On 31 March & 1 April in Paris Sothebys
will offer for sale an ensemble of 600 historic sculptures and interior/exterior decorative objects (statues, fireplaces, garden furniture, park and garden ornaments) from Origines specialists in France's architectural heritage from the Gothic period to the 20th century. Origines are based in Le Four-à-Chaux, a former 18th century industrial building in Richebourg, west of Paris, and cater to an increasingly international clientele.
The ensemble showcases the magnificent materials stone, marble, wrought iron used for statues, fireplaces, park and garden ornaments, and monumental architectural pieces.
All bear unique witnesses to the past, and exude their own special magic, inviting art-lovers on a fascinating voyage of discovery through the ages, passing by a host of different periods, styles, forms and materials. These items have been rescued from oblivion and are now destined to adorn magnificent new homes.
The most eagerly awaited sculptural work will be an 18th century stone statue of Louis XIV in classical garb, directly inspired by the marble statue made by Martin van den Bogaert, known as Martin Desjardins (1637-94), for the Orangery at Versailles in 1679-83 (estimate 100,000-120,000).
A very attractive and decorative pair of 18th/19th century French terracotta sphinxes topped by cherubs clutching garlands of flowers (est. 60,000-80,000).
The sale's 19th century works include a marble allegory of Spring made by Jean-Baptiste Clésinger in 1874; the head is adorned with a wreath of flowers, and the body clad in flowing robes. Its sister work, Autumn, is now in the Hermitage in St Petersburg (est. 40,000-50,000).
An exceptional pair of painted, cast iron Florentine pages after Edouard Houssin, dating from the second half of the 19th century, was once in the home of Salvador Dalì's private secretary, John Peter Moore; the ants on the trousers of one of the figures evoke recurring visions in Dali's paintings, derived from childhood nightmares, and are thought to have been painted by Dali himself (est. 30,000-40,000).
A very fine 19th century iron cast of Hunting Dogs after Comte du Passage (1839-1909), signed Du Passage 1887 and with the mark of the founder A. Durenne/Sommevoire (est. 29,000-33,000).
The sale's 20th century highlights include a monumental marble Seated Woman (est. 35,000-45,000) and a Squatting Woman Playing with a Ball (c.1930) a plaster group by the American sculptor Edward Bruce Douglas (est. 5500-6000).
The sale's decorative interior pieces include an exceptional Napoleon III panelling ensemble from a building in Lille, comprising a main wall with Louis XVI-style fireplace and mirror; a pair of double-doors and over-mantels; the side walls, one with two windows, the other with a double-door; and panels. The wall opposite the fireplace has a symmetrical composition. The panelling is painted with genre scenes by Félix H. Lucas and Pascal Pilate (est. 60,000-100,000).
The sale includes a broad selection of 18th and 19th century fireplaces, notably an exceptional neo-Gothic terracotta fireplace designed by J. Fritsch and made by Wieneberger Ziegel-Fabriks doubtless a commission for the Austrian imperial family (est. 300,000-500,000). The fireplace blends medieval style with sophisticated craftsmanship, and bears the Viribus Unitis ("With United Forces") motto of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916), whose reign was the longest in imperial history. In 1854 he married Elisabeth Amelie Eugenie von Wittelsbach, Duchess of Bavaria, better known as the legendary Sissi (1837-98). The couple's respective coats-of-arms those of the family of Habsburg-Lorraine and the Duchy of Bavaria can be found in niches above the fireplace. The two knight figures on octagonal Corinthian columns evoke the Habsburgs' glorious dynastic past. They portray Maximilian I (1459-1519), Archduke of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, the veritable founder of Austrian power, who bequeathed half of Europe to his grandson Charles V; and Archduke Matthias of Austria (1557-1619), King of Bohemia & Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor.
Among the splendid selection of 17th & 18th fireplaces are a fine Louis XIV stone fireplace from Lorraine with carved foliage and a moulded/sculpted lintel (est. 90,000-120,000), and a Louis XV Brèche de Medous marble fireplace with a cartouche in the middle of the lintel (est. 45,000-55,000).
A 19th century Renaissance-style stone fireplace (Poitou-Charentes c.1840), from the former Hôtel de la Charmille, has a lintel sculpted with foliage and cornucopia, topped by a trumeau carved with a medallion featuring a basket of fruit (est. 40,000-50,000).
Along with the fireplaces are numerous cast-iron fire-backs, the oldest dating from 1665 and the reign of Louis XIV, featuring two shields topped by a grilled helmet (est. 9000-10,000). There is also a Louis XV cast iron chimney plaque dated 1735 adorned with a central coat-of-arms supported by two lions, flanked by masks and foliage (est. 7,000-10,000); and a 19th century plaque featuring a classical scene (est. 3,000-4,000).
Park & Garden Ornaments
The sale's array of stone and cast iron garden elements includes a Louis XV cooking pot adorned with faun heads topped by a flame, similar to a model on Place Stanislas in Nancy (est. 10,000-12,000).
A 19th century cast iron vase (see illustration), embellished with vines, leaves, satyr heads and panther skin, is based on the white marble Warwick Vase discovered at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli (est. 16,000-18,000).
There is also a cast iron ornamental vase and stand from the second half of the 19th century (est. 6,000-8,000); and a pair of carved and moulded Louis XVI white marble cassolettes (est. 12,000-15,000). A rare pair of mid-19th century white marble stands have spiral fluting punctuated by 'asparagus tip' motifs and acanthus leaves (est. 30,000-40,000).