Press release, via Art Daily:
Piguet Auction House, Geneva, 15 March 2017
The prices for the Givaudan Collection soared this week at Piguet Auction House in Geneva. A red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) sold for six times its low estimate, fetching CHF 267,500, the highest price seen at auction for the last decade (lot 794 estimated at CHF 40,000–60,000). This result is the third best price ever achieved for a red chalk drawing by Fragonard, the first and second being for works sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (one fetching €391,063 in 2007 and the other €286,534 in 1998). Another star lot from this collection, the spectacular pair of Louis XV Meissen porcelain candelabras, sold for CHF 158,000 at five times its low estimate (lot 586 estimated at CHF 30,000–50,000). The paintings, furniture, silver, and works of art from the collection totalled 55 lots altogether and fetched over one million Swiss francs (CHF 1,095,000).
The Givaudan Collection was part of the Spring Sale at Piguet Auction House, which finished Thursday evening with an end result of CHF 3.9 million. The Jewellery and Watches sale fetched CHF 1.5 million alone. The Wine and Spirits sale saw an almost clear round selling 92% of lots auctioned. Around 500 lots over the four days of auctions were sold at less than CHF 300, providing many an opportunity for a little indulgence at a low price.
Collectors and enthusiasts alike went into battle in the saleroom and over the telephones to be a successful bidder on pieces from this important collection from Xavier and Leon Givaudan’s estate. Having settled in Geneva over a century ago, the Givaudan brothers made their fortune in the production of synthetic perfumes, soaps, and chemicals. Consulting only the most renowned Parisian dealers and galleries, their collection began to take shape at the beginning of the 20th century. Furthermore, thanks to the research carried out by Piguet Auction House specialists, certain pieces were traced all the way back to their 18th-century origins.
French and American collectors were the most forthcoming in their bidding on the drawings and paintings while the Swiss and German collectors went to battle over the bronzes and works of art. Two clients in particular entered a bidding war over the telephones which saw a red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard reach CHF 267,500. The red chalk drawing which includes a skull is annotated in French “he has been what I am: what he is I will be soon.” Discovered by Bernard Piguet in the previous owner’s shoe cupboard, this red chalk drawing has now become the third most expensive work of its kind by the artist in the world. First and second place are held by drawings sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (red chalk drawing sold for €391,063 in 2007 and another for €286,534 in 1998).
Just minutes later, two other red chalk drawings by Hubert Robert (1733–1808) fetched CHF 82,700 and 94,800. Their provenance had been traced uninterruptedly from the present owner right back to the artist himself (lots 803 and 804 each estimated at CHF 15,000–20,000). The married couple sharing an intimate moment in La tendresse conjugale (Conjugal Tenderness) by Louis Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) moved one client to bid CHF 121,600 by telephone before finally becoming its next owner (lot 793 estimated at CHF 60,000–80,000).
During Wednesday afternoon’s auction, the Louis XV candelabras took centre stage. Veritable works of art in themselves, these important Meissen porcelain figures after a model by J.J. Kändler are set in ornate ormolu mounts (ca. 1740). Selling at five times their low estimate, these finely crafted candelabras fetched CHF 158,000 (lot 586 CHF 30,000–50,000).
Francesco Guardi, Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and the Campanile, ca. 1770–80, oil on canvas, 70 × 102 cm. The painting sold for $7.1million.
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Press release from Christie’s:
Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould: ‘A Way of Life’, Sale 14636
Christie’s, Paris, 7 March 2017
On 7 March 2017, Christie’s Boniface de Castellane and Anna Gould: ‘A Way of Life’ auction [Sale 14636] realised a total of €14,266,563 / £12,342,004 / $15,155,370. These exceptional results reflect the relevant choices Boni made when furbishing his legendary Palais Rose with the most exquisite works of art.
Lionel Gosset, Head of Collection sales, Christie’s France: “Continuing Christie’s long history of offering prestigious collections at auction, we are honoured to have paid such a beautiful tribute to this important collection. Its celebrated provenance and the pristine quality of its works have attracted bidders from nineteen countries across five continents, establishing once again Christie’s France’s leadership in selling collections with success.”
