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Cristo Vivo

Signed: IACO...S. A...S ...VENS..., the titulus inscribed: INRI; flanked by South Netherlandish late 17th-century ivory figures of the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist This extraordinary Baroque corpus is an important addition to the oeuvre of Jacobus Agnesius, one of the greatest and rarest 17th-century ivory carvers. Signed to the reverse of the perizonium, the corpus, which is one of only a handful of known autograph works by the sculptor, exhibits all of the hallmarks of his virtuoso technique: from the anatomically accurate musculature and the rippling folds of drapery, to the trailing strands of hair and individually delineated teeth. With its innovative writhing pose and deeply anguished expression, defined by the open mouth and the eyeballs rolled back into the skull, the corpus epitomises the Baroque concern for drama and human emotion. Little is known about the sculptor Jacobus Agnesius. Until the recent rediscovery of the present corpus his work was known principally from an ivory group of the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew in the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi (Schmidt, op. cit., p. 23), which is signed and dated: 1638 / Jacobus Agnesius / Caluensis Sculp[sit]. The present corpus, which is the only other known signed work by Agnesius, has a partially legible inscription which appears to follow the same format. Debate has centred on the meaning of the word Caluensis, with scholars suggesting that this could refer to the Swabian city of Calw, or conversely to one of the Italian or French towns named Calvi (Schmidt, op. cit., p. 36). However, Eike Schmidt has noted that the use of an Antiqua script for the Bartholomew group signature would indicate that the sculptor spoke a Romance language, though Schmidt does not exclude the possibility that Agnesius may have been a German sculptor operating in Italy or France. Schmidt has recently pointed out the existence of a family of Corsican sculptors with the surname Agnesi, who were active in Genoa in the second half of the 17th century. He tentatively suggests that Jacobus (or Jacopo) may have been a relation of this family, and he notes similarities with works by Italian ivory carvers such as Domenico Bissoni (Schmidt and Sframeli, op. cit., pp. 190-201, nos. 52, 55, 56). Schmidt lists a known oeuvre of only six works, all of which are characterized by their unusually large size. These are led by a St. Sebastian measuring 64cm in height, which was with Andrew Butterfield in 2011 and is now in a private collection. This remarkable ivory compares closely with the present figure, exhibiting the same agonized facial expression, with brows drawn together, large elongated oval eyes with crisp lids and eyeballs rolled into the back of the head in pain, and open mouth with upper and lower sets of teeth delineated. These characteristics can be observed again, together with a very similar hairstyle, with central parting and long strands of hair, in two smaller figures of St. Sebastian in the Musée du Louvre (inv. no. TH158) and in the Liechtenstein Princely Collections which both follow the same model and have been attributed to Agnesius (respectively 42.4 and 43.5cm; Schmidt, op. cit., p. 35). Schmidt attributes a second St. Sebastian of a different composition in the Liechtenstein collections to Agnesius (measuring 32cm), and records the existence of another Bartholomew group in a private collection and a figure of St. Sebastian in the convent of St. Claire in Estella (Navarra). A third version of the Louvre/ Liechtenstein St. Sebastian has been deemed to be a 19th-century copy (Schmidt, op. cit., pp. 34, 35). The present corpus would have been an important commission for Agnesius: this is confirmed by the large size of the figure, carved from an expensive exotic material. Moreover, the sculptor has sought to create a unique composition which conveys an unparalleled sense of pain and anguish. Christ’s head and arms are pinned back, whilst the thorax is thrust forward, seemingly about to be torn apart by the sheer strain of the body weight. The agony of the Passion is exacerbated by the superb physiognomic accuracy, which is of such a high standard as to indicate that Agnesius had direct experience of human dissection. Pulsating veins burst out of the flesh and the skeletal rib cage projects in unnerving detail through the skin. The sense of torturous pain is further heightened by the contorted right arm, which has been ripped from its socket, leaving a sagging cushion of muscles and tendons. Agnesius simultaneously refers to earlier artistic models, chiefly the Laocoön, in which the Trojan priest similarly writhes in pain, his neck thrust backwards, and his arms stretched apart. Schmidt has concluded that, ‘Jacobus Agnesius was one of the supreme sculptors in ivory during the Baroque. Like his contemporaries, the Master of the Furies, Leonhard Kern and Georg Petel, Agnesius helped make ivory sculpture one of the most sought-after and emblematic artistic media of the 17th century’ (Schmidt, op. cit., p. 40). RELATED LITERATURE K. Feuchtmayr, Georg Petel, 1601/2-1634, Berlin, 1973, no. 2; P. Malgouyres, Ivoires du musée du Louvre 1480-1850. Une collection inédite, Paris, 2005, pp. 78-81, no. 19; E. Schmidt, Beauty Bound and Power Unleashed: Jacobus Agnesius and the Quest for Expression in Baroque Ivory Sculpture, New York, 2011; E. Schmidt and M. Sframeli (eds.), Diafane passioni. Avori barocchi dalle corti europee, exh. cat. Palazzo Pitti, Museo degli Argenti, Florence, 2013, pp. 190-201, nos. 52, 55, 56

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-07-09
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A louis xv gilt-bronze, bronze and vernis martin musical rhinoceros

5½-inch enamel dial signed Gudin A Paris with blue roman numerals, the similarly signed bell striking movement with numbered uncut outside count wheel and silk suspension, the drum case surmounted by a seated putto and raised on the back of a crisply cast brown patinated rhinoceros standing on a rocaille base, the bombé wood plinth painted to resemble tortoiseshell and outlined with well-cast gilt-bronze leaf mounts, inset with trellis frets and applied at the front with a rococo mount of a basket of flowers, the similarly signed musical movement connected to the the clock through the leg of the animal and playing one a thirteen tunes on a carillon of eleven bells with twenty hammers at the hour, the mounts stamped with the crowned 'C' poinçon mark Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain was elected as a maître-fondeur on July 15, 1748; Saint-Germain enjoyed the privilege of an ouvrier libre, enabling him to act both as an ébéniste and bronzier. He was incontestably one of the principal exponents of the rococo style and created clock cases of extraordinary inventiveness and quality. This model of Rhinoceros is known to have been produced by Saint-Germain and is based on an early 16th century woodcut by Albrecht Durer identified by the extra horn at the withers. The inventory drawn up upon the death of Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain's wife in 1747, mentions 'deux pendules au rhinoceros l'une pour modèle et l'autre finie prisées ensembles la somme de 140 l.'. This then signifies that the earliest version of a mantel clock with a rhinoceros base dates to before 1747. The C Couronné poinçon was a tax mark employed on any alloy containing copper between March 1745 and February 1749.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-04-28
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A pair of gilt and silvered bronze, hardstone centrepieces, Louis Philippe, circa 1839

A pair of two-tone gilt-and silvered-bronze hardstone centrepieces created under the direction of Aimé Chenevard (1794-1838) and executed by Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-1852), Jean-August Barre (1811-1896), and Pierre-Jules Cavelier(1814-1894); and others, monture, casting and ciselure by Guillaume Denière Louis Philippe, circa 1839, Each coupe in the form of a tazza supported by an ionic capital on a waisted stem inlaid with panels of green foil backed chalcedony and mounted with masks, cabouchon and faceted semi-precious 'jewels' including cornelion garnet and amethyst, the tri-form base of each raised on a circular 'damascened' worked plinth applied with the d'Orléans cypher below the Royal French crown; one coupe surmounted with an owl above a display of dead game in the form of an arrangement of birds, the lower tier with further birds, three of which are portrayed alive, the triform base applied with pendants of fruit between three free standing figures of Native Americans, the circular plinth punctuated by grape and vine leaf motifs; the other coupe surmounted by a pelican above a display of fish and crustaceans finished in three colours of gilding, the lower tier with further fish and three feeding birds portrayed alive, the triform base applied with pendants of shells between three free standing figures of Inuits, the circular plinth punctuated by shell motifs One 94cm. high, 3ft. 1in.,the other 91cm. high, 2ft. 11¾in.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2011-07-06
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A Louis XIV Tapestry `Portière des Renommées', circa 1693-1700, Gobelins, workshop of Jean Le Souet

A Louis XIV Tapestry `Portière des Renommées', Gobelins, workshop of Jean Le Souet, after Charles le Brun, with the Royal coat-of-arms of France and Navarre circa 1693-1700, Woven with the central Royal coat-of-arms of France (three fleur-de-lys on blue ground) and Navarre (open linked chains in design of escutcheon on red ground), the paired cartouches above a crowned `L', with cross palms, all within the collars of the Order of St. Michel (collar with `S' links and shells and pendant with St. Michael overthrowing the devil, Chivalric order established by Louis XI of France in 1469) and Order of St. Esprit (collar with fleur-de-lys, `H' for King Henry, military trophy group, all linked with flames, with a blue sash, and pendant with Maltese cross overlaid with a flying dove, Chivalric order founded by Henry III in 1578), set against a scrolling sculptural cartouche, surmounted by two balancing putti holding the Royal closed crown (post 1589), the grouping flanked by cornucopia wrapped with acanthus leaves and issuing demi-figures, personifying Fame, both with swathed drapery and wearing laurel wreaths, the right leftward facing profile figure is winged and blowing a long trumpet (symbolic of good repute), the other inward facing figure wearing stylised armour, both holding up floral swags issuing from floral medallions above, the lower section within the `c'-scrolls, encloses the end of the maces of the chancellery, and military trophies of standard, fasces, spears, swords, arrows and trophies of victory in the form of jewellery and elaborate gilt-metal luxury items, all within a narrow inner banded bead-and-reel and gadrooned border, shaped at the top and bottom with `c'-scrolls, the corner shaoed entablature with scrolling foliage on cream ground, and all surrounded by a narrow outer four-sided border of tied alternating sprigs of leaves of laurel (victory), oak (fidelity) and ivy (immortality) with central and corner copper coloured foliate medallions, with a narrow banded yellow and blue selvedge, the outer blue selvedge with the workshop mark, bottom right, I.LE.SOVET Approximately: 290.5cm. high, 234cm. wide; 9ft. 6in., 7ft. 8in.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2008-07-08
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A monumental copper, silver and silver-gilt vase, designed by émile-auguste

