1780s compiled volume of autograph manuscript of nine symphonies by Mozart
1987 SOLD for £ 2.5M by Sotheby's
1775-1785 Artistic Marquetry for King Louis XVI
2008 SOLD 1.7 M£ including premium
Since the beginning of the year, we saw some French furniture difficult to sell or sadly unsold at far lower heights. Our table, however, has some qualities that allow it to expect a high price.
With its fine scenery of flowers inlaid in colored wood marquetry, decorated with bronze and high perched on his tapering legs, it belongs to a group of furniture for which it is known that Jean Henri Riesener realized them specifically for the king, between 1775 and 1785. It is therefore a true royal Louis XVI furniture, although this specimen was perhaps kept by Riesener for his personal use. As it is often the case, the interior fittings of the three drawers to make it a writing table are no longer in their original condition.
Leaving France after the revolution of 1848, this table was then entrusted to the care of the English aristocracy and was displayed in the most important collection of the history of European furniture, that of Mentmore Towers.
In the same sale will be presented the exceptional potpourri in Qianlong porcelain mounted in bronze during Louis XV reign that I previously discussed (Lot 64).
POST SALE COMMENT
At least again a great price for a French piece of furniture of the eighteenth century, but it is a price level that can only be reached by royal models:
£ 1.7 million charge included.
1782 Venetian Impressions
2014 SOLD 9.9 M£ including premium
Canaletto dies in 1768. Guardi's art gets more freedom. He now waives the strict topographic truth while maintaining an extreme detail in the monuments and an intense and picturesque animation.
Around 1780 Guardi loves to show Venice in its greatest splendor when the bright sun of late morning reveals all the warm shades of the color of the stone. The term 'Impressionism' sometimes used to describe the style of his later period is not a reference to the future French school but to his desire to restore the atmosphere of the place, anticipating the art of Constable.
The view of Venice for sale by Christie's in London on July 8 has all these qualities. The magnificent panorama from the Bacino di San Marco includes the Piazzetta and is centered on the Doge's Palace. This oil on canvas 70 x 102 cm is estimated £ 8M.
The paintings by Canaletto and Guardi are not dated, but fortunately for the chronologist the grand tours of their wealthy English clients provide some accurate information. This one was purchased between 1782 and 1784 by the 5th Earl of Shaftesbury.
POST SALE COMMENT
This view of Venice from one of the best periods of Francesco Guardi was sold for £ 9.9 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's, including an interesting comparison in the treatment of the surface of water between this painting and a view of Venice by Monet.
1783 A Real Guadagnini for Rostropovich
2018 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Arrived in 1771 in Turin which will be his fourth and last residence, Guadagnini agrees from 1773 to 1777 to work exclusively for Cozio who was a great admirer of Stradivari. At this time Guadagnini adds the information "Cremonensis alumnus Antonii Stradivari" on his labels. His cellos of this period are short, without loss of sound thanks to a modification of the shape which increases the surface of wood in the cavity.
Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the greatest performers of the cello. For his first success, the gold medal at the Soviet Young Musicians Competition in 1945, he had played a Guadagnini.
In exile from 1974, Rostropovich had appraised the cello of his first glory and learned that its label was apocryphal and that the instrument had nothing to do with a Guadagnini. He is therefore on the watch to acquire an excellent Guadagnini. He will wait a quarter of a century.
The Guadagnini cello bought by Rostropovitch in 2000 is from the best period : made in Turin in 1783 three years before the death of the luthier, it is one of the last instruments of the master and has kept intact its dark intense red-brown varnish typical of that period. It is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 28, lot 42.
Take an unprecedented glimpse into the lives and loves of two of Russia’s greatest musical legends. Visit our London galleries to view the private collection of #Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya or click ahead to see highlights https://t.co/tDnS2NOICK #SothebysRussia pic.twitter.com/ymPge0oA5s— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 23, 2018
1786 Xintian Shuren Jade Seal
2010 SOLD for HK$ 122M including premium by Sotheby's
1786 Pietra-dura Commode stamped by (widow) Carlin and Weisweiler
1999 SOLD for FF 46M including premium by Christie's
1786 Fish in Water
2019 SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium
On March 20 in New York, Christie's sells a fish bowl or washer made in the archaic style in carved jade for the Qianlong emperor, lot 806 estimated $ 1M.
