early Jiaqing - pair of Jadeite Seals
2010 SOLD for HK$ 79M including premium by Sotheby's
1800 The Marengo Sabre of Napoléon
2007 SOLD for € 4.8M including premium by Osenat
narrated in 2020
Bonaparte immediately understood the advantage of this feat of arms for his personal prestige and for his political future. On May 5, 1805 Bonaparte, who had become Emperor Napoléon I in the meantime, had a throne installed for a military parade on the battlefield. He presides over this ceremony, dressed in the same way as on the day of the battle.
Also in 1805, Napoléon presented his youngest brother Jérôme with the glorious sabre which he had brandished at Marengo. Jérôme, 20 years old, had just returned from the United States where he had married, thwarting the ambition that the emperor could have for him. Napoléon broke this marriage by an imperial decree on March 11, 1805. Having henceforth consolidated his image of a magnificent warrior, he may have used this arm to encourage Jérôme's new military career in his service.
The sabre remained until 2007 with the descendants of Jérôme. Classified as a French monument historique in 1978, it was sold for € 4.8M including premium by Osenat on June 10, 2007. Please watch the video shared by Interencheres.
This arm had been produced by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, the manager of the arms factory in Versailles. The blade has an oriental shape and is decorated with etching. The main fittings for the sabre and its scabbard are in solid gold. The pommel is a Jupiter head in gold.
1800 Breguet at the Time of the Marie-Antoinette
2016 SOLD for CHF 3.25M including premium
This enthusiast who played for Breguet a similar role as Graves with Patek Philippe 150 years later was probably the Count Fersen known as a fervent admirer of the Queen of France and the watch was named the Marie-Antoinette. It was completed in 1827, four years after the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Breguet was the most skilful watchmaker of his time and the Marie-Antoinette could be used as a kind of prototype. On May 16 in Geneva, Christie's offers a high complication watch sold new in 1800 of our calendar (An VIII of the Republican calendar) to General Moreau. It is estimated CHF 600K, lot 123.
This pocket watch 55 mm in diameter has the serial number No. 217 of the brand. It is the only example beside the Marie-Antoinette to offer in the same case the perpetual motion and the equation of time.
The perpétuelle is a self winding mechanism with an oscillating weight offering 60 hours of autonomy from the effect of moderate movements of the user, with a protection against shocks on horseback. The equation of time is a correction of the difference between standard and solar times which can reach up to 16 minutes.
This piece does not include the technique of the tourbillon invented by Breguet in 1801. The steadiness is ensured by the échappement libre à ancre (lever escapement), another difficulty that only Breguet knew to overcome.
General Moreau died in the battle of Dresden in 1813. Breguet reacquired the 217 and modernized the dial before selling it in 1817 to Charles-Louis Havas, the financier who became famous for opening in Paris in 1832 the first ever newspaper translation business which became in 1835 his Havas Agency.
1802-1816 Les Liliacées by Redouté
1985 SOLD for $ 5.5M including premiumby Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
His direct commitment to botany takes place in two phases : 486 watercolors on vellum on Liliaceae from 1802 to 1816 followed by 168 Roses from 1817 to 1824. His scientifically accurate drawings are taken from life in the gardens of La Malmaison, Saint-Cloud, Versailles and Sèvres.
All the watercolors of the Liliacées, bound in 16 volumes 48 x 35 cm for a total weight of nearly 150 kg, were originally entrusted to Joséphine's library in La Malmaison.
The lot was sold on November 20, 1985 for $ 5.5M including premium by Sotheby's after a sensational opening bid of $ 5M, the highest at that time in an art sale.
The buyer was a young dealer of rare books and prints named W. Graham Arader, who immediately made him known. To carry out this operation, he had created a syndicate of clients. Each share gave the right to own four watercolors, some were still available and he kept 30% of the whole. He had been the only bidder but according to his statements gathered by the New York Times he was covered up to $ 20M.
The pieces were chosen in turn by Arader's clients according to a priority determined by a draw. Arader has not disclosed the names of his shareholders. Steve Jobs was probably one of them.
On October 10, 2020 Arader Galleries sold several Liliacées watercolors. The two top lots were sold for $ 530K each, including premium : cultivated pineapple, plate 456, lot 91, and banana, plate 444, lot 90, both linked here on LiveAuctioneers bidding platform.
