-part anniversary sale June 27 and 28 at Schloss Sulzburg. Founded in 1994 in Staufen, Kaupp has built something of a reputation for auctioning paintings by Carl Spitzweg. But more recently their art and antiques sales have featured outstanding contemporary art.

“Kaupp Modern” on June 27 continues this with works such as Lyonel Feininger’s sketchy watercolor Standansicht mit Kirche; a spontaneous pastel and ink piece by Hans Hartung; and the super-8 film and tape Der Tisch, shot by Dietmar Kirves, capturing a work by Joseph Beuys and his students in Dusseldorf, 1968.

The estate of Barons Ruprecht Böcklin zu Böcklinsau, the last owner of Schloss Balthasar in Rust, is an absolute high point in ”Kaupp Premium” on June 28. Countless pieces of furniture and collector's objects from the Baroque and early Baroque periods will be brought to the market. They join an already rich selection of handicrafts, antiques including Jugendstil and Art Deco, and paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries.

Kaupp’s two-day anniversary sale will also include a selection of jewelry and watches, as well as Asian, African and foreign art.

In celebration of their 125 years of family history as auctioneers, Münzenhandlung Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger has moved into spacious new quarters in the Pranner-Plenum, the site of the former Bavarian State Parliament in Munich. The auction company, which specializes in coins, medals and antiquities, also buys and sells bullion.

Hirsch owner, Dr. Francisca Bernheimer, can trace her auction lineage back to her grandfather, Konsol Otto Bernheimer, who was the director of art auction Haus Bernheimer, founded in 1864. Her father, Dr. Ludwig Bernheimer, was also a director of the company.

In 1888 the great granduncle of Dr. Francisca Bernheimer, Otto Helbing, held his first auction. But his company was forced by pre-World War II politics to close its doors. Family member Gerhard Hirsch opened a business trading in antique and rare coins in his own name in 1953. Dr. Franscia Bernheimer, a niece of Gerhard Hirsch, took over the business after her uncle’s death in 1982. The company holds four auctions a year, in February, May, September and November. For details visit


The rare School set by Steiff with its delightful tiny details like a functional abacus and a chalkboard. Photo courtesy Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen.

Everyone loves a circus. This one, by toymaker Schoenhut, finished at 8,000 euros. Photo courtesy Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen.

This lovingly detailed Vienna Cafe, only 69 x 57cm, lot number 1144 in the Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen, rose from an opening bid of 3,800 euros to 16,500 euros. Photo courtesy of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktionen.

This angular watercolor by Lyonel Feininger, 1955, will appear in the Kaupp Modern sale. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

Spontaneous and brushy, with vivid color, is this typical pastel and ink work by Hans Hartung. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

This untitled bronze sculpture by Italian Transavantgarde artist Mimmo Paladino, is the second of four versions of this ghost-like figure. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

Greek artist Jannis Kounellis, one of the founders of the Arte Povera movement, is known for working with natural and industrial materials. The 1989 Assemblage is created of steel, glass, coal, and human hair. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

Included among the foreign paintings in the Kaupp Anniversary Sale is ‘Maria Mit Kind, a colorful and intricate painting from the Cusco School in Peru, 17-18th century. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

This iron red and green Dragon Plate is a highlight of Auktionshaus Kaupp’s Asian portion of the sale. The plate from the Zhenghde Period depicts a five-clawed dragon, meaning it was reserved for use only by the Emperor and his highest-ranking officers. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Kaupp.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 15:02

Auction Talk Germany: Plan your German travels wisely

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 17 February 2014 13:59

This vivid and delicately painted enamel and silver icon by Ivan Petrovitch Khlebnikov, 1882, Central Russia, brought 36,000 ($49,300) at a past Dr. Fischer auction. Photo courtesy Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen.

GEITHAIN, Germany – A family trip just brings my ulterior motives to the fore. Are there any spectacular auctions coming up at our travel destination, any sumptuous antique shows, and, of course, any art galleries not to be missed?

In an effort to streamline my travel plans, I sketched out a schedule that should keep me entertained this year. Not one of these destinations is lacking in the usual attractions like scenic views, historic architecture or gastronomic specialties, but being there during these sales and auctions is extra icing on the cake:

Feb. 27-March 3: The large auctions at Auktionshaus Mehlis in Plauen, Germany, are sure to include Jugendstil, Art Deco, applied arts and more. A visit to the Plauener Spitzenmuseum (Museum of Lace) is a must.

