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The art and craft of David Upfill-Brown

The name David Upfill-Brown is probably unfamiliar to most, yet we have all seen his work.  The speaker's chair at Parliament House in Canberra is one of David's many public commissions both here and beyond our shores including furniture for the parliaments of PNG and other Pacific nations.

Born and raised in Southern Africa, David began his artistic life as a sculptor, honing the art of Shona sculpture in Zimbabwe and working with the peculiar regional soapstone known as serpentine. He developed a strong affinity and understanding of the stone with which he worked believing the best way to learn about material was to carve.  He applied the same mode of thinking as he transitioned from stone to wood carving.  

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Organic arts of the orient

We are fortunate to have an extensive oriental section in our inaugural 2020 auction, ranging from antique to more contemporary offerings from various collectors and estates.  Humour, playfulness, serenity, reverence, mythology and belief are all beautifully presented in miniature in our current sale.  Through the hands of mostly unknown craftsmen, materials as diverse as malachite, coral, jade, turquoise, ivory, have all been fashioned into sculptural treasures.

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Royal Worcester Vase



1887, design 1266, Registration number 02204, manufactured 1892, puce backstamps to lid and underside; special Chicago Exhibition 1893 mark (faint).

This astonishing vase with its masterful gilding and sculptural ornament immediately suggested it worthy of an exhibition.  The vase posed many questions when it arrived but during its brief tenure at Philips Auctions its history has slowly unfolded.  

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The Beauty of small things: the art of the vinaigrette

Exquisite craftsmanship, aesthetics, and the practicalities of life combine in tiny little boxes we call vinaigrettes. These boxes, some designed as novelties, all open to reveal a perforated grille which held a perfumed medium within.

Usually of sterling silver and gilded to the interiors, they served quite practical purposes.  Worn around the neck, put in a pocket or hung from a chatelaine, their size and portability allowed perfumes to be carried with ease when travelling. 

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The colourful world of Gerda Iro 'Gerdago' (1906-2004)

When we think of exquisite bronze figures of the 1920s and 1930s, the great names of Chiparus, Preiss, Lorenzl, come to mind.  But who was 'Gerdago'? 

'Gerdago' was the pseudonym of Viennese born Gerda Gottstein.  She received art training in both Berlin and Paris in the late 1920s and in the ensuing years designed costumes for theatre and revue performances where her work attracted the attention of Austrian film maker Willi Forst.

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