Enfilade

At Sotheby’s in Paris: Furniture, Porcelain, & Sculpture

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 18, 2011

Press release from Sotheby’s (as noted art ArtDaily, 12 March 2011). . .

Important Furniture, Sculpture & Objets d’Art (Sale PF1101)
Sotheby’s, Paris, 6 April 2011 (viewing 2-5 April)

The sale of Important Furniture, Sculpture & Objets d’Art at Sotheby’s Paris on 6 April comprises an exceptional ensemble of 230 precious items from a variety of European collections, including a rare Italian Renaissance bronze and a group of French 18th- and early 19th-century terracottas.

Highlight of the sale is sure to be an extremely rare Louis XV Secrétaire en Cabinet in citronnier, sycamore and amaranth veneer, adorned with ormolu mounts and Sèvres porcelain plaques, stamped four times A. Weisweiler, from the former Collection of Baron Gustave de Rothschild (estimate €1.5-2.5m*). Furniture incrusted with Sèvres porcelain plaques has always been popular among aficionados of the French 18th-century decorative arts and considered the epitome of refined cabinet-making. The greatest 18th-century cabinet-makers, such as BVRB, RVLC, Carlin, Riesener or Weisweiler, were commissioned to make sophisticated furniture by marchands-merciers, notably Poirier and Daguerre (who enjoyed a monopoly on the purchase of Sèvres porcelain plaques). Our secrétaire, probably made around 1778-80 at the time when Adam Weisweiler was qualifying, reflects the stylistic demands of Dominique Daguerre. An extensive array of furniture with porcelain plaques entered the Rothschild Collections in the 19th century, like the extraordinary ensemble from the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Collection acquired by the Louvre in 1990.

Furniture with porcelain plaques held great appeal in the 18th century, notably among female clients from whatever class of society. Connoisseurs included such leading aristocrats as the Duchesse de Mazarin, Maria Feodorovna (the future Empress of Russia), the Comtesse d’Artois, and of course Queen Marie-Antoinette; along with courtesans like Madame du Barry or Mademoiselle Laguerre. In the 19th and 20th centuries such furniture could be found in the important Hillingdon, Wallace or Rothschild Collections – where our secrétaire remained until the late 1970s. Today such furniture can be admired in museums like the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Louvre.

Superb furniture figures prominently at the sale, with a fine pair of giltwood console tables made in Rome around 1780 (est. €100,000-150,000); a large George IV ebony-veneered desk made in England around 1824 (est. €100,000-200,000); and a Louis XVI carved giltwood folding-stool with sabots, richly carved with rosettes, beading and egg-and-dart borders, from a suite of twelve stools ordered in 1791 for Madame Elisabeth’s bedchamber of at the Tuileries Palace (est. €40,000-60,000).

Another sale highlight is a pair of early 18th-century Beauvais tapestries from the Grotesques tenture, with the arms of the Gontaut-Biron families; one portrays a canopy with tasselled lambrequins, the other a canopy with branches of vines (est. €100,000-150,000). A dozen items of Sèvres porcelain with prestigious provenance include two waved-rim glass-coolers with the DB cipher (1771) from the Service of Madame du Barry – the first service to feature a cipher (est. €6,000-8,000); two oval dishes marked LL (1756/7) from the service presented by Louis XV to Frederik V of Denmark in thanks for a Frederiksborg stallion (est. €25,000-30,000); a pair of oblong covered vases in hard-paste porcelain (c.1775-80), marked in blue with crowned, interlaced LLs (est. €50,000-60,000); and an exceptional 18th century biscuit group, known as the Nymphs with Shell or Group with Shell, designed by the silversmith Jean-Claude Duplessis in 1761. Only a dozen examples of this group are mentioned in the Sèvres sales register (est. €50,000-60,000). An ornamental wall-bracket from Bordeaux (second half of the 18th century), probably intended for the entrance-hall of a private town-house or public building, catches the eye with its naturalistic detail and quality of execution (est. €20,000-30,000). It recalls the work of the famous Bordeaux locksmith Blaise Charlut (1715-92).

The sale’s Sculpture includes a rare alabaster Madonna & Child (c.1510-20) attributed to Guillaume Regnault, of note for the gentle expression of the face; the harmonious folds; and the care lavished on every detail (est. €70,000-100,000). It evokes the finest work of Regnault’s uncle Michel Colombe of Tours (c.1430-1512), and is a perfect illustration of the artistic virtuosity to be found in early Renaissance France. Meanwhile an exceptional bronze Marching Horse with saddlecloth, from early 17th-century Florence, perfectly embodies the artistic tastes of the late Italian Renaissance. It was probably cast in the workshop of Giovanni Francesco Susini (1575-1653) after a model by Giambologna (1529-1608). Its superb golden brown patina and the precision of the chasing and casting, with minute rendering of detail, make this bronze a Renaissance masterpiece (est. €80,000-120,000).

The sale also features a magnificent ensemble of 18th- and early 19th-century French terracottas, in great demand among collectors. They include a pair of medallions attributed to Brussels’ Gilles-Lambert Godecharle (1751-1835), dating from the last quarter of the 18th century (est. €8,000-12,000); L’Amour Berger (c.1771) by Laurent Guyard (1723-88), from the former Marius Paulme Collection (est. €10,000-15,000); and a splendid bust in patinated plaster, with the stamp of the workshop of Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828), portraying Ceres or an Allegory of Summer (est. €12,000-18,000).

Finally comes an important bronze bust of José Nicolas de Azara (1730-1804), Spanish Ambassador to Rome, cast in 1792 by Francesco Righetti (1738-1819) after the marble bust in Rome’s Capitol Museum by Ireland’s Christopher Hewetson (1737-98). The ambassador’s bust forms a pendant with that of his close friend, the famous painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), now in the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts (est. €7,000-10,000).

* Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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