NickNichols Nicholas B. A. Nicholson

Table decorations in silver, gold, enamels and precious stones have an illustrious history, dating back to the Renaissance, when the famous jewelers Benvenuto Cellini and Johann Melchior Dinglinger created extraordinary figural compositions to grace the tables of the courts in Italy, France, and Saxony.

In the 18th century, artists worked in enamels and in porcelain to create similar objects for Versailles, Caserta, and Schönbrunn. These figures designed to amuse, have never lost their ability to delight - and to the present day, jewelers such as Faberge, Cartier, and Verdura have tried their hand within the genre of table ornaments.

Lot 238, a group of sterling silver and enamel circus figures: monkeys and harlequins, Gene Moore (1910-1998) for Tiffany & Co. Lot 238, a group of sterling silver and enamel circus figures: monkeys and harlequins, Gene Moore (1910-1998) for Tiffany & Co.

Freeman’s is pleased to present an extraordinary collection of enameled silver table ornaments by the designer Gene Moore for the venerable firm of Tiffany & Company (Lots 233-238 in the April 19 auction of American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts).  Drawing on historical tradition, Moore nevertheless gave the genre a purely American touch of whimsy with his charming figures that recreate the festive atmosphere of a three-ring circus.  Gene Moore, who began his tenure at Tiffany by dressing the store's windows, and establishing their legendary reputation, spent nearly 40 years creating striking and sometime provocative displays, before turning his attention to design.

Lot 235, four sterling silver and enamel circus figures, Gene Moore (1910-1998) for Tiffany & Co. Lot 235, four sterling silver and enamel circus figures, Gene Moore (1910-1998) for Tiffany & Co.

Elephants, jugglers, acrobats, and clowns cavort and contort – their beautifully modeled figures with painted enamel decoration.  Moore may have been inspired by the historical, but his pieces are as fresh and American as Alexander Calder’s famous wire circus.

These beautifully-made vintage pieces will certainly go on to captivate new generations of collectors with a sense of style and a Big (Top) sense of humor.

by Nicholas B. A. Nicholson 

Nicholas B. A. Nicholson serves as Senior Vice President, Division Head of American & European Furniture & Decorative Arts. He also leads the English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts department at Freeman’s, which includes silver, objets de vertu, and Russian works of art.

Nicholson has more than 20 years of auction and art advisory experience and has worked with private collectors, international museums, institutions, and independent appraisal firms. An expert on Russian works of art, his expertise also cover such diverse areas as American neoclassicism, Tiffany silver, and many more.

He began his career working for a premier dealer in continental furniture and decorative arts. He joined Christie’s Continental Furniture and Decorative Arts department in the early 1990s. He was quickly promoted to specialist within Christie’s New York Russian Department and sold important Russian works from the estates of Landsell Christie, Jane Englehardt and Frank Sinatra. He also participated in the landmark sale of the Fabergé Imperial 25th Anniversary Clock, which set auction records for Fabergé, clocks, and silver.

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