announced details of The Opulent Eye 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe which will take place on 14 March 2013. Featuring 248 lots, the sale offers sumptuous furniture and works of art from the 19th century including tables, suites of chairs, marble and bronze statuary, clocks, and lighting from international collections; they are distinguished by their exuberant decoration and extravagant materials.
The sale is led by a recently rediscovered life-size marble group of The Three Graces after Antoine Canovas original made for Empress Josephine and today in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (estimate: £150,000 250,000). It dates from the mid-19th century and is copied from Canovas second version of the group commissioned in 1815 by John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford which is now displayed at the Scottish National Gallery.
The sale will feature a selection of pieces from the Collection of the late Sir Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert, including various hardstone, or pietre dure, tables and plaques. Highlights include a German ormolu and hardstone-mounted, tortoiseshell marquetry table, formerly in the collection of Alfred de Rothschild (d.1918) where it was listed and illustrated in an 1884 inventory (estimate: £25,000 40,000).
Examples of the most sumptuous furniture of the period include a magnificent ormolu and Japanese lacquer cabinet, made by one of the most prestigious furniture makers of the second half of the 19th century, Maison Kreger (estimate: £80,000 120,000). This cabinet is inspired by the oeuvre of Adam Weisweiler (d.1820) and is modelled on a sécretaire en cabinet in the style arabesque supplied by Weisweiler for Louis XVI's Cabinet Intérieur at Versailles.
Elsewhere in the sale an important French ormolu-mounted tulipwood, kingwood, bois satiné and marquetry grand piano is estimated at £100,000 200,000. This piano is in the distinctive fin de siècle style of high-rococo fused with Art Nouveau and was completed in April 1905 and sold for Fr11,400 on 5 October 1908.
A pair of Napoleon III ormolu-mounted patinated bronze ten-light floor-standing torchère-candelabra will also be offered (estimate: £60,000 80,000). Candelabras such as these were fully integrated into the palatial décor of their 19th century surroundings, standing at the entrance to grand salons, in great halls or at the base of monumental staircases.
A strong selection of 19th century clocks is led by a fine Napoleon III ormolu and rosso antico mantle clock (estimate: £30,000 50,000). The composition of this mantel clock includes Jean-Baptiste Clesinger's renowned La Dame aux roses, modelled from an original marble dating from 1867. The bust, cast by Maison Marnyhac, is flanked by doves, flowers, musical attributes, and an arrow and quiver. The Louvre acquired a bronze example of this bust from Clesinger's atelier sale in 1923, which is now in the Musée DOrsay.
Further highlights include a large Napoleon III ormolu and patinated bronze three-piece clock garniture by Lerolle Fréres (estimate: £50,000 80,000). This superbly crafted garniture was created by the renowned Parisian fondeur, Lerolle Frères, at no. 1 rue du Foin et Chausséedes-Minimies who produced all types of bronzes in the Renaissance, Louis XIII and Louis XIV styles.