Feb. 28-March 2: Art Fair in the classical beauty of the Handelskammer Hamburg, near the city hall in the heart of Hamburg. Antique and art dealers present for the first time in this brand new show coordinated by Mendelssohn Messen & Ausstellungen GmbH.

March 8: The Palais Dorotheum in Vienna has magnificent auctions year-round. But for a refreshing change of scene and artists, try visiting their Prague art auction.

March 14-15: Antico Mondo in Cologne always delights with their toy and advertising auctions. Expect tin toys, toy trains, dolls and teddy bears in supreme condition, as well as a rich selection of antique tin advertising signs. If you happen to miss this one, they have similar sales slated for June 13-14, Aug 29-30 and Nov. 28-29.

March 15: Auktionshaus Kloss, Berlin, has widely varied offerings. And the attractions in the city of Berlin are never ending.

March 21-22: Vienna is a great city to photograph because of its architectural mix, but shutterbugs should not miss Westlicht’s Photo and Camera Auctions featuring a Hasselblad that has traveled to the moon and back.

April 10: Russian art and icons fill the hall at Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen in the lovely Trappensee-Schlösschen, Heilbronn.

April 9-12: Bassenge, located in Berlin-Grunewald, hosts an auction of valuable books, decorative graphic art and autographs.

April 25-26: Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion hosts a fun spring sale with antique doll houses and furnishings; character dolls, French dolls and Käthe Kruse; Steiff animals and bears, tin toys and trains, as well as antique Christmas decorations.

May 2-3: David Feldman’s spring stamp auction in Geneva, Switzerland, features stamps from India, Switzerland and Russia.

May 6: Quittenbaum’s in Munich is known for their Jugendstil and Art Déco Auctions. The perfect chance to combine a trip to the Octoberfest city with some stunning antiques.

June 18: If you are in Cologne near the curving Rhine, Van Ham Kunstauktionen hosts a rich sale of decorative art items including old master paintings, furniture, sculptures, silver, porcelain and jewelry. As an added bonus, the Forum für Fotographie is not far away.

June 19-20: Galerie Kornfeld in Bern, celebrating 150 years of selling fine art, is having a special sale of works by Marc Chagall during their anniversary auctions. They have conveniently scheduled their sales to coincide with Art Basel June 19-22.

June 28: Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen in Heilbronn presents their 25th glass auction in Zwiesel, a city with a 700-year glassmaking tradition. Collectors flock to this very special event, where last year nearly 900 pieces of rare, sparking glass were auctioned.

Aug. 28-30: Auktionshaus Selzer in Rüdesheim am Rhein hosts their summer toy auction. They are known for antique trains, which are also displayed in their in-house museum.

Aug. 29-31: The Clock Fair (Antik Uhrenbörse) in Furtwang, the Black Forest, is a late summer sensation. Watches. Pocket watches, mantle clocks and every imaginable antique timepiece is offered at this huge show.

Sept. 6-8: The 1736 baroque Schloss Wotersen is the setting for a delightfully mixed antiques and fall festival. While treasures of Louis XVI, Biedermeier and Art Deco can be found among the antique dealers exhibiting in the riding hall, there is an autumn market featuring cheese, wine, wild game and music.

Nov. 7-8: The car lovers in your life will enjoy attending an Automobilia Auktion Ladenburg sale. The auction house deals in everything from autoracing memorabilia and advertising art to the actual autos themselves.

Nov. 9: If you collect fine wrist watches or pocket watches, Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces at Antiquorum in Geneva is a must.

Dec. 6-8: Auktionshaus Saure holds popular Wiking model auctions four times a year. The toy vehicles make for a fun auction for the holiday season, but check their website for additional auction dates.


This vivid and delicately painted enamel and silver icon by Ivan Petrovitch Khlebnikov, 1882, Central Russia, brought 36,000 ($49,300) at a past Dr. Fischer auction. Photo courtesy Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen.

Oil on canvas painting by Czech artist Vilém Kreibich, estimated at 30,000 Czech Koruna ($1,500). Photo courtesy Dorotheum.

Hasselblad 500 “EL DATA CAMERA HEDC” used by U.S. astronaut Jim Irwin on the fourth NASA mission in 1971. “Camera 1038,” is the only one of the 14 cameras used to return to earth. The astronauts chose to take the film and leave the cameras behind, returning instead with an equal weight in moon rocks. Estimate 150,000 to 200,000 euros ($203,000 to $271,000). Photo courtesy Westlicht.

