1582-1972 Peregrination of a Pearl
2011 SOLD 11.8 M$ including premium
It entered in 1582 into the Spanish royal collection, where it was considered as the biggest pearl in the world. Pear-shaped, it was then weighing 223 grains.
Mary I of England, wife of Philip II of Spain, used it very elegantly as a pendant to a brooch. Philip IV of Spain preferred it as a hat pin. It went to France during the Spanish war of Joseph Bonaparte, and Napoleon III sold it to the English aristocracy.
This wandering pearl has been known for two centuries under the name La Peregrina. It lost twenty grains when it was reworked to improve the security of its setting.
Richard Burton bought it in 1969 at Sotheby's auction as a gift to Elizabeth Taylor.
It was mounted as pendant in a pearl necklace that did not please its new owners. Burton and Taylor then made designed by Cartier in 1972 the magnificent necklace of pearls, rubies and diamonds, where it is again hanging as pendant.
This necklace, estimated $ 2M, is for sale on December 13 in New York by Christie's., lot 12.
POST SALE COMMENT
This is a new successful step in the fabulous history of the pearl. Sold $ 11.8 million including premium, its necklace achieved the highest result in one of the best jewelry sales in auction history: total $ 116M including premium for only 80 lots.
1587-1588 The Eyes of the Counter-Reformation
2019 SOLD for $ 6.1M including premium
Annibale is the youngest and the most innovative. Following the examples by Correggio and Titian, he captures a moment of intimacy shared by the characters in an intense mystical action. An Annunciation 135 x 98 cm was sold for $ 3.45M including premium by Christie's on January 30, 2013.
Like the Annunciation, the mystical marriage of St. Catherine and the offering of St. Lucy are non-violent themes that are well suited to express exemplary emotions. St. John the Baptist plays a pleasant role as an accomplice to the Holy Family.
On May 1 in New York, Christie's sells a Madonna and Child welcoming St. Lucy, oil on panel 79 x 63 cm painted by Annibale Carracci around 1587-1588, lot 26 estimated $ 3M.
Formerly attributed to one of his pupils, this work was sold for £ 770K before fees by Phillips on December 8, 1987. Re-attributed to the master during that auction with the help of Richard L. Feigen, it is one of four works from his collection which are discussed in the video shared by the auction house.
This composition stages five characters. The faces are young and beautiful. St. Lucy is kneeling to present her eyes on a platter and holds in her other hand the palm of the martyrs. She is encouraged by an angel. The Child and his Mother look at the eyes with a serene curiosity totally devoid of fear. Turned to the public, St. John announces the miracle by pointing the platter with his finger.
1588 Annunciation by Annibale Carracci
2013 SOLD for $ 3.45M by Christie's
They work together in Bologna. Ludovico is the theorist and his cousin Agostino is the teacher. The younger brother of Agostino, Annibale, is a gifted painter who observes his models with empathy and emotion.
They admire the realism of Raphael and Titian, and innovate by bringing the mystical movement and the light. Their transitional role is essential, both to Baroque and to Caravaggio.
On January 30, 2013, Christie's sold for $ 3.45M from a lower estimate of $ 1.5M an oil on canvas 135 x 98 cm showing the Annunciation in a conventional iconography. This painting had been known only by a black and white photo, and experts were eager to learn more. They saw it, and convincingly attributed it to Annibale, perhaps inspired from Titian after a visit made to Venice circa 1588.
This Annunciation passed at Christie's on October, 14, 2021, lot 24.
The Carracci were essentially making frescoes and their works are very rare at auction.
1596 Paradise Brueghel
2015 SOLD for $ 4M including premium
Jan Brueghel made a long stay in Italy at the time when Baroque succeeded Mannerism. He obtained the patronage of the very young Cardinal Federico Borromeo who became archbishop of Milan in 1595. More intellectual than theologian, Cardinal Borromeo will be in 1609 the founder of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Inspired by the art and landscapes of Italy, Jan Brueghel painted around 1594 his first views of Paradise, with flexible design and pleasant colors. Certainly conceived to appeal the Cardinal, they show the variety of the animals in their heavenly vicinity, in a loose interpretation of Creation and Ark. Paradise will remain one of his favorite themes throughout his career.
On January 29 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on copper 27 x 36 cm, lot 54 estimated $ 3.5M. Dated 1596, this painting was probably made before Jan returned to Flanders in the same year.
The scene is loaded with symbols. The gentle animals are divided between the foreground and the ark where all will find a place. Wise travelers walk in the same direction. In the background of the scene, the festive village of sinners is a sequel to the moral style of the artist's father.
