Monday, December 5, 2011

Dodie Rosekrans Treasures Go Under the Hammer

This week, Sotheby’s holds a sale in New York Dedicated to Furniture & Decorative Arts from The Collection of Dodie Rosekrans, including treasures from her San Francisco, Paris and Venice residences.

New York, 8 and 9 December 2011 with earlier viewings.

Yikes—the beauty! It’s one woman’s eye—superbly edited. From Codognato table décor and jewels, and a set of George II giltwood chairs selected by Michael Taylor, as well as six Russian winged neoclassical giltwood chairs, and a Jean-Michel Frank gilded plaster lamp, Queen Caroline’s coronation chair, screens galore, and as well as edgy conceptual art, and enough gilded chairs, drawings of nudes, Moroccan rugs and mother-of-pearl and japanned tables to cause palpitations in antiques connoisseurs and dilettantes alike. Oh, the beauty.

For more than sixty years, Dodie Rosekrans was a style-setter in San Francisco, and she cut a swathe through Venice and Paris. I’ve written about her several times, and these insider features (check THE STYLE SALONISTE archives) have been among my most popular.

The eyes of the design, style, antiques and collecting world will be on Sotheby’s this week as her extraordinary life-time collections of art, furniture, decorative arts, sculpture, jewelry and exquisite objects are first displayed and then sold at auction. 

Dodie Rosekrans, the late, great style doyenne died earlier this year at 93.

Dodie was honored as an Officier of the Legion d’Honneur for her generous contributions to the Centre Pompidou and other Paris museums.

This is the last formal portrait taken of Dodie, standing at the front door of her San Francisco house in late 2010. Los Angeles photographer Lisa Romerein and I were shooting a feature on Dodie and her house for C magazine. We had shot the interiors of the house (images shown here) and were preparing to depart. We hoped to take a portrait of Dodie, but left this discreetly until the end. She came with use to the door, and Lisa asked her quietly if she would stand at the door. She captured the moment. Perhaps I project my own wistfulness onto her. She was a woman who loved life, loved people. She was shy but always attentive. Adieu, Dodie. 

Dodie, who grew up in San Francisco, was encouraged by her second husband John Rosekrans to acquire dazzling Paris couture gowns, dramatic jewelry, worldly antiques, and contemporary paintings and sculpture. They commissioned the San Francisco interior designer Michael Taylor to design their residence in Pacific Heights. I called it ‘the most beautiful house in San Francisco”. It has since been sold to a couple that lived just a few doors to the west of Dodie's, and they are said to have hired the great Peter Marino to design their new residence. 

Dodie, whose life revolved around art, museums, and encouraging young artists, was known internationally for her charitable work, and her fashion, often Gaultier/Yamamoto-inflected. It was Dodie, always sympathetic to emerging talents, who financed John Galliano’s first private and tentative fashion shows in Paris.

The auction will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 3 December, and follows the May 2011 sale of Modern and Contemporary art from Dodie's collection – highlighted by works from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. 

Dodie Rosekrans was known internationally both for her sense of adventure and unfailingly generous spirit.

Dodie spoke to me vividly about working with Michael Taylor in the seventies—and it is a tribute to her consistent style and Michael Taylor’s incisive approach to design that her interiors did not change over four decades. His paled-down color palette was carried through into every corner of the Broadway house. His taste for low-key and classic antiques, and pieces with signs of time and age, is evident in all pieces in the sale. There's no glitz or flash (that came later thanks to Duquette's exuberance).

Dodie later worked with Tony Duquette, and his Technicolor interiors in Paris and in Venice (key pieces in the sale) are the antithesis of Taylor’s love of restraint. 

Michael Taylor’s eye and his influence and his strongly expressed opinions live on in the stone topped tables, the African sculptures, the stone urns, Chinese stone sculptures, and the staggeringly beautiful chairs he found and reproduced for her.

“Dodie was simply blessed with a great eye,” commented Charles Moffett, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman. “Her eclectic tastes and interests were not bounded by strictures, regulations, or other people’s values. She could always discern what was special, lively, and lovely, often in the most idiosyncratic ways. Whether collecting couture, Old Master, Modern or Contemporary paintings, decorative arts, or jewelry, the common threads were freshness, character, and, above all, quality.” 

Property from the Collection of Dodie Rosekrans – 8 & 9 December 2011. The furniture and decorations on offer this December come from Mrs. Rosekrans’s residence in San Francisco – designed by Michael Taylor – as well as her ‘Indian Jewel Box’ apartment in Paris and her palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice – both designed by Tony Duquette.
The works cover a wide range of geographies and styles, from Asian, American Indian and Pre-Columbian art to Italian, French and English furniture and 20th Century Design, reflecting Dodie’s constant curiosity about the world.

She acquired only objects she truly loved, but her mind could encompass Indian and Chinese pottery, Roman glass, Tom Sachs, Greek antiquities, fabulous Attilio Codognato place-card holders and witty costume jewelry.

Sotheby’s sent me the following details of sale items: 

Furniture in the sale will feature pieces by French designer Claude Lalanne: both a Pair of “Crocodile” Armchairs from 1994 (pictured top, est. $275/350,000*) and a “Crocodile Stool” circa 1994 (est. $100/150,000) are highly sought-after forms within the oeuvre of the Lalannes. Eighteenth-century designs from across Europe will be led by a Louis XV Ormolu-Mounted Chinese Lacquer and Ebonized Bureau Plat, circa 1750 (est. $250/350,000), a Genovese Baroque Parcel-Gilt, Black and Gilt Japanned and Polychrome-Decorated Bureau Cabinet, circa 1735 (est. $120/180,000), and Queen Caroline’s Coronation Chair.