Jugendstil sculpture of tiptoeing woman by Ferdinand Preiss. Estimate, 7,000 to 9,000 euros ($9,400 to $12,200). Photo courtesy of Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen.

This Berlin porcelain pedestal bowl by KPM, 1837-44, with its fine gold accents and brass mount, doubled its estimate to fetch 20,000 euros ($27,400) in 2012. Photo courtesy Van Ham Kunstauktionen.

The colorful and charming world of plastic Wiking Models at Auktionshaus Saure in Cologne. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Saure.

This stately linen damask tablecloth and 12 napkins, circa 1880, is embroidered with a red ‘HH’ monogram. Photo courtesy Auktionshaus Mehlis.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:04

Auction Talk Germany: Celebrating 150 years of sinuous curves

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 11:37

Six-arm silver candelabra, 1898-99, by Henry van de Velde, part of the exhibit at Musées royaux ď Art et Histoire, Brussels, © VG Bildkunst, Bonn, 2013; photo courtesy Klassik-stiftung, Weimar and used with their permission.

MUNICH – Jugendstil was an invisible lightning strike that caused a complete about-face in artistic style. Sometime around 1890, it appeared in Germany like a blossoming vine and twined itself around Historicism, obliterating its classical-lines with the sinuous curves of nature. The new style, also known as Art Nouveau, was a synchronicity that touched Gustaf Klimt and the Secessionist artists in Vienna, painter Alphonse Muncha in Moravia, illustrator Audrey Beardsley in England, and glass artist René Lalique in France. It even negotiated the Atlantic Ocean, appearing in the designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York.

At the forefront of the Jungendstil movement was Belgian-born artist and architect Henry van de Velde. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth, Quittenbaum Kunstautionen, Munich, has planned a special auction Dec. 10 featuring his work.

“The 150th birthday is being celebrated by many museums, and since our strength is Jungendstil, we thought we must have an auction,” noted Managing Director Askan Quittenbaum.

Although he admitted it was not easy to accumulate a large number of works from such a well-loved and enthusiastically collected designer, the auction house has managed to gather a respectable selection of Van de Velde objects, rounding out the sale with exquisite works by contemporaries such as glass artist Emile Gallé and architect and designer Josef Hoffmann.

“Henry van de Velde saw it as a challenge to design the entire artwork from a to z,” said Quittenbaum. “He was using the same methods as William Morris in the Arts and Crafts movement, which just isn’t the case with artists today,” said Quittenbaum.

Indeed Van de Velde, who had studied painting in Antwerp, left this path to embrace the fuller possibilities of architecture and design. His use of flowing curves caught the eye of Karl Ernst Osthaus, founder of the Volkwang Museum, who asked him to design the museum’s interior.

Shortly after 1900 Van de Velde became director of the Groβherzoglich Sächsischen Kunstgewerbeschule in Weimar, a post he held until 1915. In 1919 the school was renamed Bauhaus, expanding upon Van de Velde’s theory that even useful objects could be well-designed works of art.

Perhaps managing so many different artistic disciplines at the school inspired Van de Velde, for he was as comfortable drawing the sweeping lines of a house as he was designing a book cover, clothing, cutlery or china. Like architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright, he viewed well-designed accessories as an integral and harmonious part of the entire architectural object.

Quittenbaum’s offers a couple of these lovingly designed details, such as Lot 28, a swooping brass door handle from Hair Salon Haby in Berlin, 1901. Lot 61 is four simple silk handkerchiefs embroidered with a Van de Velde designed monogram, created at the same time as a set of table linens for the grandparents of painter Curt Herrmann, circa 1906.

To see how architecture and art united in a van de Velde project, Jungendstil enthusiasts can tour several historic sites. Weimar highlights include Haus Hohe Pappeln, the home he designed for his wife and five children in Weimar, 1907; the Friedrich Nietzsche Archives, where he was asked to redesign the interior by the late philospher’s sister in 1902; and naturally the former Kunstgewerbeschule.

In Villa Esche, designed for industrialist Herbert Esche in 1902-03 in Chemnitz, one gets a good sense of what it was like to live surrounded by the work of Henry van de Velde. The museum also documents the type of friendly working relationship Van de Velde had with many of his clients.


Upcoming Auctions:

Dorotheum: 3 Dec. – Antique pipes to be auctioned in Prague, Czech Republic. Dec. 4 – art, antiques and jewelry, to be auctioned in Klagenfurt.

Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg: 3 Dec. – Modern Art Parts I and II. Dec. 4 – art after 1945.