Of immense size, 'incrusté d'or et d'argent', the patinated copper foot and body enriched with gold and silvered anthemions, vines, profiles and other details and a Greek inscription from odes by Anacreon surrounding a vignette on each side, one depicting the birth of Venus, the other the poet himself in inebriate slumber dreaming of the Goddess of Love, the applied patinated and partly-gilt cast bronze handles with masks, inscribed above the foot: 'HENRI BOUILHET * ORFEVRES * PARIS * 1813 [sic] *,' further inscribed on the body: 'ΑΜΙΛΙΟΣ REIBER ΕΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ ΕΝ ΠΑΡΙΣΙΟΙΣ' (loosely translated, 'Created by Emile Reiber / made in Paris') The inscriptions read: ΑΓΑ ΤΙΣ ΤΟΡΕΥΣΕ ΜΟΝΤΟΝ ; ΑΓΑ ΤΙΣ ΜΑΝΕΙΣΑ ΤΕΧΝΑ ΑΝΕΧΕΥΕ ΚΥΜΑ ΔΕΙΚΩ ΕΠΙ ΝΩΤΑ ΤΗΣ θΑΛΑΤΤΕΣ ΟΤ' EΓΩ  ΓΙΩ ΤΟΝ ΟΙΝΟΝ, ΜΥΡΩ ΕΥΩΔΕΙ ΤΕΓΞΑΣ ΔΕΜΑΣ, ΑΓΚΑΛΑΙΣ ΔΕ ΚOΥΡΗΝ ΚΑΤΕΧΩΝ, ΚΥΓΡΙΝΑ ΕΙΔΩ Anacreon (582 BC – 485 BC) Very little is known of the Greek lyric poet, Anacreon, who is chiefly remembered for his verses eulogizing love and wine.  His work, originally intended to be sung, together with that of other ancient Greek imitators who explored the same themes and wrote in the Anacreontic metre, was gathered together in a 10th Century manuscript, part of which is now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Collectively known as the Anacreontea, these poems have been enjoyed and plundered by generations of poets and artists. Among early translations are those by the French poet, Pierre Ronsard (1524-1585), published in 1555. John Addison's The Works of Anacreon, Translated into English Verse (London, 1735) includes the odes (nos. 51 and 39), respectively 'VENUS represented on a DISK' and 'ON HIMSELF.' Extracts from both, inscribed on the Anacreon Vase and quoted above, were translated by Addison, as follows: What daring, what aspiring Soul, Has taught the Ocean here to roll? And o'er this Disk's refulgent Plain, Has heap'd the Billows of the Main? When in Wine my Cares I steep, Balmy Odours round me weep: Whilst entranc'd in Beauty's Arms, Venus, I adore thy Charms! During the great Romantic period of the late 18th/early 19th centuries, André Chenier (1762-1794) in France, and the Irish Thomas Moore (1779-1852), who wrote the lyrics to 'The Last Rose of Summer,' undertook further translations and commentaries. Moore's Odes of Anacreon, translated into English verse was first published in London in 1800; a later edition (1871) of this popular work included a series of highly romantic illustrations in the manner of Flaxman after Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767-1824). Moore (1800, pp. 199-202) describes the same ode chosen by Reiber for his Anacreon Vase as 'a very animated description of a picture of Venus on a discus, which represented the goddess in her first emergence from the waves': Imagine thus, in semblance warm, The Queen of Love's voluptuous form, Floating along the silv'ry sea, In beauty's naked majesty! . . . She floats upon the ocean's breast, Which undulates in sleepy rest, And stealing on, she gently pillows Her bosom on the amorous billows. Her bosom, like the humid rose, Her neck, like dewy-sparkling snows, Illume the liquid path she traces, And burn within the stream's embraces! Anacreon's poems continued to attract attention, notably from Ernest Falconnet (1815-1891), who published a scholarly edition in 1847. The poet Leconte de Lisle (1818-1894), evoking the spirit of Anacreon's lines, wrote a series of 'Odes anacréontiques' (1861), one of which, 'La rose,' was set to music in 1890 as a mélodie for soprano and piano by Gabriel Fauré. The Anacreon Vase Lavish praise for Christofle's work at the Vienna exhibition of 1873 came from an unexpected source: the English Press. While not quite giving ground to the French – Christofle 'has nothing on his stall to equal the Helicon vase' (which, ironically, was the brainchild of the French artist, Léonard Morel-Ladeuil (1820-1888) working in England for Elkington & Co) – The Art Journal (1873, p. 325) pointed to Christofle's 'clever and ingenious process of apparently inlaying, simply by depositing different metals on other metals, producing thereby the effect of inlay.' The supreme example of this process, the combination of gold and silver on a beautiful coppery/bronze-coloured ground, was undoubtedly Christofle's remarkable Anacreon Vase, designed by the prolific Émile-Auguste Reiber (1826-1893). It stood proudly at the very centre of the firm's exhibit, dominating a multitude of smaller vases, cups, caskets and other items, many of which were either similarly patinated or richly decorated with enamels in patterns reflecting the then current fascination for Chinese and Japanese art. In an age of intense interest in matters of art it is curious that the Anacreon Vase appears not to have attracted more interest from the critics, at least in print. The explanation is almost certainly because, as jury members Rouvenat & Fontenay record, it was delivered to the exhibition late ('puis un vase monumental en bronze, haut de 1m, 60 [sic], qui malheureusement a été envoyé un peu tardivement.' Exposition de Vienne, 1873 - Rapports, groupe VII, p. 380). A contemporary Italian report (L'Esposizione universale di Vienna del 1873, Milan, 1873, p. 524) gives details of the vase, as follows: 'Fra i numerosi lavori di smalto di cui e ricca la mostra Christofle, non si sa veramente quale preferire, tanto sono tutti ugualmente deliziosi per l'ornato e per la maravigliosa finitezza del lavoro. Quasi tutti furon fatti del Signor Rabier. A questo illustre artista devesi pure il mirabile vaso di bronzo intarsiato alto un metro e sessanta centimetri, che vedesi nel mezzo della Espozione, a che ne forma quasi l'incoronamento. Di un garbo purissimo, e concepito secondo il grande stilo greco, rappresenta la nascita di Venere. Due strofe relative sono interziaate nel bronzo con caratteri antichi. Da un lato del vaso si vede Anacreonete intento a cantar Venere, dall'altro la bella dea che sorge dai flutti. Tutti lo hanno dichiarato un capolavoro. L'espozione del sig. Christofle e stata insignita dal diploma d'onore in ricompensa de' suoi grandi sforzi e del magnifico risultato conseguito.' 'Of the numerous pieces of enamel which make up the rich display of Christofle, one does not really know which to prefer, because all are equally delicious in their ornamentation and in the marvellous finesse of the work. Almost all were designed by Signor Rabier [sic]. From this illustrious artist also comes the most incredible vase of inlaid bronze [sic] of one metre and sixty centimetres high, which one can see in the middle of [Christofle's] exhibit and which surely forms its crowning glory. Of the purest grace and conceived according to the grand Greek style, it represents Anacreon intent on singing to Venus, while on the other side the beautiful goddess rises from the waves. Everyone has declared it to be a masterpiece. Mr. Christofle's exhibit has been awarded a Diploma of Honour in recognition of his great efforts and the correspondingly magnificent results.' There is no doubt that Christofle, or, rather, Henri Bouilhet, the firm's director and artistic driving force, was extremely proud of the Anacreon Vase. Not only did he illustrate the vase in his monumental history of French silver, where he also paid tribute to the genius of Emile Reiber (L'Orfèvrerie Français, Paris, 1912, vol. III, pp. 106-113), but the vase's design appears in a prominent position in Louis-Édouard Fournier's 1910 portrait of Bouihet with his son, André. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Anacreon Vase represents the pinnacle of the 'incrusté d'or et d'argent' technique which was exploited so successfully by Christofle during the 1860s and 1870s. Even Elkington's, the original patentees of electroplating and electrotyping, the underlying processes which made the creation of the Anacreon Vase possible, never achieved anything as refined. The Vienna Exposition, 1873 The Vienna World Exposition was declared open by Emperor Franz Joseph on 1 May 1873 and closed after 184 days on 31 October. Set in Vienna's immense Prater, the former royal park which had been open to the public since 1766, it covered an area several times greater than that of the Paris Exposition of 1867 in the Champs de Mars. The centrepiece of the Vienna Exposition was the magnificent Rotunda, designed by the Scottish engineer and naval architect, John Scott Russell (1808-1882). Visitors were treated to exhibits from 35 countries as well as the chance to experience several types of architecture and landscapes from abroad. Among these was an authentic Shinto shrine, with music and dance hall, set in a traditional Japanese garden.  Unfortunately, although no expense was spared in mounting and advertising the exhibition, the event was not an unqualified success. Following a period of unprecedented economic prosperity and only 11 days after the Exposition's opening ceremonies, the Vienna Stock Market crashed. The resultant ruin of many of the city's wealthiest businessmen was followed in June by a second disaster: an outbreak of cholera. Several foreign guests staying at the Danube World Exposition Hotel were the first to die of the disease and the epidemic did not abate until September. Émile-Auguste Reiber Émile-Auguste Reiber (1826-1893) served his apprenticeship with Guillaume-Abel Blouet (1795-1853), the celebrated French architect. He was also involved in Baron Haussmann's renovation of Paris before collaborating with Joseph-Théodore Deck (1823-1891) in painting some of the latter's highly decorative underglaze and enamel polychrome earthenware. Reiber afterwards joined Christofle as head of their design studio, a post he held successfully between1864 and 1878. A prolific writer, Reiber was also founder-director of the magazine L'Art Pour Tous, which he edited between 1861 and 1864 and again from 1886 to 1890, and in 1874 was awarded the Grand Prix of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs. Christofle & Cie Christofle, the celebrated French firm of silversmiths, platers and bronzists, was established about 1830 by Charles Christofle (1805-1863). Appointed Orfèvre du Roi and Fournisseur de l'Empereur to Napoleon II, the firm exhibited in a series of national and international exhibitions, from 1839 onwards, at which it received many awards for excellence. Following Charles Christofle's death in 1863 the business passed to his son, Paul (1838-1907) in partnership with his nephew, Henri Bouilhet (1830-1910). These two men, particularly the latter, were very active in the promotion of fine workmanship and good design in their trade. While Paul Christofle was a member of the jury of the silver section at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867, Bouilhet was honoured with the légion d'honnneur for his work in conjuction with the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878. Bouilhet was also author of the official French report of the silver section of the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900, which he followed with his three volume tome L'Orfèvrerie française aux XVIII et XIXe siècles (Paris, 1908-1912); he was also president of the French jury for the silver section at the St. Louis exhibition, 1904, and in 1910, the year of his death, he became president and co-founder of the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, precursor of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. In addition to their regular silver and electroplate production, as well as special works in enamel and patinated metalwork, Christofle & Cie was a large manufacturer of monumental sculpture. The largest of these was the 9.70m high electro-gilt copper electrotype Virgin and Child of 1867, erected in 1870 on the dome of the church of Notre-Dame de La Garde, Marseilles. Christofle also furnished a pair of 5m high gilt figures (1867-1868) for the roof of the Opera Garnier, Paris, as well as groups (1873-1874) after originals by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887) for the Opera's main staircase.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2012-07-04
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A rare and important french renaissance tapestry of le camp du drap

