Auction Showcased Over 200 Lots of Furniture, Decorations and Paintings Assembled by Robert Denning, Co-Founder of Denning & Fourcade

Robert Denning's Manhattan apartment

Robert Denning's Manhattan apartment

Denning and Fourcade's Paris apartment

Denning and Fourcade's Bridgehampton House

On Wednesday, May 17, 2006, Doyle New York held an auction of property from the estate of interior designer Robert Denning, co-founder of the legendary decorating firm of Denning & Fourcade. The Robert Denning Collection comprised over 200 lots of elegant furniture, decorations and paintings. Each extraordinary object reflected Mr. Denning’s discerning eye for quality, luxury and style. With a standing-room crowd in the salesroom competing against numerous telephone and absentee bidders, the sale total of $759,360 more than doubled the median pre-sale estimate ($294,350-447,750) with a remarkable 99% sold by lot and 100% sold by value.   

In 1960, Robert Denning established Denning & Fourcade with his partner Vincent Fourcade, and for the next forty years, the firm became synonymous with opulent interiors and luxurious furnishings. Their signature style was recognizable for its extravagant and confident use of rich colors, exotic patterns, silk-shaded lamps, and lavish passementerie. Among Denning & Fourcade’s devoted clients numbered many of the world’s social and corporate elite, including Carolyne Roehm and Henry Kravis, Oscar de la Renta, Mrs. Antenor Patino, Suzanna Agnelli, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger, Jean Vanderbilt, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.

Highlighting the sale was an extraordinary set of four Louis XVI style gilt-bronze three-light sconces that exemplified Mr. Denning’s passion for the opulence of “Le Style Rothschild.”  These oversized sconces attracted a great deal of attention during the exhibition, and heavy bidding at the auction sent the lot well over the pre-sale estimate of $15,000-25,000 to achieve $39,000.  Also a favorite at the sale was an unusual Middle Eastern polished brass astrolabe measuring 5 1/2 inches in diameter that had been a gift to Mr. Denning from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.  This navigational instrument for celestial observation was engraved in Arabic throughout and captured the attention of collectors at the auction who sent the price skyward to a strong $33,000.     

The top lot among the elegant furniture from the Denning Collection was an elaborate Regency specimen marble top ebonized and parcel gilt side table.  Estimated at $12,000-18,000, this exquisite table attracted strong competition and sold for $24,000.  Also achieving $24,000 was a handsome, large-scale Louis XVI style brass mounted mahogany bookcase with wire doors, well over the pre-sale estimate of $7,000-9,000.  A luxurious sofa covered with sumptuous pillows in orange cut velvet pillows that was designed by Robert Denning stirred the interest of several bidders who drove the price to $14,400 against an estimate of $1,500-2,500.    

The Denning Collection offered a rich assortment of Classical-inspired bronzes that were a favorite among the bidders in the salesroom.  Lot after lot soared past the pre-sale estimate to achieve ever stronger prices. Highlighting the bronzes was a circa 1800 French bronze figure of a youth seated on a tree trunk with his hound at his side that sold for $33,000, against an estimate of $2,500-3,500. A circa 1700 Italian bronze group of the Laocoon achieved $20,400, well over the estimate of $5,000-7,000, and a Northern European bronze figure of Hercules wrestling a lion sailed past the estimate of $4,000-6,000 to sell for $18,000.

The rich decorations that formerly graced Mr. Denning’s home included several examples of colorful Majolica highlighted by a whimsical Copeland Majolica figural group of Sloth and Mischief depicted as a turtle surmounted by a monkey estimated at $2,500-3,500 and sold for $14,400.  Other examples of Majolica included two Minton Majolica Secessionist garden seats that each sold for $7,800 -- one with an estimate of $3,000-5,000 and the other $800-1,200.  

