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Sotheby's London Sells a Lost Royal Masterpiece Setting a Record at Auction
A Royal Gilt-Bronze-Mounted Sèvres Fond Violet Porcelain Vase Ovoïde, the bronzes attributed to Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis, Louis XVI, c.1768. Estimate: £50,000 - £80,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Tonight Sotheby’s London Evening Sale of Treasures: Princely Taste was led by the sale of a magnificent pair of Italian carved giltwood settees created for one of the most sumptuous Rococo interiors in Italy - the Gilded Gallery of Palazzo Carrega Cataldi. Setting a record at auction for Italian seating furniture when they sold, to a round of applause, for £1,721,250/$2,763,639/¤1,923,495, the settees sold for over three times the pre-sale high estimate of £300,000 -£500,000*.

A further highlight of the sale was a recently rediscovered masterpiece - an exquisitely carved chalcedony cover which is the lost partner of a magnificent cup in the collection of the Louvre. Expertly crafted by Giovanni Ambrogio Miseroni - the greatest of all Renaissance hardstone engravers – the exquisite cover sold for £1,497,150/$2,403,985/¤1,673,175 (est. £800,000-£1,200,000) following a bidding battle among three clients. The sale’s outstanding selection of rare and important decorative art with links to some of the greatest collectors in European history achieved a within-estimate total of £10,832,600/$17,392,823/¤12,105,418 (pre-sale estimate £9.4-14.6 million). The sale was 76.9% sold by value.

Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman, Europe, Mario Tavella said: “Tonight’s sale was carefully curated following the tremendous reception that last year’s inaugural Treasures sale received. Again, we were able to offer a number of works not only of museum quality, but that were fresh to the market, and the enthusiastic buying in the saleroom this evening demonstrates the hunger – across a very international market - for works of such rarity and remarkable provenance.”

Many remarkable prices were achieved in this evening’s sale. Most notably:
• A magnificent pair of gilt-bronze mounted Chinese crackle glaze, celadon pot pourri vases circa 1745-49 raised £881,250/$1,414,935/¤984,796, (est. £800,000-£1,200,000). The vases featured in the private collections of master couturier Nicolay and most recently, that of Dimitri Mavrommatis.

• “The Empress Clock”, a spectacular automaton singing bird vase clock, possibly made for the Empress Josephine circa 1805, sold for £825,250/$1,325,021/¤922,216 (est.£700,000-£1,000,000).

• A rare purple, gilt-bronze-mounted Sèvres porcelain vase, circa 1768, from the bedroom of King Alfonso XII of Spain raised a strong total of £109,250/$175,412/¤122,087 (est. £50,000-£80,000). When the vase came to be offered for sale, Sotheby's discovered a letter hidden inside, revealing the vase was taken from the Spanish King’s bedroom following his death, by his valet.

• A pair of magnificent late Baroque Venetian marquetry tables, with exuberant inlay and engravings executed by Lucio and Antonio De Lucci, fetched £713,250/$1,145,194/¤797,056. (est. £600,000 - £1,000,000)

• One of the most important 17th Century cabinets - a rare and impressive Roman gilt- bronze-pietre-dure-and marble-mounted ebony and ebonised cabinet, offered at auction for the first time, sold for £668,450/$1,073,263/¤746,992 (est. £250,000-£500,000).

• The only surviving pair of Jaquet-Droz & Leschot singing bird snuff boxes still together sold for the above-estimate total of £735,650/$1,181,160/¤822,088 (est. £250,000-£450,000). Wound by a golden key, they were priced at as much as £1,800 apiece when they were ordered by the London retail jewellers David Duval & Co in 1801 for the Chinese market.

Sale statistics:
• Sold by lot: 60.6%
• Sold by value: 76.9%
• Of the 33 lots offered, 20 sold

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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