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This IS the gift for someone who has everything – UPDATED

June 29, 2012

And now for a little frivolity. On July 19, Christie’s is auctioning off the contents of two Italian households.

Detail, Lot 200.

As one would expect, the bric-a-brac includes a broad array of furnishings, middling quality ancestral portraits (the good ones go into dedicated painting sales), country furniture that is both ornate and crude, armorial this and that, sideboards, music stands, somewhat impolitic statuary (“Blackamoors”), candlesticks, coral and crockery, some of the old family silver, chandeliers, tapestries, ceramics in the shape of fruits and vegetables (“continental faience tromp l’oeil bowl and stand”), and (attention Damien Hirst), entomological specimens and taxidermy animals, including lot 200, a stuffed ostrich from 1785!

From the catalogue, the Provenance (“By repute, the renowned menagerie of the Villa Arconati, Castellazzo di Bollate, Lombardy”) and the lot notes:

This magnificent and rare early taxidermy specimen in its purpose-built glazed case and signed label showing it as the work of a ‘Joseph Vulpinus’ is said to have once been housed in the renowned menagerie of the Villa Arconati, Lombardy.
One of the Villa di Delizia, the Villa Arconati was perhaps the most important and well-known of aristocratic residences in the Lombardy region during the settecento. Situated in Bollate in the vicinity of Castellazzo it was nicknamed “Little Versailles” because of its ornate landscaped gardens conceived in the 17th Century French taste.
The villa was inhabited by Galleazzeo Arconati Visconti, an avid collector, who at one time owned Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus; the Roman statue of Pompey the Great and the sculptures from the mausoleum of Gaston de Foiz, carved by Bambaia.
In addition the villa had an aviary and menagerie within its extensive grounds.
Following in the footsteps of the Visconti Arconati, Allesandro Orsi created his own wonderful menagerie within the walls of the Villa Orsi in Azzate – his ‘stanza delle meraviglie‘ illustrated his enduring fascination for learning obtained by acute observation of nature.

The glazed walnut case carved with chandelles and roundels, with a paper label signed and dated ‘1785/Joseph Vulpinus Fecit.’, some minor losses to the ostrich
The ostrich – 82½ in. (210 cm.) high;
The case – 101 in. (257 cm.) high; 72¾ in. (185 cm.) wide; 37¾ in. (96 cm.) deep.
Estimate: £15,000 – £30,000 ($23,415 – $46,830) FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM £10,000 ($15,630).

My favorite part of the lot description (above): “some minor losses to the ostrich.” Quelle domage.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 29, 2012 10:47 AM

    The ostrich would fit nicely in a corner of my dining room. But I wonder if he smells??

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