Sunday, March 25, 2012

Herter Brothers for the Vanderbilts

The auction house where I grew up offered these chairs for sale this morning. A pair of Herter Brothers chairs designed for the drawing room of the Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th Avenue, circa 1883-84. The upholstery is original and is described in accounts and period images of the house. 

Their provenance is as follows:

Provenance: William H. Vanderbilt, New York, 1881 
Cornelius Vanderbilt III, New York, 1885 
Private collection of a lady El Paso, Texas 
Bequeathed to the Centennial Museum at her death in 1969. 
Property deaccessioned from the Centennial Museum at the University of Texas at El Paso to benefit the Museum Collections Fund. (Accession #E69.26.347 and E69.26.348) 

The estimate, shockingly low in my opinion, was 10,000 - 20,000

The pair sold for 250,000. I really hope someone purchased these for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to ensure their conservation.

Also included in the sale were a pair of Herter Brothers ballroom chairs. Their provenance does not tie them back to the Vanderbilt Mansion, but they were purchased by the same woman who bought the above chairs and donated all of them to the museum in El Paso. 

They were estimated to sell for 2,000 - 3,000
Again, incredibly inexpensive for what these are...
They sold for 60,000.

1 comment:

  1. The quality of Herter Brothers is unbelievable. There is no way they thought those estimates were realistic. I have often noticed that when museums sell at auction the estimates are placed very low.

    These chairs are great because they have their original upholstery, which is also a problem. Because they look shabby, the temptation to reupholster, even if in exact copies, is strong. However, even if you retain the old material, the chairs will no longer be in their original coverings, which to me is a large part of their charm and importance.
    --Road to Parnassus