Connoisseurs, collectors, and institutions, such as the Sèvres Museum (lot 145) and Lyndhurst—Anna Gould’s childhood home in the state of New York (lots 2, 6, 10, and 16)—have acquired 96% of the sale, demonstrating continued interest in high quality 18th-century pieces. The Palais Rose’s famous Boulle furniture achieved strong prices, as illustrated by the Louis XVI pair of meubles-à-hauteur-d’appui by Etienne Levasseur and Adam Weisweiler that sold for €818,500 (lot 132) and the Louis XIV console attributed to André-Charles Boulle that sold for €506,500 (lot 140). Important decorative art from the period also performed very well, as shown by the Sèvres porcelain ‘vases’ that realised €206,500 against a presale estimate of €80,000–120,000 (lot 52) and a George III clock attributed to James Cox that achieved €290,500 (lot 89). Art Déco works by Cartier where among the highlights of the sale, as the Mystery Clock achieved €686,500 against a presale estimate of €150,000–200,000 (lot 18) and the Jardin Japonais desk set achieved €1.118.500 (lot 19), a new record for an object by Cartier sold at auction. Finally, leading the sale was the magnificent View of Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and the Campanile by Francesco Guardi (lot 46), for which determined bidding resulted in a total of €6,738,500 / £5,829,476 / $7,158,309, making it the highest price achieved by far for an Old Master painting sold at auction in France over the past two decades.
The pre-sale press release from Christie’s is available here»
Emily Selter provided a brief preview of the auction and profile of the “Ultimate Paris ‘It Couple’,” for Town & Country (21 February 2017).
Maastricht, 10–19 March 2017
The 30th edition of TEFAF Maastricht welcomes 270 internationally renowned exhibitors to the Fair including five young and recently established dealers to TEFAF Showcase. As the world’s leading fine art and antiques Fair, TEFAF Maastricht provides an unrivaled meeting place for the best dealers in the world, attracting major international private and institutional collectors. Through the careful selection of its exhibitors, TEFAF enables visitors to make unexpected connections across disciplines creating a marketplace for the highest level of collecting at all of its Fairs. TEFAF Maastricht 2017 takes place March 10–19 at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre), Maastricht in The Netherlands.
TEFAF Maastricht is divided into nine sections (TEFAF Antiques, TEFAF Classical Antiquities, TEFAF Curated, TEFAF Design, TEFAF Haute Joaillerie, TEFAF Modern, TEFAF Paintings, TEFAF Paper, TEFAF Showcase) with the selected dealers presenting over 7,000 years of art history under one roof. The Fair looks forward to welcoming 18 new exhibitors in 2017, who will both strengthen and extend the range of objects being shown at the Fair.
More information is available here»
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From a press release (27 February) from Tomasso Brothers Fine Art:
Among the highlights offered by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is a remarkable Saturn and Ops by Paul Heermann (1673–1732), the German late Baroque sculptor to the Courts of Bohemia and Saxony. Ops, the Roman goddess of abundance and fertility, is depicted with her consort Saturn, the early Roman god of agriculture, forming an allegorical representation of Summer and Winter. Related works by Heerman include two busts of Winter: one in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and another at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Working with his uncle Johann Georg Heermann, the Electoral Saxon sculptor, Paul Heermann executed his most important, late seventeenth-century project, the spectacular grand staircase on the external façade of the Troja Castle in Prague, where another depiction of Saturn is prominently positioned. The present sculptural group was recorded at the historically important Schloss and estate of Rittergut Lucklum, Germany, by 1806, where it remained in situ until the late twentieth century. It will be offered with a price in the region of €2million.
The gallery’s essay on Saturn and Ops is available as
a PDF file here»
Press release (23 February 2017) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:
A rare Georgian barometer is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £160,000. Culture Minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on the George III mahogany wheel barometer to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country. The piece is one of a small number of its design known to have been made by the renowned Whitehurst family of clockmakers, from Derby. It is one of only nine of this type known to exist, none of which are known to be in a UK public collection.
