LONDON - Christie’s will be staging a one-off extended exhibition to preview a host of eclectic and fascinating items on offer in the Out of the Ordinary sale on 5 September 2013. Building on the success of The London Sale and summer exhibition held in 2012, the display will be open for five weeks from 5 August, offering visitors an exclusive opportunity to view pieces rarely seen on the market. Spanning all eras from the prehistoric natural world to the surreal realm of science fiction, the intriguing items are sure to prove popular with visitors to buzzing central London. Comprising over 150 lots ranging from around £1,000 to £200,000, this unique exhibition and auction will offer inspiration to those with a range of interests and will appeal to new and established collectors.
Charlotte Young, Head of Sale, commented: “Out of the Ordinary is a tightly curated one-off sale offering a unique opportunity to acquire something a little different from Christie’s South Kensington. Each lot has been selected as either visually striking or with an intriguing story to tell, and many have never before been seen at auction. I cannot wait to welcome the public to the extended exhibition in August and to witness their reaction to the juxtaposition of such diverse lots as a Triceratops skull with a Rolls Royce turbine fan. It is definitely a sale full of surprises that will excite the imagination.”
Highlights of the exhibition include a ‘flying machine’ known as the 'Waxflatter' Ornithopter from Steven Spielberg’s 1980s film production 'The Young Sherlock Holmes'. Estimated to fetch £50,000 – 80,000, the ornithopter was made to be operational, flapping its wings through pedal power.
Cygan, a giant robot made in 1957 and a veritable celebrity of the 1950s and 60s is another of the astonishing items in the sale. The eight-foot giant is a monumental relic of the atomic age (estimate: £8,000 – 12,000). It was one of the most sophisticated robots of its time with an ability to accept spoken commands and respond to light rays. When presented at London Olympia in 1958 Cygan amazed crowds, walking around the auditorium and even showing off some dance moves.
A menagerie of animals will roam the auction rooms with every kind of beast from a triceratops to a giant rocking horse the size of a two-storey house (estimate: £25,000 – 40,000). The Triceratops skull excavated from private land in the U.S. is estimated to fetch £150,000 – £250,000. With its three-horned head, the triceratops is one of the most famous species of dinosaur and is one of the most easily recognised. One of the last survivors before the fatal mass-extinction triggered by an asteroid 65 million years ago, these 30-foot long herbivores lived with the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The horns and recognisable bony frill were probably used as defense against this fearsome foe.
Other extraordinary creatures include a wood and hide model of a saddler’s horse, a large illuminated pierced brass sculpture of a rhino, (estimate: £8,000 – 10,000) and a rare North Italian Taxidermy Ostrich, dated 1785 (estimate: £8,000 - 12,000). This magnificent early taxidermy specimen in its purpose-built glazed case is thought to have once been housed in the renowned menagerie of the Villa Arconati, Lombardy. The impressive villa was nicknamed "Little Versailles" because of its ornate landscaped gardens conceived in the 17th Century French taste and was inhabited by Galleazzeo Arconati Visconti, an avid collector at this time.
Paintings and photographs span the ages, from a 19th Century oil on canvas of circus performers backstage through to a 20th Century bearded woman and a Contemporary Japanese painting of a girl in a curiosity shop, Maya, by Hiroshi Furuyoshi (estimate: £3,000 – 5,000). A selection of striking and sensual photographs by celebrity photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, who was also known for his highly stylised erotic imagery, will feature in the sale. Adult Females Attack Without Provocation is estimated to fetch £7,000 to £9,000.
Another key painterly highlight is a set of eight of Francis Bacon’s paint brushes, estimated between £20,000 and £25,000. Bacon originally gave the coveted brushes to Clive Barker, a fellow artist, in 1978. Barker and Bacon worked together during the 1960s and 70s resulting in Barker’s 1969 gilt-bronze life mask of Bacon, now on display in the National Portrait Gallery. The paintbrushes are likely to have formed part of Bacon’s Reece Mews studio in South Kensington, just minutes away from Christie’s salerooms.
An eclectic selection of furniture and decorative arts in the sale will appeal to private collectors as well as interior designers looking for eye-catching items. Highlights include a German large-scale display-model chair, commissioned by a flagship department store in 1979 and measuring over five and a half feet high (estimate: £8,000 – 12,000).
An enormous caviar dish, reputed to be the largest in the world, is estimated to make between £80,000 and 100,000. Likely to appeal to gourmet foodies this privately commissioned dish is beautifully crafted in silver and would make an opulent centrepiece. Once reserved for the Russian, Iranian and Austrian royalty, and even earlier by the ancient Roman and Persian aristocracy, the consumption of caviar has long been a statement of prestige and exclusivity. Though in recent years it has become a more accessible delicacy, the high price it still holds in the West has meant that caviar retains its associations of luxury and wealth, and with this the nickname ‘Black Gold’.
Out of the Ordinary encompasses the unusual, the unconventional and the unexpected.