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Porcelain plaque & gilt bronze clock far surpass estimates at Bonhams Los Angeles
An important and large Sèvres porcelain plaque: The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine painted by Abraham Constantin after the painting by Correggio dated 1819. Sold $152,500. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams reported that two pieces in the June 10 Fine European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction sold in excess of 10x their pre-auction low estimates: an important and large Sèvres porcelain plaque for $152,500 (est. $15,000-20,000) as well as a French gilt bronze and partially malachite veneered mantel clock for $110,500 (est. $10,000-15,000).

The 1819 plaque depicts the Mystic Marriage of St Catherine, painted after Correggio’s famous 16th century composition by Swiss enamel master Abraham Constantin. Formerly the official enamel portraitist for the French imperial family, Constantin began his tenure at Sèvres in 1813 after Napoleon’s failed Russian campaign, undertaking a project to copy Old Master paintings onto porcelain in an effort to preserve them for future generations (canvases were considered unstable). The Musée Royal was instrumental in the effort, and displayed many of the plaques in an exceptional 1820 exhibition, Bonhams example of the Mystic Marriage of St Catherine among them.

“It is interesting to note that the King of France regularly purchased these extraordinary Sèvres Old Master plaques for himself or as gifts,” said Jennifer Kurtz, Bonhams European Ceramics Specialist. “I am very pleased that the market responded so positively to the provenance and quality of this beautiful example.”

Bidders were equally impressed with the 19th century French gilt bronze, faux marble and partially malachite veneered mantel clock. Standing well over three feet high (41 inches, 104 cm), its imposing stature certainly attracted attention. Surmounted by two classical scholars above a relief decorated panel depicting a procession of figures, the Greco-Roman inspired piece is strikingly sculptural.

“I always felt the clock was a wonderful example, I am pleased that bidders recognized its appeal with such enthusiasm,” said Andrew Jones, Bonhams European Furniture and Decorative Arts Specialist. “Clocks of this scale and quality are scarce and demand is always strong when they appear on the market.”

The auction grossed nearly $2.4 million, buoyed by international interest. Bidders from Europe faced fierce competition from the US, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Bids were remarkably evenly split between eager attendees, phone bidders and those participating live online – with bidders in the salesroom taking home the lion’s share of the top 10 lots.

Gilt bronze offerings performed well overall. A fine quality French gilt bronze mounted marquetry inlaid mahogany 7'6" grand piano by Érard circa 1914 sold for $104,500, while a fine quality Louis XV style gilt bronze mounted marquetry inlaid kingwood table by François Linke circa 1900 achieved $68,500.

Additional runaway highlights included a Bösendorfer model 275 ebonized 9' concert grand piano circa 2000, from the Estate of Merv Griffin, that sold for $64,900, tripling its pre-auction low estimate. A late 19th century patinated bronze equestrian group entitled Kabyle au Retour de la Chasse after a model by Arthur Waagen from the L. Martin foundry also saw significant success, doubling its pre-auction low estimate to sell for $82,900.

Bonhams next auction of European Furniture & Decorative Arts in Los Angeles will take place in December 2013.

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