Also noteworthy among the decorations were a pair of French Classically styled bronze vases and covers estimated at $2,500-3,500 that sold for $22,800, and a graceful Baltic Neoclassical style gilt-bronze and cut glass five-light chandelier achieved $13,200, well over its estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Fine art in the Denning Collection featured an exotic and sensual Continental School painting depicting a “Balinese Bath” that sold for $9,600 against a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000, and a view of “Rue du Rome” in Paris attributed to Mario Tozzi that sold well over its estimate of $1,000-1,500 to reach $8,400.     

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at 10am

Andrea Blunck Frost, 212-427-4141, ext. 220,

Subscriptions Department, 212-427-4141, ext. 257,
The free, fully illustrated Internet catalogue will be available in late April

Louis LeB. Webre, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Media, 212-427-4141, ext 232,
Images and interviews are available upon request.


Lot 289
Fine Set of Four Louis XVI Style Gilt-Bronze Three-Light Sconces  
Late 19th century
Each elaborate backplate cast with lion masks and urn finials issuing scrolling candle branches, decorated with acanthus leaves and swags, terminating in a pod finial.
Height 32 inches (81 cm).
Sold for $39,000

Lot 281
Middle Eastern Polished Brass Astrolabe  
Diameter 5 1/2 inches (14 cm).
Provenance: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman
Sold for $33,000

Lot 259
French Bronze Figure of a Youth  
Circa 1800
The nude youth seated on a tree stump with a cloak draped over left arm holding a staff, flanked by a hound.
Height 14 inches (35.5 cm).
Sold for $33,000

Lot 290
Regency Specimen Marble Top Ebonized and Parcel Gilt Side Table  
First quarter of the 19th century
The circular inset marble top with geometric decoration set within a leaf tip border, above a leaf tip carved columnar standard continuing to a tripartite base.
Height 28 3/4 inches (73 cm), diameter 24 3/4 inches (61 cm).
Sold for $24,000

Lot 284
Louis XVI Style Brass Mounted Mahogany Bookcase  
Last quarter of the 19th century
The outset molded cornice above a pair of wired doors opening to shelves, raised on a molded base.
Height 8 feet 8 1/2 inches (2.64 m), width 8 feet (2.44 m), depth 24 inches (61 cm).
Sold for $24,000

Lot 268
Pair of French Bronze Vases and Covers  
Circa 1800
Each cast on the base with gadroons, the sides decorated with scrolls, festoons, trophies and other Neoclassical motifs, the covers with knops of varying form.
Height 8 3/4 inches (22 cm).
Sold for $22,800

Lot 162
Italian Bronze Group of the Laocoon  
After the Antique, circa 1700
Dark brown patina.
Height 14 1/4 inches (36 cm).
Sold for $20,400

Lot 261
Northern European Bronze Figure of Hercules Wrestling a Lion  
Probably 17th century
Height 7 1/2 inches (19 cm).
Sold for $18,000

Lot 252
Copeland Majolica Figural Group of Sloth and Mischief  
After a model by Louis Auguste Malempre, Stoke-on-Trent, 1877
Depicting a monkey riding on the back of a turtle.
Height 19 inches (48 cm).
Sold for $14,400

Lot 128
Luis Ricardo Falero
Spanish, 1851-1896
Signed and dated 1878 (ll)
Oil on canvas
26 x 16 inches
Sold for $12,250

Lot 107
Continental School
19th/20th Century
Inscribed as titled on stretcher
Oil on canvas
30 x 30 inches (76.2 x 76.2 cm)
Sold for $9,600

Lot 97
Attributed to Mario Tozzi
Signed M. Tozzi (ll); signed M. Tozzi and inscribed as titled on reverse
Oil on panel
7 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches (8.4 x 24.2 cm)
Sold for $8,400

Lot 231
Anglo-Indian Ivory Hourglass
19th Century
The rosette carved circular top above turned supports centering the hourglass filled with sand, raised on a similar base.
Height 8 3/4 inches
Provenance: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman
Sold for $8,400