Tiffany treasure and part of Detroit history to be auctioned this weekend
It’s hard not to think about the history it has seen. Wander into DuMouchelles, the long-time East Jefferson auction house near downtown’s Renaissance Center, and you may not notice the oversized light fixture at first, surrounded as it is by vintage treasures of all sizes from around the world.
Look closer, and you may catch the shimmer of iridescent glass, a hallmark of the work of New York’s legendary Tiffany Studios. The amber-hued chandelier, which hangs temporarily over the auction house’s first-floor reception desk, however, once graced the dining room of the Horace Dodge estate in Grosse Pointe, says Bob DuMouchelle and is one of the highlights of this weekend’s auction. Large at 42 inches high and 26 inches in diameter, it’s valued at $30,000 to $50,000 and is featured on the auction catalog’s cover.
The chandelier was once part of Rose Terrace, the first mansion of that name on the location and one designed by noted architect Albert Kahn. The bronze and leaded glass Moorish style chandelier can be seen hanging over a table near the fireplace in a book on the Dodge family, “Dodge Dynasty,” by Caroline Latham and David Agresta and in photos from the Grosse Pointe Historical Society’s website (gphistorical.org/autobarons/dodge). The black-and-white image, however, doesn’t capture the piece’s luminosity or its impressive size.
A DuMouchelle fact sheet shared additional information: “Numbered and signed, "A552 Tiffany Studios New York" on the interior of the leaded shade. Bronze ceiling plate suspending six chains to a Moorish style lattice ring from which are suspended gold Favrile faceted prisms with alternating Moorish influenced hanging ball chains. Underside having Tiffany gold leaded shade in hues from caramel to cream. Shade dia. 24". Early 19th.c. Provenance: Tiffany, New York c. 1910. Horace Dodge, Grosse Pointe, MI c.1910. Installed in Dodge’s mansion Rose Terrace I, Grosse Pointe, MI….Designed by Albert Kahn and completed c. 1910. Razed c.1930. Many of the furnishings and at least one fireplace were purchased from Tiffany.”
How it entered the hands of its later owner is unclear, DuMouchelle said. “It’s been in a house in Grosse Pointe and was probably bought in the 1930s when the first house was torn down,” he surmised.
DuMouchelles has auctioned a number of pieces of Detroit history through the years, including some terra cotta sculptures from the first Rose Terrace and later pieces from the second house of the same name that replaced it. “The first Rose Terrace lasted just less than 20 years,” DuMouchelle says. “The good news is that she probably put a lot of people to work in a difficult time,” he says of the second site, built by Anna Thomson Dodge.
DuMouchelles has also sold items from the second Rose Terrace, including a rock crystal chandelier and a variety of other items, he says. Christie’s auctioned off house’s contents in 1971, and Stalker and Boos held a pre-demolition architectural auction in 1976 before the house was ultimately torn down. “They were asking $2 million cash,” DuMouchelles remembers. DuMouchelles has auctioned other Dodge family estates and pieces through the years, many in Grosse Pointe. “Eventually they tore them all down,” he says. That goes too for estates with well-known names such Whitney, Fisher and others, he adds. “While we’d love to save the houses themselves, we have tried for years to preserve the artifacts and get them into the hands of those who will save and preserve them.”
The Tiffany fixture is an unusual opportunity to see – and maybe bid on – a rare piece of Detroit history, he points out. “I haven’t heard of any pieces from the first Rose Terrace coming up,” he explains. “Estates broken up during the Depression and their history have mostly been lost.”
He’s expecting national interest. “These types of Tiffany pieces don’t come up often,” he explained, adding that there are a number of local Tiffany collectors he hopes will express interest. “We really hope it stays in the area,” he added.
An auction preview (and chance to see the chandelier in person) will be held Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m; the chandelier will be auctioned on Sunday. For a catalog and more information, visit dumouchelle.com.
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