Opulence is an exciting new curated sale format at Christies
which selects furniture and works of art of defined by rarity and artistry with an emphasis on opulence. The sale presents a broad range of luxurious works of art, expertly crafted from precious materials, from Georgian silver candelabra, to gem-set gold boxes and gilt-bronze mounted French furniture and Italian marble statuary. Highlights include an exquisite gold-mounted hardstone Stein-Cabinet bonbonnière by Johann-Christian Neuber leads the sale (£250,000-350,000 Lot 162). A previously unrecorded masterpiece by Neuber, who was famed as court jeweller to Friedrich Augustus III (1750-1827), Elector of Saxony, the box is patterned with a mosaic of prized minerals and hardstones between strips of gold, a technique called Zellen mosaic. The top is set with a micromosaic butterfly attributed to Giacomo Rafaelli of Rome.Highlights also feature a George III silver candelabra commissioned by Thomas Dawson, 1st Viscount Cremorne (1725-1813), from John Wakelin, of such original and fluid design that it could be mistaken for a work by a contemporary maker (£70,000-100,000).
Further highlights feature a silver dinner service (lots 315-322) originally part of the treasury of the Electors of Hanover and which until 1837, formed part of the Royal plate of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain. Lot 317 is a 72 piece table service from the D service of Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover and King George I of Great Britain (1660-1727) which passed by descent in the Royal family of Great Britain and Hanover until the death of King William IV in 1837, when the two kingdoms separated under two monarchs (£30,000-50,000)
From the Count Agusta collection of gold boxes (Lots 14-54) comes this snuff-box of petrified or agatized wood applied with pierced gold cagework with cover depicting Venus imploring Adonis (£40,000-60,000 lot 47). Italian aeronautics manufacturer Agusta was founded in in Samarate, Northern Italy by Count Giovanni Agusta in 1923, who few his frst airplane in 1907. Following Italys defeat in WW2 Forbidden to manufacture aircraft engines, Agusta turned to motorcycle production and became Arguably the greatest team in Grand Prix racing history.
The immense Royal Hanoverian silver collection charts the rise of the Electors of Hanover and refected their increasing wealth and infuence following their succession to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland. In the report of Their Majesties Grand Fete at Windsor Castle in 1805, The Gentlemans Magazine commented that the whole service of plate displayed that night was supposed to be the most magnifcent in Europe. The silver collection had been brought to England via St. Petersburg to prevent it falling into the hands of Napoleons army. The importance of the Royal Hanoverian silver collection is highlighted by the recent re-installation on the Royal Hanover silver in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Museum created a grand bufet, in the style of 17th and 18th century displays, as the centre piece of the Koch Gallery, the grandest, most majestic gallery in the museum. The aim of the museums director Malcom Rogers was to evoke a great hall in a European palace.