• 傢俱、設計&鏡子

    32 638 銷售中

    6 733 617 已售出

  • 0—3 430 000 000 HKD
  • 19 3月 1988—15 1月 2019


Just Andersen

定價: 14 500 HKD


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With a monolithic shard of forbidding ice at its compositional heart and a perfectly balanced atmospheric spectrum of arctic hues, Gerhard Richters Eisberg is the ultimate example of the artists painterly re-examination of the landscape genre for the photographic age. The mesmeric beauty of the mist-enshrouded frozen seascape is paralleled by the extraordinary dexterity of its painterly execution: the arctic atmosphere emanates luminescence without betraying a specific source or direction of light. The result is a hypnotic twilight, neither dawn nor dusk but rather a glowing semi-lightness entirely characteristic of the polar latitudes. In the present work, Richter has employed dramatic films of hazy turquoise and soft greys in delicate sfumato to create an enthralling, symphonic whole. Within Richters canon of landscape paintings, Eisberg is the largest of only three paintings on the subject, one of which is held in the prestigious collection of Doris and Donald Fisher that is promised to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Readily evocative of the romantic and sublime landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich and the atmospheric light effects of J. M. W. Turner, the present work instantly conjures an encompassing transhistorical field of references, whilst remaining resolutely contemporary through a photorealist execution. When speaking of why he chose to paint landscapes, Richter pronounced: I felt like painting something beautiful (Gerhard Richter cited in: Dietmar Elger, Ed., Gerhard Richter: Landscapes, Ostfildern-Ruit 1998, p. 12). As though glowing from within, Eisberg is a masterful example of Richters extraordinary capacity to capture light and its changing effects. In so doing, the present work is immediately redolent of the empirical studies of the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, who laboriously studied nature and its ever changing appearance. Monets primary concern had been the sensation of colour and its properties and these technical innovations underwrote his highly advanced theoretical approach. As Monet noted, "for me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value" (Claude Monet cited in: Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the Great Artists from Blake to Pollock, London 1963, n.p.). Indeed, the same can be said for Eisberg, where the exceptionally rendered surrounding arctic light utterly vivifies the atmosphere and so perfectly captures the changing light of day. Following Richters infamous 1971 exhibition with Blinky Palermo at Heiner Friedrichs Gallery and the subsequent annulment of his arrangement with the dealer in 1972, the artist decided to leave Dusseldorf for a ten day cruise through the icy straits of Greenland. The main aim of the trip was to experience and photographically record the deserted arctic landscape; as Richter noted, I see countless landscapes, photograph barely 1 in 100,000, and paint barely 1 in 100 of those that I photograph. I am therefore seeking something quite specific; from this I conclude that I know what I want (Ibid., p. 19). What Richter specifically sought from this particular arctic expedition was to take photos in the mode of Caspar David Friedrich's The Wreck of Hope. The whole thing was a project" (Gerhard Richter cited in: Dietmar Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago and London 2009, p. 202). Painted in Dresden in 1823-24, Friedrich's canonical work, which is actually entitled The Sea of Ice and today resides in the Kunsthalle Hamburg, envisages William Edward Parry's ship Griper trapped in the ice as it charted the then unprecedented Northwest Passage in 1820. When Friedrich was ice-skating aged just 13 he was saved from drowning by his younger brother Christoph, but in doing so Christoph tragically drowned in the icy water before the artists eyes. It can be hardly denied, therefore, that Friedrich's The Sea of Ice must be seen in relation to this traumatic experience. As if in homage, biographical import is also richly prevalent in Richters own magnificent reworking of Freidrich's Romantic sublime. Indeed, Richter's biographer and art historian, Dietmar Elger, describes this as the primary catalyst for the creation of Eisberg. Discussing Friedrich's The Sea of Ice, he has argued: "What Richter saw reflected in the painting, however, was his own state of mind", explaining that at the time Richter's marriage was in crisis: "the photographs he took in Greenland were visual analogues for his own failed hopes. He was exhausted by the struggle to find his own way as a husband and father, and felt that his dream of domestic happiness had, as a consequence, been wrecked" (Dietmar Elger, Ibid., p. 203). Furthermore, Richter himself has recently admitted that the isolation of his polar exodus provided a psychological retreat from his life in Dusseldorf: "The project was also an excuse for getting away... Trouble in my marriage was reaching a climax. Going into the ice could be interpreted as longing for a place where one feels safe just so long as there is no life, only ice" (Gerhard Richter cited in: ibid.). Eventually, Richter's marriage to Ema collapsed and they divorced in 1981. With Richter embarking work on the present series only one year later, as Elger has posited, Eisberg and its attendant sister works may have been created in an attempt "to work through his unfulfilled hope for familial happiness and to take final stock a difficult period in his life" (Ibid., p. 208). This psychobiographical framework underlines the prevalence of Richter's personal situation for the creation of Eisberg. Furthermore, the iceberg itself takes on metaphorical significance in representing Richter's own psychical state. In nature, icebergs are physical fragments that have broken away from a glacier or ice shelf; isolated as a consequence of stress and rupture, they are destined to drift aimlessly until the point of their inevitable dissolution back into the liquid state of water. Indeed, the present work can thus be viewed within the thematic arc of what Mark Godfrey terms Richter's "Damaged Landscapes", encompassing both the physical properties of destruction, such as his aerial views of bombed cities and stormy seas; as well as an emotional charge that speaks to both the trauma of the post-war period and of a wilderness period that the artist has described as: "that time I lost the ground under my feet" (Mark Godfrey cited in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, 2011-12, p. 73). However, to solely examine this masterpiece through the lens of the artist's biography would be a severe injustice to the major artistic advancements it also represents in the genre of post-modern landscape painting. Paintings with a landscape motif have played a central role in the artists practice for over 35 years, a practice that he begun in 1963 with works such as Schloss Neuschwanstein (Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany) and another portraying the Alster in Hamburg at night. No other subject has fascinated the artist so extensively nor occupied him over such a long period, yet the total number of landscape paintings is relatively low, making them comparatively rare in his oeuvre. Their underlying significance derives much more from their overriding importance within the body of Richters work and in the consistency with which he uses them to inform other motifs particularly his iconic Abstrakte Bilder. In the present work Richter directly alludes the nineteenth-century tradition of Romantic painting, and yet his interest supersedes a simple or nostalgic yearning for spiritual transcendence via awe-induced reverence of nature. In this vein, art historian and curator Robert Storr has differentiated Richter's work from that of Caspar David Friedrich by noting: "[Richter's] pictures are as beautiful as their natural subjects and beautiful as painted artefacts, but they withhold any invitation to empathy. Whereas romantic paintings generally meet viewers halfway usually by means of a surrogate figure in the landscape that intensifies their associations and emotions while offering to lift them out of themselves Richter's paintings of this type are indifferent to the viewer's needs, acknowledging by that pointed indifference that the viewer and his or her needs exist. Thus they portray natural phenomena without symbolic amplification" (Robert Storr cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, 2002, p. 53). In this regard, curator Hubertus Butin views Richters notion of Nature as a socially domesticated place and his investigation into medially conveyed perception as quite distinct from the transcendental, loaded understanding of Nature found amongst German Romantics: Richters landscape paintings do not go back to any religious understanding of Nature, for him the physical space occupied by Nature is not a manifestation and a revelation of the transcendental (Hubertus Butin, The Un-Romantic Romanticism of Gerhard Richter, in: Exh. Cat., Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy (and travelling), The Romantic Spirit in German Art 1790-1990, 1994, p. 462). Instead, by employing the sublime visual language forged in Friedrichs pantheistic view and passing it through a mechanical photographic document, Richter systematically de-romanticises the sublime landscape genre and empties it of human emotion. Following the irreconcilable events precipitated in the first half of the Twentieth Century, Richter confronts the impossibility of continuity: by invoking the Romantic tradition directly, Richter looked to make visible the caesura separating his age from Friedrichs (Ibid., p. 80). In 1973 Richter acknowledged this strategy: A painting by Caspar David Friedrich is not a thing of the past. What is past is only the set of circumstances that allowed it to be painted: specific ideologies, for example. Beyond that, if it is good, it concerns us transcending ideology as art that we ostensibly defend (perceive, show, make). Therefore, today, we can paint as Caspar David Friedrich did (Gerhard Richter, Letter to Jean-Christophe Ammann, February 1973, in: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ed., The Daily Practice of Painting, London 1995, p. 81). Where his landscape paintings may first appear anachronistic and incommensurate with contemporary practices of high-art, Richters detachment and evacuation of sentiment via the serial and mechanical  infusing his work with the vicissitudes of recent history ensures a legitimate form of landscape painting that is also intensely beautiful. In Richters oeuvre the landscapes are motivated by the dream of a classical order and a pristine world by nostalgia in other words the anachronism in them takes on a subversive and contemporary quality (Gerhard Richter cited in: op. cit., Ostfildern-Ruit 1998, p. 21). In Eisberg Richter has accurately recorded the visual information of a photograph, thus bypassing the vagaries of subjective interpretation and adhering to his maxim that: "The photograph is the most perfect picture. It does not change; it is absolute, and therefore autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its way of informing, and in what it informs of, it is my source" (Gerhard Richter, 'Notes, 1964-1965', The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews 1962-1993, London 1995, p. 31). Where Romanticism prescribed an ontological philosophy concerning imagination and emotion, with a marked appreciation for external nature, photography captures a transient moment with "no style, no concept, no judgement" (Gerhard Richter cited in: Peter Sager, 'Mit der Farbe denken', Zeitmagazin 49, 28 November 1986, p. 33). Indeed, Roald Nasgaard has described how Richter's employment of photographs "rescued him from the burden of inherited tradition, and from the alternative traps of the prevailing aesthetics and ideologies around him" (Roald Nasgaard cited in: Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Gerhard Richter: Paintings, 1988-89, p. 40). Dependent upon aperture exposure and shutter speed, the photograph is correlated to a finite length of time: as propounded by Storr: "Conceptually, Roland Barthes' definition of the photographic condition as "the that has been" of experiential reality is once again germane. These vistas never were and never will be there for us; they were there for the artist just as long as it took to snap the picture and are only available to him now through the combination of that imperfect documentation and his equally imperfect memory" (Robert Storr cited in: op. cit., p. 67). Moreover, as in the case of Eisberg, Richter has magnified the imagery of a postcard-sized photograph to a metre and a halfs width of canvas, thereby expanding the visual information to create a vision not quite consonant with actual ocular experience and positing vital queries about the realities of visual perception and cognition. Perfectly summarising the intriguing paradoxes inherent within the present work, in 1986 Richter observed; of course, my landscapes are not only beautiful or nostalgic, with a Romantic or classical suggestion of lost paradises, but above all untruthful (even if I did not always find a way of showing it) and by untruthful I mean glorifying the way we look at Nature Nature, which in all its forms is always against us, because it knows no meaning, no pity, no sympathy, because it knows nothing and is absolutely mindless; the total antithesis of ourselves, absolutely inhuman (Gerhard Richter cited in: op. cit., Ostfildern-Ruit 1998, p. 30). Utterly glorifying the mesmeric, inhuman beauty of Nature in its most uncompromising wild state, Eisberg innovatively foregrounds history and artistic inheritance within the complex debate for paintings legitimacy in the later Twentieth Century. The National Gallery, Prague, has requested that this work be included in the artist's first retrospective in the Czech Republic, due to open in April 2017. Signed, dated 1982 and incorrectly numbered 496-1 on the reverse; titled on the stretcher

