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Sotheby's to offer an opulent private collection of precious European goldsmith's work
A parcel-gilt silver shell-form wine cup, Prague, circa 1630, 20cm long est. £60,000-90,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s London will offer an unrivalled private collection of precious Central European silver and goldsmith’s art in the single-owner sale “Dr. Heller’s Lexicon” on 4th December 2012. Over 200 works, spanning four centuries – from the 16th to the 20th - from the collection of the eminent radiologist and art historian, Dr. Dr. István Heller, will be offered for sale. These exceptional pieces originate from the most famous workshops and centres of Central Europe, including Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nuremberg and “city of goldsmiths”, Augsburg (80 pieces), but also from some of the rarer ancillary centres of Halberstadt, Olmutz, Riga and Rostock. Amassed by Dr. Dr. Heller over some 50 years, this unique and scholarly collection is estimated to realise in excess of £1.8m.

Dr. Dr. István Heller commented: “As a collector, I am fascinated by both the aesthetics and history of a work of art. Both can be discovered in the Goldsmiths’s work in high concentration. Beyond that city- and master marks enable a precision of research, I am used as a physician.”

Professor Dr. Ulrich Schneider, Art historian, Art Advice, continues: ”Dr. Heller's Lexicon is not an art collection in a conventional way. It is a scientific lifetime achievement, recorded in major publications. For the history of the goldsmith’s work this is a great step forward.”

Cynthia Harris, Head of Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s London commented: “Dr. Heller’s Lexicon is a unique, beguiling amalgam of the epic, Central European imagination, and of the medical and the scientific, something to appeal both to the hearts and to the minds of collectors. Each treasured piece- amassed over 50 years - is testament to an extraordinary clarity of collecting vision.

“Dr Heller’s Lexicon” was born with his first purchase, 50 years ago in Frankfurt, of a historicist Messkelch from Hanau – paid for in three instalments from a watchmaker. Moving to Rotterdam, where for 30 years he was Chief Consultant at the Sint Fransiscus Gasthius Clinic, Dr Heller began collecting in grand style, seeking advice from the noted silver specialist, Dr Johan ter Molen. Almost 50 Dutch examples of goldsmith’s work represent a major entry in “Dr Heller’s Lexicon”.

Highlights include a shell-shaped drinking goblet (estimate: £60,000-90,000) from the 17th century court of Rudolf II in Prague, on whose elegant leaf stem Gábor Fürst of Siebenbürgen once rested his redoubtable thumb.

A Hungarian parcel-gilt silver tankard, Hans (Johannes) Henssel, Hermannstadt, dated 1605, 24.3cm high, is estimated to realise £40,000-70,000.

A large German parcel-gilt silver figural candlestick in the form of Venus and Amor, Andreas I Wickert (Wickerd), Augsburg, 1652-1653, 42cm high, is estimated at £40,000-60,000.

Estimated to realise £30,000-50,000, the sale will offer a German silver-gilt double cup, Balduin Drentwett, Augsburg, circa 1600, 34cm high.

A Hungarian parcel-gilt silver canister, by Andreas Schissler, Neusohl, 1670, 16.7cm high is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

A set of six German parcel-gilt silver tumbler cups, Jürgen Richels, Hamburg, circa 1670, 7.2-5.2cm high, is also estimated at £30,000-50,000.

A pair of Hungarian silver-gilt octagonal dishes, Andreas Eckhardt Hermannstadt,
circa 1658, 24.1cm diameter are estimated to realise £20,000-30,000.

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