Christie's announces highlights of the Exceptional Sale in Paris

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Christie's announces highlights of the Exceptional Sale in Paris
Aiguière et son bassin en vermeil du service de Charlotte-Aglaé d’Orléans, duchesse de Modène, Attribuée à Nicolas Besnier, Paris, 1719. Service de toilette de Charlotte-Aglaé d’Orléans, duchesse de Modène, 1700-1761. Estimate : 800 000 / 1 200 000 €. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

PARIS.- Christie’s presents two auctions, The Exceptional Sale on the 27 November and The Collector – Le Goût français on the 28 November, both dedicated to classical and decorative arts. They will include a many works coming from prestigious provenances and collections, from different periods highlighted by the creator Elie Top.

“I owe a lot to fashion. Because without Chanel, I wouldn’t have known anything about Verdura, Iribe or Sert, without Karl Lagerfeld, nothing about Jean Fouquet, Riesener or Biedermeier, without Yves Saint Laurent nothing about Boivin, Dunand or Michel Frank… So when I discovered the objects to offer by Christie’s, an imaginary round of yesterday's rivals, of former enemies has formed, their tutelary shadow has resurfaced and made my choices obvious: this selection [...] is a tribute to their teaching and their style. They were my university, my evening classes, my favorite school.”

Evoked by Eli Top’s drawing, the “Sunflowers” jacket created by Yves Saint Laurent counts among the most iconic pieces of the Exceptional Sale. Made in the House’s ateliers, the jacket was created based on the sumptuous Lesage embroideries, lined with yellow silk satin and inspired by the masterpiece Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by van Gogh. This tailor suit is one of two examples ordered and made in the ateliers of the Couture House, becoming, back then, one of the most expensive Haute Couture pieces in the world. (estimate: €80,000-120,000).

Coming from a prestigious private european collection, the last royal toiletry service from the regency period
The Goldsmiths' Art department is thrilled to propose in the Exceptional Sale the most complete and important toiletry service ever gifted to a girl in France. Among the twelve toiletry services identified as belonging to the Orléans Family, the one of the Duchess of Modena is by far the most complete one and the only one that escaped the royals and revolutionary melts. This set is composed of 11 pieces estimated around 3 million euros.

These seven lots of the toiletry service gifted to Charlotte-Aglaé d’Orléans (1700-1761), Louis XIV’s granddaughter, duchess of Orléans when she got engaged to the duke of Modena, François-Marie III d’Este (1698-1780), are the last witnesses of this stylistic period considered as the most prestigious one in the French Art History. It is also the most important made by one of the greatest goldsmiths, Nicolas Besnier, guardian of the legacy of Louis XIV’s official goldsmiths, Claude Ballin and Nicolas Delaunay. The sudden death of Ballin led to Delaunay being appointed Royal goldsmith finishing Ballin’s ongoing commissions, especially the famous gold charger centred with the royal arms. Delaunay’s design shows ornaments such as cartouches, masks, vases, helmets, dolphins and ‘souffleurs’ all very similar to those used on Charlotte-Aglaé’s dressing service, showing the relevance and continuity of Ballin’s decorative vocabulary. With this service, Besnier combines Ballin’s style with its straight overlapping borders of motifs with that of Delaunay characterised by a softening of the lines and a taste for compartmentalising decoration to create his own version by multiplying and complicating motifs to create a sense of opulence and richness.

This new style promoted by Besnier, although reacting against the austerity of the Louis XIV style, does retain a certain correctness though still far from the capriciousness of the Louis XV style already suggested in the cover of the ewer. We will mention this beautiful vermeil square, estimated between €800,000 and 1,200,000 or an ewer jug and its vermeil basin, which counterpart created for Charlotte-Aglaé d’Orléans is in the Louvre. (estimates : €800,000 and 1,200,000).

Anoter highlight of The Exceptional Sale comes from the great pianist Alfred Cortot whose collection was successfully sold at Christie’s on the 7 October. It is a rare portrait of the young prodigee, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, aged 13, attributed to the Veronese Master Giambettino Cignaroli. It’s one of only four representations of the compositor painted as he was still alive and in private hands. It is precisely documented in a letter from Leopold Mozart to his wife dated from the 6-7 January 1770. The portrait was rediscovered in 1865 by Leopold von Sonnleithner, Schubert’s and Beethoven’s great friend and patron. Its popularity grew throughout the 19th century, partly thanks to the large dissemination of a print by Lazare Sichling in which he took the picture of the model and placed it in an oval format, withdrawing the objects accompanying him.

Coming from the collection Un hôtel particulier à Genève. Architecture et décor par François-Joseph Graf
Coming from the collection Un hôtel particulier à Genève. Architecture et décor par François-Joseph Graf auctioned on the same day, the Decorative Arts department selected exceptional pieces, like this specular pair of monumental enamel vases made by the Parisian house Barbedienne, an important house of the second half of the 19th century (estimate: €100,000-200,000). Their exceptional size (145 cm high) as well as the richness of their stylized floral decoration recall this house’s inventiveness, becoming a pioneer company through its techniques at a time when creations were rewarded during Universals Exhibitions.

Also from the same collection, two remarkable works by Rodin will be sold: L’Age d’airain and Le baiser.

The first one is particularly well documented and the result of a close collaboration between the artist and his client, Maurice Masson, Parisian banker and collector who directly ordered him this bronze. This sculpture is the first one of this size (104,4 cm), cast in 1904 and sold the year. Indeed, Masson payed attention to the originality and exclusivity of the works he acquired from Rodin. This work was therefore numbered “1EE” to his request. This cast is extremely rare since only 25 casts of this medium-sized model have been identified. Indeed, Rodin wrote to Masson in a letter dated from the 20 June 1905 : “Sir. Regarding the Age d’airain, the one you have is the first one of all, I made another one for one of my friends, these are the only two existing ones right now. I can confirm that there will only be very few (casts) of it.” (estimate : €1,000,000-1,500,000).

The French genius celebrated by François-Joseph Graf can also be seen in the choice of this delicate terracotta group representing a Bacchae made by the sculptor Claude Michel, also known as Clodion, who came from a great lineage of Lorraine sculptors. Known for moulding gracious terracotta statues of nymphs, Bacchae and satyrs inspired by the Greek Antiquity and mythology, numerous collectors back then bought his works, including the Prince de Conti, the duke de Chaulnes and the duchesse de Bourbon (estimate : €300,000-500,000).

Among other exceptional pieces, we will also mention this Louis XIV trunk attributed to André-Charles Boulle and coming from the legendary collection of Léonce de Vogüé (1805-1877). From a beautiful original manufacturing, this trunk has high quality bronzes realized by Boulle. This absolute treasure is estimated between €100,000 and €200,000.

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