  • GBR
  • 2017-03-08

A Highly Important late Louis XVI ormolu-mounted Japanese black and gilt lacquer and ebony commode à vantaux and

A Highly Important late Louis XVI ormolu-mounted Japanese black and gilt lacquer and ebony commode à vantaux and secrétaire à abattant en suite late 18th century, attributed to Adam Weisweiler and Pierre-Philippe Thomire, possibly under the direction of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, The commode à vantaux with rectangular Egyptian granito rosso top surrounded by an ormolu border cast with gadroons and flowers upon a slightly breakfront frieze fitted with three drawers and mounted all around with ormolu anthemia and palmettes, the front with central cupboard door inset with a pair of ormolu-framed stylized uchiwa fans depicting pavillions and floral sprays on a roiro ground, the side doors inset with ormolu-framed rectangular seventeenth-century takamakie, hiramakie, and kirigane lacquer on a roiro ground depicting landscapes, the angles mounted with putto herms holding baskets of grapes and terminating in part-patinated and fluted ormolu supports mounted with flowers and raised on trumpet-form socles cast with leaves, the sides inset with ormolu-framed seventeenth-century Japanese lacquer panels depicting buildings in landscapes, the conforming plinth with rounded angles and shaped apron mounted with ormolu rosettes, foliage and shell motifs, raised upon ormolu-mounted patinated bronze paw feet; the granite top with stenciled inventory number 1101, inscription in black paint Bk Morning Room Hartmann, inscribed in black pencil lot 176, 176, 327, ... Room and in blue pencil 24; the secrétaire à abattant with rectangular breccia marble top framed by an ormolu border cast with gadroons and flowers, the frieze fitted with one long drawer and mounted all around with ormolu anthemia and palmettes, the fall-front inset with an ormolu-framed seventeenth-century Japanese lacquer panel depicting figures in a landscape in aogai and inlaid with a leather writing surface on reverse, the interior fitted with two shelves above six small drawers flanking a central compartment which can be removed to reveal two secret drawers, the angles mounted with an ormolu maiden on each side surmounted by capitals cast with palmettes and supported by balusters decorated with acanthus, the lower section with cupboard doors inset with seventeenth-century Japanese lacquer panels framed by ormolu bands and depicting mountainous landscapes, the lower interior fitted with one shelf and a coffre-fort, the sides inset with ormolu-framed rectangular seventeenth-century lacquer panels decorated in takamakie, hiramakie, and kirigane on a roiro ground, the four lower corners and the back upper corners with fluted and brass-inlaid pilasters, the plinth with shaped apron mounted with ormolu rosettes, foliage and shell motifs, raised on ormolu-mounted patinated bronze paw feet; the marble top with stenciled inventory number 1105, inscription in black paint Morning Rm Secretaire Hartmann and with writing in red pencil 1st Portion. Height of commode 38 1/2 in.; width of commode 5 ft. 5 in.; depth of commode 27 1/2 in.; height of secrétaire 4 ft. 7 1/4 in.; width of secrétaire 36 1/2 in.; depth of secrétaire 17 1/4 in. 98 cm; 165.5 cm; 70 cm; 140.5 cm; 93 cm; 44 cm

