LOS ANGELES.-Fine European furniture and decorative arts come to auction at Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles on April 28, 2008. The 500-lot sale will offer an array of works for varied tastes and collecting levels, showcasing pieces from the 16th through the 20th centuries, and highlighted by property from the estate of famed Hollywood photographer Wallace Seawell.
Known by friends and admirers as a well-mannered man and a 'dapper dresser,' Seawell had a rapport with celebrities allowing him to capture intimate expressions and poses not accessible to a lesser photographer. His brilliant career spanned more than six decades, snapping portraits of such Hollywood greats and international figures as: Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, George Burns, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, Johnny Mathis, Diana Ross, Peggy Lee, former President Lyndon Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the King and Queen of Siam, the "Queen of Comedy" Lucille Ball, the "Queen of Nice "Doris Day, among countless others.
Born in Atlanta in 1916, Seawell aspired to become a portrait painter. In 1937 he was awarded a scholarship to the Ringling School of Art and Design, a private college of professional visual arts and design located in Sarasota, Florida. It was during this time that Seawell discovered his passion for photography and transferred to the Rochester Institute of Technology. Following his graduation (with honors in 1940), Seawell went to work for Eastman Fashion Studio in New York City, becoming the chief set designer and fashion photographer.
After World War II, Seawell moved to Los Angeles where he produced and designed training films for the Army Signal Corps. Following this, he joined the studio of celebrated West Coast photographer Paul Hesse.
Seawell then began taking photographs for movie studios and fan magazines, shooting Hollywood and recording stars. His reputation for being forthright and creating an atmosphere of comfort for his sitters made him a preferred shooter for the stars. He earned international acclaim shooting the portraits of former President Lyndon B. Johnson and royals.
Highlights from the Estate of Wallace Seawell include: a handsome pair of Continental Neoclassical-style carved giltwood console tables, circa 1900 (est. $5/8,000); an early 20th century Empire-style gilt bronze mounted mahogany center table, with a malachite veneered top (est. $3/5,000); a charming suite of Empire-style gilt bronze mounted mahogany seat furniture in Egyptian Revival taste (est. $5/8,000); a pair of enchanting Italian Baroque figural terms, 18th century and later (est. $5/8,000); a pair of 18th century Italian Baroque Parcel Gilt and faux blue marble Solomonic Columns on later stands (est. $3/5,000); and an Empire-style gilt bronze mounted mahogany 20th century suite of seat furniture, comprising armchairs, a pair of side chairs and a sofa (est. $5/8,000).