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.
1786 The Master of the New Frontier
2010 SOLD for HK$ 122M including premium by Sotheby's
2019 SOLD for RMB 94M including premium
Belonging to the Qing dynasty of Manchu origin, the Qianlong emperor wants to unify all the Chinese ethnic groups, certainly to escape a hegemony of the Han. His territory is separated from the Mongols and Tibetans by a rebel people, the Dzungars.
The war against the Dzungars ends with a Qing victory in the 24th year of the reign matching 1759 CE. The strategy proposed by the emperor himself had been determining. The area is emptied of its original occupants by genocide, deportation and smallpox and becomes Shintian (or Xinjiang) meaning new frontier.
Qianlong is immensely proud of his civilizing achievement on behalf of the authentic Chinese people. He agrees to add to his nicknames that of master of Shintian which is partly a homophony with Xintian Shuren meaning "the ruler who believes in heaven". In that period he has a significant quantity of seals made with that name.
Time passes. The emperor is getting older. During the 49th year of the reign, courtiers seek to reinterpret the sobriquet. Qianlong complacently writes a poem in which he is astonished that his civilizing work has been so completely supported by the heavens. New Xintian Shuren seals will be regularly created over the years to honor Shintian's master.
On October 7, 2010, Sotheby's sold as lot 2103 for HK $ 122M including premium a very large seal with that mark. It will be sold by Poly in Beijing on June 5, lot 5569.
This piece 12.9 cm square and 11 cm high in greenish white jade weighs 3.5 kg. The knob consists of a pair of superbly sculpted crossed dragons. Its production including chiseling and inscription had lasted five months. It is identified in the imperial archives during the 51st year of the reign matching 1786 CE.
1786 Commode by Carlin and Weisweiler
1999 SOLD for FF 46M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
This 91 x 135 x 51 cm piece of furniture responds to the fashion for inlays of luxurious materials launched under Louis XV by the marchand-mercier Poirier. It is in ebony veneer, blackened wood, copper and pewter marquetry, relief inlays of pietra dura from the Gobelins, Florentine pictures in pietra dura marquetry, and adorned with gilded bronzes.
Daguerre succeeded Poirier in 1777. The cabinetmaker Carlin, who was one of the major suppliers of Poirier and Daguerre, died in 1785. Weisweiler took over de facto from Carlin for supplies to Daguerre.
The Florentine plaques constitute the major element of the decoration of that commode. They had been recovered from some cabinet made around 1700 in the Grand Ducal workshops. Out of fashion, the monumental Florentine cabinets in the French royal collections had been sold by the Garde Meuble from 1741.
The commode is not listed in the inventory after Carlin's death and its mark is undoubtedly posthumous, before his widow remarried with another cabinetmaker in 1786.
Daguerre settles permanently in 1789 in London where the Prince of Wales, future George IV, is furnishing in the greatest luxury his new residence of Carlton House.
The inventory of the Carlton House Council Salon, carried out in 1793, lists two pietra dura commodes, similar to each other. One of them, still in the British Royal Collection and stamped by Weisweiler, is probably the commode sold by James Christie in March 1791 directly from the stock transferred to London by Daguerre. The other, which no longer appears in 1806 in the collection of the Prince of Wales, is probably the Carlin-Weisweiler commode.
1786 Joseph Brant by Gilbert Stuart
2014 SOLD for £ 4.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2021
The Mohawk captain Joseph Brant had been an unwavering ally of the British in the wars against the French and then against the American rebels. His mastery of the English language enabled him to become the most important negotiator of the Iroquois cause, and he was honored as such by King George III. He was a pious Anglican. Brant is an alteration of the first name given by white people to his father.
He made two diplomatic stays in London, in 1775-1776 and 1785-1786. Like the Polynesian Omai whose portrait was painted by Reynolds in 1776, he aroused curiosity in aristocratic salons, skillfully exploiting his "noble savage" personality and not hesitating to show himself in public in an Iroquois costume.
His second stay in London follows the Treaty of Paris of 1783, because of which the British could no longer keep the promises made to their native American allies. Joseph reunites with his only white friend, Earl Percy, of whom he had been a comrade in arms during the New York campaign in 1776. Percy acceded in 1786 to the Duchy of Northumberland.
Percy, who had a strong temperament, supported the Loyalist American painter Gilbert Stuart, in exile in England since 1775. A portrait of Joseph by Stuart, oil on canvas 76 x 61 cm, had been commissioned by him in 1786. Still in the ownership of the Dukes of Northumberland, it was sold by Sotheby's on July 9, 2014 for £ 4.1M including premium from a lower estimate of £ 1M, lot 21.
The 43 year old Mohawk warrior has a tall feathered headdress and large silver ornaments on his coat. His upright and intelligent manner is in line with his diplomatic mission. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1787 US Constitution
2021 SOLD for $ 43M by Sotheby's
The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia from May 25, 1787 with George Washington as president. The final version of the US Constitution established by the committee was signed on September 17 by 39 of the 55 delegates.
The text was immediately edited in 500 copies for the use of delegates and congressmen. No public release was suitable at that time as it still had to be ratified by the federal Congress and the states. The 6-page 41 x 26 cm document printed by John Dunlap in partnership with David Claypoole includes in appendix the list of delegates who voted for it and a copy of Washington's letter urging the ratification by the Congress.
