Catalogue cover for “The Exceptional Sale”
Are afflicted with O.D.D. — ormolu deficit disorder? Are you partial to palatial? Does Ron Arad sleekness and iPad efficiency leave you bored? Do you long for gleaming ornamentation? Christie’s “Exceptional Sale” contains your heavy dosage of ormolu, along with tortoiseshell, ivory, gilding, marquetry, ebony, pietra dura, porcelain and silver … and some Blackamoors, too.
The 48-lot sale featured heavily encrusted, over-the-top, meticulously wrought and just plain dazzling feats of workmanship and artistry. Bidders were giddy, at time raucous, and plentiful, with only six works unsold.
One bidder scooped six or more lots including the cover lot and those Blackamoors. The underbidder on the Blackamoors tried to wrest control of the works through large bidding increments, jumping from £260,000 to £350,000, £360,000 to £500,000 and £570,000 to £700,000, but the winning bidder was unfazed.
Lot 10. A PAIR OF GILT-BRONZE-MOUNTED CARVED MARBLE BUSTS OF A MALE AND FEMALE MOOR, ITALIAN, PROBABLY VENETIAN, SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY
Carved from black, white and coloured marbles; the turban of each head removeable and the inlaid eyes inset from the reverse; each on a square black marble socle; minor damages and restorations; 34¼ and 32¾ in. (87 and 83.2 cm.) high; 41½ and 40¾ in. (104.8 and 103.6 cm.) high, overall (2)
Estimate: £300,000 – £500,000 ($470,100 – $783,500). HAMMER PRICE £710,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £836,450 ($1,304,862)
This next lot includes a carved ivory plaque of Leda and the Swan, its composition the same as the strange Lelio Orsi painting recently returned to Italy.
Lot 5. A GEORGE II IVORY-MOUNTED PADOUK MEDAL CABINET
THE DESIGN ATTRIBUTED TO HORACE WALPOLE, THE EXECUTION ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM HALLETT, 1743, THE IVORY PLAQUES ITALIAN, EARLY 18TH CENTURY, THE EAGLES’ HEADS POSSIBLY BY JACOB FRANS VERSCOVERS
The triangular pediment carved with foliage and egg-and-dart, centred by an oval plaque depicting a lion, above a frieze of ribbon-tied oak leaves and acorns, the crossbanded doors with further round, oval and rectangular plaques depicting profile portraits, standing figures, and mythological scenes, enclosing a black velvet-lined interior, the apron with a small oak-lined drawer flanked by carved ivory eagles’ heads and hung with foliate and floral swags, the reverse with red wash
52½ in. (134 cm.) high; 38½ in. (98 cm.) wide; 8¼ in. (21 cm.) deep
Estimate: £800,000 – £1,200,000 ($1,253,600 – $1,880,400). HAMMER PRICE £1,050,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £1,217,250 ($1,898,910)
Lot 5. Detail.
Lot 30. THE OGDEN MILLS ‘ARMOIRES A SIX MEDAILLES’
THE CONTRE PARTIE ARMOIRE ATTRIBUTED TO ANDRE-CHARLES BOULLE AND HIS WORKSHOP, LOUIS XIV, CIRCA 1710-20, THE PREMIERE PARTIE ARMOIRE BY JEAN-FAIZELOT DELORME, LATE LOUIS XV, CIRCA 1760-70, WITH BRONZES BY RICHARD
Ormolu-mounted and decorated in brass and tortoiseshell première and contre partie Boulle marquetry and ebony respectively, each with a rectangular top outlined with brass banding above an egg-and-dart moulding and a pair of doors mounted with the figures of Aspasia and Socrates respectively and with ribbon-tied trails of medals celebrating the life of Louis XIV, on a fond of scrolling foliage and a simulated plinth with flower-filled trelliswork, the corners with scrolling clasps, the sides similarly decorated with ormolu-edged Boulle marquetry panels in première and contre partie respectively and centred by a cartouche formed of intertwined scrolls, the plinth base with central shield-shaped apron and raised on turned feet with gadrooned collars, the armoire in première partie stamped three times ‘J.F.L. DELORME’, the bronze of Aspasia signed ‘FAIT par Richard’ and the inside of the doors veneered in bois satiné, the contre partie armoire retaining constructural elements of original medal trays, the insides of the doors in rosewood with bois satiné lozenge, the contre partie Boulle marquetry panels to the sides replaced, probably at the same time as the medal trays were removed, possibly in the workshop of Delorme
