This autumn, Christie’s is delighted to announce details of 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe including Oriental Carpets on October 21-22, a two day sale featuring over 600 treasures from the 16th to the 19th centuries. From rare and important forms of craftsmanship, the sale offers superb examples of European and English furniture, ceramics, carpets, and decorative works of art showcasing the variety and luxurious forms of design. This spectacular sale will be the most valuable 500 Years sale yet held in New York, with a value in excess of $12 million.
The selection of English furniture in the sale is one of the greatest to appear in years at Christie's New York. Many of the selections are attributed to top-tier cabinet-makers of the 18thcentury and emanate from noble houses for which they were likely originally commissioned. Leading the sale is a stunning George III ebony-inlaid mahogany secretaire library bookcase, attributed to Thomas Chippendale, circa 1765 (illustrated on top of page 2, estimate: $700,000-1,000,000). Formerly in the collection of famed 20th century collector Samuel Messer, this bookcase is a true masterpiece of neo-classical design. Its immaculate construction, lustrous timbers and precise details are all hallmarks of Chippendale’s work. Additional highlights include a rare and magnificent pair of George I green and gilt-Japanned bureau-cabinets, attributed to Giles Grendey, circa 1740 (estimate: $600,000-1,000,0000), a dazzling marriage between East and West; a pair of George II mahogany hall settees, circa 1740-50 (estimate: $150,000-250,000), once housed at Witley Court; and a George II giltwood overmantel mirror, attributed to William and John Linnell, circa 1755 (estimate: $250,000-400,000). This mirror once graced the Tapestry Room at Ditchley Park, when purchased by Ronald Tree and his famous decorator wife, Nancy Lancaster (partner to John Fowler). The mirror had earlier belonged to the Marquesses of Bath in their London home. Its elegant chinoiserie design relates closely to the iconic Badminton House mirror, which Christie’s sold for Doris Duke in 2004, the most expensive mirror ever sold at auction. The sale will also feature selections from the estate of the renowned collector Alastair Bradley Martin highlighted by a George III mahogany large writing table, possibly executed by Wright and Elwick and after a design by Thomas Chippendale, circa 1765 (estimate: $300,000-500,000) and a lovely George III mahogany bonheur du jour, attributed to John Cobb, circa 1765-1770 (estimate: $200,000-300,000). This piece heralds from Combe Abbey, another of Britain’s great country houses, which became the home of Martin’s aunt Cornelia when she married the Earl of Craven.
An outstanding highlight of the sale and one of the most outstanding clocks seen at Christie’s New York in years is a monumental Consulat pedestal clock with annual calendar and equation of time, on an ormolu and enamel-mounted mahogany pedestal incorporating an organ, circa 1800 (illustrated right, estimate: $200,000-300,0000). This spectacular clock, which stands almost 7 feet tall, was reputedly a gift of the citizens of Lyon to Napoleon in honor of his famous Egyptian campaign of 1798-1799. The bronze at the top of the clock case depicts a river God emblematic of the Nile, reclining on a Sphinx and surrounded by putti playing with crocodiles. It is based on a celebrated ancient Roman original which was brought to Paris by Napoleon in 1803. Proudly featured in the sale is Neoclassical Precision- a private collection of clocks, furniture, and works of art from the Empire period, which is led by a large Swiss engraved ormolu chronometer carriage clock by Auguste Courvoisier et Companie, circa 1830 (estimate: $50,000-70,000). Reflecting the discerning taste of a private couple, A Hôtel Particulier in New York is an elegant group of French 18th century furniture that was acquired for their apartment in a Beaux Arts townhouse, built in the gilded age of the early 20th century. Chief among them is a suite of Louis XVI white-painted and parcel-gilt seat furniture by Georges Jacob, circa 1785 (estimate: $120,000-180,000), which was recorded at the Château de Saint Cloud during the Restoration period. Also of note is a royal Louis XV ormolu-mounted bois satiné and parquetry commode by Pierre Walter, circa 1751 (estimate: $60,000-90,000) made for Madame de Pompadour, the legendary taste-making mistress of Louis XV.
The tremendous artistic role of 19th century craftsmanship is reflected by a French ormolu and Japanese lacquer-mounted work table by Henry Dasson after Adam Weisweiler, circa 1800 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) and an ormolu-mounted mahogany center table by Paul Sormani, last quarter 19th century (estimate: $60,000-80,000). Both tables are excellent examples of 19th century decorations based upon Weisweiler’s iconic 18th century designs, many of which graced Marie-Antoinette’s apartments at Versailles. Works by celebrated animalier sculptor, Antoine- Louis Barye, lead the sculpture highlights, which include a rare and monumental group of Thésée combattant le centaure Biénor cast by Barbedienne, (illustrated left- estimate: $70,000-100,000), and emerges after eight decades in a private New York collection. Also from a distinguished private collection is a pair of fine French nine-light candelabra cast by Brame from a model by Antoine-Louis Barye, (estimate: $40,000-60,000), an excellent example of Barye’s ability to join form, function and decorative art. Italian masterworks of micromosaic and pietre dure include a large and rare Roman micromosaic panel by Luigi Cavaliere Gallandt, second half 19th century (estimate: $40,000-60,000); and a Napoleon III ormolu and pietre dure-mounted bureau plat by Befort Jeune after a model by Charles Cressent, circa 1850 (estimate: $60,000-80,000).
The sale features an extensive range of English, French and Continental porcelain and pottery manufacturers. A strong selection of mid-18th century Chelsea porcelain from The Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody including a pair of Chelsea porcelain artichoke tureens and covers, circa 1755 (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is complimented by a private collection of Coalport from the late 19th and early 20th century. This jeweled collection of 20 colorful ‘cabochon’-encrusted treasures includes plates, tea wares, box and covers, and is highlighted by a porcelain ‘jeweled’ gold and ivory ground vase and cover, late 19th century-20th century (estimate: $5,000-7,000). The sale also features 100 years of porcelain production in France, bookended by a documentary Paris porcelain blue and white fitted cruet stand of circa 1720 (estimate: $40,000-60,000), marked with an AP monogram attributed to Antoine Pavie, and a Sèvres porcelain tray richly painted with a still life of exotic fruits including a prominently displayed pineapple, symbol of hospitality, made in 1826 for the duchesse de Berry. Additional highlights include a Sèvres porcelain blue and green trellis-ground cup, cover and stand, 1760 (illustrated on bottom of page 3, estimate: $18,000-20,000); a green-ground tea service of 1812 and made for Napoleon I’s personal use, painted with portraits of the emperor’s immediate and extended family (estimate: $50,000-70,000); and an extensive dessert presented as a gift to Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacères on the occasion of the marriage of Stephanie de Beauharnais, the Emperor’s adopted daughter, to Charles, Grand Duke of Baden with estimates ranging from $3,500 to 40,000.
October 22 features a diverse selection of over 50 rugs and carpets from Persia to France, leading with an Isfahan carpet from Central Persia, 17th century (illustrated left, estimate: $100,000-150,000). This fine carpet is a classical example of “in-and-out palmette” designs, the most sought after during the artful and lavish reign of Shah Abbas (1587-1629). Other highlights include a Heriz carpet, Northwest Persia, last quarter 19th century (estimate: $25,000-35,000); and a Louis XVI Aubusson carpet, France, late 18th century (estimate: $30,000-50,000).
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales in 2008 that totalled £2.8 billion/$5.1 billion. For the first half of 2009, art sales totalled £1.2 billion/$1.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's conducted the greatest auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and today remains a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 sales annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $80 million. Christie’s has 53 offices in 30 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in emerging and new markets such as Russia, China, India and the Middle East, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.