Auctions | October 31, 2011

Christie's 500 Years of Decorative Arts

London - The first of the 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe sales of the season, The Opulent Eye, saw the top lot 'Paul et Virginie', a late 19th century life-size Italian marble sculpture, triple its original estimate and achieve £313,250 on Thursday 22 September 2011. The auction offered a selection of 238 elegant decorative objects, furniture, clocks and sculpture and witnessed the market’s taste for distinctive and collection-defining investment pieces and objets d’art. Christie’s is delighted to announce the rest of the 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe season in London with two anticipated sales in the coming months.

500 Years Decorative Arts Europe: The English Collector
Thursday, 3 November 2011 - Christie’s London King Street
The English Collector sale will offer a wide range of English works from the 17th century onwards, with notably traditional items from the Georgian to Victorian periods, and a large group of tapestries. Highlights include an English historical tapestry of the battle of Solebay Mortlake, circa 1688, by Thomas Poyntz, a design attributed to William Van De Velde (estimate: £70,000-100,000 - illustrated above). This is one of two magnificent Solebay tapestries offered in the sale, which represent the only two panels that remain in private hands from two sets of six royal tapestries each depicting the sea-battle at Solebay on 28 May 1672, where the English fleet collaborated with the French fleet against the Dutch. The series was originally commissioned by King James II from William Van de Velde (d. 1707) in 1672. Another important work is a pair of George III polychrome decorated and parcel-gilt satinwood secrétaire bookcases, circa 1790, attributed to London cabinet-maker George Brookshaw, and estimated at £200,000-300,000 (illustrated page 1). These cabinets, featuring landscapes and architectural vignettes painted on copper, were probably supplied in the early 1790’s to Colonel Sir Mark Wood for Piercefield Park, Monmouthshire.

500 Years Decorative Arts Europe: The European Connoisseur
Thursday, 8 December 2011 - Christie’s London King Street
A beautifully executed portrait of the Homeric hero Ulysses, in the form of a rectangular parcel-gilt polychrome enamel plaque of Ulysses by Léonard Limousin (1505-1577), produced circa 1540, will be offered for sale in December (estimate: £80,000-120,000). It is part of a series of fifteen known portraits which almost certainly once formed part of a single decorative scheme (illustrated below right). The series comprises portraits of pairs of ill-fated lovers from Homeric and Ovidian mythology; including Aeneas and Dido, Hippolytus and Phaedra, Paris and Helen. Ulysses was most likely paired either with his long suffering wife Penelope or his one-time captor and lover Calypso. The sale has a strong focus on works of art from the late 17th and 18th centuries and includes several private collections of French and Italian furniture, one of which is led by an impressive Louis XV ormolu-mounted amaranth & bois satine commode, by Jacques Dubois, circa 1750 and estimated at £80,000-120,000 (illustrated below left).