The base of the bowl displays a poem incised in 40 characters arranged in three concentric circles around the imperial mark. It is signed with two seals of Qianlong as Son of Heaven and as Everyday Assiduous, and dated from the autumn of his bingwu year corresponding to 1786 CE. The most erudite of the emperors details in his poem the cultural interest of such replicas.
Its stone is pale celadon slightly spotted with white, approaching the color of the water preserved for the emperor. With or without water in the bowl, this hue brings onto the jade figures the illusion of the natural element of a real fish.
The emperor indicates that these fish in high relief are in the Han style, different from the vessels of the Zhou. Modernity is not essential but it is useful because jade does not have the poor taste of bronze.
Measuring 25 cm in diameter, this bowl raised on five small feet is the largest of only three known examples. One of them, 18 cm in diameter, is inscribed with the same poem and same date. The smallest, 13 cm, is not inscribed.
1786 Automaton and Serinette
2015 SOLD for $ 2.53M including premium
His workshop started in the 1770s the theme of the bird cage that will deserve a great success. The song of the bird is obtained by a miniature mechanical organ named serinette with a unique note per pipe. Six pipes are enough to provide the illusion of a high variety.
In the middle of the next decade, Pierre Jaquet-Droz is associated with his son Henri-Louis and with Jean-Frédéric Leschot and engages the best mechanicians of Geneva including Henri Maillardet and Jacob Frisard. The trend to miniaturization increases and Frisard invents around 1784 the box that throws out the songbird at opening and folds it back at closing.
Success invites for the diversification of models and the integration of these mechanisms in enamelled goldware of highest luxury. The Chinese imperial court is interested in these innovations. From London, the clever entrepreneur James Cox maintains trade relations with the Far East.
On June 11 in New York, Sotheby's sells a sumptuous automaton with an articulated singing bird made by Jaquet-Droz, Leschot and Frisard circa 1786 and sold to Cox in 1787, certainly for the Chinese market.
This piece 16 cm high has the shape of a scent flask with its stopper and also incorporates a watch, as it was often the case in this range of products. The size of the bird, 12 mm high, demonstrates the extreme miniaturization achieved by Jaquet-Droz at the time of Frisard.
This automaton is estimated $ 800K, lot 104. It is the first of three Swiss mechanical wonders operated by Sotheby's in the video below:
1787 Doblons for New York
2014 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
Meanwhile, business transactions use large foreign gold coins, dominated by those from the Spanish colonies in South America. Banks and grand merchants are the only users of such coins. To deal against counterfeiting, they have their gold checked by specialists, the assayers, who put their own punch on the controlled pieces.
Ephraim Brasher is a goldsmith operating in New York City where he is a neighbor and supplier of George Washington, the President, known as a great lover of silverware. Brasher appreciates that he can play a role in the fight against the monetary anarchy, but his offer in early 1787 to carry out a copper coinage for the state of New York is rejected.
Brasher is an assayer. He knows well the doblon of Lima, a large gold coin worth 8 escudos and weighing 26 grams, whose name is anglicized to doubloon. Circa 1786, he produces in his workshop some Lima-type doubloons which are not fakes because their gold content is correct.
Brasher changes his theme in 1787 for producing doubloons and half doubloons to the use of New York identified under the Latin name Nova Eboraca. The pieces are stamped with his initials, EB, with two possible positions on the wing and on the breast of the eagle. Although their centering and cutting are awkward, they are beautiful coins whose design is sharp enough to discourage counterfeiting.
The only known Brasher doubloon with the mark on the breast was sold for $ 7.395 million in a private sale in December 2011, although its condition is only graded AU50 by PCGS.
On January 9 in Orlando, Heritage sells one from only two units in mint condition from an overall surviving total of six wing marked doubloons. The coin for sale is graded MS63 by PCGS. Here is the link to the catalog.
The coin for sale had been the first Brasher doubloon that was described in the nineteenth century. It was at that time in the estate of an important dealer importer named Gilmor also known as an early collector of coins.
This mercantile provenance strengthens the argument that the Brasher doubloon, earliest gold coin made for circulation in the United States, was designed to supersede the foreign currencies in large commercial operations. Other assumptions are however not rejected such as a promotional operation or a demonstration of know how.
POST SALE COMMENT
This great coin was sold for $ 4.6M including premium.