1597 Trade with Southern Barbarians
2011 SOLD 4.8 M$ including premium
They are named collectively Nanban, a word that means "Southern Barbarians". Around 1545, Portuguese sailors had founded the harbour of Nagasaki, in the extreme south-west, just opposite Korea. They provided silk and porcelain from China to the Japanese. Soon, distrust will again dominate, Japan will close to foreigners in 1638 and memories of Nanban be destroyed.
The major Japanese art is the screen, whose favorite subjects are scenes animated by many small figures. The artists, according to Japanese tradition, handed down from one to the other the name of their foreman. Kano is one of the most renowned.
Christie's has found a wonder that had remained hidden for four centuries: a pair of screens, each consisting of six panels made with gold leaf. Each screen measures 160 x 360 cm.
One scene shows a large boat in front of which the "Barbarians" are busy. On the other, the ship just arrived at Nagasaki and receives a warm welcome from the Japanese.
One of the figures involved in this intense activity has particularly attracted the attention of the author of the auction catalog. It is an elephant of India, which carries an official on a palanquin. It is known that Don Pedro, the elephant who was presented in 1597 to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was the first of his species to come to Nagasaki and had no immediate successor. Both screens are marked with the seal of Kano Naizen, an artist who worked in the service of Toyotomi.
The sale will be held on March 23 in New York.
POST SALE COMMENT
Great price for this exceptional pair of screens: $ 4.8 million including premium.
The image of one of them was shared by Artdaily before the sale.
1590-1610 The Kinetic Mannerism of Giambologna
2019 SOLD for € 4.5M including premium
His masterpiece is the 4.10 m high group of three figures cut in a single block of marble, installed in 1582 at the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. The action is vertical. A muscular man raises a pretty woman of whom he tramples the old husband. This group of three nudes is traditionally considered as the Rape of a Sabine. The dramatic tension is similar to the Laocoon, an ancient sculpture designed for a unique angle of view. It already announces the Baroque style.
Customers request bronzes, which are of course made in reduction. The master approves these copies while leaving a great autonomy to his bronze makers. The best examples are made by his collaborator Antonio Susini, renowned for the beauty of his finish with the chisel.
A Rape of a Sabine 59 cm high was sold for £ 3.7M including premium by Christie's on July 10, 2014. The extreme quality of this cast is confirmed by the X-Ray observation of the regular thinness of the walls. It bears a rare mark identifying the artist's studio and was made between 1587 and 1598.
On December 11 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a bronze of the same model, made by Susini around 1600. It appears in 1689 in the inventory of the collection of Italian bronzes assembled by Louis XIV for the Grand Dauphin. Its setting in color by a brown patina was made by Gouthière for Louis XVI. It is estimated € 2.5M, lot 14.
In the same sale, the lot 15 estimated € 1M is a Fortuna 47 cm high, also attributed to Susini after Giambologna and having belonged to the same French royal collection. This bronze was probably made before 1587, when Susini began to carve the irises in the eyes of his characters.
An Allegory of Architecture 35 cm high was sold on March 27, 2019 by Artcurial for € 3.75M including premium. The quality of its realization is in the style practiced by Susini in the 1580s. This bronze is a copy from an original marble made in 1565 by Giambologna.
RESULTS including premium :
Rape of a Sabine, SOLD for € 4.5M
Fortuna, SOLD for € 1.8M
2020 SOLD for HK$ 57M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated post sale
A pair of two-level cabinets with wardrobe and hatbox was sold by Sotheby's for $ 1.14M including premium on September 22, 2005, lot 359. The lacquer is painted in gold, with pavilions and scholars in idyllic gardens. Each piece measures 330 x 160 x 70 cm and bears the imperial mark of Wanli.
A pair of three-level bookcases without doors was sold by Sotheby's for HK $ 11.8M including premium on April 8, 2009, lot 1623. They are made of nanmu, one of the rarest woods which had the particularity of being impermeable to water. They are lacquered and richly gilded on a deep carving including pairs of dragons in the clouds. Each piece measures 151 x 91 x 50 cm and bears traces of the imperial mark.
A pair of cabinets that can be used as showcases or bookcases was sold by Sotheby's for HK $ 57M including premium from a lower estimate of HK $ 4M on October 9, 2020, lot 75. They are in huanghuali with doors, a row of outer drawers and an upper three-level open compartment. Each piece measures 193 x 141 x 52 cm. They are of Wanli style without having the mark and are neither lacquered nor decorated.