51 in. (129.5 cm.) high; 48½ in. (123.5 cm.) wide; 17½ in. (45 cm.) deep [the première partie armoire]
51 in. (129.5 cm.) high; 48 in. (122 cm.) wide; 17½ in. (45 cm.) deep [the contre partie armoire] (2)
Estimate: £1,000,000 – £1,500,000 ($1,567,000 – $2,350,500) HAMMER PRICE £900,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £1,049,250 ($1,636,830)
The images on the doors (above) are based on a ceiling painting at Versailles (below):
LOT 11. A PAIR OF LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED CHINESE PORCELAIN EWERS
THE MOUNTS CIRCA 1745-49, THE PORCELAIN KANGXI PERIOD (1662-1722)
Each baluster vase decorated with deer, cranes, trees and foliage in underglaze blue and iron red on a pale celadon ground, the neck with scrolled acanthus terminating in a lip cast with coral and shell motifs and flanked to one side with a double-scrolled foliate handle surmounted by a winged dragon, above a scrolling foliate base, each base mount stamped with the ‘C-couronné’, one neck restored, one vase lacking circlet within rim mount
22½ in. (57 cm.) high; 13 in. (33 cm.) wide (2)
ESTIMATE: £250,000 – £400,000 ($391,750 – $626,800) HAMMER PRICE £400,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM: £481,250 ($750,750)
Lot 11. Detail.
Lot 21. A CHINESE PASTE-GEM-MOUNTED ORMOLU MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON TIMEPIECE TABLE CLOCK
THE CASE GUANGZHOU WORKSHOPS, QIANLONG DYNASTY (1736-1795), INCORPORATING CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN MECHANISMS (LATE 18th CENTURY), THE WATCH MOVEMENT SIGNED FOR PERRET, PARIS
CASE: modelled in tiers, to be seen from both sides, with a double-side mirror to the top bordered in red paste gems and opening to two further mirrored panels, topped by a patinated metal leafy mount, the mirror resting on a drum-shaped blue enamel clock-case with ormolu beast side masks, this in turn resting on a gadrooned support above a repoussé bureau and with running courtier figures to its sides (formerly holding mounts), the bureau ‘slope’ set with two red glass cabochons and opening to another mirror panel, also banded with two rows of paste gems in red and blue, the bureau pierced to front and back to reveal painted foliage and spiral glass rods forming an automaton waterfall, decorated with foliate designs and with coronet and pseudo trophy decoration with ‘nonsense’ inscriptions to the sides; resting on the backs of four caparisoned rhinoceroses (formerly with feet between) on a raised platform, all within a pierced balustrade with vases to its corners (formerly probably issuing flowers); this above a further section applied with foliate mounts, those to the front and rear centred by opposing European profile medallions, those to the sides with lion masks, this section also open to front and back to show a mirror-backed automaton scene of figures parading across an arched bridge, with ships moving between automaton glass rods simulating water below, with painted metal scenery around; this section also framed by a balustraded gallery with vase mounts to the corners (these formerly issuing floral sprays, one replaced); raised on a fabric-covered (distressed) stepped wooden plinth, in turn raised on foliate cast scroll feet; under a gilt-metal framed rectangular glass shade
DIAL: white enamel Roman and Arabic dial with pierced gilt-metal hands, within a red paste-gem-set bezel (glass lacking)
WATCH MOVEMENT: typical one-day verge pocket watch movement with pierced and engraved bridge to the balance, signed ‘Perret/A Paris'; key
MUSIC AND AUTOMATON MOVEMENT: housed in the lower section and released at will by a cord, with single gut fusee, a single tune playing on six bells with eight hammers; key
23¾ in. (60 cm.) high, excluding glass shade; 15¼ in. (39 cm.) wide; 11¾ in. (30 cm.) deep
Estimate: £150,000 – £250,000 ($235,050 – $391,750) HAMMER PRICE: £460,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £553,250 ($863,070)
Lot 21. Detail.