In 1520, François Ier and Henry VIII took part in an extravagant, diplomatic spectacle known as Le Camp du Drap d’Or or The Field of Cloth of Gold. The extraordinary meeting was an overt demonstration of power and wealth; no expense was spared. The kings arrived with their vast entourages and engaged in lavish banquets and competitions of skill and strength. Throughout most of the late medieval period, England and France were bitter enemies and often at war.  Henry, prompted by his closest advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, and desperate to cultivate a beneficial relationship with France, approached the French king with the idea of such a meeting. On June 7th, the young rulers, met at the Val d'Or, outside of Calais, between Guines and Ardres, for nearly two weeks of pomp and celebration. While the magnificence of the Field of Cloth of Gold meeting immediately captured popular imagination, few contemporary records of it have survived. The existence of this tapestry is remarkable. As a rare historical document of the events of 1520, it appears to be one of only a handful of remaining visual accounts of the meeting that was produced in the 16th century. Booklets were printed in Paris in the summer of 1520 for those who could not attend; every level of society wanted to participate in and preserve the famous event for posterity. None of these leaflets appear to exist, nor do any physical remains of the Field itself. A painting of the meeting (circa 1545) is in the British Royal Collection (see fig.1 for a reproduction by James Basire) and it illustrates a synthesis of the various events that took place. In addition, the walls of the Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde in Rouen, which was built by the noble family Le Roux, is decorated with five limestone bas-reliefs documenting significant moments of the royal meeting (fig. 2). The Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde was built by William II Le Roux, lord of Bourgtheroulde, beginning in 1501. Upon his death in 1520, the house was inherited by William III, abbot of Aumale, and the reliefs were commissioned. William was among a small group of clergymen who was entrusted with the negotiations of an accord between François Ier and Pope Leo X, 1515-1516, and he was later invited to attend the events in the Val d’Or. His close association with the King explains why he chose this subject with which to adorn the walls of his home. Throughout the 16thcentury, the hôtel served as host to important figures including Cardinal Alessandro de 'Medici. This tapestry portrays a richly attired gentleman in a red costume ornamented with gold. He faces his enemy who seems to have already suffered in combat, judging from his cap on the ground. Next to the combatants are two aids. The scene is surrounded by a fence separating the sport from the spectators. King François I er  is observing the games from the balcony above while leaning on a luxurious cloth of gold. The woman, perhaps his mother Louise de Savoie, places her hand on the shoulder of a courtly gentleman who holds a falcon. The gentleman may be the Connétable de Bourbon, the director of combat for the celebrations. To his right is presumably Queen Claude of France who shows him a ring, the prize of the event. Two trumpeters sound their instruments from which hang banners with the arms of France. The panel seems to have been reduced some time before the 20th century and the right half of the weaving would have included the King and Queen of England and their entourage, also observing the scene from the gallery. A tapestry in the Rijksmuseum described as “probably Tournai....circa 1525-30” has related borders of stylized vases, candelabra, foliate and scroll motifs on a rose-coloured ground, combined with partitioned corners with a blue ground. The quality of the weaving and the faces of the figures are also comparable to early 16th century hangings from the Southern Netherlands (Cavallo, op.cit., p. 592). A group of Tournai tapestries depicting scenes of country life, such as the Wood Cutters and La Jeu a la main chaude (Göbel, op.cit.,nos. 254-255), incorporate millefleur grounds with groups of figures nearly floating over the flowers. The faces are simply outlined but  individualized and there is attention to detail in the clothing and the backgrounds. It is likely that the present weaving, due to the design as a whole, including the border which appears to be original to the panel, was produced in Tournai. The present tapestry is compositionally transitional.  The visual richness of the weaving with its complex patterns of fabrics displayed and lushly verdant millefleur ground, combined with the arrangement of the figures, somewhat self-contained and in tiers close to the picture plane, are typical of late 15th century Gothic weavings. However, here the figures fill an actual space creating an illusion of depth and perspective which was a Renaissance development in tapestry design. In his Histoire des choses mémorables advenues du règne de Louis XII et de François I, depuis 1499 jusqu'en l'an 1521, Robert de la Marck, Seigneur de Fleuranges provides details of the events, noting that wrestlers from France and England came forward and wrestled in the presence of the Kings and the ladies. In fact, both sovereigns expressly ordered wrestling for the closing event and their participation is documented in Le Marck’s lists of the names of the adversaries taking part in the games. At the closing of the events, it is recorded that Queen Katherine ordered prizes, such as jewels and rings, to be awarded to the victors and to both kings (Russel, op.cit, pp.131-132). From various historical accounts, we also know that the games came to an abrupt end when Henry VIII challenged François Ier to a wrestling match during which the French monarch threw the English King to the ground. This intriguing tapestry illustrates a wrestling contest between a Frenchman and Englishman. The Frenchman in red is unmistakably dressed like the king, together with his jeweled and feathered hat. While the other wrestler  is not dressed like a monarch (i.e., Henry VIII), the scene may be an allusion to the famous match between the two kings. In the end, the meeting was unfortunately fruitless politically. François and Henry did not sign a treaty, and some weeks later Henry signed a treaty of alliance with Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Within a month, the Emperor declared war on France, and England had to follow suit. The armorial shields on the tapestry remain unidentified. While three of them are rewoven, probably when the piece was reduced, one of them seems to have some early threads. It is likely that the present arms are duplications of the original devices or that they were modified when the ownership of the tapestry changed, a common the practice with textiles and other decorative arts. The source of the commission for this tapestry is not known, although it must have been created for a wealthy nobleman and probably someone within the French court. The Rouen limestone reliefs were produced for Le Roux after the summer of 1520, not only to serve as an historical record but also to confer prestige on the family. The commission of this rare tapestry, illustrating the legendary historical episode of Anglo-French reconciliation and extravagance, was an opportunity for an individual of noble standing to curry favor with and celebrate the glory of the court. The weaving belonged to le comte Georges de Monbrison (1830-1906), an erudite man and avid collector of Renaissance paintings and decorative arts. In 1865, Monbrison inherited the family château de Saint–Roch and employed the celebrated decorator Edmond Lechevalier Chevignard to furnish it. Some of the contents of the château were sold at auction in Paris in 1904, including several tapestries, but the present weaving was not in that sale. It was probably sold directly to Wildenstein & Co., before 1905, where it is listed in their archive. Monbrison favored all things Renaissance and surrounded himself with exceptional examples from the period, including portraits by Jean Clouet and Corneille de Lyon. The image of François Ier in the present tapestry is clearly dependent upon the famous portrait of the King from the Clouet’s atelier, circa 1525, now in the Louvre (fig. 3). Tapestries were the preeminent figurative art form in the courts of Europe from the Gothic period onward and they were also one of the most expensive. They were used as decoration, propaganda and were given as lavish gifts. Records indicate that Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, both avid collectors of tapestries, hung multiple weavings in their temporary palaces at the Field of Cloth of Gold as a show of the magnificence of the English court. Wolsey furnished his English palaces with rich tapestries and included in his numerous acquisitions were two sets of Triumphs of Petrarch. Campbell notes that it is possible that one set was made for the Field of Cloth of Gold meeting (op.cit., p.149). Another set of reliefs that decorate the Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde in Rouen illustrate allegories from the Triumphs of Petrarch. The allegories may have personally resonated with both Wolsey and Le Roux resulting in the commission of the set of tapestries and the reliefs. By about 1500, Petrarch’s famous Triumphs (I Trionfi) were translated into French for the King. Furthermore, the designs for the tapestries were based on illuminated manuscripts presented to Louis XIII by the archbishop of Rouen. It is tempting to suggest that because Le Roux was in the Val d’Or and would have visited Wolsey’s rooms, the idea of using The Triumphs on the façade of his home derived from his time at the Royal meeting. Campbell (op.cit.) reflects on the event and its lasting effect on tapestry production in Europe: “…[T]he display was truly remarkable. As such, it seems to have raised the bar for European court splendor and must have played a key part in fueling the enormous expenditure that Henry, François and Charles V were all to commit to tapestry patronage during the following decades (Campbell, op.cit).

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-11
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An important rare pair of meissen porcelain figures of bantam cocks circa 1732

Modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler, probably after a Japanese Arita original, each bird holding a turquoise berry in its beak and standing on a leaf-shaped base edged in turquoise and molded with further yellow-edged tuquoise leaves and brightly-colored berries, the birds plumage painted in a bright kakiemon-style palette, caduceus marks in underglaze-blue. Both with some restoration to firing cracks and small losses. Kändler's work reports for May 1732 record: "..auch 2 kleine Hähne poußiret.." [..also two small hens modelled..]. Carl Albiker, Die Meissner Porzellantiere, (1959), p. 16 associates this entry with the present figures, one of which he illustrates on pl. 111, together with a mostly white hen, of the same size, from Schloss Moritzburg. The model is probably derived from a Japanese Arita prototype, possibly similar to the pair illustrated by John Ayers et al,  Porcelain for Palaces, p. 188, no. 177. The presence of the caduceus mark could indicate that these models were originally intended for the French market, and they may possibly have formed part of the group of wares commissioned by Rudolphe Lemaire for sale in the French and Dutch markets, between 1729 and 1731. (Although this would seem to be discounted by the model not appearing in the work records until 1732) For a further discussion on the Lemaire pieces, and the possible significance of the caduceus mark, see Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, "Returning to Hoym, Lemaire and Meissen," Keramos, No. 146, 1994, pp. 4-7. The present pair aside, the Moritzburg figure appears to be the only other example of this model in this size. A pair almost identically decorated, but smaller, at 6¼ inches high, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by Yvonne Hackenbroch,  Meissen and other Continental Porcelain, Faience and Enamel in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, col. pl. 13, figure 23, pp. 17-18. Hackenbroch, ibid, p. 18 cites the other examples known to her, which, not including the present pair, comprised a pair mounted as candelabra, sold at H. Ball-P. Graupe, Berlin, March 1933, no. 54 (whereabouts unknown) and a single example in the Collection of Mrs. L. Shaefer, New York. A further pair of small size, with the same decoration as the present pieces, was formerly in a private collection in Wiltshire, England, and was stolen on June 17, 2002 and subsequently illustrated in the Antiques Trade Gazette, July 27, 2002. A fourth pair, again of small size but differently decorated, from the Collection of Dr. Ernst Schneider, Düsseldorf, is illustrated by Rainer Rückert, Meissener Porzellan, pl. 279, nos. 1133 and 1134. The only other recorded example of the form is a single bird, also of small size and decorated in a similar manner to the Schneider pair, sold at Christie's, Geneva, May 13, 1985, lot 129.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-12
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DESC-A finely painted and very rare lobed blue and white Bowl Ming

DESC-A finely painted and very rare lobed blue and white Bowl Ming Dynasty, mid-15th century the fifteen-lobed, rounded sides rising gradually from a low wedge-cut footring to a scalloped mouth, painted in powerful tones of cobalt-blue on the exterior with two garden scenes divided by thick, billowing clouds, one with a two-tiered pavilion opening onto a fenced garden with twin plantain trees rising amid rocks and shrubs, an attendant bearing a scroll painting approaching a bearded scholar, with rolling clouds in the far distance, the other with the same figure now standing on a terraced garden overlooking a river, with an ancient pine tree and part of a balustrade opposite, between a key-fret border and a band of breaking waves, the slightly sunken interior with a scene of the scholar seated on a grassy shore contemplating a waterfall within a double-circle, the sides with a continuous frieze of lush trees interspersed with shrubs, comprising bamboo, pine, plantain and another tree below the rim with a diaper band, the countersunk base glazed white 30 cm., 11 7/8 in., condition report available Provenance: The Ataka Collection, Japan Exhibited: Ch_ugoku t_oji meihin ten: Ataka korekushion, Osaka, 1972, cat.no.64. Illustrated: Koyama Fujio (ed.), T_oki zenshu, vol.11: Gen Minsho no sometsuke, Tokyo, 1960, pl.63. Fujioka Ri_oichi (ed.), T_oji taikei, vol.42: Min no sometsuke, Tokyo, 1975, pls.61 and 62. This bowl is remarkable for its finely drawn decoration, unusual lobed shape and large size. The lively figure painting in the balustraded garden setting closely follows the painting style of the exquisite figure-decorated bowls of Xuande mark and period, which suggests a date early in the interregnum period for the present piece. Compare several Xuande bowls included in the Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, nos.144-152. Another lobed bowl of similar size, also painted with figure scenes, but with a key-fret border at the rim, and with plain inner sides, from the Okura Cultural Foundation, Tokyo, is published in Ceramic Art of the World, vol.14, Tokyo, 1976, col.pls.41 and 42. An even larger bowl of lobed form, painted with various animals in a landscape setting with similar cascading clouds, and with a similar diaper border at the rim inside, is illustrated in Adrian M. Joseph, Ming Porcelains: Their Origins and Development, London, 1971, pl.34. Compare also three smaller bowls of this form, decorated in a simpler painting style: one with landscape scenes round the sides but apparently without figures, and similar wave and diaper borders at the rim but a star-shaped motif in the centre, also formerly in the Ataka Collection and now in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, illustrated in Ch_ugoku no t_oji, vol.8, Tokyo, 1995, col.pl.81; another with a landscape scene and a key-fret border outside and plain inner sides, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red, Shanghai, 2000, vol.1, pl.182, where it is attributed to the Zhengtong period; and a third decorated with the ba jixiang and a wave border outside and with plain inner sides, published in Ceramic Art of the World, vol.14, Tokyo, 1976, pls.43 and 44. Quantity: 1

  • HKGHong Kong SAR China
  • 2001-05-01
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An imperial presentation gilt-bronze mounted malachite vase, imperial

Of amphora form, veneered overall in cross-cut malachite, the handle brackets cast as Bacchic masks, the handles terminating in scrolls set with rosettes issuing spirals, the square gilt-bronze plinth inscribed 'Donné par S.M. L'Empereur de Russie' and dated 1846 Malachite has been prized for its rich green colour, with dramatic almost black wavy inclusions, since the Neolithic Era, when it was used as a dye.  Ancient Egyptians used it to make highly fashionable green eye-shadow.  The oldest known object carved of malachite is a small pendant excavated in northern Iran and thought to be 10,500 years old.  The Golden Age of malachite was undeniably the 19th century, when huge deposits of workable and especially decorative malachite were discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia.  The stone became Russia’s national treasure, a passion proclaimed most famously in the Malachite Room of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, furnished with massive malachite columns and fireplace in the 1830s, where Romanov brides were dressed before their weddings.  The beauty of Russian malachite was something the country – and in particular Emperor Nicholas I – employed  to impress foreigners, commissioning a number of grand malachite-veneered objects from the Imperial Lapidary Workshops in Peterhof and Ekaterinburg to be sent abroad as presentation gifts.  These included the large urn which the Emperor sent to Queen Victoria in 1839, now at Windsor Castle (RCIN 43957); his consort Empress Alexandra Feodorovna had sent a smaller one to King George IV in 1827 (RCIN 1708). The design for this vase (see illustration previous page) was produced by Ivan Ivanovich Galberg (1782-1863) for the Imperial Cabinet, which approved the design on 14 April 1839, according to the notation; Galberg submitted it after the agreed deadline due to an illness.  A small number of vases of this form were produced in two sizes between 1842 and 1846, with prices recorded ranging from 2400 to 2539 roubles for the stonework, the mounts produced by the firm of Nicholls & Plincke and in the workshop of the bronzier Johann Andreas Schreiber.  One vase formed part of the dowry of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, who married the future King of Württemberg, Crown Prince Charles, on 13 July 1846.  Another was presented by the Emperor to the 3rd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe in 1846, the Emperor having visited London two years before and presumably made the acquaintance of the Earl. A third vase of this form was completed in 1846 and was originally intended to be the vase for the Grand Duchess’ dowry but was instead sent to Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta, Duke of Serradifalco (1783-1863), who served as Court Chamberlain to King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, with the plinth inscribed in French, the international language of diplomacy and Royal and Imperial Courts. Alexandra Feodorovna, in failing health, spent the winter of 1845-46 in Sicily, and the Emperor joined her for a time, in part because he sorely missed his wife, but also to show monarchical support for King Ferdinand's unstable throne.  Certainly Serradifalco, in his role as Chamberlain, would have taken special care of the Emperor and Empress during their time in Italy, and the vase was an expression of Nicholas' gratitude.  King Ferdinand was presented with replicas of Pyotr Karlovich Klodt's bronze Horse Tamers, still at the Royal Palace in Naples. A noted archaeologist and architect, the Duke of Serradifalco was later appointed President of the Commission of Antiquities and Fine Art and directed excavations and restorations at important archaeological sites in Sicily.  As a classicist, he surely appreciated his gift from the Russian Emperor. Sotheby's is grateful to Tatiana Cheboksarova, Galina Korneva and Ekaterina Semenova for their assistance in researching this lot.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-07-08
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Joseph-émmanuel zwiener fl. circa 1875-1900 a large and very fine