During the reign of King George III natural philosophy had become increasingly popular, with scientific instruments finding their way into the homes of the elite classes. The ornate decoration of this instrument indicates that it was intended for this purpose. The possible association of the barometer with John Whitehurst makes this item of particular interest. As a clockmaker, instrument maker, and natural philosopher, he was a member of the Lunar Society, became Stamper of Money Weights at the Mint, was painted by Joseph Wright, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This beautiful barometer is more than just an instrument: it also gives us a glimpse into the 18th-century home and the increased interest in natural philosophy at the time. As a rare and important item associated with a significant regional workshop, this fine piece offers an intriguing possibility for further study. I very much hope that we can keep it in the UK for this purpose.”
The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.
RCEWA member Christopher Rowell said: “The scientifically sophisticated design of this rare Whitehurst barometer is matched by the high quality of the carved mahogany case. No other Whitehurst barometer of this model is in a British public collection, and its retention in this country is therefore highly desirable.”
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds of the barometer’s outstanding significance to the study of the Whitehurst family’s work. The decision on the export licence application for the barometer will be deferred until 22 April 2017. This may be extended until 22 July 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £160,000 (plus VAT of £2,000). Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the barometer should contact the RCEWA.
Diane KW, The Geldermalsen Triptych: The Harvest, The Catastrophe, The Politics, 2013; found Chinese porcelain shards with digital ceramic transfers (Groninger Museum). The large basin shards in this triptych work recount their history from the order and production of decorated porcelain pieces (The Harvest), to the shipwreck (The Catastrophe) and loss of the porcelain, to the storm of controversy after the sale of the salvaged pieces (The Politics). The triptych was part of the exhibition At World’s End—The Story of a Shipwreck: Works by Diane KW (Honolulu Museum of Art, January — April 2014).
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An upcoming auction in Atlanta recalls a 1752 shipwreck, a 1986 auction and monograph, a 1992 article, a 2014 exhibition, and lots of questions about looted artifacts. There’s a measure of wry tragedy in the fact that this week’s sale takes place at Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery. In a Borgesian universe, one might imagine a litany of items with similarly dubious histories on offer at the gallery. Please, someone write that story! It would make for a fabulous reading at a HECAA luncheon. Or maybe it would work as a theme for structuring a conference panel. Wanted: proposals with rapacious villains, international stakes, ethical quandaries, and plenty of misinformation (‘alternative facts’ to use the current jargon), all as reception history for material that is of genuine scholarly significance. –Craig Hanson
George L. Miller, “The Second Destruction of the Geldermalsen,” Historical Archaeology 26 (1992): 124–31.
Abstract: This review of C. J. A. Jörg’s book on the Chinese porcelain from the Dutch East India Company ship Geldermalsen, which sank in 1752 [The Geldermalsen: History and Porcelain (Groningen: Kemper Publisher, 1986)], addresses some broader questions involved in the destruction of shipwreck sites for commercial profit. These questions grew out of the issue of what relationship scholars should have with those who destroy sites and acquire objects from them. The first part of the article is a review of Jorg’s book, followed by a commentary on the problems that collecting from looted sites raise.
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Blue and white porcelain cups and saucers recovered from the shipwrecked Geldermalsen in 1985
(Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery, Atlanta)
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From the auction press release, via Art Daily (5 February 2017). . .
When the Geldermalsen ship crashed into a reef and sank in the South China Sea during its return journey to the Netherlands in January of 1752, it claimed the lives of eighty crew members who went down with the vessel’s precious cargo of tea, textiles, gold, silk, lacquer, and porcelain. As part of the fleet of the powerful Dutch East India Company commissioned for the Zeeland division, the loss of the mighty Geldermalsen hardly went unnoticed.
Over two hundred years later, a successful salvage expert named Captain Michael Hatcher would excavate the ship and its contents, giving new understanding of eighteenth-century trade demands and the rise of porcelain’s availability. Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery will offer fourteen lots of blue and white porcelain from this incredible salvage from the personal collection of one of the expedition’s private backers. The auction is slated for February 10, 11, and 12, with 11am start times all three days, online and in the firm’s Atlanta gallery at 5180 Peachtree Boulevard.