Lot 8. A REGENCE ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BRASS-INLAID RED TORTOISESHELL AND POLYCHROME HORN BOULLE MARQUETRY COMMODE
BY NICHOLAS SAGEOT, CIRCA 1710
The rectangular rounded top decorated with arabesques after Jean Bérain, centred by a pair of classically draped figures beneath a canopy and flanked by winged putti, the field further decorated with musicians, birds and masks, the reserves with scrolling foliage and flower head-filled trellis, above three bow-fronted drawers, the fronts similarly decorated with floral sprays and mounted with drop handles and espagnolette-cast escutcheons, the panelled sides decorated conformingly, the rounded angles with further strapwork above scroll-cast feet, originally conceived with two short frieze drawers, the top now hinged and lifting with the top drawer front converted to fold down providing a writing surface, all of its metal fittings apparently early 18th century, the bottom drawer stamped twice ‘NS’
35¼ in. (90 cm.) high; 48 in. (122 cm.) wide; 26½ in. (67 cm.) deep
Estimate: £120,000 – £180,000 ($188,040 – $282,060) HAMMER PRICE £130,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £157,250 ($245,310)
Lot 8 showing top of the commode.
Lot 8 showing detail of top of commode.
The lot above comes with this “special notice”:
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Lot 39. A CARVED MARBLE GROUP REPRESENTING CHARITY
BY JAN VAN DELEN (D. 1703), CIRCA 1673-1678
The seated female figure of Charity with a boy holding a bunch of grapes in her lap, a little girl standing beside her; on an integrally carved plinth and set into a later rectangular marble base; the reverse unfinished; repairs and restorations
42 x 31 x 18½ in. (106.7 x 78.5 x 47 cm)
Estimate: £150,000 – £200,000 ($235,050 – $313,400) HAMMER PRICE £320,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £385,250 ($600,990)
About the lot above the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow tweeted:
Buyer of $600K Jan Van Delen statue @ChristiesInc is the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation, which plans to return the art to its orig home
Jan Van Delen’s figure of Charity is heading to the Thurn und Taxis chapel of Brussels’ Our Lady of Sablon church (good title for the work)
Lot 16. A GEORGE III GILTWOOD ARMCHAIR
DESIGNED BY ROBERT ADAM AND MADE BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, SUPPLIED 1765
The padded back, arms and seat covered in blue floral cut-velvet silk damask, the shaped rectangular back framed with foliage-bound reeding, headed at the angles by paterae, the scrolled serpentine toprail centred by a pierced anthemia, the padded arms with scrolled foliate supports, the terminals with flowerheads, the padded serpentine-fronted seat above a deep seat-rail edged with a husk border carved with a shell issuing scrolling foliage ending in winged sphinxes, the sides with interlaced scrolls and sphinxes, the back with scrolls, on cabriole legs headed by anthemions suspending ribbon-tied wreaths, on hairy paw feet headed by a beaded girdle enclosing anti-friction castors, incised ‘VIII’ on the front rail, the seat-rails raised for upholstery tacking, with large screw-holes in the centre of each seat-rail and at the top of each leg for constructional tightening, the frame and side seat-rails in beechwood, the side seat-rail facings, front seat-rails and legs in limewood, with beech cross-struts, originally oil-gilt, now water-gilt over a thin lacquer with traces of original oil-gilding
41¾ in. (106 cm.) high; 28½ in. (72.5 cm.) wide; 29½ in. (75 cm.) deep
Estimate: £400,000 – £600,000 ($626,800 – $940,200) HAMMER PRICE £360,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £433,250 ($675,870)
Lot 36. A GEORGE III CHASED AND ENGRAVED ORMOLU QUARTER-STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON TABLE CLOCK FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
HENRY BORRELL, LONDON, CIRCA 1795