Horseshoe Back Folding Armchair
2022 SOLD for HK$ 125M by Sotheby's
Highly appreciated by the Ming, the huanghuali is a tropical hardwood that enables to create furniture with bold shapes. Its color varies from reddish brown to golden yellow while its grains may display seductive pseudo-figurative patterns. Huanghuali literally means yellow pear tree flower.
It is believed that less that 10,000 pieces of furniture in huanghuali are still in existence. Its main source was in Hainan Island. The best pieces were made in the late Ming period and in the Ming-Qing transition. Most of them cannot be dated more precisely.
The use of folding seats, easily transformable into sedan chairs. is very convenient for garden or travel. The folding chair is named jiaoyi meaning chair with crossed legs.
The Han already used folding stools. Much later, the quality and beauty of the wood distinguish the elites of higher rank, the huanghuali being the high-end. Such brass mounted furniture is fragile and seats in soft wood did not survive.
In the Ming dynasty, jiaoyi were made in two main forms of the back, the horseshoe and the much rarer square with or without arms.
The very elegant quanyi form of armchair is characterized by its horseshoe-shaped rail that serves altogether as backrest and armrest. The quanyi is better suited than other forms of Chinese armchairs for the creation of folding models, its front rail fitting into the curved support of the arms.
The use of a jiaoyi as an occasional imperial throne is likely under the Ming but was not illustrated until the Qing. A painting by Castiglione features the Qianlong emperor sitting on a folding armchair during a negotiation with Kazakh emissaries.
A jiaoyi of comfortable proportions and simple forms was sold for HK $ 125M from a lower estimate by Sotheby's on October 8, 2022, lot 11. Its size is 71 x 67 x 103 cm.
Its damascened iron strengthening places it in the earliest examples of late Ming horseshoe back folding armchairs. Its elegant plain backrest flanked with carved geometrical borders is unique in that group while the five other surviving examples have dragon or floral carvings.
#AuctionUpdate This weekend, a rare Huanghuali Folding Horseshoe-Back Armchair- offered from the collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung- soared to $15.9 million. The price is not only a record for a Chinese chair, but is also the third highest sum paid for any chair at auction. pic.twitter.com/J8SNw0F5Gd— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) October 10, 2022
1575-1625 Benin Head of an Oba
2007 SOLD for $ 4.7M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2017 before the sale of another figure by Sotheby's (see below)
The so-called bronze of Benin is actually an alloy closer to a brass using a technique of lost-wax casting developed before any contact with Europeans. It is divided into two very different styles of works, the plaques that commemorate events or dignitaries and the heads in the round of the Oba kings. It is helpful to study these two categories together to establish the chronology of this art.
The heads are not portraits but ideal figurations of the previous Oba kings of the reigning dynasty. These figures are dedicated to devotion as altarpieces.
Philip Dark describes five overlapping phases along with more detailed groups. The 24 cm high Oba head sold as lot 121 on May 17, 2007 by Sotheby's for $ 4.7M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 1M is a Type 3 Group 2A created between 1575 and 1625 CE.
On December 12, 2017, Sotheby's sold for € 1.87M including premium a Type 4 head of Oba 32 cm high. Compared to the head in the previous sale, power symbols and mystic symbols appear in high relief on the headdress and on the base added for that purpose. The cylindrical collar that rises up to the lips is composed of 33 rings of metal pearls compared to the 22 rings of the other head.
The Grimani Tables
2015 SOLD for £ 3.5M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
In Rome, a traditional practice was to recover the marbles and the hard stones in the ancient villas to reassemble them in new decorative configurations. In Florence, Ferdinando de' Medici, grand duke from 1587 to 1609, was promoting the making of that precious marquetry in his workshops.
In Venice, Marino Grimani was Doge from 1595 to 1605. The Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa was remarkable for the intensive use of marbles and had housed the collection of 130 antique sculptures of his uncle Giovanni.
The lot 201 is a 150 x 112 x 6 cm table top entirely inlaid with pietre dure in a marble. The most precious stones are dominated by lapis lazuli arranged in eight cartouches and by several varieties of agate. This design is abstract with the exception of the four corners which are decorated with the Grimani coat of arms.
This piece is Florentine : all similar examples of armorial tops were made in the Grand Ducal workshops between 1597 and 1625. It was sold for £ 3.5M including premium.
The lot 202, sold for £ 1.62M including premium, is a 165 x 116 x 6 cm table top in the Roman style, with a wide variety of archaeological stones.
The two table tops, which had remained at the Grimani palace, were bought together in 1829 by the 3rd Earl of Warwick after his Grand Tour. Both are mounted on English bases in luxuriously carved gilt wood.