Bassenge Photoauktionen und Moderne Kunst, Berlin: Dec. 4. – an important American private collection, photography books and literature, photography of the 19th - 21st centuries.

Anticomondo, Cologne: Dec. 6-7 – toy and advertising auction.

Kusthaus Lempertz, Cologne: Dec. 6-7 – Asian art from China, Tibet/Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan.

Leipziger Münzhandlung Auktion H. Höhn: Dec. 6-7 – coin auction in Radisson Blu Hotel, Leipzig

Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden: Dec. 7 – artworks of the 15th - 21st centuries.


Six-arm silver candelabra, 1898-99, by Henry van de Velde, part of the exhibit at Musées royaux ď Art et Histoire, Brussels, © VG Bildkunst, Bonn, 2013; photo courtesy Klassik-stiftung, Weimar and used with their permission.

Henry van de Velde at work in his studio, circa 1908. Photo by Louis Held, © Klassik-stiftung, Weimar and used with their permission.

Oak music cabinet by Henry van de Velde from the music room of the Folkwang Museum, circa 1902. The simple rectangular form is accented by a curving raised border on the cabinet door. Estimate 16,000-18,000€ ($21,500-$24,000). Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen, GmbH.

The delightful contrast of color, curved arches and flaring vertical lines made Van de Velde’s Jugendstil Villa Esche in Chemnitz (1902-03) seem futuristic for its time. Photo courtesy Villa Esche.

Detail of Secessionist architect Otto Wagner’s Jugendstil train station in Karlsplatz, Vienna. Photo by Heidi Lux.

Emile Gallé vase, Rose de France, dedicated to his daughter Thérèse, Dec. 28, 1901. Estimate 120,000-160,000€ ($163,000-$217,000). Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen, GmbH.

A prime piece in Quittenbaum’s Dec. 10 auction is this silver belt fastener in butterfly form by Henry van de Velde, 1898-99. Set with Ceylon moonstones and diamonds; provenience the Osthaus family. Estimate 40,000-60,000€ ($54,000-$80,000). Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen, GmbH.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:00

Auction Talk Germany: Leipzig celebrates Napoleon’s other Waterloo

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 10:51

Soldiers stand guard at the top of the 299-foot-tall (91 meters) Völkerschlactdenkmal in Leipzig. The sheer size of the building makes visitors on the observation deck look like ants. Photo by Heidi Lux.

LEIPZIG, Germany - All of Leipzig is marking a double anniversary on Oct. 8. Two hundred years ago, Napoleon’s forces were trounced by the Army of Nations in a fierce battle just outside the city. One hundred years later, the massive pyramid-shaped memorial known as the Völkerschlactdenkmal or Monument to the Battle of Nations, was opened.

Already in 1814, there was a call to create a monument to mark this massive loss of life. Plans were drawn up by architect Friedrich Weinbrenner, but sat unused. On the 50th anniversary of the battle in 1863, a foundation stone was laid.

Architect Clemens Theime took a special interest in this unfinished project. In 1894 he formed the Deutsche Patriotenbund (Association of German Patriots) and campaigned vigorously for funds through private donations and a lottery. He chose as his site the slight hillside where Napoleon announced his retreat, and keeping Weinbrenner’s pyramid form, created the present Völkerschlactdenkmal.

The granite-faced concrete building is a masterwork of the Wilhelmina style. Colossal sculpted soldiers solemnly watch over all who enter and exit. The interior is dark, and silent as a tomb.

Since its appearance on the Leipzig skyline, the Völkerschlactdenkmal has been reproduced on everything from ceramic souvenir cow creamers to canned goods, jewelry to cigars. While its 100th anniversary has inspired a novel, a cabaret performance, and special exhibits, Leipziger Münzhandlung und Auktion Heidrun Höhn found some very special pieces of memorabilia for their Sept. 13-14 auction.

“There is only one of these,” said Christine Höhn as she pointed to lot 610, a large bronze medallion of the Völkerschlactdenkmal, designed in 1913 by Hermann Schöne and presented to Clemens Thieme by the Deutschen Patriotbund. The Jugendstil plaque hung outside the architect’s house in Leipzig for many years.

While the auction features many coins and medallions with various portraits of Napoleon, perhaps one of the most delicate and intriguing is found in lot 652, a pair of ivory-framed miniatures of Napoleon and Josephine. Related ephemera in the auction include a Leipzig newspaper with an account of the battle from 1813, and even Napoleon’s signature on a certificate bequeathing the title “Baron.”