CASE: chased and engraved overall with foliate designs, the domed top applied with foliate bosses and flanked by vase finials (one replaced) to the corners, surmounted by a cresting with lanceolate leaf ‘sunburst’ border centred by a glass mirror against which an automaton catherine-wheel revolves (the present polychrome-painted silvered wheel a replacement), its reverse set with a period scene painted on paper of buildings beside a river (also now set with a replaced central mount), each corner of the case with a leaf-clasped column, the engraved side panels also with foliate mounts, the rear door pierced with cornucopia designs and backed with replaced silk, the front with a rectangular panel within a paste-set border rising to show automata (see below), the plinth applied with further foliate bosses below a (Chinese replacement?) silvered and pierced gallery intersected by dogs of Fo on pedestals, raised on four openwork conjoined dolphin and shell feet; the case re-gilded
DIAL: white enamel Roman and Arabic dial with crossed minute track, with gilt spade hands and sweep seconds under a detachable convex glass within a paste-set bezel, with strike/silent lever above 60, the dial flanked by replaced paste-set flowerhead buttons, the left for adjusting the hands and the right for tune selection
AUTOMATA: hourly or at will by pressing a button to the right side of the case, the catherine-wheel at the top revolves and the shutter to the front rises, revealing two lines of painted metal sailing ships moving between in two directions between two replaced spiral-twist glass rods simulating the sea, a lever causing them to rock naturalistically, with further glass rods simulating waterfalls behind them; all while music plays
MOVEMENT: the substantial movement joined by five pillars, rear-wound triple chain and fusees, pinwheel escapement positioned on the back plate, with good quality spring-suspended brass pendulum signed ‘Borrel’s Pendulum’ on a calibrated rating disc, secured with a holdfast, the music playing one of two tunes at the hour on ten bells with sixteen hammers via 47 mm. long pinned barrel, the hours struck on a bell to the back plate, the quarters on a carillon bell and the hour bell, with repeat button for the hours to the left side of the case, the border-engraved back plate signed ‘Henry Borrell/LONDON’ within a central cartouche; pendulum, winding key
30 in. (76 cm.) high; 13¾ in. (35 cm.) wide; 11 in. (28 cm.) deep
Estimate: £300,000 – £500,000 ($470,100 – $783,500) HAMMER PRICE £620,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £735,650
LOT 48. THE LEINSTER SERVICE
A GEORGE II SILVER DINNER-SERVICE
MARK OF GEORGE WICKES, LONDON, 1745-1756
Comprising the following:
A pair of Soup-Tureens, Covers, Liners, Stands and Ladles
An Epergne and Plateau
A set of Eighteen Soup-Plates
A set of Twenty-Nine Dishes, Twenty-Two Covers and Two Mazarines
A set of Eleven Salvers and Waiters
A set of Four Candlesticks
A set of Eight Sauceboats and Four Sauce-Ladles
A pair of Cruet-Stands
A pair of Boxes and Covers
A set of Four Condiment-Vases
Total gross weight 5,295 oz. 9 dwt. (164,705 gr.)
The arms are those of FitzGerald impaling the Royal arms of Charles II for James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare, later 1st Duke of Leinster (1722-1773), and his wife Lady Emily (1731-1814), daughter of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, whom he married on 7 February 1747.
ESTIMATE: £1,500,000 – £2,000,000 ($2,350,500 – $3,134,000) HAMMER PRICE £1,500,000 FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £1,721,250
Lot 48. Detail.
James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare and later 1st Duke of Leinster (1722-1773)
James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare and 1st Duke of Leinster (1722-1773) was the son of Robert, Earl of Kildare (1675-1744) and his wife Mary, eldest daughter of William O’Brien, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin. He was born on 29 May 1722, and styled Lord Offaly until 1744, when he succeeded his father to the peerage as Earl of Kildare. He served as Member of Parliament for Athy in 1741-44 while underage. On 21 February 1746 he was created Viscount Leinster of Taplow, co. Buckingham, and was made a member of the Irish Privy Council. Two weeks previously he had married, from her father’s house in Whitehall Place, at St Margaret’s Westminster, Emilia Mary (1731-1832), god-daughter of King George II and second surviving daughter of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and his wife Sarah, daughter and co-heiress of William Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan. James and Emilia had no fewer than nine sons and eight daughters.