Hatcher, along with his partner Max de Rham, a marine geophysicist, led a successful team of divers who unearthed the precious bounty that would catapult its already famous hunter into superstardom. ‘The Nanking Cargo’, as it became known by its sale at Christie’s Amsterdam in April of 1985 [sic], contained a massive trove of the aforementioned blue and white porcelain, which was originally potted in China’s Jiangzi province bound for European markets. The sheer scope of this find shed light on the true nature of the market’s demands, as traditional experts had always believed the records kept by the DEIC [Dutch East India Company, or VOC] had exaggerated their shipments of porcelain. Safely protected underwater by the tea loosely packed in wooden crates, the porcelain in the Nanking Cargo represented the range of influence eastern artisans had over western tastes during the eighteen century.
Hatcher and his team had the untouched archives of the DEIC in Holland to thank for locating the whereabouts of this famous—and suspicious wreck. Due to the nature of the disaster—in well chartered waters by one of the world’s most esteemed shipping companies—the DEIC spent weeks interrogating the survivors who had made it to present-day Jakarta on two open boats. Not only was an entire cargo worth of precious porcelain and trade goods missing, but so was the gold, at first believed to be hidden by the survivors. With such detailed records on hand, Hatcher would embark on months of searching, believing his efforts to be worthless until they unearthed the treasure from a three foot layer of silt and coral.
The excitement generated by the find was evident during the first frenzied days of the cargo’s namesake auction at Christie’s Amsterdam. International interest—both financial and historical—had taken hold and this caught the attention of the Chinese government, who tried unsuccessfully to bring the porcelain back to its country of origin. Maritime salvage laws permitted the cargo to go across the auction block, where it broke numerous records and raised a staggering $20 million USD.
Silver huqqa set made up of five separate parts: 1) globular base, ht. 16.9 cm; 2) tobacco bowl, ht. 9 cm and 3) its cover, ht. 7 cm; 4) ring, ht. 5 cm; 5) mouthpiece, ht. 6.5 cm, North India, ca. 1750.
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Press release (18 January 2017) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:
Culture Minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on Clive of India’s huqqa set and flask to provide an opportunity to keep them in the country. The Mughal ruby and emerald flask and the sapphire and ruby huqqa set are both at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £6,000,000 for the flask or £240,000 for the huqqa set.
It is believed that Robert Clive, also known as Clive of India, was presented with the flask as a gift following the Battle of Plassey. Clive was governor and commander-in-chief of India and became famous for his victory over the Nawab of Bengal during the battle in 1757. The flask itself is incredibly rare and there is no other object like it anywhere in the world, let alone in Britain. It has a silver interior and a gold exterior decorated in jade, emeralds and rubies. Clive of India also brought the huqqa set back to the UK from India. Set with white sapphires and rubies, it was part of an original collection at the imperial court in Delhi. The huqqa set is considered to be an extremely rare survival as such lavish courtly objects were often broken down for their component parts. It isn’t known how Clive of India acquired the set, but smoking was widespread in India at the time and had become popular amongst the British living there as well. In fact, the British often had themselves portrayed in paintings reclining against brocade-covered bolsters on a terrace, peacefully smoking.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “These treasures are not only exquisite, they provide us with a glimpse into the fascinating lifestyle and traditions of the Mughal Court and the British presence in India at the time. I hope that we are able to keep these unique artefacts in the country to learn more about this extraordinary history.”
The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council. The RCEWA made its recommendation on the flask on the grounds of its close connection with our history and national life, its aesthetic importance and its outstanding significance for the study of Mughal political and technical history, the consumption of wine and gift-giving in Mughal India, Clive of India and the British expansion in India. The RCEWA made its recommendation on the huqqa set on the grounds of its close connection with our history and national life and on the grounds of its outstanding significance for the study of Mughal court arts, gold and silver-smithing, jewel-setting, enamelling, and the place of tobacco in the social etiquette of early modern India and its adoption by British administrators in the later 18th century.