For more information on events surrounding the Völkerschlactdenkmal anniversary, or its opening hours, visit


Lempertz’s Hanstein Appointed President

The European Federation of Auctioneers voted Henrik Hanstein of Brussels, president; Sonia Farsetti of Florence, Italy, and Jean Pierre Osenat of Paris were elected vice presidents.

Hanstein, director of Art Auctionhouse Lempertz, Brussels and Cologne, has engaged himself in successfully harmonizing the resale right (subsequent decisions) within Europe. It is the first time that a German has held this office. The EFA represents the interest of European auctioneers before the European Commission and the European Parliament.


Upcoming Shows and Auctions

Sept. 24: Quittenbaums, Munich, design and art after 1945.

Sept. 24-25: Gerhard Hirsch Nachf., Munich, antiques auction featuring objects of glass, ceramic and metal; their coin auction follows on Sept. 25-26.

Oct. 4-5: A four-part sale of jewelry and watches; Asian, African and non-European art; handcrafts, antiques and paintings; as well as modern and contemporary art at Auktionshaus Kaupp, in Sulzburg.

Oct. 11-12: Peter Kiefer Kunst und Buch Auktionen, Pforzheim.

Oct. 12: Antique art, advertising art and modern works at the Lempertz auction in Berlin. They are also hosting two benefit auctions on Oct. 20 and Nov. 15. See for details.

Oct. 12: Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen, Heilbronn, offers European Glass and Studio Glass, as well as a private collection of Jugendstil and Art Deco objects.

Oct. 18-19: Autumn stamp auction at Schwarzenbach Auktion, Zurich.

Nov. 6-9: Dobiachovsky, Bern, hosts their autumn art auction.

Nov. 27-30: A widely varied auction of classical and contemporary art and photography at Villa Grisebach, Berlin.

Nov. 28-30: Bassenge in Berlin-Grunewald offers art from the 15th to 19th centuries, as well as modern and contemporary art.

Dec. 1: Antique and flea market with a special focus on Christmas decorations at Gießener Hessenhallen from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Soldiers stand guard at the top of the 299-foot-tall (91 meters) Völkerschlactdenkmal in Leipzig. The sheer size of the building makes visitors on the observation deck look like ants. Photo by Heidi Lux.

This delicately colored portrait of Napoleon is one of a pair of ivory-framed miniatures with an opening bid of 180 Euro ($237). Photo courtesy Leipziger Münzhandlung und Auktion Heidrun Höhn.

Lot number 645, a certificate bequeathing the title Baron, signed by Napoleon Bonaparte. Photo courtesy Leipziger Münzhandlung und Auktion Heidrun Höhn.

This bronze Jungenstil plaque was designed by Hermann Schöne and given to Völkerschlactdenkmal architect Clemens Thieme in 1913. Photo courtesy Leipziger Münzhandlung und Auktion Heidrun Höhn.

Lot 651, a porcelain plate marking the 100th anniversary of the battle, has an opening bid of 70 Euro ($92). Photo courtesy Leipziger Münzhandlung und Auktion Heidrun Höhn.

Henrik Hanstein of Brussels is the new president of the Eurpean Federation of Auctioneers. Photo courtesy Lempertz.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 15:01

Auction Talk Germany: Apple 1 prices spark exciting auction season

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 23:13

This 1918 painted wood ‘Red and Blue Chair’ by Gerard A. van de Groenekan, will be auctioned June 18 at the Quittenbaum Design Auction in Munich. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

COLOGNE, Germany - Finally warmth, green leaves and the spring auctions in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Auction houses continue to report strong results with a few surprises. Auction Team Breker, Cologne, broke their own record on May 25, selling one of six known functioning Apple 1 computers for $668,000 (€568,000). The 1976 model went to a buyer in Asia who preferred to remain anonymous. This smashes Breker’s own record of $640,000 (€492,000) for an Apple 1 in 2012.

At Sotheby’s in Geneva, Gina Lollobrigida’s pearl and diamond earrings sold for $2,391,321 (€1,843,449) on May 14. The white pearl drops, said to have once belonged to the House of Habsburg, set a new record for natural pearl pendant earrings.

At WestLicht in Vienna, a 1931 gilded Leica camera with reptile leather trim and two lenses sold for an impressive €528,000 ($688,974). It was the most expensive lot at their May 25 camera auction.

Dobiaschofsky, Bern, again reported strong prices at their spring Swiss art auction. A nude study by Félix Vallotton, Torse à l′étoffe bleue, was estimated at €90,000 ($117,424) and ended up fetching €190,000 ($247,895).