This original US Constitution is still in force today without fundamental changes. Such an unprecedented longevity is due to the remarkable political insight of the delegates who prepared it under the leadership of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and to the foreseen capability to amend it as necessary.
Thirteen copies are surviving. One of them was sold for $ 43M from a lower estimate of $ 15M by Sotheby's on November 18, 2021, lot 1787. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This piece is the top highlight from the collection of S. Howard Goldman and his widow Dorothy. It is sold for the benefit of the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation whose aim is to advance the principles of America’s founding documents through educational programs. Mrs Goldman introduces her collection and educational purpose in the video shared by Sotheby's.
From the same collection, a copy of the first separate printing of the so called Bill of Rights was sold for $ 1.53M from a lower estimate of $ 700K by Sotheby's on November 23, 2021, lot 71.
This 3-page 34 x 21 cm document is dated August 24, 1789. It was prepared for proposing to the Congress a resolution of amendments to the US Constitution. Such articles had been desired by US citizens for preventing the government to infringe the basic individual rights. They were approved on September 26, 1789 and constitute the Third to Twelfth Amendments.
The underbidder for the US Constitution had been an organization just created for the express purpose of raising money to acquire it. They gathered more than 17,000 contributors who, in a matter of only weeks, raised more than $ 40 million, not enough against the winning bidder, the fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.
1787 Brasher Doubloon
2021 SOLD for $ 9.4M by Heritage
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.
The independence of the United States had created the need for a national emblem which will be affixed from an official seal. The project was accepted by Congress after six years, in 1782. It was double-sided, so that it could be printed at the end of a ribbon, but in practice only the face with the heraldic eagle would be used. The popular iconography seized on this patriotic symbol in 1786, with the engravings prepared by James Trenchard for the first two issues of Columbian Magazine.
The eagle with its outstretched wings, the thirteen stripes on the breast shield, the olive branch and the arrows also appeared in 1787 on the reverse side of the Cent and Half Cent from Massachusetts.
Brasher was a metallurgist and definitely not an artist, which had been amply demonstrated by his Lima-style doubloon prepared in 1786. In the meantime he partnered with the designer John Bailey. His new doubloon is superbly engraved on both sides. The centering is very good, with full readability all around.
Both sides are inspired by national emblems. The eagle has all of its attributes, including the constellation of thirteen stars around its head. On the other side, the Eye of Providence shines its radiant light from above a pyramidal mountain. The inscription conforms to the federal motto E Pluribus Unum but the production is located in Nova Eboraca (New York).
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 rather awkward, they are beautiful coins whose design is sharp enough to discourage counterfeiting.
Brasher's Lima-type and New York-type doubloons were not documented in period, which confirms how limited their use was. The gold alloy had undoubtedly been recovered by the melting of some jewelry. Brasher assayer's punch EB gave these coins an authorization for circulation and they are considered regular by numismatists.
The finest of the seven known examples, graded MS65 by NGC, was sold for $ 9.4M by Heritage on January 21, 2021, lot 3934.
The only known Brasher doubloon with the mark on the breast was sold for $ 7.395M in a private sale in December 2011, although its condition is only graded AU50 by PCGS.
A half doubloon is kept at the Smithsonian. It was made with the same dies and a thinner planchet. Unlike the doubloons of the same year but in accordance with the two known Lima style doubloons, some trimming was required to adjust the weight. This half doubloon was perhaps an intermediate version for testing the dies.
Heritage Auctions will offer the Donald G. Partrick Collection in a series of auctions over the next year, making available one of the most historic collections of American colonial coins ever assembled.https://t.co/lZtpZzLOKC#Coins #DonaldPartrick pic.twitter.com/0a798TEqkh— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) August 11, 2020
"The World's Most Famous Coin" and a selection of seven-figure rarities could make numismatic history in Heritage Auctions' Jan. 20-24 U.S. Coins events held in Dallas.https://t.co/2oN3W3GbmL#USCoins #Coins pic.twitter.com/VxcRdUR9XC— Heritage Auctions - Coins (@heritagecoins) January 7, 2021
Join us tomorrow for a little F-U-N!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 20, 2021
It is a coin any collector would love to own, but only one will be able to possess. We could only be talking about the 1787 New York-Style Brasher Doubloon!
Jan. 20-24 FUN US Coins Auction #HeritageAuctions #coins https://t.co/Jq3TVG58jP pic.twitter.com/wysPjhL8uk
2014 SOLD for $ 4.6M by Heritage
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.
It was sold privately in 2018 for a reported $ 5M.
1787 Brasher #gold doubloon changes hands for more than $5 million in private sale https://t.co/FE1uy1Zzat via @CoinNews #numismatics pic.twitter.com/L0X9E3fZd3— David L. Tranbarger (@dltcoins) March 23, 2018
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 :
1789 pair of Qianlong Jade Seals
2011 SOLD for RMB 43M by Poly
The main seal is a 2.6 cm square 5 cm high carved with a single dragon. It is inscribed for The treasures of the eight conquests (pinyin designation not retrieved from the English translation of the catalogue).
The other seal is 2.6 x 1.6 cm and 5 cm high. It is inscribed for Five blessings of Xiangyong (Xiang Yong Wu Fu).
Both refer to the legend of King Wu who created the Zhou dynasty around 1046 BCE, considered by Qianlong as the seminal Chinese imperial ruler.
Made in the Suzhou workshops, this set is one of eight sets prepared for the celebration of the 80th birthday of the Qianlong emperor to be celebrated in his 56th year.