GENEVA - L’Hôtel des Ventes de Genève will embrace this major characteristic of Art Nouveau, which advocated « total art », art in everything but also for everyone. From 24 to 27 September, more than 2,000 lots will be put up for auction, with an estimated total value of CHF 2 to 3 million (EUR 1.7 to 2.5 million; USD 2 to 3 million) for starting prices ranging from CHF 100 to CHF 50,000. All forms of decorative art will be represented: from silverware to tableware, from furniture to carpets and display case objects. Indigenous art and Asian art will also play a prominent role.
The week will begin on Monday evening with an auction devoted to haute couture, vintage prêt-à-porter and prestige furs. Balmain and Chanel evening dresses will rub shoulders with panther-skin, lynx and sable furs, all to be sold to the highest bidder, without a reserve price! Luxury leather goods will be represented by Dior, Hermès, Lacroix, Vuitton bags… This will be followed by the auction of militaria, consisting of a major private collection of European, American and Soviet uniforms, helmets and arms from the Second World War as well as more ancient halberds, sabres, helmets and shields. On Tuesday 25 September at 2 p.m., the sale of ancient and modern books will begin, including a major literary and historical library that belonged to a Genevan patrician family. It consists of several thousand works from the XVIth to the XVIIIth centuries… As an additional attraction for bibliophiles, several original Art Nouveau works and magazines will be offered for sale (Pan, l’Estampe Moderne, works illustrated by Mucha…) as well as rare in-folio works from the end of the XIXth century on orchids, such as the The Orchid album by Robert Warner. The sale of ancient paintings, modern art and contemporary art on the Wednesday evening will be dominated by a fine pair of oil paintings signed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry and an impressive Vue de Genève by Louis Baudit. On Thursday, aficionados of quality jewellery, clocks and watches will be able to choose from more than 800 jewels and watches created by the leading brands: Adler, Audemars Piguet, Boucheron, Chanel, Vacheron Constantin, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Rolex… Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels jewels inlaid with Burman non-chauffé rubies (certificate SSEF) are the standout items in this ensemble.
Bernard Piguet, director and chief auctioneer of the Hôtel des Ventes de Genève stresses: « Once again, this autumn session is keeping its promises. It brings together many high quality and very diverse objects, which means that young amateurs can make discoveries, while specialists will find many rare items of outstanding interest».
Works exclusively from private Swiss collections
More than 400 lots of books will be auctioned, with estimates ranging from CHF 50 to CHF 20,000. There is plenty here to satisfy bibliophiles, collectors of rare works and those wishing to decorate their library shelves with fine bound volumes from the XVIIIth century. The annual book auction at the Hôtel des Ventes of Geneva can be divided into three main sections:
1) The complete library of a Genevan patrician family whose name will be revealed in the auction catalogue. This collection was acquired over several generations and consists of works from the XVIth to the XIXth centuries, the vast majority being very fine bound volumes from the XVIIIth century (total estimate CHF 50,000-80,000). Blondel, Diderot, Montaigne, Rabelais, Rousseau, Voltaire… are among the celebrated authors in this ensemble, alongside numerous works of history, architecture and Helvetica, including several works about Geneva . One work in particular will arouse the curiosity of visitors. It is an erotic work of the XVIIIth century. Written by a scholar, it is entitled « Monumens du Culte Secret des Dames Romaines » (Monuments of the Secret Cult of Romanian Ladies). It is based on a famous work describing archaeological discoveries of the period, but with the addition of amorous attributes for each illustration (lot 333, CHF 300-500).
2) An ensemble of books of art from the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth century of very high quality including the majority of the Symbolists and the Art Nouveau school, but also modern illustrations by F.-L. Schmied, Erni,... Note in particular Pan, the main artistic and literary magazine of the German Jugendstil, with numerous original engravings by Behrens, Cross, Eckmann, Redon, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vallotton, and Van de Velde, with texts by Mallarmé, Verlaine and others (CHF 16,000-20,000), 21 magazines bound in full calf leather in 5 luxurious volumes. The same section also includes 24 issues from the first 2 years of publication of Ver Sacrum, founded by G. Klimt and representing the Art Nouveau movement and the Viennese Secession (CHF 2,000-3,000), 24 copies of the French art journal L’Estampe Moderne (CHF 4,000-6,000), the complete series of Die Insel, Cocorico, La Plume, etc., and numerous works about Toulouse-Lautrec containing rare plates.
3) An exceptional collection of books about orchids. Trade with this flower was very fashionable in the XIXth century. In fact business flourished so profusely that the producers themselves published luxury illustrated works in order to attract a clientele of high standing. These orchid cultivators included Sir Sander, who in 1888-1894 published Reichenbachia, Orchids illustrated and described, with more than 190 lithographs, dedicated to Queen Victoria, the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna and Queen of Belgium Marie Henriette (CHF 8,000-12,000). In 1882-1897, Robert Warner published the superb Orchid album. The original addition comprises descriptions and illustrations of these extraordinary flowers which were much sought after at the time. This work will be put up for auction with an estimated price of CHF 8,000-12,000.
Fashion and vintage haute couture accessible to everyone
Constantly changing, fashion and fashion trends generally reflect the customs and the desires of an era. The Hôtel des Ventes de Genève is revisiting in particular the fashion trends of the 1950s with a magnificent collection of haute couture dresses from this period from the trousseau of the mysterious princess G.R. (in the photo opposite wearing lot 48, a Balenciaga dress with an estimate of CHF300-500). She lived in Switzerland for several years and her possessions have remained intact in a container for more than 50 years. This ensemble with very reasonable estimates should enable all those who wish to wear or to collect haute couture by Balmain, Chanel, or Hermès to realise their dream. One of the standout items is an elegant 1955 Dior wedding dress, with a very attractive estimate of CHF 800-1,200.