Van Ham had a surprise of a different kind, as an impostor Baroque table attributed to 17th century German furniture maker David Roentgen was discovered shortly before their May 18 auction. Department Director Christoph Bouillon expressed doubts over lot 1080, a gilded oval multipurpose table. Through consultation with an expert furniture restorer and use of the Datenbank kritischer Werke (an information source on forged artworks) founded by Van Ham Director Markus Eisenbeis, the table was exposed as a 21st century copy. The police were alerted and the furniture workshop where the modern day piece was made was quickly found. Its maker now faces charges.

Furniture by Abraham und David Roentgen is highly desirable, as the pair crafted exquisite pieces with marquetry patterns and secret drawers for noble families and kings. Museums consider themselves lucky to have Roentgen furniture in their collections. The forged table was estimated to sell for €60,000 to 80,000 ($77,690 to $103,585) if it had been an authentic Roentgen.

Upcoming Auctions:

Bassenge, Berlin, has a selection of U.S. space photography in their June 5 photography auction, including Neil Armstrong’s famous photo of astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing next to the American flag. June 5.

Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, hosts a two-day sale June 13 and 14 with art of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Old Master works, prints, and artist autographs offered in cooperation with Moirandat Company, AG, Basel.

David Feldman has a specialty stamp auction June 13 and 14 in Geneva, with focus on Olympic stamps the second day of the sale.

Auktionshaus Gut Bernstorf, Kranzberg, invites car lovers to an Oldtimer and Automobile Auction on June 15 at the Klassikwelt Bodensee.

Quittenbaum’s offers a selection of post-World War II and contemporary furniture, lighting and art at their design auction on June 18.

Koller Auktionen, Zurich, holds their spring auctions June 19-22, featuring jewelry and watches, art and design including Swiss art on June 21.

Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen holds their annual glass auction in Zwiesel on June 29.

Auktionshaus Bloss, Merzhausen, holds an art and antiques auction on July 1 and 2.


This 1918 painted wood ‘Red and Blue Chair’ by Gerard A. van de Groenekan, will be auctioned June 18 at the Quittenbaum Design Auction in Munich. Photo courtesy Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH.

This 1976 Apple 1, which originally sold for $666, set a record price of $668,000 (€568,000). Photo courtesy Auction Team Breker.

Actress Gina Lollobrigida wearing the natural pearl drop earrings that set a record price at Sotheby’s Geneva. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s.

Lot 1080, which caused a stir at Van Ham, was not, as first thought, an 18th century David Roentgen, but a forgery made by a modern-day cabinetmaker. Photo courtesy Van Ham.

A letter by artist Paul Gauguin from 1900, part of an auction of artists autographs at Galerie Kornfeld, Bern. Photo courtesy Galerie Kornfeld.

Lot 445 at the upcoming Dr. Fischer Glass Auction in the Black Forest, a Louis Comfort Tiffany table lamp called ‘Pond Lily,’ circa 1900. Photo Courtesy Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen.

Josef Hegenbarth’s 1949 ‘Menschen auf der Straβe’ is estimated at €4,500 ($5,873) at the June 8 sale at Schmidt Kunstauktionen, Dresden. Photo courtesy Schmidt.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 13:06

Auction Talk Germany: Art history in the making

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 25 March 2013 15:39

Neo Rauch ‘Die Kontrolle,’ 2010, oil on canvas, 300 x 420 cm, private collection / Basel courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Uwe Walter, Berlin.

Protesting to keep the Berlin Wall intact in 2013? That’s exactly what happened when art lovers gathered to preserve the open-air East Side Gallery, a remaining section of the Berlin Wall covered with politically intriguing murals. A portion of the gallery wall was to be removed to make a pathway for a luxury apartment complex to be built on the banks of the Spree River.

Following a March 18 meeting between borough mayor and real estate developer, it was announced that while construction would go on as planned, existing openings in the wall would be used to bring in construction equipment.

The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 and opened in 1989, is a magnet for tourists as well as lovers of street art. The nearly mile-long East Side Gallery portion was painted in 1990 by 118 artists from 21 countries. Included among its famous art works is the mural Fraternal Kiss depicting Lenonid Brezhnev, chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1964-1982) of the former USSR, and Erich Honecker, former chairman of the State Council of the GDR (1976-1989).

