New Book | Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur

Posted in books by Editor on December 1, 2014

From Ashgate:

Kristel Smentek, Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur in Eighteenth-Century Europe (Aldershot: Asghate, 2014), 342 pages, ISBN: 978-1472438027, £70 / $120.

9781472438027_p0_v1_s600Celebrated connoisseur, drawings collector, print dealer, book publisher, and authority on the art of antiquity, Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774) was a pivotal figure in the eighteenth-century European art world. Focusing on the trajectory of Mariette’s career, this book examines the material practices and social networks through which connoisseurs forged the idea of art as an object of empirical and historical analysis. Drawing on significant unpublished archival material as well as on histories of science, publishing, collecting, and display, this book shows how Mariette and his colleagues’ practices of classification and interpretation of the graphic arts gave rise to new conceptions of artistic authorship and to a history of art that transcended the biographies of individual artists. To follow Mariette’s career through the eighteenth century is to see that art was consolidated as a specialized category of intellectual inquiry—and that style emerged as its structuring analytic device—in the overlapping spaces of the collector’s cabinet, the connoisseur’s portfolio, and the dealer’s shop.

Kristel Smentek is Associate Professor of Art History in the Department of Architecture at MIT.

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Introduction: Art History and the 18th-Century Connoisseur
Knowledge Economies of the Print Trade
The Making of a Drawings Connoisseur
The Collector’s Cut
Origins: Of Antiquarianism, Aesthetics, and History
Conclusion: The Mariette Sales
Select Bibliography


At Auction | Un Moment de Perfection: Furniture & Paintings

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 1, 2014


One of a pair of Italian walnut commodes, ca. 1784–85, designed and mounted by Luigi Valadier. Estimate: £600,000–1 million (Lot 30; click here for additional images and audio description).

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Press release (26 November 2014) from Christie’s:

Un Moment de Perfection: An Important Private Collection of French
18th-Century Furniture and Old Master Paintings, Sale 10199
Christie’s, London, 3 December 2014

cks-10199-12032014lChristie’s will present a superb collection of French paintings and decorative arts in Un Moment de Perfection: An Important Private Collection of French 18th-Century Furniture and Old Master Paintings on 3 December 2014 [Sale 10199]. Formed by an erudite and sophisticated collector of both French and Spanish origins, the quality and breadth of this collection demonstrate the distinguished gentleman’s deep understanding of art and history, which developed and matured through endless curiosity, extensive travels and friendships formed in the art world. Comprising 83 lots, the wide array of important treasures include a pair of Italian walnut commodes designed and mounted by Luigi Valadier (estimate: £600,000–1 million); a pair of impressive ormolu candelabra attributed to the ciseleur-doreur Pierre Gouthière (estimate: £350,000–500,000); and a pair of capricci of Rome by Hubert Robert depicting the Forum with the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Temple of Saturn (estimate: £200,000–400,000). The sale offers new and established collectors the opportunity to acquire works of exceptional quality from this magnificent group. The collection will be available to view from Friday 28 November at Christie’s King Street.

European Furniture

The sale is led by an elegant pair of Italian walnut commodes, circa 1784–85, designed and mounted by Luigi Valadier (estimate: £600,000–1 million) which corresponds almost exactly to a pair of commodes in a drawing from the workshop of Luigi Valadier which, along with other papers, is now in the Pinacoteca Civica. Other notable pieces of European furniture include a late Louis XV ormolu-mounted tulipwood, amaranth and fruitwood marquetry commode by Pierre-Antoine Foullet, circa 1770–75, which belongs to a group of case furniture stamped or attributed to Pierre-Antoine Foullet, all of which share the distinctive neo-classical oval frame mounts and Transitional form of this commode (estimate: £70,000–100,000); a French pale-grey painted and parcel-gilt cast-iron centre table from the second quarter of the  19th century (estimate: £15,000–25,000); and a French ormolu and gilt-varnished metal gueridon, attributed to Maison Jansen, late 19th century, in the manner of Adam Weisweiler (estimate: £6,000–9,000). Regarded as one of the most prominent interior decorating companies of the 20th century, Maison Jansen, founded in 1880 also designed and made furnishings for the interiors they conceived, the designs for which ranged from a revival of Louis XV, XVI and Empire styles to modern taste, creating a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary. Some of the firm’s most important commissions were for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s residence in Paris, the White House for Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy and the March family residences in Spain.

European Objects

Formerly in the collection of Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847–1929) at Mentmore Towers,  a magnificent pair of candelabra attributed to the celebrated ciseleur-doreur Pierre Gouthière, may be regarded as one of the most accomplished models executed in the ‘goût à l’Etrusque’ (estimate: £350,000–500,000). They are thought to be after a design by Jean-Demosthène Dugourc, made by Gouthière and supplied by the celebrated marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre who collaborated closely with Gouthière on various important commissions. Further highlights range from a pair of Louis XVI ormolu-mounted Sèvres ‘beau bleu’ porcelain vases, the mounts attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, circa 1785, which were also almost certainly supplied by Dominique Daguerre (estimate: £200,000–300,000); to a pair of restoration ormolu-mounted porphyry and blued-steel brûle parfums, circa 1820-30, after the model by Mathew Boulton (estimate: £30,000–50,000); a Louis XVI oval marble bas-relief of a vestal virgin, attributed to Louis-Simon Boizot, circa 1777, which is almost certainly the marble bas-relief depicting Une Vestale that Boizot exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1777 (estimate: £8,000–12,000).

Hubert Robert

Old Master Paintings

Leading the offering of Old Master paintings is one of the top lots of the sale, a pair of capricci of Rome by Hubert Robert depicting the Forum with the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Temple of Saturn (estimate: £200,000–400,000, Lot 36). In the collection of HRH The Duchess of Kent at Derby House between 1940 and 1947, this pair of views are a vibrant demonstration of Robert’s fascination with the ancient world and of the palpable influence of Giovanni Paolo Panini. Other key works include a striking portrait of Don Lourenço José Xavier de Lima, 1st Count of Mafra by Louis Gauffier’s a beautifully preserved example of the artist’s small full-length portraiture, the genre that dominated his oeuvre until his death in 1801 and for which he would ultimately be most celebrated (estimate: £150,000–250,000).

19th-Century Paintings

A three-quarter length Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, née Princess Charlotte of Prussia by Scottish born Christina Robertson is likely to be of particular Russian interest (estimate: £ 30,000–50,000). Robertson travelled to St Petersburg in 1839 to paint the Empress and the Imperial Court, and became her favoured court artist, painting a number of portraits of her. She returned again in 1849 where she remained until her death in 1854. The largest concentration of her work is in the collection of the Hermitage Museum. Amongst her distinguished patrons were the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, Lord Powerscourt, and influential European families including the Rothschilds and Pototskis. Lady with a fan by Roberto Bompiani was exhibited at the Esposizione di Belle Arti in Turin in 1880 where it was highly praised (estimate: £30,000–50,000). Nicknamed ‘the Italian Bouguereau’, for his pictures of religious and mythological subjects which were evocative of the great French Academic artist, Bompiani was also known as a history and portrait painter who frequently represented members of the Italian aristocracy, such as the Borghese family.

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