This sale will include about 70 haute couture and prêt-à-porter dresses, costumes and coats, as well as 37 lots of fashion accessories designed by Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Hermès, Lacroix, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent... It will be complemented by almost 40 lots of prestige fur in sable, chinchilla, lynx, fox and mink from the houses of Canton , Dior, Max Reby, Revillon, Vermorel... all for sale without a reserve price. Will connaisseurs be able to resist the overwhelming attraction of a panther skin coat with an estimate price of CHF 2,000-3,000 ?
Luxury leatherware is represented by 70 bags, trunks and suitcases by the leading designers: Cartier, Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Vuitton. The dominant items in this selection are the famous Kelly bags by Hermès in Brown crocodile skin (lot 168, CHF 6,000-8,000).
A sale of militaria presented for auction in Geneva for the first time, an ensemble of arms and matériel recounting the history of European conflicts
For the first time in Geneva , more than 130 lots of weapons, uniforms and other matériel will be offered for sale on Monday 24 September. This impressive collection comes entirely from private Swiss collections and bears witness to the historical development of the army through the centuries, with a particular emphasis on two periods of history.
The Second World War first, with a huge collection of European, American and Soviet uniforms, helmets, weapons and decorations. Here are the amateur will also find war trophies, photos and historical documents. An English uniform complete with all accessories (lot 297, CHF 1,500-2,500), another uniform that belonged to colonel Mahony (lot 293, CHF 1,000-1,500), along with a rare item of English parachutist equipment issued by the SOE (Special Operational Executive) (lot 304, CHF 600-800) should attract the interest of well-informed collectors.
Next comes the XIXth century, with several sabres, helmets and armour, from the French, English, Prussian and Swiss armies. To mention one example: a French dragoon (cavalry) helmet, model 1872-74, richly decorated with a black plume, a red marmousset and a Gorgon’s head at the front of the crest (lot 231, CHF 500-800).
Old masters, Swiss art and contemporary art - the main attractions in the Wednesday evening auction
In France , the first part of the XVIIIth century was characterised by a crisis in painting resulting from a weakening of the « grand style » in historical painting and the emergence of a more modest style of genre painting. Still lifes, landscapes, scènes galantes and small portraits gained prominence by adapting to the light and agreeable Regency style. In this context, painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) occupies a leading place, notably with his hunting scenes and still lifes. His portraits of the King's favourite dogs show strong affinities with the realistic Flemish School of animal painting. This influence is clearly visible in the pair of oil paintings on sale in Geneva , particularly in the treatment of light and the characterisation of the animals depicted (lot 1687, CHF 50,000-80,000).
While Oudry is the leading artist in the auction of Wednesday 26 September, the work of other masters of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries are also represented: Adler, Arnulphi, Ellis, Hayez, Induno, Keelhoff, Verboeckoven…
Swiss art will also be prominent, with a pastel by Giacometti, 8 watercolours by Moilliet, 11 works by Wolf Barth and above all a very large Vue de Genève signed Louis Baudit (1870-1960) (lot 1626, 170 x 106 cm , CHF 15’000-20’000).
As for contemporary art, the works of Arikha, Matton, Maryan from the Simon Spierer collection, much of which was auctioned by the Hôtel des Ventes two years ago, will feature, together with ceramics by Picasso and bronzes by Arman and Berrocal.
Objects of curiosity
Aficionados of esoteric objects will be delighted by several lextremely unusual lots. There is a collection of skulls made of different materials and with different functions, for example a well-endowed imp manufactured by the famous Bronze Manufactory of Vienna (lot 688, CHF 200-300) and a real and disquieting Dayac skull from Borneo that is completely engraved and encrusted with precious stones (lot 1158 CHF 300-500).
About ten souvenirs from the Château du Grand-Malagny in Genthod (GE) have been found: the map of the domain dating from 1820 (lot 1462, CHF 2,000-3,000) attests that French influence extended as far as the lake.
The must-have items in Geneva : more than 800 lots of jewellery and watches
The September sales bring together more than 2,000 lots of silverware, Art Nouveau, Art Déco, indigenous art, Eastern and Far Eastern art, religious art, old carpets, furniture …
The jewels and watches comprise models of the leading brands (Adler, Audemars Piguet, Boucheron, Chanel, Hublot, Rolex), the star attraction being jewels designed by Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels adorned with rare non-chauffé Burman rubies. Jewels designed by Salvador Dali will appeal to aesthetes, while those with a scientific bent will be fascinated by a steel siderometer created by Longines.
Success based on a long edition of sales by auction
Founded in 1978, the Hôtel des Ventes Geneva has been headed since 2006 by Bernard Piguet. He leads a team of about 20 colleagues – including 12 specialists who can estimate the value of any object of art from the classical period to the 20th century, in a value range from CHF 300 to CHF 300,000 –. Bernard Piguet , a talented auctioneer, is also a specialist in succession planning.
The auction house organises four auctions every year, each with more than 2000 lots. In the spring auction, the Hôtel des Ventes broke several price records with the sale of works by Jean Cocteau and Picasso, the standout items in the Serge Lifar collection. A comparable success was achieved in December 2011 with the sale of 28 lots of unpublished photographs of the family of Tsar Nicolas II for a total of more than CHF 1.5 million.
Exceptional Russian imperial sale in December!
For December, Bernard Piguet announces an exceptional sale of Imperial Russian items from prestigious families such as the Romanovs, Jussupovs and Thormeyers. All owners wishing to sell items of Russian art are invited to contact the Hôtel des Ventes of Geneva to benefit from this prestigious sale.