At Sotheby’s | Pelham: The Public and the Private Collections

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 1, 2016

Press release (22 February 2016) from Sotheby’s:

Pelham: The Public and the Private Collections of Alan Rubin (L16322)
Sotheby’s London, 8 March 2016


Lot 114: François Boucher, La Marchande de Fleurs in a Rocaille Surround, ca. 1742.

On 8th March 2016, Sotheby’s London will host an exceptional sale of furniture and works of art from the ‘public’ and ‘private’ collections of Alan Rubin of Pelham Galleries. The name Pelham is inextricably linked with the history of the 20th-century antiques trade. For almost 90 years, Pelham Galleries has been a mecca for international collectors, dealers and museums curators. The galleries in London and Paris have been instrumental in helping form some of today’s greatest collections, and treasures discovered by Alan Rubin, his father and uncle can be found in many of the world’s greatest museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, and the Louvre. The printed catalogue, which can be viewed online here, includes a substantial introduction by Alan Rubin with a fascinating history of the company and a masterly survey of the history of the London art trade, which will be a work of reference for future generations of dealers.

The sale will feature fascinating acquisitions made by two generations of antiques dealers with unrivalled expertise, alongside great rarities that have adorned Alan Rubin’s wonderful Queen Anne house in London for the past 30 years. Together, the 180 lots include outstanding examples of English and European furniture, an exceptionally rich group of Italian decorative arts, chinoiserie masterpieces and a number of items reflecting Alan Rubin’s passion for early music.

Commenting on the forthcoming auction, Alan Rubin said: “This sale marks a new chapter for Pelham Galleries which will now be run from our Paris gallery. The sale includes a number of pieces never previously offered to the public, some acquired by my family over sixty years ago. I hope they will give as much pleasure to their new owners as they have given to me.”

Henry House, Head of Sotheby’s Furniture and Decorative Arts Department added: “This sale celebrates the great eye, sublime taste and academic rigour that have contributed to Alan Rubin’s worldwide reputation. In addition to their extraordinary quality and rarity, many items in the sale come with fascinating provenances and carry the imprimatur of one of Britain’s most renowned antique dealing families.”

English Furniture

Pelham Galleries has been synonymous with the finest English Furniture since it was founded in 1928. The sale features outstanding pieces which were acquired either by Alan Rubin in his early years as a dealer or by his father, Ernest Rubin in the 1950s. Stunning examples of neo-classical furniture include a George III satinwood, harewood and tulipwood breakfront bookcase, circa 1780 by Mayhew and Ince, acquired from Lord and Lady Mountbatten in the 1950s (est. £40,000–60,000) and an important pair of George III painted and parcel-gilt satinwood pier tables, circa 1795 which adorned the Blue Room of the White House between 1972 and 2002. Formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Sutherland, these tables are among the finest examples of their period (est. £100,000–150,000).

Italian Decorative Arts

Alan Rubin’s profound interest in Italian decorative arts is reflected in an impressive ensemble of 18th-century furniture and works of art. Highlights comprise one of the finest pairs of Genoese giltwood torchères by Fillipo Parodi (1630–1702) ever to come on the market. These exceptional pieces are extremely rare in private hands. The majority of surviving examples are now in public collections or remain in situ in Genoese palaces (est. £50,000–100,000). Exceptional examples of English Palladian furniture include a George II mahogany breakfront secrétaire-cabinet, circa 1750, by William Hallett which was acquired privately from Wentworth Woodhouse over sixty years ago (est. £70,000–100,000) and a beautiful hall settee by William and John Linnell (est. £70,000–100,000). An astonishing painted trompe l’oeil and grisaille Cassapanca from first quarter 18th century (est. £25,000–50,000) and its matching torchères (est. £20,000–40,000) are a rare testament to the tradition of illusionist painting in Italian interiors. Such furniture often adorned the entrance halls of palazzi but most original pieces have now been lost or dispersed, which makes the survival of such a set remarkable. Equally fascinating, examples of Italian hardstone and mosaic works of art include an exquisite pair of micromosaics by the outstanding Roman mosaicist Giacomo Raffaelli (1753–1836) from the Hamilton Palace collection (est. £50,000–100,000) and a magnificent pietre dure plaque produced by the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence in the 17th century (est. £20,000–30,000).

French Furniture and Works of Arts

Testament to Alan Rubin’s taste for Chinoiserie, the sale includes masterpieces by the great proponents of the style, including an unpublished work by François Boucher (1703–1770), La Marchande d’Oiseaux which was previously in the collection of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, circa 1915 (est. £100,000–150,000). The sale also features rare and evocative objects from 18th-century France, including the only recorded surviving life-size 18th-century French mannequin de mode, circa 1765 which recently featured in exhibitions at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the Musée Bourdelle, Paris (est. £30,000–50,000), a 1783 miniature recording the first flight in a hot-air balloon (est. £12,000–18,000) and an impressive Consulat armchair, circa 1796–1803 similar to the one in the Chateau de Malmaison, where Napoléon lived with his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais (est. £30,000–50,000).

Works of Art on the Theme of Music

A keen music lover and collector of early musical instruments, Alan Rubin also made fascinating acquisitions on the theme of music, such as a rare Indian duet stand, circa 1810 which once belonged to world famous violinist, Yehudi Menuhin (est. £5,000–7,000), a late-16th-century Italian harpsichord, (est. £30,000–50,000), and a pair of 17th-century musical still-lives attributed to Bettera of Bergamo (est. £20,000–30,000).

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