He played an active part in Irish politics and with his enormous wealth and influential family connections soon formed a powerful party, becoming one of the most popular noblemen in Ireland. He accepted a post in the Government as Lord Deputy in 1756, and that of Master General of the Ordinance in 1758, and in 1761 was created Marquess of Offaly in the peerage of Ireland. Five years later he was created Duke of Leinster in the peerage of Ireland at a time when there were no other Irish Dukes. While his principal seat was the Palladian Carton House, in county Kildare, which had been built by his father and where,together with his wife, he created one of the most idyllic landscape gardens in Ireland, he also built, between 1745-48, Kildare House in the south of Dublin. Initially his townhouse was some distance from his aristocratic peers, who were clustered around Rutland and Mountjoy squares but as Kildare rightly predicted others were to follow him. The house, designed by the architect Richard Cassels, remained in the family until 1815 when it was sold to the Royal Dublin Society, having been renamed Leinster House. The house again changed hands in 1924 when it was acquired by the Irish state to become the home of the Irish Parliament.
The Leinster Dinner-Service
The wealth of Royal and aristocratic patrons, the skill of the goldsmith and the inventiveness of design are embodied in the greatest of 18th century dinner-services. The Leinster dinner-service is the grandest and most complete surviving aristocratic service. Its cost far exceeded that of the Prince of Wales’ service, and unlike so many others, it has remained almost intact.
The dinner-service was not only the greatest form of display plate but was also practical use. In the 17th century the buffet at the side of the dining-room had been used to show the host’s wealth through the assembled arrangement of flagons, flasks, cups and dishes. In the 18th century, display moved to the dining-table itself. The linen-covered table was centered on the great epergne or surtout-de-table. The fashion for dining à la française also called for soup-tureens for the first course and a plethora of dishes and covers for the following courses. The French style of dining created the need for cruets, sauceboats and condiment-vases for the table as the diners served themselves and their neighbours from the dishes that were placed on the table. The diners entered the dining-room to see a fully dressed table and, as the courses progressed, the dishes were removed and replaced. All courses were similarly served on silver dishes, and in the richest of houses with silver covers, protecting the food and providing a visual spectacle for the guests.
The way in which the dining table could be presented was the subject of great fashion and many publication. For example, Vincent La Chapelle’s The Modern Cook, published in 1736, gave instructions as to how the table should be arranged in the latest fashion. La Chapelle, cook to the great Francophile Earl of Chesterfield, included engravings, which illustrated the many different geometrical arrangements of dishes.
The Leinster dinner-service is rare, not only because of its survival, but also because its commission is fully listed in the Gentleman’s Ledgers of its maker, the Royal goldsmith George Wickes. The entry records each piece with its weight and its cost together with the cost of engraving and, in some instances, the cost of cases and the glass. This gives an insight into the contemporary use for the many elements which were incorrectly identified in the past. Michael Snodin, in ‘Silver Vases and their Purpose’, op. cit., pp. 37-42, notes that the set of four vases, described in the Wickes Ledger as ‘4 round boxes‘, are some of the earliest surviving condiment urns and the ‘two ovill boxes‘ were intended to hold sugar to be used in salad dressing. He deduced this from the items that follow their entry in the invoice, the spoons for use with the vases and boxes, namely ‘to 2 suger [sic] spoons 2 pepper 2 musterd [sic] spoons To 24 salt glasses and 12 musterd [sic] and pepper glasses‘.
The centrepiece or epergne as described by George Wickes is derived from a ‘surtout’ designed by William Kent and published in John Vardy’s Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent, 1744, pl. 27. This was commissioned by Frederick, Prince of Wales, from George Wickes in 1745. The form was influential. The same design was also the inspiration for the Bute epergne of 1761, commission from another Royal goldsmith, Thomas Heming, by John, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792). Bute was a great friend of the Prince of Wales, and had served as Lord of the Bedchamber. The choice of this design, first created for the Prince, was perhaps influenced by the family’s close relationship with the Royal family.
The service is in the Rococo style which was both highly fashionable and costly. The exceptional quality of the cast and chased ornament on, for example, the soup-tureens, epergne and plateau, together with the sheer quantity of silver used made the Leinster dinner-service the most costly of commissions. Joseph MacDonnell in his article for Irish Arts Review Yearbook put the price into context. The service cost £4,044 which equated to over 100 times the yearly salary of a curate. The service would have been used both at Carton House, co. Kildare and at Leinster House, his Dublin town house.