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Sotheby's to Sell Paintings and Works of Art from Aristocratic Families
Hendrik van Minderhout (Rotterdam 1632 - 1696 Antwerp) A Levantine harbour with a galley and a man of war coming in to anchor. Signed and dated lower left: Hvan Minderhout .1681. Oil on canvas, 162.5 by 242.5 cm. Estimate €80.000 - 120.000. Photo: Sotheby's.

AMSTERDAM.- A fascinating sale of paintings and works of art, consigned by European Royal and Noble families will be held at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam on Wednesday 17 December 2008. The sale on comprises paintings, furniture, tapestries, works of art, ceramics, carpets, glass, silver, clocks, objects of vertu, photographs and coaches, all of which were originally made for, or owned by European Royal and Noble families. Estimates range from circa € 3.000 up to circa € 80.000.

One of the highlights is a monumental painting by Hendrik van Minderhout, depicting a Levantine Harbour with a galley and a man of war coming in to anchor. The oil on canvas of 162.5 by 242.5 cm is estimated €80.000 - 120.000. Hendrik van Minderhout (Rotterdam 1632–1696 Antwerp) was a painter of seascapes who was primarily active in Bruges and Antwerp. His paintings, usually large views of seas and harbours, often depict exotic places with classical ornaments. His compositions are dominated by exotic and lavishly dressed figures on a quay in the foreground, with large Dutch vessels on open water set against a gold coloured sky. There is no record that Van Minderhout ever spent time at the Mediterranean or Levantine coast. He possibly took his subjects from prints and from the work of artists such as Nicolaes Berchem and Jan Both. Originally a native of Rotterdam, Minderhout settled in Bruges where he became a member of the guild in 1663. Upon entering the guild he submitted a marine painting that was displayed as companion piece to Rubens' work that hung in the Salle d'Académie. Later he moved to Antwerp, where his oriental seaports must have appealed to patrons who made their fortune in the overseas trade.

Another impressive painting is a large Portrait Historié of a young lady in the guise of a nymph Jean Raoux (Montpellier 1677 - 1734 Paris). The nymph is depicted near a source with the goddess Diana in a landscape in the background. Portraits in the costume of mythological, biblical or other historical figures were very fashionable in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Raoux's paintings on classical and literary themes display the cheerful atmosphere of the fêtes galantes invented by Jean-Antoine Watteau. Raoux painted numerous portraits, both conventional formal representations and women as mythological figures. In his smaller portraits and genre subjects, he often treated light in a manner reminiscent of Rembrandt van Rijn. His Portrait Historié, an oil on canvas of 203.5 by 152.5 cm signed and dated I. Raoux. F./ 1729, is estimated €50.000-70.000.

Very rare is a Russian porcelain plate made by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory during the reign of Tsar Nicholas I. The plate, painted with Cossack soldiers, is marked with the imperial cipher for Nicholas I and indistinctly signed V.Stoletov and dated 1840. In 1825 Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) suppressed the Decembrist Revolt, an attempt to overthrow the monarch; most of the revolutionaries came from aristocratic families. The Tsar commemorated this by commissioning in 1827 the Imperial Porcelain Factory to produce a set of military plates for sixty place settings, decorated with military scenes. Celebrated for their superlative quality, these military plates were highly sought after. The Tsar presented King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (his father-inlaw) a set of over 200 plates that were to be framed and incorporated into the design of the new pavilion in the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. The Imperial Porcelain factory continued to produce the plates until the reign of Nicholas II but the lustre of those made in the Nicholas I period was never to be surpassed (€30.000 - 50.000).

The sale offers a fine selection of works of art and objets-de-vertu. A fine, probably French, Empire ladies' nécessaire from circa 1820 covered with mother-of-pearl and engraved with flowers and floral festoons contains a mirror, an inkwell and a sander plus various tools for writing, sewing, perfume flasks and a music box. According to the label affixed to the underside, this nécessaire comes from the estate of the Princess Lieven. Dorothea von Lieven (1784-1857), born von Benckendorff, was the wife of the Russian general Christoph Prince von Lieven, Russian ambassador in London 1812 to 1834. The Tsarina made Dorothea Princess von Lieven ‘Dame of Honour’ in 1828. Later she moved to Paris and her Salon in the former Hôtel Talleyrand served as a meeting point for European diplomats (estimate €15.000 - 20.000).

Remarkable is a suite of hunting jewellery, a necklace, a ring, a pair of earrings and a Piaget wristwatch with strap of similar design, set with tsavorite garnet, diamond and stag's teeth. Parures of this type are known in Germany as "Hirschgrandl Jagdschmuck". The "grandeln", the rare eye-teeth of some stags, are highly sought after for hunting trophy jewellery. The suite is the result of three generations collecting and assembling deer hunting trophies of the finest quality. A comparable set of hunting jewellery, a present of Emperor Wilhelm II to his wife Augusta Victoria, is presently on display in the "Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum" in Munich (estimate €20.000 - 25.000).

A cape of ermine cape - symbol of purity and honour only to be worn by members of highest aristocracy - belonged to Queen Maria Therese of Bavaria. Her happy marriage with Prince Ludwig of Bavaria resulted in thirteen children. They ascended the throne of Bavaria in 1913 when Maria Therese was 64 years old. Only five years later, when they celebrated their Golden Wedding, Ludwig was forced to abdicate. His queen died that same day leaving a shattered Ludwig behind. Maria Theresia can be seen wearing the ermine cape on several photographs. One shows her in a regal pose, the cape loosely draped over her shoulders, the lace spilling in folds over her arm and silk dress. When the Munich-born painter Walther was commissioned to paint the couple in 1914, she is portrayed with the cape, this time however seen from the back, the ermine emphasizing her stature. The muff, in the same lot, was owned by Marie Sophie of Bavaria, a younger sister of Elisabeth Empress of Austria (known as 'Sisi'). (estimate €1.500-2.500).

The Dutch Museum Van Loon is one of the most attractive museums of Amsterdam. Based in an authentic, doublesized canal house, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former inhabitants, the prominent Amsterdam family Van Loon. Their history is closely intertwined with that of Amsterdam; several Van Loons held important positions as city-mayors. At present the Museum has the unique opportunity to acquire the coach house in their garden (which is not part of the museum) and reunite it with the museum. The Van Loon family now offers part of their private collection for sale, including furniture, services and sculpture, to create funds for this unique project.

Coaches are also part of this sale. Very attractive is a 19th century Viennese 'vis à-vis' wickerwork coach, to be drawn by two horses. The coach is painted black, the woodwork painted red and trimmed in black, (166 cm. high, 340 cm. long, estimate €4.000 - 5.000).

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