Bombé to the front and convex to the sides, each vitrine fitted with double doors opening to a mirrored interior and fitted with five glass shelves, the bronze mounts marked ZN and with their respective serial numbers from the workshop master patterns A single vitrine of the exact same model, is currently in the permenent collection of French Garde du Mobilier Nationaland is currently exhibited at the musée d'Orsay, Paris under inventory GME 16375, DO 2009-3. This vitrine was previously in the Gallerie de L'Escalier at the French finance ministry Joseph Emmanuel Zwiener (b. 1849) worked in Paris between 1880 and 1895. He established his workshop at 12, rue de la Roquette, becoming one of the premiere haut luxe cabinetmakers of the late nineteenth century. The exceptional quality of Zwiener’s craftsmanship and extensive usage of fine gilt-bronze invites comparisons to the work of famed ébéniste, François Linke (1855-1946). Working in several styles fashionable in Paris at the time, Zwiener copied mainly Louis XV pieces from public collections, adapting them in his own exuberant interpretation of rococo. At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, he received the gold medal and a note of high praise from the jurists: ‘dès ses débuts d'une Exposition universelle, [il] s'est mis au premier rang par la richesse, la hardiesse et le fini de ses meubles incrustés de bronzes et fort habilement marquetés.’ In 1895, Zwiener was summoned to Berlin at the request of German Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) at Schloss Neues Palais, Sans Souci, Potsdam. Zwiener was recorded as an exhibitor for the German Pavillion at the 1900 Exposition Universelle.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-10-29
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An italian pietre dure mounted pewter inlaid rosewood and ebony cabinet

With a gilt-bronze balustraded gallery, the top with a rosewood veneered panel inlaid with pewter stringing similar to the sides above an arrangement of eight double-panelled drawers each concealing segreti centred by an architectural portico with a broken pediment above concealing a drawer, above a drawer mounted with an arched panel with a baluster vase and stylised scallopshell above flanked by gilt-bronze caryatids in drapery surmounted by composite Ionic and Corinthian capitals enclosing six secret drawers with one narrow drawer and a further drawer below with projecting blocks the front mounted by a c-scroll boss with a bust surmounted by three fleur-de-lis, the frieze applied with seven winged cherub terms, each drawer inset with hardstones inlaid in a geometric design within foliate cast gilt-bronze borders including lapis lazuli, various jaspers including Sicilian jaspers, cornelian, agate and calcedonia, the stand with a gilt-bronze border with a band of stylised foliage and geometric motifs, the frieze inset 17th century Florentine panels depicting parrots and a bird on fruiting branches within gilt-bronze foliate cast and beaded borders, each end with a roundel enclosing a stylised patera, on gadrooned and lobed turned tapering legs with foliate-cast gilt bronze collars, the leaf moulded platform with a mirrored back, the sides and base in pewter inlaid rosewood, the rear left leg of the stand with the inventory number in white 02042; some gilt-bronze mounts probably added by Morel and Hughes Comparative Literature: Alvar González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Roma e il Regno delle Due Sicilie, Vol. II, Milan 1984, page 94, plate 185. Enrico Colle, Il Mobile Barocco in Italia, Arredi e Decorazioni d'interni dal 1600 al 1738, Milan, 2000, p. 95, no. 18. Anna Maria Massinelli, The Gilbert Collection, Hardstones, London, 2000, pp. 38-40, no. 4. The Provenance: This magnificent architectural cabinet inlaid with pietre dure in a geometric design is one of a distinct group of Roman 17th century pietre dure inlaid cabinets which were highly prized not only at the time of their commission but also later on by Grand Tourists in the 18th and 19th centuries, other examples of which are in renowned public and private collections. The Northumberland Collection almost certainly deserves the accolade of containing the finest collection of hardstone mounted cabinets in England due to the acquisition of the French Royal cabinets by Domenico Cucci (see post). This together with the Lot 11, were probably acquired for Northumberland House on Trafalgar Square in London by Sir Hugh Smithson, later 1st Duke of Northumberland (1714-1786) and his wife, Elizabeth Percy (1716– 1776), on a Grand Tour of Italy in 1773. The Duke and Duchess had some similarities in their artistic tastes. However, the Duke made his own collection and in 1733, he made a Grand Tour of Italy (before his marriage in 1740), which greatly influenced his more classical tastes when he visited Rome, Venice, Vincenza and Milan. This impressive cabinet has been further enhanced by the addition of a George IV stand by Morel and Hughes, the same makers who added the stands for the Cucci cabinets, carved in gonçalo alves mounted with 17th century Florentine panels depicting birds on fruiting branches so typical of the production from the Grand Ducal Workshops.These panels may well have been acquired by the 1st Duke and/the Duchess or subsequently by Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland (1785-1847), which were then mounted by Morel and Hughes in 1823, when they made the present stands and the Florentine pietre dure mounted cabinet (see Lot 11 ). The cabinet: The foundation of the appeal of Roman pietre dure inlaid cabinets to English Grand Tourists was rooted in the archaeological discoveries in Rome in the 16th century, which fired a burning enthusiasm for Antiquities. Rome became a magnet for discerning collectors and antique marbles began to be employed on Roman works of art.The desire to emulate the art of Ancient Rome, together with the Mannerist cult of precious materials (of which Rome had an abundant supply) combined towards the middle of the 16th century to give rise to the Roman inlaid marble works known as commessi (from the Latin committere, to join together). The distinctive feature of these elaborate cabinets was their structure which included characteristic elements of Mannerist architecture, for example, a pediment, pilasters, columns on a façade concealing secret drawers. There were large numbers of highly skilled craftsmen in 17th century Rome, many of whom were Lombard in origin, although the attribution to specific makers for these cabinets (also known as studioli) used to store precious collectors' items still remains unresolved. As Alvar González-Palacios op. cit., states the names of possible cabinet makers for these types of cabinets, such as Giacomo Herman, who was regarded as the best ebanista in Rome at that time executing pieces for the Pope and the Emperor. Other names recorded by Alvar González-Palacios are the Germans-Giovanni Sigrist, Giovanni Falgher (Falker), and the Italians-Niccolo Cavallino and Remigio Chilazzi. The beauty and rarity of these cabinets is in no small measure due to the stunning contrast of the colours and brilliance of the various precious hardstones and the sumptuous gilt-bronze ornamentation. The Roman taste in pietre dure inlaid works differed from that which was predominant in Florence in that it was dominated by abstract geometrical compositions in transparent stones such as jasper, rather than naturalistic or figurative motifs such as flowers and birds, with the intrinsic decoration being in the natural decorative effect of the stone markings itself typical of the Tuscan production. Related Cabinets: The present cabinet in terms of its grandeur and sophisticated symmetrical design and execution can be included in the group of the most lavish Roman 17th century cabinets with rich inlays of lapis lazuli, agates and jaspers which are as follows: 1. A cabinet formerly in the collection of Princess Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, sold Treasures, Princely Taste, Sotheby’s London, 6th July 2011, lot 3 (£668, 450), reproduced here in fig. 3.  2.  A rare double-fronted cabinet formerly in the Demidoff collection, Palace of San Donato, Florence, which was sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, 20th June 1992, lot 810 (3,000,000FF). This had gilt-bronze sirens on the base similar in conception to those on this cabinet, reproduced here in fig. 4. 3. The William Beckford pietre dure cabinet sold in these Rooms,10th June 1998, lot 20 (£170,000), with eight panelled drawers surrounding a central niche with a vase and similar gilt-bronze figures on a more elaborately mounted raised pediment, reproduced here in fig. 5. 4. The Hamilton Palace Cabinet, sold Christie's, London, 17th June 1882, lot 996, described as `An Italian cabinet of the 16th century...From the design of M. Angelo’, which is of similar monumental form and composition with the addition of a superstructure on the cresting, reproduced here in fig. 6. 5. A pair of cabinets in the Long Gallery and a single one in the Museum Room at Castle Howard, Yorkshire. 6. The cabinet known as the `Pope's Cabinet' in the Cabinet Room at Stourhead, Wiltshire dating from the mid 17th century, although the most elaborate ever produced and on a much taller scale than the offered piece. According to tradition the cabinet once belonged to Pope Sixtus V. 7. A cabinet in the Sala dei Paesaggi, Galleria, Palazzo Colonna, Rome, dating from the mid 17th century,  by Frank I and Dominikus Stainhart (1670-1680), although on a much larger scale and much more ornate on an elaborate blackamoor base, reproduced by Colle, op. cit,  p. 95, no. 18. The Morel and Hughes stand: The unusual stand for this Roman cabinet was part of a commission undertaken by the Royal cabinet-makers, Morel and Hughes who supplied stands for many of the hardstone and marquetry cabinets in the Northumberland Collection in the 1820’s. This cabinet was mounted as was the cabinet- Lot 11, with 17th century Florentine pietre dure plaques depicting birds on fruiting branches, the latter having probably been acquired by Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland during his Grand Tour and around the time he acquired the celebrated pair of `Cucci cabinets’, made by Domenico Cucci at the Gobelins Factory for Louis XIV's apartments at Versailles. Morel and Hughes provided stands for the Cucci cabinets in 1823 as well as carrying out other works the Duke’s collection. The Florentine panels are typical of the production of the Grand Ducal manufactory which had been founded by Ferdinando I de’Medici in 1588 and were highly sought after by aristocratic patrons on their Grand Tour. The use of botanical and naturalistic motifs has been well documented towards the end of the 16th century as being highly esteemed and collectable both at Court and amongst aristocratic patrons. These panels are often stated to be in the manner of Jacopo Ligozzi (b. 1547 Verona, Italy, d. 1627 Florence, Italy) the designer, draftsman and painter at the Court of the Medici. The Duchess and her Collections: Elizabeth Percy, 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716–1776) was an extraordinary women of her time, she was worldly, had a keen intellect and an unerring eye. She travelled extensively and detailed all her experiences in her lively diaries. A central figure at court, becoming in 1761, Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, a post she held until 1770. This exalted position afforded her many opportunities both through her exposure to other luminaries and the great Royal Collections. She was an avid recorder of what she witnessed and the objects she saw around her and those in the possession of others. Her extensive diaries, a collection of extracts of which were edited by James Grieg, The Diaries of A Duchess, London, 1926, give a tantalising glimpse into her world. She listed all of her own acquisitions in a series of unpublished books which run to some eight separate volumes (Archive of The Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle, DNP MS 122-127). Two volumes are particularly interesting Vol. V; Cameo’s, Intaglias, Bas Reliefs, Bronzes, Busts, Statues and Vol. VIII; Petrifications, Fossils, Ores, Sparres, Christales, Earths, Woods, Marbles, Gems etc. These demonstrate not only a love of collecting in the Kunstkammer tradition (in this respect her trips, in the early 1770's, to the Low Countries and Germany are noteworthy) but also a keen interest in hardstones and minerals and one can only speculate if the offered lot was acquired due to her fascination with these ancient and exotic materials. The lustrous hardstones and jaspers on this cabinet must have so delighted her–especially as her other possessions which utilised these materials were extensive. She was also to visit Italy with the 1st Duke, in 1773, perhaps it was on this trip that she acquired this cabinet. Her buying on her own trips to the Continent was certainly extensive. Many of her possessions are listed after the death of the 1st Duke in the 1786 Inventory of Northumberland House ((Sy.H.VI.2.d), in series of her own rooms on the river front of this London Mansion. These special spaces included the ‘Museum Room’ and the ‘Crimson Drawing Room’ in which this Roman Cabinet is listed, A large Ebony Cabinet with Doors and Drawers in front, inlaid with Stones upon a gilt frame. Perhaps this cabinet lent itself perfectly for the storage of some of the Duchesses other treasures, as there are other pieces listed in these rooms in which she kept her items from her beloved ‘Museum’, and surely this magnificent cabinet would have taken pride of place.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2014-07-09
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A JEWELLED GOLD, SILVER, ENAMEL AND HARDSTONE 'PERLFIGUR', CIRCLE

