PARIS - The sale of furniture, works of art and sculpture to be staged at Sotheby’s Paris on November 10 reflects the diversity and richness of the decorative arts in 18th century France. Among the 300 lots to be offered for auction is a magnificent Louis XV ebony bureau plat with cartonnier (c.1765-70), stamped Montigny, topped by a gilt-bronze clock with a movement signed Bouchet à Paris (est. ˆ500,000-800,000). This is one of the few bureau by Philippe-Claude Montigny (who qualified as maître in 1766) with an ebony-veneered cartonnier; most were in marquetry. It is also exemplifies the à la grecque (Greek) style introduced to France shortly after the discovery of Pompei by Comte de Caylus, the Marquis de Marigny and Lalive de Jully – who commissioned the famous Joseph bureau in the Château de Chantilly.
Another Louis XV bureau plat à la grecque (c.1765-70) will be offered, this one a marquetry bureau stamped Montigny & JME. Such bureau, stamped indifferently Dubois or Montigny, were also made in a smaller version; the one here is identical to a bureau Poirier delivered to the Earl of Coventry in 1765. It must have been designed before 1763, the year when "a varnished bureau of 4 feet and a half, made à la grecque" was recorded in the inventory drawn up after the death of Jacques Dubois (est. ˆ180,000-250,000).
The sale also includes an unusual Louis XV wrought-iron and gilt-metal console from Marseille (c.1755), centrally adorned beneath its marble top with an openwork cartouche containing the monogram M and two interlocking Gs. The console has strong stylistic similarities with a group of metal consoles produced in Marseille around 1750, including a slightly larger console (some 5ft wide) sold at Sotheby's London in 1994 (est. ˆ50,000-80,000).
A Louis XV Chinese lacquer and ormolu-mounted commode stamped Macret & JME is adorned with magnificent decoration of court scenes and figures. Another Chinese lacquer commode with the Macret stamp, from the former Guérault Collection, was sold at Sotheby's New York in 1983 (est. ˆ150,000-250,000).
Among the works of art, a pair of Chinese celadon vases with covers from the Yongzheng Period (1723-1735), with Régence ormolu mounts (c.1725-30) and marked with the crowned C (1745-49), is sure to enchant connoisseurs of mounted porcelain. The porcelain here is contemporaneous with the mounting, which can be dated to around 1730. A certain number of similar vases appeared on the market between 1961 and 1974, including ones from the former Bloch Collection and the Florence Gould Collection (est. ˆ300,000-500,000).
An impressive Louis XV gilt-bronze and Meissen porcelain clock (c.1755), signed LE ROY A PARIS on the dial and movement, reflects the creativity of the Parisian marchands-merciers who specialized in embellishing porcelain with impressive gilded bronze mounts. Its size, and the quality of the bronze, lend this clock exceptional character – comparable to that of the clock known as La Source, now in the Louvre, and to the Sunflower Clock owned by the Queen of England (est. ˆ150.000-250.000).
The sculpture section features a splendid ensemble of medieval works from North Germany, forming a veritable cabinet of curiosities involving bronzes, ivories and carvings. Highlights include a boxwood medallion of St Catherine from the Netherlands, c.1700 (est. ˆ1,800-2,500), and a polychrome limewood Pietà from Southern Germany, c.1760 (est. ˆ4,000-6,000).
Another highlight is a pair of gilded and silvered bronze Bird-Catchers (Germany, c.1700) based on models by Giambologna (1529-1608). These may well be the pair mentioned in the Chevalier de la Roque inventory in 1745. Their German goldsmith took his inspiration from Giambologna's Bird-Catcher (1574), of which several versions are known – with variants in London's Victoria & Albert Museum and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore. The quality of the casting, the exquisite chasing, and the sumptuous bases with their swags and volutes invite comparison with bronzes in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum (est. ˆ100,000-150,000).
It was in 1573 that Giambologna designed his Pacing Bull (now in the Bargello Museum in Florence), no doubt for Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. It is a popular subject among collectors, and the bronze version to be offered here, made in the early 17th century by a follower of Giambologna, combines precise chasing and rigorous detailing with superb reddish-brown patina (est. ˆ120,000-180,000).
A handsome ivory relief showing the Repose During the Flight into Egypt, probably carved in the Netherlands (second half of the 17th century), has an attractive agate-veneered ebonized frame with an Austrian eagle wax seal with on the back. The relief has remained in the same collection since the 19th century, when it was acquired by Alexandrine von Lebzeltern, Vicomtesse des Cars (1744-1854), daughter of the Austrian diplomat, Graf Louis-Joseph von Lebzeltern, who served at the court of the Russian Tsars from 1816 to 1826 (est. ˆ30,000-50,000).
Little is known of the origins or purpose of a spectacular gilt-bronze and copper commemorative column (c.1830-40) – an eloquent example of the Historicist taste prevalent under Louis-Philippe. The column is spangled with stone cameos portraying French kings and queens, probably after engravings made by Nicolas Delaunay to illustrate his Médailles des Rois de France (1713-15). The Monnaie des Médailles, which became responsible for minting coins in 1639, reached its apogée under Delaunay before going into gradual decline over the course of the 18th century (est. ˆ25,000-30,000).