Louis XV and XVI
Chronology : 18th century 1710-1719 1760-1769 1770-1779 1776 1790-1799
1718-1719 Christie's discovered a Watteau, what a surprise !
2008 SOLD 12.3 M£ including premium
A little more than one month ago, Christie's had announced in a press release the reappearance of a painting of Watteau presumedly destroyed for two centuries. The press had seized this information, rightly. Let us not forget it, but it is necessary to wait two more months for the sale, which will be done in London on July 8.
Entitled "la Surprise", this painting was known through a copy, and the owner was unaware of being in possession of an original. If as it is probable Christie's manages to sell it, the pockets of this happy British countryman will then have filled from at least 3 M£.
Of small size, it is an outdoor scene, elegant and dynamic, with feverish movement, with images typified according to the so specific technique of Watteau: the player of guitar, the couple of lovers, the puppy.
A masterpiece? Yes. One of the great biddings of the year? Probably not. The painting, whose exact dimensions are not revealed in the official statement, appears to be not larger than a paper sheet.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained is also a surprise: £ 12.3 million charge included.
This painting had been announced well in advance by Christie's as one of the highlights of the season. It had the advantage of never being viewed before on the market and disadvantage of being small: 36x28 cm.
The market has thus confirmed the view of Christie's that this painting is a masterpiece of Watteau, and that Watteau is a major painter in the history of art. There is no doubt that we will not soon see a similar one reappear in a sale. A masterpiece that can be considered as single on the market has no price, but I think nobody could reasonably predict that it would be so high.
replica from 1733 La Fontaine by Chardin
2021 SOLD for € 7.1M by Christie's
Fellow artists laugh at him : he is a painter of cakes and sausages. In reaction, Chardin begins in 1733 a genre theme of kitchen maids in everyday life in the manner of Teniers. La Blanchisseuse, 38 x 48 cm, is his masterpiece in this new style. This oil on canvas is kept at the Hermitage Museum.
Femme tirant de l'Eau à la Fontaine is the pendant to La Blanchisseuse. Two pairs are known, one at the Stockholm National Museum and the other at the Toledo Museum of Art.
The Fontaine from Stockholm is the original version. This oil on oak panel 38 x 42 cm has an obscured date that can be 1733.
Another autograph replica of La Fontaine, oil on canvas 40 x 43 cm signed by Chardin, is using the same exquisite palette of colors as the original. It was later made vertical by adding a 10 cm canvas stripe at the top. Beautifully preserved, it was sold for € 7.1M from a lower estimate of € 5M by Christie's on November 22, 2021, lot 7.
1733-1734 The Penthièvre-Orléans Tureen
1996 SOLD for $ 10.3M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
One of his masterpieces, made in 1733-1734, is a pair of covered soup tureens, with two handles in boar's head and six hog's feet, weighing more than 13 kg each including liner and stand.
This pair belonged to Henry Janssen, an English naturalized French in 1741 who was a courtier of the comte d'Eu, grandson of Louis XIV by Montespan. Janssen had a large collection of silverware, a symbol of opulence in his day.
In 1759 all French silverware is requisitioned to finance the Seven Years' War. Eu takes the opportunity to recover the Janssen collection which thus avoids being melted. This set constitutes the major part of the collection of the duc de Penthièvre, Eu's cousin and heir, which gathered 370 kg of silverware by the greatest silversmiths of the Louis XV period : Germain, Ballin, Balzac, Auguste, Durant.
230 kg are melted down after confiscation during the Révolution. The remainder constitutes after restitution to the future King Louis-Philippe, grandson of Penthièvre by his mother, the Penthièvre-Orléans service, restored and increased by Odiot and dispersed in the 20th century.
One of the boar-headed soup tureens is kept at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The other was sold for $ 10.3M including premium by Sotheby's on November 13, 1996.
1761 Panier de Fraises des Bois by Chardin
2022 SOLD for € 24.4M by Artcurial
Following the path opened by Adriaen Coorte around 1700, Chardin opts for the simplest geometric tabletop compositions in a contrasted light in front of a dark raw background.
Le Panier de fraises des bois, oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm, was released for the Salon de 1761 and illustrated by Saint-Aubin in the livret of that exhibition. It displays a stack of wild strawberries as a spectacular conical tabletop in a basket. That vivid red fruit had been Coorte's preferred pictorial theme.
The composition is completed on the table by a glass filled with limpid water, and by two ornamental cut off flowers, two cherries and a peach. Chardin had skillfully added an upper layer of red lacquer to link together the grainy berries while he left slightly unfocused the carnations.