With jewelled enamel hat and enamelled blue suit, turquoise lining and hose, his plump baroque pearl stomach hitched with a ruby and rose diamond belt, brandishing a spessartine garnet flagon in one hand and an enamelled goose also with pearl middle in the other, on a shaped translucent moss agate ground, the base set with two contemporary rectangular enamel plaques, probably Geneva, circa 1700, one painted with Mars and Venus, the other with Mars and Minerva,  after engravings by Simon Vouet (1590-1649), the blue border within crimson leaves, between applied jewelled and enamelled urns on a green enamelled laurel ground and openwork scrolls, eight button supports, two oval bosses of lapis, probably later added, set onto the sides The magnificent collection of ‘Perlfiguren’ acquired by Augustus the Strong (1670-1733) for his newly-created treasure chambers in the Green Vaults in Dresden is well-known. He is known to have owned some 57 pieces and all manner of creatures were there: fish and fowl, real and mythological beasts, and of course human beings from cheerful dwarfs to giant halbardiers, from grotesque beggars to respectable merchants. There are biblical and classical figures, Moors, Commedia dell’Arte characters, tradesmen and soldiers, a microcosm of the many influences swirling around the Saxon court at the time. As with Renaissance jewellery based on pearls, each individual character was initially inspired by the shape of the baroque pearls used in its creation, pearls forming pairs of trousers or a camel’s hump or as in this case, a rounded stomach. The pearls were artfully combined with jewels, hardstones and colourfully-enamelled gold and silver to create a novel category of precious objects known as Galanteriewaren intended to delight and amuse. As the figures were only to be afforded by the very wealthiest purchasers, they were only to be found in imperial, royal or princely Kunstkammern. A second large collection of 13 figures was acquired by Sibylle Auguste, Margrävin of Baden-Baden and listed in her 1733 inventory; further figures are to be found in the treasure chambers of Vienna, Munich, St Petersburg, Copenhagen and Florence. A very few are in museums such as the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore and, as far as is known, almost none are now in private hands. Given the importance attached by Augustus to these figures (a special cabinet in the treasure chamber was assigned to them), surprisingly little information remains about exactly who made them and where. When they were made is easier to establish since the majority of the figures were acquired by Augustus in the early years of the 18th century and were listed in the 1733 inventory of the treasure chamber, some appearing in earlier inventories of 1706 and 1725.  One group was acquired through the dealer Guillaume Verbecq of Frankfurt and purchased at the great fair in Leipzig, further pieces were supplied by Jean Louis Girardet of Berlin and the Dresden goldsmith, Johann Heinrich Köhler, while a third group are of unknown origin but are also assumed to have been manufactured in Dresden. It is now considered likely that the figures in this last group were made in Dresden either in workshops belonging to or linked to Köhler.  The Northumberland figure falls into the last group as, although it displays stylistic features derived from all three groups, it fits most comfortably into the last. A common characteristic is the glossy enamel used on the figures: mainly translucent blue for the coats, translucent or opaque green or turquoise for stockings or trimmings and opaque black or white for further details. Several also have the distinctive fringed gold edging to their enamelled outfits. The halbardier supplied by Verbecq before 1706 (Syndram/Weinhold, no. 9) has sleeves banded with similar stripes of rose diamonds and pearls; dwarfs from Verbecq and Köhler have the same streaky flesh tones in their faces (S/W, 6 & 22); a swan in a group of animals perched on a coral twig  (S/W, 50, see below) has feathers painted like those on the goose held by this figure. Many more comparisons to individual figures can be made but perhaps the nearest related figure is that of a Galanteriewarenhändler, a pedlar of precious objects accompanied by his spotted dog (S/W, 47, see below), which appears only in the inventory of 1733. Not only is the figure itself related in spirit and execution but also the stands are decorated with similar applied green-enamelled scrollwork; the blue frame to a mirror in the pedlar’s pack echoes the frames around the Geneva enamels decorating the stand of the present figure. The enamel-based stand of the pedlar is almost a pair to that of a further figure of a halbardier, also with a spotted dog, but of somewhat less refined execution (S/W, 49). This, of course, raises the question as to whether the figures and the stands (which vary enormously in quality and design) were made by the same hands. Most probably they were made by different goldsmiths in the same workshops. Not only is the exact origin of many of the figures unknown but the iconographical sources used for their production remain surprisingly obscure. Augustus the Strong’s Print Gallery was extremely well-supplied with earlier and contemporary engravings which were available to the Dinglingers and other Dresden goldsmiths. Certain of the dwarfs are directly derived from Callot prints but most of the other figures, such as the present example, do not appear to have direct graphic sources, or at least so far these have not been found. Even the present figure poses questions of interpretation. At first sight it seems simple: this is a cheerful, slightly inebriated peasant, with Martinmas goose in hand, celebrating the end of the vine harvest. But is it that straight-forward? It has been pointed out that the present figure is very well-dressed for a peasant with a smart suit and fashionable hat even to the elegant gold clocks on his stockings; his features are not grotesque and his hands are pale not sun-burnt. It has been suggested  that the figure represents a courtier dressed as a peasant, possibly as an allegory of November, at one of Augustus the Strong’s many seasonal feasts held to entertain the court and its visitors. These would involve masques, theatre, opera and processions of courtiers, each with its own costumes. Be that as it may, certainly, as with all these captivating figures, the successful intention behind the creation of the figure was surely to amuse and amaze his audience. Sotheby's would like to thank Dr Ulrike Weinhold and Rainer Richter of the Grünes Gewölbe, Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden, for their generous help in researching this figure.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2014-07-09
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An oushak 'small pattern holbein' carpet, west anatolia

'Holbein' rugs, like many other Anatolian rug types produced from the mid-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, were becoming increasingly popular in Europe during the late 1400s and exported in large quantities to the western market. The specific patterns of imported pieces were associated with the names of the artists that used them most frequently, which included Ghirlandaio, Bellini, Crivelli and Lotto, with each design being named for its respective painter. ‘Holbein’ rug designs  include the 'small pattern' and 'large pattern' of staggered repeat geometric octagonal patterns and a repertoire of Kufesque borders.  Holbein employed rugs featuring these designs in several works including a ‘large pattern’ rug appears in The French Ambassadors and a ‘small pattern’ rug in the 1532 portrait of George Gisze.  The 'small pattern Holbein' carpet at Caramoor is one of some seventy known examples of these fifteenth and sixteenth century weavings to have survived into the twenty-first century. Many of these are incomplete fragments or fragmentary rugs and carpets pieced together from fragments, and the majority of them are in institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Berlin Museum, the Textile Museum in Washington, D. C., and various churches and museums in Europe and Istanbul. The Caramoor 'Holbein' carpet is one of the twenty or so carpets known to be in private collections. The large size of the Caramoor carpet also distinguishes it among these surviving examples. A closely related carpet from the collection of Heinrich Wulff is in the Danish Museum of Art and Design, formerly the Museum of Decorative Arts, in Copenhagen, see Charles Grant Ellis, "Ellis in Holbeinland," Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies I, London 1985, no. R-4, p. 62. In the 1973 catalogue of rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the authors mistakenly attributed the Caramoor carpet as being the carpet once with Heinrich Wulff, see M. S. Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p. 180. The Wulff carpet is still at the museum in Copenhagen. Ellis identified the Caramoor carpet as having been sold to the Rosens (previous owners of Caramoor) by Adolfo Loewi, and it is quite possible that they purchased this at the same time as the Oushak medallion carpet (lot 182 in this catalogue) in the collection, which would have been on August 27, 1930 in Venice. The Caramoor carpet retains good color and clarity of drawing and features a deep blue-green ground with the octagonal motifs rendered in a variety of colors.  These repeating medallions are arranged according to color in diagonal rows across the field.  In his description of these carpets, Ellis notes "The electricity crackles when we come to R-30, 42....49 (the present lot)--the rugs in which the color treatment seems most eccentric and whimsical," op.cit. p. 59.  The Kufesque border of the current lot is of the 'C1' type as classified by Pinner, see Robert Pinner and Jackie Stanger, “Kufic Borders on 'Small Pattern Holbein' Carpets,” Hali, vol. 1, no. 4, 1978, pp. 335-8, see D14.  This border can be seen in a painting by Antonio Badile entitled Madonna and Child with SS. Andrew, Peter and John the Evangelist and dating from 1544 in the Museo del Castelvacchio, Verona, see John Mills, “'Small Pattern Holbein' Carpets in Western Paintings,” Hali, vol. 1, no. 4, 1978, p. 332, m. 34. For related carpets see Jon Thompson, Milestones in the History of Carpets, Milan 2006, pls. 2 and 3; Alberto Boralevi, Oriental Geometries: Stefano Bardini and the Antique Carpet, Florence, 1999, pl. 12, p. 50-51; Ellis, op. cit., R.28, pp. 65 and 67; for a rug in the Bavarian National Museum, Munich, T.1598, and another in the Hungarian National Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest (inv. no. 14.785) see Ferenc Batari, “The First Turkish Carpet Exhibition in the West,” Hali, Issue 136, p. 71. 'Holbein' carpets of dimensions such as this lot rarely appear on the market, with the most recent example being a 'large pattern' carpet that sold in Venice in 2002 for a record price.  Fragments of 'small pattern Holbein' carpets that have appeared on the market include Christie's London, The Christopher Alexander Collection, October 15, 1998, lot 218 and Christie's London, October 12, 2000, lot 201; as well as the 'Holbein' fragment upholstered armchair from the Bernheimer collection, Sotheby's London, 24 November 2015, lot 13.