Another well-loved figure from former East Germany, the painter and graphic artist Willi Sitte, 92, has a new exhibit of his works opening at his own gallery in Merseburg near Halle (River Saale). His paintings and graphic works of social realism are identifiable by their muscular human figures and a prismatic use of light and color that play over solidly outlined surfaces. Sitte was president of the artists’ union in the GDR (Verbandes Bildender Künstler), and received numerous awards. His work can be viewed at

A fellow artist from eastern Germany, painter Neo Rauch, 53, has experienced success of which most painters can only dream. His work has already broken the million dollar mark, when his painting Suche was auctioned at Christie’s New York in 2004 for $1,082,500. A retrospective of his paintings titled "Neo Rauch: The Obsession of the Demiurge" is currently on display at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, also known as Bozar Expo, in Brussels.

Rauch’s oversize canvases have a way of pulling you into their world of juxtaposed frenetic activity and loneliness; his vast expanses become a meeting place for characters of the past, present and future. Curator Harald Kunde has complemented this experience by arranging the work in the exhibit from 2012 to 1993. So visitors time travel through Rauch’s complex style, back to its simpler beginnings as one of the Neue Leipziger Schule painters. Rauch’s work is on display at the Bozar through May 19.

In Vienna, Galerie OstLicht opens an exhibit of photographs by Hellen van Meene on April 13. The Netherland-born photographer documents the fragility and impressionability of young girls on their way to womanhood. Her carefully composed shots expose an intuitive communication with her subjects, be they girls or in her new series of photos, dogs. The Ost Licht exhibit runs through June 15.

Art collectors have already marked their calendars for Art Basel, in Basel, Switzerland, June 13-16. This enormous show and sale offers artwork from 304 international galleries, from early 20th century classic modern to contemporary. For details visit



Neo Rauch ‘Die Kontrolle,’ 2010, oil on canvas, 300 x 420 cm, private collection / Basel courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Uwe Walter, Berlin. 

Neo Rauch ‘Nest,’ 2012 oil on canvas, 300 x 250 cm, collection De Heus - Zomer courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Uwe Walter, Berlin. 

 Golden and moody, this untitled Hellen van Meene 2012 C-Print, 39 x 39 cm, will be displayed at OstLicht Galerie fur Fotografie in Vienna. Photo courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London and the artist.

Art enthusiasts stroll past the East Side Gallery in Berlin, a small remaining section of the Berlin wall dedicated as an open-air gallery. Photo by Heidi Lux.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 16:14

Illusory and elusive, Dresden ornaments still charm 100 years later

PDF Print E-mail
Written by HEIDI LUX, Auction Central News International   
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 12:22

This realistically detailed Dresden reindeer ornament is actually a Christmas cracker. It brought $750 (on the hammer) in Bertoia Auctions' September 23, 2012 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

Legend has it that the German pastor Martin Luther was so moved by the sight of stars sparking through a pine tree against a dark winter sky, that he created the first Christmas tree. Whether this is true or not, there is a constant theme that a Christmas tree must sparkle like precious metal and jewels. One of the loveliest imposters must surely be the Dresden Christmas ornament.

“People are always so surprised when I show them the tree with the Dresdens and then tell them they are made of paper,” said Bill Steely, collector and publicity chairman for The Golden Glow of Christmas Past, an international collectors club based in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

The small (2-3 inch) ornaments are an elaborate hand-made ruse of embossed paper, gilded or silvered and sometimes painted, with lacy edgings and textural designs so deceiving they look like repoussé metal. But they are actually hollow, fragile ornaments made of many pieces of embossed paper cut and fitted precisely together, then painted with detailed care. The nimble fingers that made these lovely creations belonged to women and children or whole families who lived in or near Dresden, Germany, from 1880 to 1914.

At the time, eastern Germany was a hotbed of ornament production. F.W. Woolworth made his early fortune by visiting Lauscha in Thuringia to bring back colored glass ornaments that subsequently sold out at his US stores. Ornaments of painted, pressed cotton were also made there. In the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) miners and their families spent the winter carving nutcrackers and other decorations. Families in nearby Sebnitz assembled charming ornaments using scraps of fabric and wire.

“It was the Industrial Revolution. The Germans had developed glass-blowing techniques, like using a gas flame that burned hotter and made finer glass. Their chromolithography printing techniques were highly advanced, using up to 28 different plates. And they developed special die presses for making the paper parts of the Dresdens,” noted Steely.