PRIVATE SALE IN 2018 :
1787 Washington promotes the Spirit of the American Constitution
2009 SOLD 3.2 M$ including premium
George Washington, the hero of the War of Independence, is one of the most active proponents of this reform. In a letter written to his nephew on November 9, he explains that power is not given to people but will always be with the people.
This autograph letter of four large pages is presented for auction by Christie's in New York on December 4. We anticipate a price equivalent to the major political manuscripts of Lincoln. It is estimated $ 1.5 million.
I would not discuss the U.S. Constitution without mentioning the great legislator who designed the mechanism for implementing such a political masterpiece. His name was James Madison. His unsignificant presidential output undervalues him in the American memory, and it is a pity. The U.S. Constitution is still in force today without fundamental changes, while the French Revolution, which began two years later, is mostly leaving an emotional memory.
POST SALE COMMENT
As I expected (or better: as I hoped in the preparation of my auction barometer) this letter of Washington met the prices of the two political manuscripts of Lincoln recently sold (with less than 10% accuracy range).
$ 3.4 million including premium at Sotheby's in New York on April 3, 2008, and the same price at Christie's in New York on February 12, 2009.
For Washington, yesterday: $ 3.2 million including premium.
See the image of that lot, shared before the sale by AuctionPublicity.
1787 Glory and Shame in the Neoclassical Nude
2016 SOLD for $ 2.63M including premium
One of his most important works is a pair of paintings made to order for an anonymous Russian client. It is attested by a letter from Mauro Gandolfi who desired to find the preparatory drawings made by his father.
The patron is now identified with a strong presumption as a prince Yusupov who was ambassador to Turin and had a great collection of modern paintings. The appointment of this aristocrat as an honorary member of the Accademia Clementina in Bologna in 1787 provides a plausible date to the commission executed by Gandolfi.
The two oil paintings of the same size 148 x 170 cm resurfaced separately. Their processing of the theme of love is in opposition.
Diana was sold by Christie's for $ 4.1 million including premium on January 27, 2010 over a lower estimate of $ 800K. The chaste goddess is a vigilante refusing an amnesty to Callisto naked by the nymphs to reveal her pregnancy.
The Birth of Venus is the classic episode of fertility and hope. The fully grown newborn goddess rises out of her shell to entice her surrounding. This painting is estimated $ 2.5M for sale by Christie's in New York on April 14, lot 115
1788 The Ambassador from Mysore
2019 SOLD for $ 7.2M including premium
The arrival in Paris in July 1788 of three ambassadors from Mysore with a suite of about thirty people is a sensational and picturesque event. Great enemy of the English, the Sultan of Mysore was preparing a new war and hoped to be helped by France. The sumptuous Muslim clothes of his diplomats ensure their credibility.
Elisabeth remembers opportunely that one of her earliest ambitions had been to be a history painter. With the indispensable support of King Louis XVI, she obtains the authorization to paint the portraits of these exotic lords.
On January 30 in New York, Sotheby's sells the full length portrait of the leader of the delegation, lot 48 estimated $ 4M.
This oil on canvas 226 x 136 cm shows the white bearded man holding an oriental sword with curved blade. This composition is reminiscent of the portrait of the young Polynesian prince Omai by Reynolds in 1776. The exotic traveler is shown life-size, standing in front of a landscape in a counter-dive view that increases his dignity.
The image shared by Wikimedia is trimmed on the left and lower edges.
1789 Creation of American Freedoms
2012 SOLD 9.8 M$ including premium
The founders of the nation are now trying to redefine the delicate balance between the executive and legislative branches while considering also the need for autonomy of each state. Their work is outstanding, since the system defined between 1787 and 1789 is still the foundation of the US law.
George Washington is one of the key figures in this success. On June 22 in New York, Christie's sells his personal copy of the main acts of Congress. This collection gathers the Constitution, various acts including the creation of major Executive Departments, and the first draft of twelve articles known as the Bill of Rights for an effective and pragmatic definition of freedoms.
This collection was a working document for the new President. It is also a much valuable autograph: signed on the title page, it includes handwritten notes in the margin of several acts.
This collection of 53 sheets 30 x 19 cm assembled in 1789 in a binding probably made in the same year remains in excellent condition. It is difficult to predict the price of such a treasure, but the auction house tries an estimate: $ 2M to 3M. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
US people know to recognize their historical documents of great importance. This extraordinary witness of the birth of the Constitution was sold $ 9.8 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared before sale on YouTube from Fox News :