Sir Hayden Phillips, Chairman of the RCEWA said: “Apart from the intrinsic quality of these objects, and their outstanding importance for scholarship, the Reviewing Committee was unanimous in its recognition of their emblematic significance for our history and national life. Robert Clive was an outstanding and, indeed, controversial figure, but absolutely central to the creation of British rule in India. His statue, gazing out towards St James’s Park, stands guard at Clive Steps as they lead to the Foreign Office and The Treasury; a tellingly symbolic location for what he contributed to our history.”
The decision on the export licence application for the flask will be deferred until 17 May 2017. This may be extended until 17 November 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £6,000,000 (plus VAT of £1,200,000). The decision on the export licence application for the huqqa set will be deferred until 17 April 2017. This may be extended until 17 July 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £240,000 (plus VAT of £48,000). Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the flask or huqqa set should contact the RCEWA.
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Note (added 24 February 2017) — This ban comes thirteen years after “an earlier attempt to send” the objects “from the UK to Qatar,” as reported by The Art Newspaper (February 2017), p. 10. “After the Qataris withdrew the export licence applications in 2005, they were required to keep the objects in the UK and so lent the flask and huqqa to the V&A. Last year, the museum learned that the loan agreement would not be renewed. Qatar Museums wants to display them in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art.”
The Americana Collection of George S. Parker II from the Caxambas Foundation, Sale N09605
Sotheby’s New York, 19 January 2017
The Collection of George S. Parker II from the Caxambas Foundation, previously on loan at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be offered on Thursday, 19 January 2017. The notable collection includes American and English furniture, silver, paintings and prints, with examples from some of the most distinguished artisans. Furniture highlights include a pair of Philadelphia side chairs attributed to Martin Jugiez; a rare Rhode Island Queen Anne shell-carved, block-front dressing table; an exceptional Philadelphia high chest of drawers attributed to John Pollard; and an important armchair by the same maker once owned by Charles Thomson. Great American portrait painters represented in the collection include John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, and John Trumbull among others. Finally, Mr. Parker’s silver collection comprises several examples from London silversmith Paul Storr and other English makers, including Ebenezer Coker and David Willaume.
Loan exhibition at the 2017 Works on Paper Fair:
18th- and 19th-Century British Watercolours from the Eton College Collections
Works on Paper Fair, Royal Geographical Society, London, 9–12 February 2017
Eton College have kindly agreed to loan 38 watercolours from their impressive College Collection. This exceptional selection contains some of the finest works from the classic period of English watercolour painting that can be seen anywhere in Britain. It represents an opportunity to see watercolours which are rarely on view to the public, and shines a spotlight on the best collection of early watercolours to belong to any school in Britain. Some of the pictures have never been publicly displayed by the school before.
Most of the famous names are represented, and the selection includes work by Alexander and John Robert Cozens (Alexander taught drawing at Eton in the 1760s), Gainsborough, Francis Towne, Thomas Girtin, and J.M.W. Turner. The last is represented by a small watercolour of Chateau d’Arques, near Dieppe, which was published as an engraving in 1836, and a much earlier view from the mid-1790s of Skiddaw and Derwentwater in the Lake District, drawn before the artist visited the Lake District and very much in the manner of the influential Edward Dayes.
Other highlights include works by Edward Lear (The Forest of Valdoniello, Corsica), a large watercolour by Julius Caesar Ibbetson of figures skating (and falling over) on the Serpentine, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796 with the title Hyde Park—Winter, a Paul Sandby watercolour of Windsor Bridge (with animated figures and a runaway horse), and a large watercolour of Donnybrook Fair outside Dublin by Francis Wheatley dating from circa 1780 and packed with characterful figures, all drawn with the artist’s sublime skill, which belies the improvidence of his personal life.