1805 Amphora by Piguet et Capt
2002 SOLD for CHF 4M (worth at that time US $ 2.4M) by Antiquorum
The specialty of Piguet et Capt was the combination of miniature watches, automatons and music in jewelled structures of the greatest luxury, abundantly decorated with pearls and enamels. The shapes are varied : rings, snuff boxes, fans, shields.
On April 13, 2002, Antiquorum sold as lot 607 for CHF 4M worth at that time $ 2.4M a 10 cm high amphora attributed to Piguet et Capt. It had been one from a pair whose enamel panels are reversed from one another. Only one other pair is known and no single. They are not signed.
These exquisite musical gold pieces were made circa 1805 for the Chinese market, with an abundance of pearls. The upper part, between the top of the handles, is centered by two dials and an opening onto the mechanism. Note that skeleton watches were also a specialty of Meylan.
The belly of the amphora is painted in enamel of a mother and child in the style of Vigée-Le Brun. This small panel tilts forward to reveal a double-movement musical automaton in front of a pastoral background : a boy bounces a dog, and a young woman plays the guitar. The backside is decorated with a pastoral river scene on the lower panel and a dove in a flower basket on the upper panel.
This piece was later sold for HK $ 12.3M by Christie's on May 22, 2021, lot 2505. Its twin element had been sold for CHF 910K by Antiquorum on March 31, 2001, lot 47.
The other pair of amphora shaped gold watches from the same model is decorated with a scene of Helen and Paris while the automaton displays a pastoral scene with a girl and a cherub playing lyre and drums. The back side enamel decoration is floral in the lower panel and has a putto riding a swan in the upper panel.
An element of that pair was sold for CHF 560K by Antiquorum on April 22, 1995, lot 501. Recently discovered, its twin with the mirror images is for sale by Christie's on November 27, 2021, lot 2505.
1806 Walton Bridges by Turner
2018 SOLD for £ 3.4M by Sotheby's
He takes out his sketchbook, as he had done during his tour of Europe. He likes to have his easel on his boat and his influence on Monet will be undeniable.
This region has a nice artistic tradition. The Walton Bridge, painted by Canaletto in 1754, was made of wood. It was replaced in 1788 by a double bridge in stone and brick that spans the river and the marshy bank, but the site has retained its romantic aspect.
Turner paints around 1806 two large oils on canvas 93 x 124 cm of Walton Bridges. One of them shows the bridges in full front with shepherds and their flocks in the foreground, in the signature style of Turner's animated views, more idyllic than Canaletto's. It is kept at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
The other shows the two parts of the bridge in their whole length, slightly at an angle, behind a foreground of cattle wading in the river, in a beautiful sunset light. It was sold for £ 3.4M by Sotheby's on July 4, 2018, lot 21.
Turner will not forget this enchanted bridge. Forty years later, he integrates it into an Italianate landscape, in the pre-impressionist light of his late career. This 88 x 118 cm oil on canvas was sold by Sotheby's in 2019.
1797-1808 Napoléon Garniture of Boutet Arms
2021 SOLD for $ 2.9M by RIAC
The provenance of this collection is referred to Général Junot, the aide de camp of the emperor. The garniture should have been presented by Napoléon to Junot at any time but tentatively when he was made gouverneur général of Portugal in 1807 or duc d'Abrantès in 1808. It had been sold by his widow in financial distress during the events of 1815.
The glaive is described as the robe sword carried in hand by Bonaparte in 1799 at Saint-Cloud during his coup d'Etat du 18 brumaire an VIII when he suppressed the Directoire for appointing himself as Premier Consul. It is supposed to have been presented to him by the Directoire in 1797. The five firearms have no evidence of having been carried by the emperor.
The collection was sold for $ 2.9M from a lower estimate of $ 1.5M by RIAC on December 3, 2021, lot 335. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1808 Pope's Villa at Twickenham by Turner
2008 SOLD for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Turner wants to express the deep truth of nature. He explores the Thames and buys a piece of land at Twickenham in 1807. He builds there from 1812 his personal lodge according to his own taste.
A century earlier, Twickenham was the home of wealthy Londoners who wanted to escape the city. In 1719 the poet Alexander Pope had built an opulent three-story house on the banks of the Thames, and his garden was designed to shelter the Muses.
Baroness Howe of Langar bought this estate in 1807. The memory of Pope was still attracting many visitors. To protect her peace of living, she has the villa destroyed. Of course Turner is deeply frustrated and irritated by this decision which diminishes the touristic attraction of this village which he had just chosen for himself.
