NEW YORK, NY.- Christies
will offer the sale of 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe on April 20. The sale includes over 400 lots of furniture, porcelain, works of art, ceramics, tapestries and carpets spanning collecting periods from the Renaissance to the 19th century, with estimates to suit every level. Last falls inaugural sale was highly successful, which demonstrated the strength of this long-established market, and the spring season will once again provide a comprehensive collecting opportunity featuring works of art from private collections, institutions, and a pair of faience greyhounds from property from renowned French designer Hubert de Givenchy.
Classic Chic: An Atlanta Interior by Thomas Britt
This notable collection was formed by the owners along with the celebrated interior designer Thomas Britt, comprising 46 lots ranging from French furniture, decorative objects to modern furnishings. Widely honored and recognized within the design industry, Britt has been selected by Architectural Digest for the AD 100 every year since the awards inception. This collection includes an assortment of neoclassical and modern furnishings and objects in a range of estimates including a group of three Italian porphyry vases (estimate: $8,000-12,000), a Baltic ormolu and cobalt glass twelve-light chandelier, 19th century (estimate: $20,000-40,000), a set of four North Italian beechwood and parcel gilt armchairs, circa 1840 (estimate: $15,000-25,000), and a pair of terracotta Egyptian caryatid lamps (estimate: $3,000-5,000).
Among the exceptional lots is a rare Flemish exotic tapestry, circa 1504-1522 (estimate: $150,000-250,000). This tapestry reflects the contemporary fascination with the exploration of the New World and portrays a charmingly naïve way in which Europeans imagined the East. It depicts ships, figures unloading exotic animals and objects, Royal figures and possibly the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama standing before an architectural setting. From a series known as The Story of Calcutta, sets are known to have been delivered to Philip I of Castile in 1504 and shortly thereafter to Cardinal Wolsey and Emperor Charles V of Spain to adorn their state rooms. Few tapestries of such exotic subjects remain from this period.
The cover lot of the sale is an important gilt-metal, rock-crystal, chalcedony and cameo-mounted coffret à bijoux on stand (estimate: $100,000-150,000). By tradition, this magnificent jewelry casket was reputedly owned by Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria (1837-1898), fondly known to her closest companions as "Sisi" or "Sissi". Of Wittlesbach peerage, Sissi was born under the title of Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie and became an iconic figure in Austrian, Hungarian and German history for her beauty, style, and patriotism. As the wife of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, Sissi was spoiled excessively and was known to indulge her extravagant tastes. This coffret was very likely one of the many gifts bestowed upon the Empress throughout her lifetime.
Intricately designed and exotically appealing is a Chinese Export black and giltlacquer bureau-cabinet, mid 18th century (estimate: $80,000-120,000). Oriental lacquer has been prized in the West for its luminous surface decorated with elaborate designs of Chinese landscapes. With its detailed banded oxbowform scroll base and complex interior sliding doors, this bureau-cabinet demonstrates the success of the Chinese export trade in combining Oriental art with Western forms.
Property from the Detroit Institute of Arts, sold to benefit the acquisitions fund, consists of 10 rugs and carpets. This group is led by an Agra carpet, North India, late 19th century (estimate: $40,000-60,000). The massive size and excellent quality of this carpet demonstrates the full brilliance of 19th century Agra carpet weaving. Given the enormous scale of the carpet, it is plausible that it was commissioned for British nobility during the colonial period.
Further highlights include a monumental ormolu, silvered-bronze and onyx-mounted Sèvres style ivory-ground vase, late 19th century, signed Eug.(ene) Poitevin (estimate: $50,000-70,000); a group of four regency patinated bronze-cut-glass and ormolu candlesticks, early 19th century (estimate: $30,000-50,000); and a rare French polychrome-patinated bronze, brass and onyx automaton timepiece, circa 1890 (estimate: $15,000-25,000).
Proudly featured in the sale is a pair of continental faience life-size white models of greyhounds, late 19th/early 20th century (estimate: $5,000-8,000) from the Private Collection Hubert De Givenchy sold to benefit the Kinkeliba Association* in honor of Audrey Hepburn. The pair of dogs was a gift to Audrey Hepburn from Givenchy for her home in Switzerland. When she passed away, her son gave them to Givenchy in memory of their friendship.