LONDON - On 23 January 2014, Sotheby’s London will present Of Royal and Noble Descent, a sale featuring royal and aristocratic heirlooms from important European dynasties. Spanning centuries of history, these works of art, precious objects and mementoes are not only testament to the bygone splendour of European courts, they also give a fascinating glimpse into the lives and sometimes extravagant tastes of their royal and noble owners.
Discussing the forthcoming sale, Heinrich Graf von Spreti, President Sotheby’s Germany, said: “Having survived through inheritance, these treasures from palaces and historic houses have never been seen by the general public and their appearance at auction offers a unique opportunity for discerning collectors to acquire them.”
Highlights in the sale include:
KING WILHELM I OF WÜRTTEMBERG ORMOLU & CUT‐GLASS SÛRTOUT DE TABLE
This spectacular surtoût de table (was probably made on a special request from the Württemberg Court in Germany for one of the three main events in King Wilhelm’s life between 1816 and 1820. On 24 January 1816, Wilhelm celebrated his second marriage to his first cousin, Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (1788–1819), daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia. Later that year, on 30 October, he was crowned King Wilhelm I of Wurttemberg and reigned until his death on 25 June 1864. In April 1820, after the death of Catherine, King Wilhelm I married Duchess Pauline Therese of Wurttemberg (1800–1873). The five lots making up the surtoût de table garniture carry a combined estimate of £86,000‐136,500 (ˆ100,500‐159,600).
PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN RULING FAMILY
An Italian ebony and hardstone inset cabinet‐on‐stand, second half 19th century. Est. £40,000‐60,000 (ˆ48,100‐72,500)
Once in the collection of SAR la Grande‐Duchesse Josephine‐Charlotte de Luxembourg (1927‐2005), this impressive cabinet evokes the celebrated production of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure founded in Florence in 1588 by the Grand Duke Ferdinand I de Medici.
MOST PROBABLY OFFERED BY THE GERMAN EMPEROR WILHELM II TO THE TURKISH SULTAN ABDUL HAMID II
A German Imperial gilt bronze and cloisonné enamel mounted ebony and satin birch coin collector’s Cabinet, circa 1890. Attributed to Ravené & Sussman‐Hellborn, Berlin. Est. £6,000‐9,000 (ˆ7,300‐10,900)
It has been suggested that this fine cabinet was made as an intended gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm II (1859‐1941) to the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1842‐1918). From the start of his reign Wilhelm II closely befriended the Sultan and visited him in Istanbul on three occasions in 1889, 1898 and 1917. The presence of the Imperial coat‐ofarms and the rather abundant Oriental style seems to support this theory.
PROPERTY OF A DUTCH NOBLEMAN
Vatican Mosaic Studio, Rome, circa 1735‐1750, after Guido Reni (1575‐1642), St. Peter in prayer. Est. £50,000‐80,000 (ˆ60,500‐96,500)
Due to their high intrinsic value and powerful religious imagery, the mosaics of the Vatican Workshops became the diplomatic gifts of choice of a series of 18th‐century Popes. This practice gives credence to the story that the present mosaic was given to the ancestors of the present owners, Joannes Baptista and Paul Jacob Cloots, powerful merchants active in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Lisbon, who were ennobled by King Philip V of Spain in 1718 and made Barons by Emperor Charles VI in 1725.
PROPERTY FROM THE DUTCH NOBLE CALKOEN FAMILY
Johann Christian Vollerdt (Leipzig 1708 ‐ 1769 Dresden), A Winter landscape with figures skating on a river, a windmill beyond, 1754. Est. £15,000‐20,000 (ˆ18,100‐24,100)
This oil on canvas was commissioned directly from the German landscape painter Johann Christian Vollerdt by the great Dutch diplomat Cornelis Calkoen (1696‐1764). Together with four other lots in the sale, this work was originally part of the famous collection formed by Cornelis Calkoen in the mid‐18th century and has remained in his family ever since. All these paintings were painted in Dresden, where Calkoen was the Dutch ambassador between 1744 and 1761 to the court of Augustus the ‘Strong’, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.
MINIATURE MODEL COMMEMORATING THE DEFEAT OF NAPOLEON AT THE BATTLE OF LEIPZIG
By August Wilhelm Sause German, Leipzig, 1813. Est. £60,000‐90,000/ ˆ72,500‐109,000
The Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 was a decisive blow to Napoleon’s war effort and therefore it is regarded as a turning point in the lead‐up to the emperor’s final defeat at Waterloo in June 1815. The victory resulted in the liberation of Germany on the right bank of the Rhine and is remarkable for the union of all of Napoleon’s opponents on the eve of the battle.
This present miniature monument in ivory and amber consists of three canopies supported by slim columns: the lower tier with Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Emperor Francis I of Austria and King Frederick William III of Prussia holding hands to symbolize their federation, the countenances of the commanders Wellington, Wittgenstein, Schwarzenberg and Blucher are reproduced under the middle canopy, and God’s eye within a corona, symbolising the Holy Alliance, is at the top.
PROPERTY FROM MEMBER OF A SOUTH GERMAN ROYAL FAMILY
A 19th‐century Royal children’s carriage. Est. £5,000‐7,000 (ˆ6,100‐8,500)
This exquisite piece was made for Prince Adalbert (1828‐1875), the youngest son of Ludwig I, King of Bavaria and future uncle of Ludwig II, widely‐known as the creator of many romantic castles such as Neuschwanstein and as the most important patron of the composer Richard Wagner.