The view of the Pope villa by Turner is an oil on canvas 92 x 120 cm painted in 1808. Already aiming to match the brightness of the watercolors, he had coated the canvas with a white primer.
The scene is pastoral, with small quiet figures, a young couple of shepherds, a few sheep, in the beautiful light of an autumn evening. Beyond the river, the building is the symbol of the ephemeral character of human achievements : it has already lost its roof and the windows are gaping.
He exhibited it in his gallery in London, which he has been using since 1804 to attract customers and art critics. The success of this work which expresses a poetic sensitivity with a high quality of execution is considerable. At 33, he is the best landscape painter of his time.
This painting was sold for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1808 Thames Estuary by Turner
2021 SOLD for £ 4.8M by Sotheby's
The Thames estuary is a few miles downstream his home. In 1806 his Victory returning from Trafalgar is staged in a quiet sea. From 1807 to 1809 he executes seven paintings on the estuary under the storm, viewed in various locations of the shore.
On July 7, 2021, Sotheby's sold for £ 4.8M an oil on canvas 90 x 120 cm painted in 1808, lot 50. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's. It is located at Purfleet with the Essex shore as seen from Long Reach. This painting had been immediately bought by the 5th earl of Essex who was an important patron of Turner at that time when he managed to become independent from the Royal Academy.
In a rough sea under a stormy sky, the boats ranging from fishing barges to warships are cleverly dispositioned from foreground to horizon, providing a fair rendition of distance.
#AuctionUpdate: J.M.W. Turner’s magnificent early seascape - Purfleet and the Essex Shore as seen from Long Reach - achieves £4.8m in its first appearance on the market in over 75 years. Created in 1808, the work was the star lot of today’s #London Old Master Evening sale. pic.twitter.com/EKMVsjvcHS— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 7, 2021
1808 A Flat Cap for Miss Liberty
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M including premium
The other two coins are quarters : of eagle worth $ 2.5 and of dollar worth $ 0.25. These quarters were not user friendly to count his money. They were not popular and their manufacture was sometimes interrupted. In two cases, the production is stopped at completion of a year of design change, generating the rarest types of regular US coinage.
The first sale of the Pogue collection, on May 19 in New York by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's, includes a specimen in exceptional condition for these two rarities. The 1796 quarter dollar was recently discussed in this column. The other example is the 1808 quarter eagle, lot 1128 estimated $ 1.2 million.
The eagle, half eagle and quarter eagle are the three gold coins defined by the Coinage act. At the beginning of the three denominations, Miss Liberty wears a turban like a Phrygian cap which had been a symbol of freedom during the War of Independence.
The eagle is discontinued after the year 1804, leaving the half eagle as the top denomination in production. In 1807, the drawing of the half eagle is changed. Miss Liberty exchanges her high turban to a flat cap. In 1808, the same design is applied to the quarter eagle that will be interrupted from 1809 to 1820 inclusive.
The 1808 quarter eagle in the first Pogue sale is graded MS65 by PCGS. This dark yellow gold piece is in a remarkable state of preservation of the metal, with nice coppery or violet tonings. Struck with a great clarity that reveals the defects from the die, it is by far the best surviving coin in its class, considered as a masterpiece of US numismatics for over a century.
1808-1812 Dead Hares by Goya
2003 SOLD for $ 5.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
At 62, the artist no longer needs his art to earn a living and, in these difficult circumstances, he has fewer clients. He had a bulimia of innovations throughout his life. He is trying the theme of still life for the first time in his career.
The twelve still lifes painted by Goya surfaced after 1865. They had remained grouped together in the artist's estate and then in a mortgage which had ended in a transfer in favor of a business partner of Mariano, the grandson of the artist.
Goya had attempted in this set to completely renew the theme of still life. Dead animals are no longer decorative objects or hunting trophies, but beings whose lives have been violently taken by humans for culinary purposes. The beginning of the war is the terminus post quem. The terminus ante quem is their reference in an inventory in 1812.
Goya used the best of his pictorial technique, combining veils of color and heavy impastos, placed with brushes, knife and fingers. The animals are different on each opus. The realistic flesh ready for decomposition attests to the importance of death in the artist's creativity.
On January 24, 2003 Christie's sold at lot 136 for $ 5.1M including premium an oil on canvas 45 x 63 cm showing two dead hares lying on top of each other on a table.