Since the upsurge of enthusiasm for landscape drawing and watercolour painting in Britain during the final decades of the 18th century, Eton College has been associated with topographical artists and watercolourists. Views of the college from the River Thames, or of Windsor Castle from the Eton side of the river, soon became favourite subjects. Meanwhile Alexander Cozens rented rooms on the High Street in Eton, from where he offered drawing lessons to boys. These first unofficial art lessons, first led by Cozens and then from 1765 by Richard Cooper, began a tradition of professional artists being employed as Drawing Masters at the school, which continues today.
As the Eton College Drawing Schools developed, so too did the college’s collection of Fine & Decorative Art, which now includes some 1,500 drawings and watercolours. The college strives to make this rich resource available to a wide public and hence a selection will be lent for display at the Works on Paper Fair in February 2017. Although exhibitions drawn from the collection have been held at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York (1990); Christie’s, King Street, London (2003), and W.S Fine Art / Andrew Wyld, London (2010), and individual works are at times lent to public exhibitions, many of the works loaned to the fair will be exhibited in public for the first time.
At the core of Eton College’s collection of works on paper are the examples of leaving portraits, which show boys soon after leaving the school, executed in pastel, chalk and watercolour, rather than the more usual media of oil-on-canvas. To these, generous Old Etonian collectors have added impressive assemblages of drawings and watercolours and their donations reflect the particular expertise and passion of the individual benefactors. Alan Pilkington (1879–1973), who worked for his family company of glass manufacturers, started collecting watercolours in about 1920 and presented some 270 mainly 18th- and some 19th-century works in the 1960s and ‘70s. Martin Whiteley (1931–1984), who left Eton in 1948 and returned to become a House Master, began collecting in the 1950s and later gave or bequeathed over 40 works. These two considerable donations inspired others to follow suit. In addition, the college has commissioned or purchased Eton-related landscapes and portrait drawings and Drawing Masters have presented examples of their own work, further enhancing the collection.
Lot 53: Hanukah Lamp, Polish or German, late 18th or early 19th century, bronze, 85 cm. With baluster stem and scroll and bud branches, pricket sconces linked by a brass plate. Sale price (with buyer’s premium): $3,250 (estimate $4,000–6,000).
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Important Judaica Including Property from the Estate of Shlomo Moussaieff Sale N09589 (286 lots)
Sotheby’s, New York, 15 December 2016
The Important Judaica sale began with a significant selection of property from the estate of Shlomo Moussaieff. The group was led by Simeon Solomon’s Carrying the Scrolls of Law, which set a new world auction record for the artist selling for $492,500—nearly double its high estimate of $250,000. Other highlights included a copy of the first English translation of the Jewish liturgy issued for a Jewish audience (1761), which sold—to applause—for $468,500, a record for a work of American Judaica at auction.
The late Shlomo Moussaieff was a renowned collector whose home was a meeting place for connoisseurs from all over the world. Mr. Moussaieff delighted in sharing his treasures with others, and he gave generously of his time and knowledge. Highlights from his collection include a remarkable selection of Kabbalistic manuscripts and a magnificent array of menorahs and Hanukah lamps—mostly of substantial size—featuring examples from Europe and the Middle East. The second part of the auction presented silver and books from various owners. Highlights include two outstanding 18th-century silver Sabbath lamps, a magnificent Italian silver-gilt Torah crown, and important American Judaica, including the earliest Jewish prayer book printed in America (New York, 1761), as well as splendid textiles and paintings.
Lot 270: Large Torah Crown, Venice, early 18th century, parcel-gilt silver, 23 × 22 cm.
Boldly embossed with baroque foliage, fruit and flowers, applied with five urns of flowers within recesses with cut-sheet petals, between cartouches and emblems of the Ark of the Covenant, Priest’s hat, hands of Cohen, priestly garment, and flaming altar, base band with cartouches, all on matted grounds, marked near base with Venice city mark twice and assay master’s mark ZC with tower between twice, the interior fitted with a later bar centered by a ring. Sale price (with buyer’s premium): $225,000 (estimate $180,000–220,000).
Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, Ganymede and the Eagle,
ca. 1714, bronze, 31.5cm high, 38.5cm wide.