Recognized as a masterpiece of Chardin's maturity offering a perfect sharp viewing from an ideal distance of 5 m away, Le panier was kept in a private French collection since 1862. It was sold for € 24.4M from a lower estimate of € 12M by Artcurial on March 23, 2022, lot 15. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1763 Table à Ecrire with Sèvres Porcelain
2005 SOLD for € 6.9M including premium by Artcurial
narrated in 2020
The cabinetmaker Joseph Baumhauer, whose stamp is limited to his first name, creates furniture with simple shapes, embellished with metal, hard stones, finely chiseled bronzes and lacquer panels. He is a specialist of the top luxury and court-empowered, and his production is scarce.
The best Sèvres porcelains are marked with a code corresponding to the year, which today helps dating the furniture they adorn.
A bureau plat was assembled by Joseph using porcelain dated H for 1760. Three other examples of this model are known. One of them was sold for € 6.9M including premium by Artcurial on December 13, 2005 from lower estimate of € 800K.
This desk 76 x 114 x 58 cm is stamped by Joseph. It is in rosewood and amaranth veneer and opens with three drawers on the front. It is decorated all around with 24 plaques in Sèvres porcelain decorated with polychrome flowers. A third of the plaques bear the letter K for 1763. The decoration is completed by gilded bronzes.
The Graf von Cobenzl, diplomat and trusted man of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, was a client of Poirier. The desk sold by Artcurial is probably the "table à écrire incrustée de porcelaine de Sèvres" which is listed in his inventory after death.
1769 Fragonard out of his Time
2013 SOLD 17 M£ including premium
Fragonard made a small series of oils on canvas known under the generic title of Portraits de fantaisie. Only one of these artworks is dated : 1769, the year of his marriage. It is not by chance.
Close to the aristocracy, Fragonard endeavours at that time to demonstrate that he may revolutionize the art of portrait. These paintings are comparable to the tronies made by Rembrandt. The likeness to the sitter is not the most important.
The movement of shoulders and head brings energy and even violence. Strong colors evoke passion. Fancy costumes "à l'Espagnole" provide a theatrical dimension that also positions the work out of its time.
Influenced by Chardin, Fragonard understood the importance of color. This series of fantasy portraits is an essential link in the history of art between Rembrandt and Manet. He will be the great-granduncle of Berthe Morisot.
Few models have been identified with certainty. Brilliant intellectual, François-Henri d' Harcourt enjoyed his portrait to the point that his family kept it until 1971.
This oil on canvas 81 x 65 cm was then purchased at auction by Dr. Rau. Coming now from this prestigious collection, it is for sale to the benefit of UNICEF by Bonhams in London on December 5.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting has some exceptional qualities reinforced by the fact that it was one of the top masterpieces of the Rau collection and was sold for the benefit of UNICEF. It was sold for £ 17M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Bonhams on YouTube. The image is shared on Wikimedia.
1770 Un Philosophe lisant by Fragonard
2021 SOLD for € 7.7M by Enchères Champagne
The step further is the genre scene staging such characters. The Hamburger Kunsthalle has a reading philosopher, oil on oval canvas 52 x 74 cm dated around 1764 by that museum. The old man is scrutinizing with some excitement a paper stack in front of him. He is leaning with his left arm on other papers for offsetting his poor eyesight in that task. The contrast is dramatic between the face and cloth in the shadow and the brightly lit shaggy hair, thick beard and paper.
A previously unknown autograph replica has just surfaced during an inventory near Epernay. The philosopher is featured in a similar position excepted that the head is in full profile, providing a dynamic impetus in the flamboyant style of Fragonard. The creamy white is reminding Chardin. It is dated circa 1768-1770 by Cabinet Turquin.
Forgotten after being auctioned in 1779, this oil on oval canvas 46 x 57 cm is in great condition in its original frame. It was sold for € 7.7M at the Hôtel des Ventes d'Epernay on June 26, 2021 from a lower estimate of € 1.5M. It is illustrated in the pre sale release shared by the bidding platform Interencheres. Please watch the video shared by Artcento, where the painting is narrated by Stéphane Pinta from Cabinet Turquin.
1776 Marie-Antoinette's Diamond Bracelets
2021 SOLD for CHF 7.5M by Christie's
Marie-Antoinette of Austria ascended the throne of France in 1774 with her husband King Louis XVI. Aged 19, the new queen wished to enjoy the utmost luxury and glamour. She adored wearing diamonds.
