France will host a sale celebrating the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and Japan on 15 November 2018. To mark this anniversary, France is organising a series of cultural events under the name Japonismes 2018: les âmes en résonance, between July 2018 and February 2019. This initiative is rooted in the artistic relationship between France and Japan, which dates back to the 19th century, and highlights the important influence of Japan on Western art. With this cross-category sale (including paintings, furniture, prints, sculptures, books, ceramics, silverware, lacquerware and jewellery), Christies demonstrates the artistic links existing between these countries through the juxtaposition of Oriental and Occidental works of art. Comprising around 60 lots ranging from 1860 to 1930, this curated sale is the first one of this kind.
Camille de Foresta and Géraldine Lenain in charge of the sale: We are very excited to participate in this national series of events, paying tribute to Japan and showing the great influence Japanese art and culture had on Western artists.
Leading the sale is a monumental pair of French ParcelGilt and patinated bronze-mounted cloisonné enamel vases on bronze stands by Ferdinand Berbedienne. The latter was a famous French metalworker and manufacturer, who participated in every universal exhibition of the 19th century and won several awards for his exceptional creations. These 210-centimeter-high vases and their stands were realised during the 19th century when the oriental influence was at its zenith.
Estimated at 100,000-150,000, the vases are not only stunning by their height but also by the quality of their execution. The detail present on the vases remind us of an enchanting atmosphere full of dreamlike animals and beautiful vegetation.
Further highlights of the sale include a stunning Belle-Époque brooch by Boucheron representing a cicada created circa 1902. This brooch is exceptional by the technique used to realise it. Indeed, the enamel on the wings next to the sapphires, chrysoberyls and diamonds gives a certain beauty and poetry to this object which will certainly attract jewels lovers from around the globe (estimate: 50,000-80,000).
A beautiful belt buckle will aslo be presented to collectors. Realised at the beginning of the 20th century, this Art Nouveau creation is signed by Charles Boutet de Monvel. Estimated at 2,000-3,000, this silver gilt buckle representing a crane is adorned with a ruby for the birds eye.
Japanese prints were also a major source of inspiration for Western artists in all categories. Alongside Katsushika Hokusais sketches of birds and flowers, Utagawa Hiroshiges compositions were very popular. The vibrant Plum garden, Kameido offered in this curated sale (estimate: 25,000-30,000), shows plum tree branches in the foreground opening to an original perspective in the background. This print is a great example of what inspired French artists such as Henri Rivière. With frontispiece (estimate: 6,000-8,000), a lithograph from the 36 views of the Tour Eiffel series printed between 1888 and 1902, Rivière also works with leaves branches in the foreground opening up to the Eiffel tower.This beautiful series refers to the 36 views of Mount Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai.
As the Impressionist movement was very much influenced by Japonism, our auction has a major selection of paintings created during this period. Paul Sérusier is part of this section with Vue de Village executed in 1906 and exhibited the same year at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Estimated at 120,000-180,000, this painting represents a village at sunset. The golden sky in this painting echoes the Japanese screens displaying gold leafed backgrounds.
Paul Elie Ranson is also represented in this sale with Baigneuse lavant son pied, painted in 1898 when the artist was fully part of the Nabis, which regrouped around Paul Sérusier. The Nabis style was design-oriented along the lines of the Japanese prints they so admired as well as Art Nouveau. This painting estimated at 80,000-120,000, has all the characteristics of a Nabi painting inspired by the Orient as we can admire in the treatment of the figure and the landscape.
Europe is not the only part of the globe influenced by Japonism. The United-States discovered their creations and were inspired as much as European artists. This is illustrated in three objects included in the auction. By Tiffany & Co., collectors will discover a silver Japanesque tray and comb estimated at 3,000-5,000 and a parcel-gilt silver Japanesque tea caddy estimated at 8,000-12,000, both inspired by naturalist decors presenting a unique universe adorned by delicate creatures and surrounded by an enchanting vegetation. An American silver Japanesque water pitcher will complement this series. Created by Dominick & Haff circa 1880, the pitcher is estimated at 5,000-7,000.
The sale will also offer a jizai Okimono prawn in iron (estimate: 6,000-8,000). These little articulated objects were created in the last decades of Edo-period Japan (1603-1868). Made by armorers, they were usually offered to daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) in times of peace to win their loyalty and show the extent of their talents. The most popular creations include insects, snakes, crabs and dragons. By the late 19th century the figures were desirable collectables, and many were exported to a Western market passionate about Oriental art.
A Japanese screen by the artist Katsu Hamanaka will be offered in the sale with an estimate of 40,000-60,000. Born in 1895, Hamanaka was known to be a lacquer master who brought a new process to France, which was especially admired and then practised by Jean Dunand around 1915. Thanks to Hamanaka, numerous decorators used this technique to create beautiful objects, bringing a major innovation to Decorative Art.