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Important European Sculpture from Tomasso Brothers Fine Art
Carlton Hobbs LLC, New York, 19–28 January 2017
Tomasso Brothers Fine Art returns to Manhattan soon after their participation in the inaugural TEFAF New York Fall to present their now well-established and much-anticipated annual catalogued exhibition of Important European Sculpture, at Carlton Hobbs LLC on the Upper East Side from 19th to 28th January 2017. The gallery will bring together examples of the finest antique sculptural works in terracotta, marble, and bronze—many of them rarities and new discoveries—from the Renaissance to the Neoclassical periods. Highlights include a pair of terracotta relief panels depicting Bacchanalian scenes from Pompeii created by the great English sculptor John Bacon the Elder, circa 1770; a rare bronze mythological group by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi; a newly-discovered portrait bust by the prominent Roman Neoclassical sculptor Domenico Cardelli; and a superb and previously unpublished bronze by Gian Francesco Susini of The Borghese Satyr.
A series of frescoes were uncovered at the so-called Villa of Cicero at Pompeii in January 1749 illustrating, among other subjects, the revelries of Centaurs and Bacchantes, followers of the god Bacchus. Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) had access to the Pompeiian models through the Marquess of Lansdowne (1737–1805). It would seem Wedgwood had the present terracotta roundels faithfully produced after the ancient prototypes around 1770 by John Bacon the Elder, one of the most prominent English sculptors of the period, who collaborated on a number of other occasions with Wedgwood. Highly finished, the roundels are the models from which Wedgwood’s white stoneware and black basalt versions of the Centaur reliefs were derived. They display a confident handling of anatomies and a sense of movement that fully does justice to the lithe dynamism of the original Pompeiian frescoes. The roundels constitute a rare and beautiful example of the early resonance of Pompeii’s influence. Formerly in the collection of Dr. Terry Friedman (b. Terence Friedman in Detroit, Michigan), a leading art historian and authority on 18th-century architecture, keeper of decorative arts at Temple Newsam historic house (1969–93), and later principal keeper at Leeds City Art Gallery.
Another mythological subject, Ganymede and the Eagle, circa 1714, by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740) is a wonderful example of the dramatic and pictorial style of Soldani’s compositions and a rare model by the artist. The only other known version is held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Soldani-Benzi became the finest bronze caster in late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe and, along with Giovanni Battista Foggini, is considered the most significant proponent of the Florentine late Baroque style in sculpture. In 1682 Soldani-Benzi became Director of the Grand-Ducal Mint, and his large workshop in the Galleria degli Uffizi enjoyed the patronage of kings, princes, and dukes. The present work is probably one of the four bronzes ordered by the Earl of Burlington (1694–1753) after seeing terracotta models at Soldani’s studio on his Grand Tour.
A rediscovered portrait bust by Domenico Cardelli (1767–1797) of Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony (1730–1806) is a highlight among works in marble to be presented. Cardelli displayed remarkable talent from a young age, enjoying early patronage from members of the Polish court and Grand Tourists in Rome. By 1793 his work was compared to that of Canova by the art historian Georg Zoega. In 1797 Cardelli was summoned to Naples to complete a commission for the Riario-Sforza family but fell gravely ill during the journey and died, at only 30 years of age. This untimely death shortened a most brilliant career and makes the present marble portrait bust—a recent rediscovery by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art—a major addition to Cardelli’s oeuvre.
An unpublished and newly-discovered bronze statuette of The Borghese Satyr by Gian Francesco Susini (1585–1653) is a beautifully finished reduction of one of the most impressive and admired ancient marble statues in the Borghese Collection, Rome—currently displayed in the Entrance Hall of the Villa Borghese. The statuette, immaculately modelled after its ancient prototype, displays the characteristic traits of Susini’s oeuvre. These include the remarkably high and detailed quality of the casting, the silky-smooth polished texture of the surface, the use of a warm cherry red lacquer, and the size of the bronze.
Works to be offered at the exhibition range in price from $50,000 to $1,500,000 US, and a fully-illustrated catalogue will be available.