  • USAUSA
  • 2016-04-12
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THE SIBERIAN MOUSE. A PEARL, GOLD AND ENAMEL AUTOMATON MOUSE, ATTRIBUTED

Modelled as a lifesize white mouse with enamelled fur set with irregularly-shaped baroque pearls, chased gold ears and paws, round ruby cabochon eyes, the underside chased with diapered texturing, when a button below the perky mesh tail is pressed the mouse skitters, twirls and pauses to sniff the air and nibble in a most realistic manner, unmarked, one ear and bristle whiskers replaced, with later key The ‘Siberian Mouse’ is perhaps the most active and realistic in action of the small animal automata exhibited by Henri Maillardet in England and Ireland in the early 19th century. Of life size, this mouse darts forward, twirls nervously fearing a concealed cat, then scampers in a different direction before, reassured, it pauses to nibble at an invisible morsel and sets off once again. There is no doubt that the creator had plenty of experience in watching live mice. An example offered on the second day’s sale of Thomas Weeks’s Mechanical Museum in Tichborne Street, London, on 15 July 1834, following the death of its nonagenarian proprietor, was rather more succinctly described as: ‘An animated mouse, executed of gold and Oriental pearls, which runs about the table and feeds itself’. At that date it was considered an old-fashioned object and was purchased by Garrards for 24 guineas, which is roughly equivalent to half the current low estimate. Only eight or nine automaton mice are known to have survived and are now or were formerly owned by a number of important collections including the Bowes Museum, Co. Durham, the Sandoz collection, now at Le Locle, Sir David Salomons collection, Jerusalem, and the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva. The current example which is known to have been in the hands of the present owner’s family for the last two generations at least, is not previously documented. All are set with graduated pearls but are enamelled in a variety of colours including pale blue, dark blue and dark grey. The present mouse with its white enamelled fur is a true Siberian mouse, whose grey fur was believed to turn white in winter to make it invisible in the snow.  Its actions appear nearer to Maillardet’s original mouse than the Sandoz mouse, for example, or that fomerly in the Ikle collection described by Chapuis, which only travel in one direction before stopping, sitting up and nodding their heads.  When Maillardet and his partner Philipstal exhibited their automata in London in 1811, a note on the handbill explained that the mouse ‘will surprise the visitor by its natural cleverness and its ability to run and turn in all directions like a live animal’ just like the present mouse. Although Henri Maillardet and his showman partners exhibited the small animals, and members of his family also exhibited similar automata throughout Europe in the first part of the 19th century, it is still not certain who exactly was responsible for their inception and construction.  Henry Maillardet is a well-known but rather misty figure in the world of automata in comparison with his more famous associates: James Cox, Pierre and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. One cannot be sure whether he was more of a middleman, salesman and showman, or an inventor/creator of automats in his own right. Certainly, like the others and often through circumstances outside their control, his career teetered precariously between success and more frequent financial difficulty. Born at Meyriez in Switzerland, in 1745, Henri and his two brothers are said to have been trained in the Jaquet-Droz workshops before establishing themselves as clockmakers in the village of Fontaines.  Henry and Jean-David are recorded in 1769 as pendulistes under Huguenin working for Frederick the Great in Berlin. By 1783 Henri had arrived in London where a contract witnessed by James Cox was signed between Henry-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Henry Maillardet on 10 May 1783 establishing a London branch of the Jaquet-Droz business, called Jaquet-Droz & Leschot. Maillardet, then a bachelor, was employed to run the firm's London business and workshop in Bartlett's Buildings. The tools belonged to the two partners equally, Maillardet was to receive a salary of £27 annually and the same sum for each of the workmen or apprentices that he needed to feed and house. On the strength of this, Henry married Louise Mourer of Lausanne; their daughter, Louisa Henrietta, was christened at St Andrew, Holborn on 20 March 1785 and their son, Edward Frederick, on 21 August 1786. Success was short-lived as the firm was in trouble by the late 80s and in liquidation in both London and Geneva after Pierre Jaquet-Droz's death in 1790 and that of his son Henri-Louis in 1791. Despite the originality and craftsmanship of the clocks, watches and small automata created by the firm, they had invested too heavily in the China trade on their own account and in partnership with various London merchants and Cox & Beale of Canton. The years between 1791 and 1798 were spent by Leschot in Geneva and Maillardet in London, attempting unsuccessfully to recreate the earlier successes of Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. By 1798, Henri Maillardet seems to have changed direction and set himself up as a showman. He took over the former premises of Cox's Museum, the Great Promenade Rooms in Spring Gardens (Proprietor: Mr Wigley, 'Inventor and Manufacturer of Elastic Spring Bands'). Here, gradually acquiring new attractions, he showed his 'Wonderful Automatons ... consisting of the Mechanical Musical Lady; the entertaining Fortune-Teller; the pleasing Tumbler; and the wonderful Writing Boy, with the beautiful Singing Bird in a Gold Snuff-box. Also a Siberian mouse etc., etc.' Sadly, although apparently retaining a financial interest in the collection of automata for many years as it was taken on tour round Britain by various successors, Maillardet fell on hard times and died in penury in Belgium between 1827 and 1830. It is still disputed as to whether both the large and small automatons were the work of Maillardet himself, the Maillardet family or supplied to Maillardet by an unknown maker. Certainly from their style the smaller pieces appear to have had at least their beautifully-enamelled and bejewelled gold exteriors created in Geneva but whether the movements were invented and made by Maillardet as was traditionally believed, remains an open question.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-07-08
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A royal german neoclassical gilt-bronze and porcelain–mounted guéridon

The circular top with a quadripartite border cast with trelliswork enclosing aporcelain plaque depicting a variety flowers including tulips, roses, peonies, hydrangeas, the stem in the form of a palm tree terminating in curled gilt-bronze leaves, on a circular dished base cast with a gadrooned frieze with a pierced gallery on flattened bun feet Comparative Literature: Dr. Ilse Baer, Table Tops from the Berlin Porcelain Manufactory (KPM) from the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, The International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Handbook, 2001, p.18, note 12. Emmanuel Ducamp, ed., Pavlovsk, The Palace and The Park, Paris, 1993, p. 136. Charlotte Gere, Nineteenth Century Decoration, The Art of the Interior, London,1989, fig. 259, illustrates a watercolour dated 1847 by Eduard von Gärtner of the Green Room in the Stadtschlöss, Berlin. H. Börsch-Supan, Die Kataloge der Berliner Akademie-Austellungen 1786-1850,Berlin, 1971, Nr. 1994.  This superbly decorated and cast guéridon table is a visually stunning representation of the art of exoticism in the form of a palm tree and is part of a group of seven or eight that were all produced at the KMP Manufactory in Berlin in the first quarter of the 19th century. All of them had a base cast in gilt-bronze in the form of a palm tree emerging from a stylised pot surmounted by a circular porcelain plaque. Three of these guéridon tables were in important aristocratic collections underlining their symbolic status. The offered table is listed in the Royal Account Book of King Friedrich Wilhelm III for 1819, and described as a round table top with floral design on a dark ground and a bronze stand like a palm tree. According to Dr. Wittwer, Director of the Stifung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten in Berlin, eight palm tree porcelain table tops were commissioned by Friedrich William III: five with flowers and two with grapes and one depicting a scene from Homer. These tables were produced in Berlin between 1818 and 1821, probably after a design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1777-1841) (H. Börsch-Supan, Die Kataloge der Berliner Akademie-Austellungen 1786-1850,Berlin, 1971, Nr. 1994). The account book in the KPM archives reveals that each table described as "a bronze stand like a palm tree" was gilt and priced at 236 Reichstaler, while the tops were priced at 100 Reichstaler each (I. Baer, op. cit., pp. 13-14). All of the tables, with the exception of the Elgin table discussed post, were decorated with a floral design of a `bouquet of flowers’ or a `ground densely covered with flowers’ as on the present example, on a white or `dark’ ground or with`coloured grapes’. They were made during the zenith in the history of the Berlin manufactory. In 1814, successful experiments with greens formulated from chromium-oxidul made a fundamental change in the technical process of painting views so that oil paintings could be more easily copied onto the table-tops and therefore appeared in greater numbers and according to Baer op. cit., `a clear improvement in and greater colour balance with a correspondingly richer palette can be established for the years after the War of Liberation’. From 1818-1850, a considerable number of commissions were executed by the manufactory, especially from the Prussian royal house for the Prussian Kings, Friedrich Wilhelm III and Friedrich Wilhelm IV, as well as people connected to the royal family and recorded in the `Conto Buch Sr. Majestät’ (His Majesty’s Account Book) in the KPM archives, although the name of the recipient of the royal gift was not always entered. Many orders without the address of the recipient were originally destined for storage to be drawn on by the royal house as and when required. The second table of this form `densely covered with flowers’ is at Pavlovsk Palace, in the dressing room of Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828), see Duchamp, op. cit., p. 136, reproduced in figs. 2 and 3. This table was ordered in December 1818 for "Her Majesty, the Russian Empress, mother" and was a gift from Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovitch, brother of Tsar Alexander I to his mother Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (née Sophie Dorothea von Württemberg). The Duke married Princess Charlotte, daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in 1817. It is possible that the offered table was a pair to the one at Pavlovsk, according to Baer, op. cit., p. 18. The construction of Pavlovsk Palace was initiated by Duchess Maria Feodorovna and Duke Pavel Petrovich (1754-1801) in 1781 after the birth of their first son. After her husband's assassination in 1801, Maria Feodorovna retired to Pavlovsk, which was partially consumed by fire in 1803. She employed Alexander Voronikhin and Carlo Rossi, amongst others, to head the renovations and the redecoration of the state apartments. The guéridon now in her dressing room entered the Imperial Collection following this period of reconstruction as a gift from her son Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovitch. The Grand Duke (1796-1855), the future Tsar Nicholas I, was a major client of the KPM manufactory, witnessed by the magnificent table commissioned for his wedding in 1817, sold by the Soviets, Lepke, Berlin, November 6th-7th, 1928, and now in the Hillwood Museum, as well as his wedding service, neither of which were delivered until 1823. A third table with a similarly decorated floral top, the porcelain plaque signed Krüger 1819, was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III on May 15th 1819 and offered to his cousin Princess Luise Radziwill, as a birthday gift on 13th October 1819, daughter of Prince Ferdinandt of Prussia, brother of Frederick II and married to Fürst Antoni Radziwill, now in a private European collection, the top of which is reproduced here in fig. 4. A fourth table, also depicting flowers on its top, is currently in a private European collection. A fifth table with grapes on the top on a dark ground was commissioned and purchased by King Friedrich Wilhelm III on October 11th 1819 and offered as a birthday gift on October 13th 1819 to his sister-in-law, Maria Anna von Hessen-Homburg, who was married to his brother Prince William of Prussia, formerly in the same private collection as the one illustrated in fig. 5. A sixth was formerly in the collection of 11th Earl of Elgin and 15th Earl of Kinkardine, K.T. and sold Sotheby's London, June 13th, 2001, lot 325, the top depicting the blind Homer reproduced here in fig. 6. That table, inset with the mark of the Berlin porcelain factory, was gifted to Frederick William Augustus Bruce (1814-1867), son of Thomas Elgin, as a christening present by Frederich William III of Prussia (1770-1840). A seventh is depicted in a watercolour of 1847 in the Berlin Stadtschloss, destroyed in World War II-reproduced here in fig. 7. The attribution to Schinkel for this guéridon table rests on the reference to a table by Werner & Neffen exhibited in the Berlin Academy in 1836 (see H. Börsch-Supan, op. cit., 1836, Nr. 1194).The aforementioned table cast in bronze and gilt-bronze and in the form of a palm tree is stated to be after a drawing by Schinkel. The signature on the porcelain plaque may be that of Karl Friedrich Peter Krüger (1782-1832), who worked for the KPM from 1796-1829 (information kindly supplied by Eva Wollschläger). Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841): He was a leading designer and architect to the Prussian court in the first half of the 19th century and one of his first recorded commissions was a bed and toilet table for Queen Louise designed in 1809 for the Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin. He was appointed Geheimer Orberbaurat (Director of Works) in 1815 in the Prussian Office of Public Works which was the start of his career as an architect and he had the greatest impact on industrial arts and crafts and was concerned with the revival of historic forms and techniques and a considerable connoisseur and collector and was at ease in both the Greek and Gothic style. King Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840): He was born August 3rd 1770, Potsdam-died 7th June 1840, Berlin, King of Prussia from 1797-1840 and the son of Frederick William II. The acceleration in the decline in Prussia’s prestige was due to his policy of neutrality in the Wars of the Second and Third Coalitions. His domestic reforms prior to his army’s defeat in the Battle of Jena foreshadowed his later reforms without altering the absolutist structure of the state. Until 1807, he clung to the traditional cabinet government and after the military collapse of 1806-07 and the loss of all the provinces west of the Elbe River, he finally realised that Prussia would have to make decisive changes and he therefore sanctioned the reforms proposed by the Prussian statesmen Karl Stein and Karl von Hardenberg, but these changes amounted only to a reform of the higher bureaucracy not of the royal prerogative. Throughout the War of Liberation (1813-1815), he remained a remote figure being always subservient to the Russian Emperor Alexander. In the crisis of the Vienna Congress over the partition of Saxony, he sided with Alexander I and thereby brought Prussia to the brink of war against England, France and Austria. The final compromise allowed Prussia to acquire the Rhine Province, Westphalia, and much of Saxony. In contrast to these territorial gains, the last 25 years of Friedrich’s reign demonstrates a downward trend of Prussia’s fortunes to which his personal limitations in no small part were the cause.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-07-08
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François linke french, 1855 - 1946 an impressive and rare gilt bronze-mounted

