Enfilade

At Christie’s | Desmarais Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on April 7, 2019

Jean-Henri Riesener, Louis XVI Ormolu-Mounted Bois Satine, Amaranth, Sycamore, and Marquetry Commode, 1774 (Lot 51: estimate: $700,000–1,000,000).

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Press release for the sale:

The Desmarais Collection: A Pied-à-terre in New York (Sale 17442)
Christie’s, New York, 30 April 2019

Christie’s presents The Desmarais Collection: A Pied-à-terre in New York, encompassing a remarkable selection of furniture, paintings, and porcelain to be offered in a dedicated sale on April 30 in New York, during the Classic Week series of sales. The collection is from the New York pied-à-terre of the distinguished Canadian couple Paul and Jacqueline Desmarais, which was decorated by the internationally acclaimed interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux. Comprised of more than 150 lots, the collection features a sumptuous and sophisticated group of French 18th- and 19th-century furniture by many of the best makers such as Riesener and Weisweiler, Sèvres porcelain, silver, and paintings including works by the artists François Boucher and Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. The sale also features a selection of deluxe upholstered custom furniture and accessories specially ordered by J.P. Molyneux Studio, with luxurious fabrics by makers such as Prelle and Antico Setificio.

Paul Desmarais Sr. (1927–2013) was the former CEO of Power Corporation of Canada, and Jacqueline (1928–2018) was a philanthropist who was recognized as one of the most important patrons of Quebec’s arts scene. Jacqueline sat on the board of directors at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and in honor of her philanthropic contributions she was named an officer of the Order of Canada, to the National Order of Quebec and to France’s Legion of Honour.

Lot 123: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of a Young Girl, Half-length, ca. 1767. Estimate: $50,000–70,000. From the catalogue entry, “This charming portrait of a child is one of the earliest oil paintings that the artist executed, soon after she lost her father, the pastellist Louis Vigée, in May of 1767, when she was barely twelve years old.”

Will Strafford, Senior International Specialist, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, comments: “Christie’s is proud to offer this superb collection of French furniture, paintings and Sèvres porcelain on behalf of the Desmarais family, one of Canada’s leading families, noted as much for their acumen in the business world as for their generous philanthropy. The collection furnished their New York pied-à-terre in the Pierre hotel, and was the result of their long and fruitful collaboration with the noted interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux.”

Juan Pablo Molyneux adds: “It was a great pleasure working with Monsieur and Madame Desmarais on their New York home. Jacqueline Desmarais reflected a very strong personality in her taste and had a very sophisticated approach when selecting styles, colors, and objets d’art. We worked side by side to produce the correct environment for this exceptional collection of 18th- and 19th-century period furnishings.”

Among the collection highlights, the Riesener commode is a spectacular work: a Louis XVI masterpiece in ormolu and lush naturalistic marquetry that Jean-Henri Riesener made for the hôtel du Garde-Meuble (the administration in charge of furnishing royal residences) in 1774, the year he was appointed cabinetmaker for the King (lot 51). Other highlights include an elegant early 19th-century vase from Russia’s imperial stone-cutting workshops and one of the most complete 18th-century Sèvres porcelain services still in private hands, decorated with images from the Comte de Buffon’s Natural History of Birds (lot 17). Eighteenth-century paintings include a beautiful Portrait of a Young Girl by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (lot 123) and Vénus et les amours by François Boucher (lot 112), First Painter to the King under Louis XV.

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