A damp sheet of heavy paper was loaded into the concave part of the press, with the convex pattern die pressed down on top of it. Soon, out popped the rounded side of a horse, or half the side of a dirigible, or half a French horn on its way to being a three-dimensional Dresden ornament. Some Dresdens, called “flats” were two-dimensional and embossed only on one side. Some of the flats were embossed on two sides, with the two embossed halves glued together.

The die embossing press had the advantage of making many, many identical parts at once. Families then came to the 9 or 10 factories in Dresden and Leipzig to collect the parts for home assembly.

“Each family made a small amount (of Dresdens), yet they were produced in large quantities,” noted Steely. “They were paid very little and had to work quickly.”

Even so, the factories got back ornaments of a superb quality. At the time, the Dresdens were the most expensive among the German ornaments. Not everyone could afford them, and many were exported to other countries, including Great Britain and the United States.

Motifs for the Dresden ornaments seem endless. They include insects and animals of the land, sea and sky, both wild and domestic; enough musical instruments to form an orchestra; popular modes of early 20th century transportation including carriages, sleighs and bicycles, steam ships, trains and the new-fangled automobile; figures such as angels and horseback riders; and whimsical objects like clocks, pipes, opera glasses, boots and Champagne bottles.

“They were not just used as Christmas tree ornaments,” said Steely. “They were used on invitations and as place cards with a person’s name on them. Some opened and had a little paper candy bag inside for candy or a small gift. And some were made as crackers, but very few of these exist.”

With the start of World War I in 1914, the production of Dresdens was interrupted. Although they were made again after the war, the level of quality was never the same. If there is one Dresden ornament that seems to signal the end of their era, it is the Dresden shaped like a rather drab World War I tank.

“Collectors value the earlier Dresdens for their artistry,” noted Steely.

As a collector, Steely says his favorite Dresdens are a painted ram’s head with a candy bag, and a chameleon painted in iridescent colors. Although he collects other types of Christmas decorations, he especially enjoys hanging the Dresdens on a Christmas tree each year. When not shining from his tree, his Dresdens are packed carefully away in tissue paper and boxes.

As well they should be. The fragile paper ornaments have survived many Christmases. The overall supply of Dresdens has been depleted with use and time. But demand for them is increasing. Stumbling upon one for a bargain price at a flea market doesn’t happen anymore.

“I haven’t been so lucky,” noted Steely. “There’s a big demand for Dresdens in the American market.”

He cited Bertoia Auctions and Morphy Auctions – both auction-house partners with – as good sources for collectors. He also searches for Dresdens in specialty antique shops and at the annual Golden Glow convention. Collectors can start out at $25 (€19) for a simple flat, advancing to hundreds of dollars for a three-dimensional ornament. Very rare examples can sell for over $10,000 (€7,700).

“At the convention collectors buy, trade and sell,” said Steely. “Because we have collectors of many different kinds of Christmas decorations, during this four-day time period we say it is the largest collection of Christmas anywhere in the world.”

For more information on Dresdens and other types of German Christmas ornaments, visit

#   #   #


This realistically detailed Dresden reindeer ornament is actually a Christmas cracker. It brought $750 (on the hammer) in Bertoia Auctions' September 23, 2012 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

This silvered one horse sleigh with its bundled driver brought $2,000 (on the hammer) at Bertoia Auctions' November 2010 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

A top price for Dresden ornaments was reached with this unusual train circling mountain ornament, where the train actually appears to enter a tunnel. It went for $10,000 (on the hammer) at Bertoia's November 2005 auction. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

A gilded paradise of Dresden flats, sold as one lot for $950 (on the hammer) at Bertoia Auctions' November 2007 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

This bright rooster head is actually a candy container. It sold for $3,500 (on the hammer) at Bertoia Auctions' April 2008 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

Gold and metallic paints make this Dresden frog shine with iridescence. It fetched $900 (on the hammer) at the November 2005 Bertoia Auctions sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

A rarity at Bertoia's November 2008, auction: a salesman’s sample case with three full trays of Dresdens. It realized $7,000 (on the hammer). Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

A German ornament made for the American market: this silver Dresden sailboat flying the US flag brought $1,600 (on the hammer) in Bertoia Auctions' September 2012 sale. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.

A fine example of an early German Dresden ornament, depicts a chained dog sitting in front of a gilt cardboard doghouse. Doubling as a candy container, its roof lifts off to allow access to candy. Collection of Catherine Saunders-Watson.

Dresden polo player on horseback, realistically detailed with mallet ready to strike. Collection of Catherine Saunders-Watson.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 15:01
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 3

Banner Banner