Surmounted by its original fleur de pêcher marble top, the vantaux opening to one shelf, the lock has been removed to reveal the Clément Linke stamp, the proper left hand chute signed F. Linke. Original key This cabinet, which probably would be called a bahut by Linke, does not appear in his extensive archives, records that are almost certainly the most complete for any world class cabinet maker of any period or country. Knowing so much about his work makes such a mystery piece both frustrating and at the same time exciting. On some of his major pieces we know exactly who worked on it, in what discipline, what they were paid and who supplied, for example, the locks or marble slab. Initial inspection suggests that the present lot is an unrecorded variation of Linke’s 1900 exhibition piece the Bahut Louis XV Mars & Venus, index number 701, of which three were made but all seemingly the same. An example of this extraordinary cabinet was sold in these rooms April 29, 1998, lot 198 (see comparable drawing p.91 for the Bahut Louis XV Mars et Venus). Another is in the Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida in Lisbon. The third example is illustrated in Payne, Linke, p. 148, pl. 154. However, index number 701 is taller by approximately 20 centimetres so it is unlikely that the cabinetmaker who cut or debité the oak carcass was working from the same plan. There are similarities with the two 1900 exhibition commodes, Commode Louis XV Figaro (Scene du Barbier de Séville) and Commode coquille: Coquetterie et Modestie, indesx numbers 553 and 559 respectively but clearly they are not using the same cabinetmakers’ plan as the present lot. The handwritten mark ‘147’ in pencil is not an index number, or at least does not correspond with the Linke price list of 1900 which lists 147 as an encoignure. The use of hand written blue crayon and pencil names and numbers is not of course unique to Linke’s workshop but many of his pieces have been noted with a name and or number, usually  written under the marble in this manner. It is most probably an order number and if so, is a confirmation that the present lot is a very early piece by Linke. Although the accompanying red pen and ink drawing by Messagé is not numbered, the sequence of drawings does encompass page number 147 which however is a sketch for a clock case. This rare and probably unique commode in Linke’s oeuvre shows his ingenuity in using the expensive models for gilt-bronze mounts in different guises. Linke’s elaborate mounts were an essential part of his repertoire and brought him to the forefront of the Paris makers of meubles de haut luxe encapsulated in his spectacular Gold Medal winning exhibition at the Paris  Exposition Universelle. A highly trained cabinetmaker and a self-motivated entrepreneur, Linke realised that he needed an edge on his contemporaries to make a mark on the international market. This edge is now well documented in a chapter on his sculptor ‘Léon Messagé and the evolution of the Linke Style’, (see Payne, Linke, op.cit pp. 71-95), where Linke is thought to have worked as a young man in Paris with Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener who had discovered the sculptural talents of Messagé. Messagé died relatively young age of 58 in 1901 at the height of Linke’s career having worked on all of the major items on the Linke 1900 exhibition stand. Thus most of the major gilt-bronze mounts  on Like furniture were designed and possibly executed no later than 1900 posing  a potential problem for Linke for the rest of his long career. Linke’s ingenuity and inventiveness overcame the loss of Messagé; he was able to purchase a quantity of Messagé’s drawings which had been either handed over to Linke in 1901 after Messagé’s death, or given to Goujon, the contre-maître of the ciseleurs in Linke’s workshop, a friend of Messagé. Messagé’s widow subsequently sold the rights to her late husband’s designs to Linke, thus securing the right for Linke & Cie to continue using his bronze patterns on their furniture. A number of Cessions de Propriété in the Linke Archives,  collated in 1903, are attached to photographs of his furniture, annotated by the individual craftsmen working for Linke under Messagé’s guidance, each man signing away his rights to the design, thus giving control to Linke. Many of the mounts used on the present lot were used by Linke in various guises well into the 20th century but the evidence of the accompanying pen and ink drawing suggests without doubt that the present cabinet was designed before the 1900 exhibition.  The drawing comes from a precious collection of Messagé’s sketches for furniture and other artefacts, some of which are dated as early as 1871, even before the sculptor was working for Zwiener. Recorded in 1842 as a sculptor in stone, Messagé was designing sculptural furniture mounts in Paris for the celebrated firm of A. Krieger et Cie. in circa 1867. There is no doubt that the red ink sketch is an outline for the present lot or possibly a combination of the exhibition bahut 701 and the present lot. Assuming that this folder of Messagé sketches all date from the 1870s as does the one of Boulle style furniture mounts (see Payne, Linke, p. 79, pl. 80) then the present lot is clearly a highly innovative design by the sculptor which was not able to be brought to fruition until his working association with Linke, one of the few cabinetmakers who was capable of putting such an audacious item if furniture together. Continued research into Linke oeuvre will quite possibly make more information available. The present lot is signed F. Linke in his habitual manner, in script to the proper left, engraving that is invariably in the same hand, normally by a craftsman called Hatard. The lock is stamped by Linke’s brother, Clemént, who worked supplying locks, keys and hinges for François in the 1890s. Normally the Linke locks by Clément are stamped with the Linke index number but not on the present lot. This would indicate that it was most probably a commission as it is often an indication that it is an early piece from possibly the late 1880s or 1890 as Linke often was making furniture for other makers until he became firmly established in his own right at the end of the 1890s, cemented by his Gold Medal at the 1900 exhibition. Another indication that it is an early piece is that there is no Linke mark or number on the reverse of the mounts, a practice adopted by Linke in later years so that they could be identified at the foundry. As well as the style of the bronze mounts, their placing is typical of the Messagé/Linke combination. The cabinet has all the other hallmarks of Linke’s workshops, the breche violette marble slab, polished at the back and the use of the satiné veneer and above all. The marquetry, probably cut by the faithful and long serving marqueteur, Labbé. At present the pencil  number 147, written clearly in a continental hand on the oak carcass, is difficult to reconcile. A folder of Messagé drawings in the archive are nearly all numbered, with the exception of the sketch for the present lot (see illustration right page), the numbers running to over two hundred. Number 147 in the folder (folder number 24) is for a Regence style clock case. As the early Linke daybooks are somewhat irregular and as Linke had clearly not evolved his sequential numbering system to the refined degree of the 1884 Daybook 2, the writer of this note suspects that the 147 refers to a very early Linke index or registre number that has subsequently been discontinued and substituted for the present item in the register, a corner cupboard. This would coincide, for example with a commode sketched by Messagé and made by Linke in December 1885 (see Payne, Linke, p. 83, pl. 85) and it is quite possible that the present lot was made at this early date. Footnote courtesy of Christopher Payne.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-10-15
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A pair of george iii giltwood and japanese lacquer console tables

The rectangular tops above fluted and beaded friezes on two ogee supports headed with ram's masks, festooned with bay leaves and issuing from acanthus carved finials on ribbon and thread moulded and fluted trumpet socles and octagonal plinth bases This remarkable pair of pier-tables is derived from antique classical altar tables, the forms of which were most avidly promoted by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), the celebrated designer and architect and engraver of Roman views. He was to publish a folio in 1769, Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifici, which included designs for tables, chairs, vases and chimney-pieces etc. The designs were overtly neo-classical and overloaded with antique motifs. The shape of the present tables and the inward curving legs are reminiscent of a table after a Piranesi design, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Piranesi also published a design for a table with rams' mask monopodiae, reproduced by John Wilton Ely, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Complete Etchings, Vol. II, p. 902, fig. 829. Piranesi's designs, disseminated throughout Europe in the age of the 'Grand Tour' assisted in the development of the goût-Grec taste popularised in France from the mid-1750s. This was the earliest expression of the neo-classic taste that was to sweep across the continent in the wake of exuberant mid-century rococo decor. To find such a bold design in English cabinet-making of this date is a rarity and they must surely have been produced by a craftsman of considerable confidence and ability. The likeliest maker is John Linnell (1729–1796), cabinet-maker, upholsterer and carver. He was the son of the distinguished cabinet-maker William Linnell (b.c.1703–1763), joining his father's firm in the late 1740s. He studied at St. Martin's Lane Academy, which had been founded by William Hogarth in 1735, becoming closely acquainted with the emerging rococo design through his contacts with an international group of fellow students. His talent for design is apparent through the large number of surviving drawings, many of which are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and was a large factor in the rapid expansion of the family firm in the early 1750s. In 1754 the Linnells established new and larger workshops, together with a dwelling house at 28 Berkeley Square, and at his father's death in 1763, John Linnell inherited a firm employing some forty or fifty people. At the forefront of fashion with numerous important patrons Linnell’s designs were frequently avant garde  and stand apart from many of his contemporaries. His transition to the neo-classic forms of mid-1760s was undoubtedly influenced by the leading architects of the day, namely Sir William Chambers and Robert Adam, with whom Linnell initially worked at Robert Child’s Osterley Park in Middlesex. The current pair of tables however demonstrate Linnell’s broad awareness of continental draughtsmen and particularly the work of Jean Charles Delafosse, an established teacher of drawing in Paris. Indeed, a bracket or console design published by Delafosse in Nouvelle Iconologie Historique of 1768 (see fig.2) displays similarly conceived curved and leaf-adorned supports headed by bold Greek-key scrolls and swagged with garlands. Linnell’s interpretation of this highly stylised form is reflected in his design for a console and pier-glass, inscribed ‘Eating or back Parlour’ of circa 1765 in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (E.250 1929) and reproduced here as fig. 3, where again the bold Greek-key design curved supports and garland adorned frieze are evident. Linnell would not have been fully reliant on drawings from France, for the 6th Earl of Coventry, one of the firm’s clients, had acquired in 1765 from the French agent Poirier a bureau-plat described as ‘ un bureau à la grec…orné de bronze d’oré d’or moulu en bois rose d’amaranthe et filets sur les cotes couverts de maroquin ainsi que les tablettes’. This model was almost certainly an influence on the subsequent furniture in this taste supplied by Linnell to Hugh, 1st Duke of Northumberland for either Syon House or Alnwick Castle and Viscount Scarsdale at Kedleston Hall. These mirror the output of the advocates of this taste in France, ébenistes Jacques Dubois, maître 1742, and Philippe-Claude Montigny, maître 1766, see H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, vol. II, pp. 140-147. These tables were most probably commissioned by Arthur Hill Trevor, youngest son of Michael Hill of Hillsborough, for Belvoir Park, Co. Down or for his London residence. The Hill family established themselves as one of the pre-eminent dynasties in north Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Sir Moyses Hill had originally accompanies the Earl of Essex to Ireland in the late 16th century. His descendent Arthur Hill was appointed Constable of Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast by Charles ll and this became the family's principal seat. His son and grandson, both called Michael, were Privy Councillors. The latter married the heiress Anne Trevor only daughter and sole heir to Sir John Trevor, Speaker of the House of Commons. They had two sons: the eldest Trevor Hill would inherit Hillsborough Castle; the younger   Arthur would inherit the Trevor family inheritance which included estates in Wales, and property in London including Powis House in Knightsbridge which stood on the site of Trevor Square but not till the 1750s. Arthur Hill had pursued a successful political career becoming an Irish MP then Keeper of the Records, Registrar of Deeds, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, and finally Commissioner for Revenue (1744-71). He took the additional surname of Trevor when coming into his inheritance and was ennobled in 1766 as Viscount Dungannon. He also acquired the Hill's other estate in the north, Belvoir Park, alongside the Langan River. There was no residence here as it had been initially laid out as pleasure grounds. Writing in 1744 Walter Harris noted in his Survey of County Down that Belvoir was ‘laid out lately in Taste; the Avenue is large and handsome, the Fruitery, from an irregular Glyn, is now disposed in regular Canals, with Cascades, Slopes and Terraces, and the Kitchin Ground inclosed with Espaliers, the best of the Gardens lying over the Lagan River, which is navigable to this Place. The Offices are finished, but the House not yet build.’ On coming into his inheritance Arthur Hills-Trevor decided to build a suitable mansion there. Quite an undertaking for a man now in his sixties but as Mrs Delaney who visited him at Belvoir in 1758 makes clear he was ' an original'. Writing to her friend Mrs Dewes on 1st October she remarks:  '...we came to this place about three o’clock, as this is indeed a charming place; a very good house, though not quite finished, and everything very elegant. Mr Hill is a sort of an old beau; who has lived much in the world, his fortune a very good one. he is an original...A fine gentleman is the character he aims at.' There is no doubt that Arthur Hill-Trevor was spending considerable time, energy and money on developing his estate. He commissioned the Dublin based artist, Jonathan Fisher to paint views of the house and grounds at Belvoir in 1763, presumably to celebrate its completion. One of these showing the house is reproduced here, (see fig.1), and the set of four views was sold by his descendants and owners of the current tables, at Sotheby's, London, 22 November 2007, lot 36. It therefore seems highly plausible that these tables formed part of the original furnishings of Belvoir Park. Upon the death of the 1st Viscount Dungannon in 1771, the estate and title passed to his grandson, also Arthur, but by the mid 1790s, he moved to his Welsh estate, Brynkinalt and Belvoir was left largely uninhabited and was eventually sold in 1808. The address of Lord Dungannon's primary  London residence remains a mystery, they seemed to have occupied a number of houses, owning Powis House in Knightsbridge and in the early 19th century developing Trevor Square. The 3rd Viscount is recorded as having been born in Berkeley Square in 1798 perhaps indicating that this was the location of a family house which would dovetail with Linnell's workshops and residence being in the same square. These tables are not the only piece in the Hill Trevor collection to be attributed to Linnell. Also surving are a set of chairs commonly associated with Linnell, having leaf-wrapped ball terminals to the arms further suggesting Lord Dungannon's patronage of this London firm.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2014-07-09
Hammer price
Show price