A Highly-Important George II Giltwood Armchair Attributed to Richard Robert, the Upholstery Attributed to Thomas Phill, circa 1727 (est. $250/350,000). Queen Caroline was King George II’s consort, and her coronation chair became part of the collection at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, where it remained until being sold in 1994. 

Additional works demonstrating Mrs. Rosekrans’s eclectic and global tastes include a Marble Cuirassed Torso of an Emperor, Roman Imperial, Flavian Period, 3rd Quarter of the 1st Century A.D. (pictured right, est. $150/250,000). A relief decoration on the lower part of the armor shows the tropaion, or trophy, a memorial which a Roman army would erect on a battlefield on the very spot where the enemy had turned to flee. A large group of highly decorative Chinese works of art – featuring lacquered furniture and screens, Han Dynasty pottery, Chinese export porcelain and jade and other hardstone carvings – will be led by a Large Brown Ground and Gilt-Decorated Lacquer Cabinet (Gui) from the 17th/18th century (est. $100/150,000). And an Urhobo Male Ancestor Statue of the Founder-Hero Owedjebo, standing more than six feet tall, is one of the most monumental examples of the edjo re akare (“spirits in carved form”) that commemorate semi-mythic village-founding warrior heroes of the Urhobo, who inhabit the western edge of the Niger Delta region in southern Nigeria (est. $100/150,000) .

Credits: Most interiors photography by Lisa Romerein. Portrait of Dodie Rosekrans at the door of her residence by Lisa Romerein.

Images of sale items and final interiors images courtesy of Sotheby’s.


The Devoted Classicist said...

While the decoration of the house in Venice was interesting, it is the Michael Taylor decorated house in San Francisco that is truly in classic good taste -- with a twist.

The Swan said...

Dear DDS,

I Know Marino will make an interesting ensembled stage for the Barnetts...but the Rosekrans/Taylor VISION IS LEGEND amongst NATIVE BORN and devotees of California History.

Will you be publishing the entire photographic essay with outtakes etc and quotes anytime library has a special place for California Dreams!

Splenderosa said...

Dianne, I'm just popping in and will come back for a real "read" of your entire post. Larry Ellison bought her SF home, I think, because he was in a law suit with his downhill neighbors over their trees obstructing his views. Too too funny in this world of extreme wealth isn't it? Love,
Marsha said...

You know I had my eyes on those alligator chairs until I saw the price....
A girl can dream........
She really had a tasteful home, and she really did have a good eye....
I would love to see her clothing......


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

Everyone adores DODIE!

The earlier stories on her--GO TO THE SEARCH BOX on the right column of THE STYLE SALONISTE opening page to find several pieces I wrote over the last two years about Dodie--are hugely popular on THE STYLE SALONISTE.
My readers around the world find her inspiring and rare and love her philanthropy and generosity and adventurousness.
Ned Topham, Dodie's wonderful and well-loved son, sent me the following message this morning, in response to reading this new blog story:
'Diane, The sadness of dispersing this empire of style is somewhat mitigated by knowing it will remain intact in the imagination of a select few. Thank you for your lovely remembrance.'

The Sotheby's sale will be a spectacular success and I can't wait to see the results. In the meantime, new life is being given to Dodie's house and life goes on.
New philanthropists are there, art lovers, a family. It will be great.
Change is part of life, an essential element. I always embrace it. I hope you do, as well.
very best, DIANE

columnist said...

The dining room is such an exercise in elegant restraint. Much of the rest of the SF house too. I saw the Sotheby's catalogue, but it's still in my inbox unopened; I shall rectify that oversight presently!

peggy braswell said...

Amazing taste! + Grand post! just divine.

Kellie Collis said...

What a gorgeous home! Love those fabulous chairs! Enjoy the lovely day, Kellie xx

Philip Bewley said...

One of my favorite posts, (of many faves of yours) Love seeing this again here. This will join a select few of all -time influential 20th c interiors.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Corcol-

I hope all is well in Thailand, and that you are safe. I loved your recent post--and enjoying pheasant pate (birds you had captured, shall we say) with dry sherry.
Thank you for lovely comments.

Hi Peggy--always love hearing from you. Yes, Dodie was divine. Her collections will live on.

HI Kellie in Sydney-so pleased you are reading THE STYLE SALONISTE. I lived in Sydney some years ago and was an editor for Vogue and Vogue Living. Loved it there.

Hi Philip--I loved your story today on FB on THE HARE WITH THE AMBER sure to look up the new book 'Good Living Street' by (Australian author) Tim Bonyhady. Has a similar theme--Vienna, art, new design movements, departing (or not) Vienna.
Thank you for your comments. Dodie has been very popular on THE STYLE SALONISTE and at any time of the day or night, someone around the world is reading my stories on Dodie--and sending me lovely messages. The sale starts tomorrow...I am sure it will be phenomenally successful. best to you DIANE

designchic said...

Your posts are always a wealth of information and beauty. These interiors are gorgeous with such a beautiful color palette and stunning pieces. Love the screen...a statement maker in the room!!