She purchased in 1776 a pair of earrings and a pair of bracelets to the jeweler Boehmer, far beyond her own financial capability. The Austrian diplomat Mercy-Argenteau kept informed the empress Maria Theresia about that excessive extravagance of her daughter. King Louis will have to find in the following years how to pay Boehmer.
Marie-Antoinette took a great personal care to her jewels. In 1791, threatened in the on going French Révolution, she packed up her jewelry in a wooden chest which was sent for safe keeping to Mercy-Argenteau exiled in Brussels.
In February 1794, four months after the beheading of the queen, Mercy-Argenteau managed an inventory on request from the new emperor Francis II. The jewels went to the court of Austria where their ownership and use were transferred to Madame Royale, the only surviving child of the late queen.
After the death of Madame Royale, the pair of Boehmer bracelets went to the lineage of the dukes of Parma. These composite jewels are still in their exact original condition as described in the 1794 Brussels inventory, excepted an additional diamond on the clasps.
The collection of pearl jewels of Marie-Antoinette also went to the dukes of Parma through Madame Royale. The pendant was sold for CHF 36.4M by Sotheby's in 2018.
#QueenMarieAntoinette's marvellously beautiful diamond bracelets will highlight the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale on 9 November. The remarkable unbroken lineage of these bracelets represents one of the most undisputed provenances of any royal jewels □: https://t.co/2HeshzVQcy pic.twitter.com/DgW1uiqZMu— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 30, 2021
1778 Commode Royale by Riesener
1999 SOLD for £ 7M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2019 before the sale of another commode by Christie's (see below)
Premises are dedicated to these operations. In 1757 King Louis XV decides to build a hotel specially conceived for storing the furniture. Operational in 1772 and completed in 1774, this masterpiece by Ange-Jacques Gabriel is today the Hôtel de la Marine, on Place Louis XV completed by the same architect in 1772 and later Place de la Concorde.
Successor to Oeben whose widow he married, Jean-Henri Riesener specializes in luxury furniture. In 1774 he is appointed Ebéniste ordinaire du mobilier de la couronne.
The top luxury is obviously reserved for the king. Two commodes are made respectively in 1776 and 1778 by Riesener for the cabinet of King Louis XVI in Fontainebleau. The price paid by the king for the earlier commode had been 6,870 livres. The total amount of sales by Riesener for the court from 1774 to 1784 exceeded one million livres.
The 1778 Fontainebleau commode was sold for £ 7M including premium by Christie's on July 8, 1999 over a lower estimate of £ 1.5M, lot 201. This à ressaut shaped piece 95 cm high, 165 cm wide, 63 cm deep is in ormolu-mounted amaranth, sycamore, mahogany, parquetry and marquetry.
On April 30, 2019, Christie's sold for $ 1.16M including premium a commode of similar size, shape and materials made in 1774 by Riesener for the chief officer of the Garde-Meuble. This piece had possibly been a prototype for the commodes royales.
1791 The Pearls of Queen Marie-Antoinette
2018 SOLD for CHF 36.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
During early phase of the Revolution, Marie-Antoinette who is still the Queen plans to flee to Austria. In January 1791, helped by her chambermaid, she prepares a cassette with her favorite jewelry. The jewels reach Vienna but the king and queen are arrested in Varennes in June 1791.
In 1795 Madame Royale, the only survivor of the children of the royal couple, is freed from the revolutionary prisons and goes into exile in Vienna. The emperor Franz II returns the jewels to her while keeping the rubies in compensation for a pension granted to the princess. In Madame Royale's legacy in 1851, one third of the jewelry is attributed to her niece Louise, Duchess of Parma.
Around 1930 Marie-Anne of Austria, wife of the acting Duke of Parma, describes in an inventory four jewels in pearls and diamonds of which she attests that they come from Marie-Antoinette. These pieces, which had never been published or exhibited, were included in the auction of the royal jewelry from the Bourbon-Parma collection by Sotheby's on November 14, 2018.
Lot 97, a three-row pearl necklace with a diamond clasp, was sold for CHF 2.3M including premium over a lower estimate of CHF 200K. The next two lots, a necklace and a pair of earrings, were sold for CHF 450K each including premium.
Lot 100 was a 15.90 x 18.35 x 25.85mm drop shaped pearl assembled in a pendant with a large diamond clasp and a bow of small diamonds. This interesting souvenir of a queen who had desired to live in the utmost luxury was sold for CHF 36.4M including premium over an estimate of CHF 1M to 2M.