GENEVA.- Piguet Auction House
announces the sale of the entire contents of Aigue-Marine Villa, home of the Molly de Balkany Collection. In its beautiful setting on the banks of Lake Geneva, the dwelling holds almost 1000 lots, all to be sold at auction with no reserve prices (500 of which will be sold through a silent auction). The sales will take place on Saturday 6 May and have a global estimate of CHF 1.3-1.8 million (roughly 1.2 to 1.7 million).
Following the success of the Gingins castle sale in 2013 welcoming 4,500 visitors and the Hauteville Manor sale in 2015 which attracted almost 11,000, Piguet Auction House will organise a third country house sale, confirming its place as leader in Switzerland for this type of auction.
Villa Aigue Marine sits in an enchanting spot. Hidden behind a thick layer of wisteria, the house is surrounded by gardens not dissimilar to those of Villa Borghese and boasts fabulous views across Lake Geneva. The interiors are characterised by exhuberant decoration and the subtle marriage between souvenirs from afar, important pieces of Empire furniture, paintings, fine silverware, sculptures, jewellery and the decorative arts. The Molly de Balkany collection is a reflection of its owner: refined and adventurous.
Bernard Piguet, Director and Chief Auctioneer at Piguet Auction House underlines: «It is a great honour to have been chosen by the inheritors to organise this exceptional sale in such an extraordinary setting».
The Villa will open its doors for the very first time on 28, 29 and 30 April for the sale viewing. Members of the public will be able to discover the treasures gathered together by this exceptional woman along with those she inherited from her parents before the auction takes place the following Saturday 6 May.
Molly de Balkany (1928 2015) is the daughter of Aladar Zelinger de Balkany. She also had a brother, Robert de Balkany (1931 2015), whose collection was sold in Paris by Sothebys in 2016 and in London by Christies in 2017. As the first woman property developer in France, Molly de Balkany slowly began to turn her attentions a more authentic life style. She fed her desire for adventure through expeditions with the Tuareg people of the Sahara and fuelled her creativity as a novelist by travelling, going on to publish seven romance novels. Passionate about different world cultures, she formed an ecclectic collection of objects from her travels as well as surrounding herself with the finest furniture from auction houses across Europe. As an informed collector, she united the best artistic creations in paintings, furniture, works of art, silverware and jewellery from 16th to 20th centuries in Aigue-Marine Villa at Prangins in Switzerland, just 15 minutes from Geneva.
Molly de Balkany collected exceptional pieces throughout her entire life. Carefully selected, the objects in her collection clearly show her favouritism for Empire furniture. At Prangins she enjoyed pieces of furniture by the famous cabinet makers, Jacob Frères. Active from the time of Louis XV until the end of the Empire period, the Jacob family are important figures in the history of furniture. George Jacob is said to be the creator of the style of armchair known as fauteuil à La Reine after Marie Antoinette became particularly fond of its form. Molly de Balkany showed the same appreciation for this form by having two Empire living room suites (lots 259 et 266, CHF 15,000 25,000) featuring the armchairs. According to family tradition, the consulate mahogany chest of drawers (lot 261, CHF 8,000 12,000) once belonged to Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, 1st Duke of Parma.
Supplier to King Louis XVI and Emperor Napoleon I, bronze sculptor Thomires work is exemplified by an important ensemble of candelabras and bronzes that illustrate his skill in chasing and working with ormolu. A rare pair of Empire candelabra epitomise these skills, with a similar model being conserved at the Palace of Fontainebleau (lot 291, CHF 30,000 50,000).
In the field of horology, a spectacular and rare mantel clock attributed to Feuchère and featuring Napoleon I in the style of the triumphant Caesar is sure to draw in the spectators. The minute detail in the chasing and gilding is executed to the highest standard and is of exceptional quality (lot 298, CHF 40,000 60,000).
In paintings, it is the Flemmish that stand out with works such as The Harvest Festival by François Verheyden (lot 513, CHF 30,000 50,000) and The Feast of Achelous by the circle of Peter Paul Rubens and Jan I Brueghel (lot 544, CHF 40,000 60,000). In sculpture, a lost-wax casting of a Farnese bull circa 1800 pays tribute to the orginial marble found in the thermal baths of Caracalla in 1546 under Pope Paul III and which today is exhibited in the National Archeological Museum in Naples (lot 212, CHF 5,000 8,000).
The richness displayed in the decorative arts and tableware from the collection hint at the extravagant evening parties held at Aigue-Marine Villa. The table settings, laid with the finest examples of silversmithery and porcelain from 17th to 20th centuries, include over 250 kg in silver platters and trays. A rare and impressive solid gold ewer and basin by Garrard & Co, London, weighing over 5 kg (lot 464, CHF 100,000 150,000), an important silver table centrepiece by Odiot Paris (lot 67, CHF 10,000 15,000) and a William IV silver tankard by Paul Storr, London, 1833 (lot 454, CHF 5,000 8,000) are just a few examples of the elegance and quality employed. Collectors will also discover a fine selection of sculpted ivory tankards (lots 468 to 479, from CHF 5,000 to 8,000 each).
The Country house sale at Aigue-Marine Villa will certainly attract collectors and connoisseurs alike. Almost 1,000 lots will be sold without reserve prices with estimates ranging from CHF 100 to CHF 150,000.