Standing tall among Paris many architectural jewels, the Hôtel Lambert is a palatial private house, built in the early 1640s and decorated by the artistic visionaries behind Versailles. Following a painstaking and sympathetic restoration by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani and his immediate family, the Hôtel Lambert was returned to its former glory and filled with furniture and objects whose provenance, craftsmanship and academic significance matched that of the prestigious setting resulting in one of the finest private collections of decorative arts ever assembled.
This week in Paris, Sothebys
is offering the sumptuous contents of the collection across five live auctions, and an online sale, having welcomed just under 4,000 visitors to its galleries to view the treasures since the exhibition opened on 6 October.
This evening, the first volume of the auction series showcased timeless masterpieces from across the breadth of the collection, offering Old Master paintings, Savonnerie carpets, Gobelins tapestries, incredible gilt-bronze mounted porcelain, celebrated silver, masterpieces of majolica, ébénisterie and menuiserie from the most talented craftsmen. The auction totalled 46,782,980, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of 22,775,000-39,300,000.
Testament to the thoughtful approach behind the creation of the collection, and the museum-quality calibre of the pieces, a number of tonights lots were acquired by institutions under the French Right of Preemption*. Fittingly, given the Hôtel Lamberts longstanding and intertwined history with the French palace, two of the top lots of the evening were acquired by the Château de Versailles:
A Pair of Louis XIV Marquetry Pedestals by André-Charles Boulle, delivered for The Grand Dauphin at Versailles in 1684. The large octagonal pedestals were historically exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, selling today for 1,366,000 (est. 500,000-1,000,000).
A jewel-like Louis XVI guéridon by Adam Weisweiler, circa 1784, supplied by the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre, which sold for 504,000, more than two and a half times its estimate.
Additional lots that were preempted were a Royal Louis XIV Savonnerie Carpet designed for the Grande Galerie, Palais du Louvre (to the Mobilier National) and a gilt-bronze mounted Nevers faïence pot-pourri vase (to Sèvres - Manufacture et Musée nationaux).
The top lot of the evening was a pair of royal Louis XVI giltwood marquises, by Jean-Baptiste II Tilliard, circa 1784 - an extraordinary discovery and ranking among the most important examples of Louis XVI seat furniture to have survived. Having formed part of a set ordered by Louis XVs daughters, Mesdames, for the Salon dEté of their private chateau de Bellevue, they sold for 3,665,000 (est. 800,000-1,200,000) - a record for a pair of 18th-century French seats.
An important Louis XIV marquetry commode, circa 1710-1720, attributed to BVRB represented the very best of French furniture production. The magnificent commode, formerly in the collection of French statesman Jean-Baptiste Machault dArnouville, sold for 2,213,000 (est. 1,000,000-1,500,000).
Madame de Pompadours Candelabra: A Pair of Gilt-Bronze Mounted Chinese Blanc de Chine Porcelain Three-Light à Cigognes Candelabra, circa 1750, sold for 478,800 (est. 200,000-400,000).
Catherine the Greats Silver Service: A prestigious neoclassical tureen from a magnificent personal service commissioned by Catherine II of Russia sold for 1,184,500 (est. 700,000-1,000,000).
Coco Chanels Screen: An eleven-leaf screen by José María Sert, 'Vision de Naples', circa 1923, sold for 756,000 (est. 300,000-600,000).
Jan Sanders van Hemessens Portrait of a bearded gentleman - formerly in the collection of William, Prince of Orange, later William II of the Netherlands, sold for 1,184,500.
A portrait of the first Bourbon king, Henri IV, by Frans Pourbus the Younger - in the collection of the Famille de France (the French royal family) until 2015 - sold for 327,600, almost tripling its estimate. A second painting by the artist, depicting Louis XIII, King of France, also exceeded its estimate to bring 327,600.
Further highlights included:
An extraordinarily rare set of six Italian pricket candlesticks, dating to early 17th century Naples, sparked competitive bidding to bring 1,184,500 (est. 300,000-500,000). They are most likely the only complete set of rock crystal altar candlesticks which has survived to the present day.
A number of unique mounted vases flourished in the sale, including a gilt-bronze mounted Chinese celadon porcelain vase, which sold for 1,608,000 (est. 500,000-1,000,000).
A Louis XIV marquetry console table, circa 1675-1680, attributed to André-Charles Boulle - incorporating both floral wood marquetry and inlay in various metals - sold for 1,729,000 (est. 700,000-1,000,000).
The sale opened with a set of six panels painted by Eustache Le Sueur, one of the founders of the French Academy of Painting, sold for 252,000 (est. 50,000-70,000).
The auction series will continue tomorrow with Volume II: Kunstkammer, dedicated to the princely spirit of aristocracy and the patrons of the Renaissance, with an exquisite selection of rock crystal, enamels and impressive German silver-gilt objects.
Highlights still to come include:
A Limoges grisaille painted enamel oval dish with The Judgement of Moses, attributed to Pierre Reymond (1513-1584), circa 1570-1575 (est. 200,000-300,000) - formerly in the collections of both Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent.
The Rothschild Jewelled Silver-Gilt Casket: The large octagonal casket, Hans Jakob Mair, the silver reliefs, Lorenz I Biller, Augsburg, circa 1663 (est. 200,000-300,000).
The Duke & Duchess of Windsors Carved Giltwood Canapé à Chassis attributed to Nicolas Heurtaut, Louis XV, circa 1755 (est. 80,000-120,000).
A Jewelled Gold and Hardstone Steinkabinett Bonbonniere, Johann Christian Neuber, Dresden, circa 1780-1785 (est. 180,000-250,000).
Proceeds from the sales will support The Al Thani Collection Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose core mission is to advance and promote art and culture. This objective is principally delivered through public art initiatives including sponsorships, museum projects, the staging of exhibitions, an international loans programme, academic lectures and academic publications honouring artistic achievement across a rich diversity of cultures.