A gilt-bronze and patinated-bronze inkstand by juste-aurèle meissonnier

The patinated bronze globular spiral twisted inkpot with an acanthus leaf and scroll cast gilt-bronze cover above a boldly scrolled leaf cast base with running water motifs, acanthus leaves and two foliate and flower cast scrolled pen supports; one pen support re-gilt A full expertise is available on request from the department. It has been compiled by Fernando Moreira, International Expert Advisor in XVIIth and XVIIIth century Gilt Bronze and Antique Furniture, Supplier to the French National Museums, Member of the Grands Ateliers de France. Meissonnier and inkstands: This splendid encrier embodies all elements of Rococo opulence. There is a model in terracotta for an inkstand which can be attributed to Meissonnier, illustrated for the first time in the article by Dr. Peter Fuhring in Sotheby's New York, The Thyssen Meissonnier Tureen, 13th May 1998, catalogue p. 21, fig 14. That inkstand was created between 1730-1735, probably a few years before the present inkstand. The small holes on the underside of the terracotta encrier indicate that the original intention was to fit the finished porcelain inkstand onto a gilt-bronze base. The present encrier is made in the same spirit with the patinated bronze inkwell sitting on a gilt-bronze base, thus also combining two different materials. Another inkstand, this time executed in silver, was made by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier in 1731 for the Comte de Maurepas who was Sécretaire d'Etat à la Marine. Thought the piece itself has unfortunately not survived, the design is known from an engraving of the side view (see fig.1). It is certain that the silver example was executed as it is mentioned in the record of a visit to Meissonnier's atelier by the company of goldsmiths in 1731 and more than likely referred to again in his demande de privilege of 17th November 1733 noting 'Un Dessein d'ecritoire'. This design does not only reveal similarly boldly sculpted scrolls and acanthus motifs, but above all the presence of a virtually identical spiral-twisted patinated bronze inkpot. Meissonnier and modelling the encrier: The artist almost certainly captured a leaf in a mould as the starting point for creating and shaping the present inkwell. Subsequently from that mould a detailed wax could be made. He then used several of these wax leaves together for his transformation, distillation and recomposition of nature. So once a wax had been poured and extracted from the mould, it could be bent and twisted at the artist's will, beyond nature's will, by slightly heating it in warm water. This explains how in our encrier the coquille, the water motifs and various acanthus leaves turn in space to create perfect imaginary C- and S-scrolls, encompassing all the latest aesthetic innovations. The harmonious orchestration between the rough shell, tactile simulation of water falling, finely chased leaves, rockwork in high relief and bold smooth scrolls on the encrier reflect its magnificent quality and inventiveness. The lost wax casting technique: The lost wax casting technique, or cire perdue, was used by Meissonnier not only in his bronzes, but also in his silver pieces. It was a complex process, but one which offered him total freedom in modelling. The very specific final result makes every component appear distinct with a clear separation between the elements. Meissonier undoubtedly favoured this technique as each demarcation creates undulating shades that play with and counterbalance reflecting areas, enhancing chiaroscuro effects. The technique consists of making a wax model round a core of burnt clay and enclosing it within an envelope of clay mixed with plaster. The whole is baked and the melted wax runs through a vent. Subsequently melted bronze is run in to take the place of the wax. The clay envelope can then be cut away and the core broken up inside. The result is a bronze exactly reproducing the original wax model. The technique ha sthe advantage of giving a very fine finish, of allowing the cast to be taken as a whole and of requiring the minimum of bronze. But it has the disadvantage of allowing only one cast to be taken. Further bronzes can only be obtained by taking a cast of the first one, but of course something of the original's directness is lost with each recast. The sharpness and crispness of the present encrier indicates that it is undoubtedly an original lost wax cast, and in this sense unique. Meissonnier and gilt-bronze in early 18th century France: There was a great revival of the use of gilt-bronze under the reign of Louis XIV. This probably originated with the installation of a foundry for Domenico Cucci at the Manufacture des Gobelins. This opened the door for Pierre Gole, Philippe Caffiéri and André-Charles Boulle to expand and develop their use of gilt-bronze. First found as mounts on furniture and around mirrors, artists further embellished their chandeliers, chenets, scientific instruments, accessoires de toilette and carriages with gilt-bronze. After a rather unstable period of melting gold and silver and a decree prohibiting temporarily the production of silver, silver and goldsmiths were looking for other less precious materials. Gilt-bronze lent itself marvelously to their needs, especially as the end result after the gilding and chasing is virtually identical in appearence to objects in gold and silver. It is therefore not unusual to find pieces that were originally conceived to be executed in silver made in gilt-bronze. Little is recorded about Meissonier's gilt-bronze production, but various examples survived which have been executed in both materials. By the early 1730's Meissonnier was conscious of how influential and desirable his designs were. Therefore it is thought that he might have sold off some of his drawings and sketches to be executed by other metal-workers. However, his own production really stands out next to contemporary objects manufactured by other workshops. The present inkwell is a living proof of this excellence in quality, finish and chasing which could only be achieved by Meissonnier himself. It is not known where Meissonnier executed his gilt-bronzes. Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier and the Rococo: The new style-the Rococo - took its name in the nineteenth century from the word rocaille, originally meaning forms of irregular shape and which were found in nature and often decorated garden grottos and fountains. The word never lost its original meaning and it was only in colloquial French that it was used to describe a new ornament inspired by the irregular or asymmetrical shape of a shell, and in a broader sense of leaves too. The present encrier is therefore a perfect early example of this Rococo vogue. Although many individual elements of the Rococo were already known, Meissonnier audaciously pushed the design to its extremes, surpassing anything known in the field before, replacing the hierarchic with an organic unity. The present encrier combines with supreme skill gilt-bronze together with bronze and a spiral geometric twist with a large loose realist leaf motif. Irregular, rather than regular shapes were preferred, replacing older symmetrical forms which were perceived as traditional and conventional. For a tabatiere of almost identical outlineto the present encrier, see fig. 3. In this sense his object must be looked at as pieces of sculpture. Jean-Bernard Le Blanc, when he spoke about the activity of goldsmiths in England wrote: "Le plus habile orfèvre de Londres n'est qu'un ouvrier. Un Germain, un Meissonnier, sont tout autre chose, se sont des dessinateurs, ce sont des sculpteurs, ce sont des grands Hommes en leur genre" (see P. Fuhring, op.cit., p. 422, no. 10). This remark is pretty telling and shows that Juste-Aurele's reputation rested upon artistry beyond mere craftsmanship. Also the element of water became very important in Rococo designs. Meissonnier made various designs where fountains and falling water were predominant elements in conveying this new Rococo style, (see fig. 2). Considering his various achievements, one can only conclude that Meissonnier belonged to a very small group of artists who were able to combine inventive design with excellence in execution and craftmanship. Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1695-1750): Turin Born in Turin on 17th March 1695, he was baptised the same day in the metropolitan church of St. Giovanni Baptista in the presence of his godfather, Giusto Aurelio from Nacona, and his grandmother, Maria Felice Farinona. Nothing is known of his godparents nor of their relationship with the child's parents, Etienne Meissonnier and his wife Antoinette Margerita Bavera (1672- before 1728). Etienne II Stefano Meissonnier (or Stefano as he was called in the Italian documents) was a goldsmith from Aix-en-Provence and son of Claude Meissonnier (1613- circa 1700), a master goldsmith and dealer. Claude himself fullfilled a very important role in the corporation of goldsmiths at Aix where he was garde and jure in 1680-1681 and again in between 1686-1692. In 1693 he returned his poinçon for reasons of age and failing health. Unlike his father, Etienne II is not recorded in the ledgers of the goldsmiths' company at Aix and it appears that he moved to Turin, the capital of Savoy, before he became a master goldsmith, at a time possibly coinciding with his father's retirement and shortly before the bitrth of his son, Juste-Aurèle. In Turin, Etienne II Meissonnier worked for numerous churches and distinguished clients. One of his masterpieces was a life size Madonna and child executed in 1716 with Giuseppe Balla for Countess Scarnafiggi. He also made in 1726 a crucifix commissioned by King Victor-Amedeo II as a gift the following year to Pope Benedict XIII. Very little is known about Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier's training as a goldsmith and metal engraver, skills he more than likely learned in his father's workshop. Juste-Aurèle first recorded commission was for the engraving of several dies for the Turin Mint, although none of the coins can positively be identified. Paris His second commission, to engrave the die for a medal commemorating the naval battle of Malaga and dating from February 1715, is much better recorded. It was part of a famous set of medals commemorating major events of Louis XIV's reign, called the "Histoire Métallique du Roi". This commission from the French Royal Mint testifies the Juste-Aurèle's presence in Paris in the last year of the King's reign. From 1715, young Meissonnier stayed in Paris, although it seems certain he travelled once again to Turin and possibly to Rome in the presence of Jean-Baptiste and Carle Vanloo. He must have made a successful start to his own career there as around 1718 he took a pupil, though we don't know exactly what he was supposed to teach him. What is important however, is that in the notary's document relating to the last payment for training Louis Dubois, Meissonnier is described as ciseleur and dessinateur, living on the Île de la Cité. The mention of this double activity is the earliest documentation of his capacity as a professional craftsman and as a draughtsman designer. At the height of his career From then onward his career exploded. Meissonnier started to work for major noble families such as Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, known as Madame la Duchesse, mother of the Prime Minister Louis-Henri, Duc de Bourbon, later Prince de Condé and owner of the Château de Chantilly; and for Louis II de Rochechouart, Duc de Mortemart, Pair de France and First Gentleman of the Bedchamber. In 1725, shortly after entering the company of the goldsmith's in Paris, Meissonnier obtained his first Royal commission. He was paid 7,000 livres for five gold sword hilts to be used as royal presents commemorating the marriage of Louis XV and Marie Lecszinska. It is in this same period that Meissonnier enlarged his activities by becoming more interested in related art, such as painting, stage sets and architecture. It is therefore not surprising to find him among the seven participants of the contest organised to find a successor to Jean II Berain, designer of the King's Cabinet. In December 1726, Meissonnier was appointed Dessinateur de la Chambre du Roi. This eminent position stimulated interest from many further clients. King John V of Portugal's commission to design the throne room and the throne itself at the Royal Palace in Lisbon confirmed Meissonnier's status. In the 1730's, the decade in which the present encrier was executed, the artist was at the height of his career and was able to boast considerable experience in all domains of the arts, from designing and making models in silver and gilt-bronze to mastering architecture and painting. Several contemporaries acknowledged Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier's genius, stating that he should be granted membership to the Royal Academy as an architect. But he faced the same problem as Thomas Germain, as it was impossible for a goldsmith to enter the academic sphere, as both their activities were rooted in manufacture and trade rather than in the fine arts. His workshop continued to flourish and he moved on from one success to another till his death in 1750. In the same year the Comte de Caylus wrote an obituary of the artist: "On peut assurer que les morceaux d'orfèvrerie qu'il est donne la peine de terminer, sont de la plus grande beauté...Il vouloit trouver du nouveau, paraître singulier, produire du piquant et en un mot devenir original et surtout ne ressembler à personne".

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2012-07-04
Hammer price
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* Note that the price doesn’t correlate with today’s value, but only relates to the actual end price at the time of the purchase.

Porcelain & Pottery

Items made of porcelain, earthenware, stoneware and faience from every country are found under the category Porcelain & Pottery. Plates, cups, antique vases, tableware, china figurines and Chinese serving dishes are just some of the items that can be found up for auction under this heading.

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