  • USA
  • 2011-10-18


A LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED EBONY, CUT-BRASS, TORTOISESHELL, BLUE-STAINED HORN AND PEWTER MARQUETRY ARMOIRE 'DE L'HISTOIRE D'APOLLON'** By André-Charles Boulle, circa 1695-1700 Inlaid overall in première and contre partie, the concave cornice with flower-filled guilloche moulding above a strapwork frieze with alternating masks of Hercules and Flora, above a central lion's mask and egg-and-dart moulding, each rectangular door divided into three panels, the outer panels with heart-shaped motifs of scrolling arabesques and palmettes, the central largest panel of each door with reentrant corners above a ribbon-suspended scrolling foliate canopy above a bas-relief panel, one depicting Apollo with his harp watching Marsyas being flayed by a Scythian, the other with Apollo pursuing the nymph Daphne, transforming into a tree before her father the river God Peneus, each on a ram's mask and lion's paw-supported plinth, the sides each set with a relief-cast figure, to the left Flora, emblematic of Spring, to the right an old bearded man by a brazier, emblematic of Winter, on an arched base with eight bun feet with gadrooned collars, the interior of the doors with arabesque marquetry in tin on an amaranth ground, with exhibition label to the reverse printed and inscribed in ink 'MINISTERE DE L'EDUCATION NATIONALE/REUNION DES MUSEES NATIONAUX/ORANGERIE DES TUILERIES/EXPOSITION: Le Cabinet d'un Amateur AUTEUR: BOULLE Titre de l'ouvre: L'Armoire Propriétaire: Mme LEBAUDY 57 R. François 1, 8e no de Catalogue', with a Chenue transit label and a further label inscribed in ink 'Lebaudy', inscribed in white chalk to the reverse '5321' twice, and in red chalk 'V' and 'H', minor restorations and replacements, including the ebony central panels of the sides, the shelves and shelf-supports, the later locks of Bramah type and probably English, the two central feet replaced, probably originally with three feet under the central projection, the four outer bun feet probably original, probably originally with lion's mask mounts to the plinth 109 7/8in. (279 cm.) high; 60½in. (154 cm.) wide; 23¼in. (59.5 cm.) deep

  • USA
  • 2003-10-22

A highly important louis xvi ormolu-mounted ebony bureau plat and

The bureau plat with a leather inset writing surface surrounded by a molded ormolu border, the frieze of slightly breakfront outline, fitted with three drawers and with a writing slide at one end, the central drawer fitted with ribbon-tied foliate ormolu rinceaux enclosing flowerheads, the flanking drawers with conjoined  S-scrolls enclosing acanthus leaf clusters, the angular outset corners fitted with rosettes and centered at each end by a satyrs' mask; raised on tapered legs inset with ormolu flutes and chandelles headed by an ormolu collar of egg-and-dart flanked by scrolled capitals, ending in laurel leaf and gadrooned toupie feet; the cartonnier of rectangular outline and fitted at each side with a pair of cupboard doors enclosing a shelf, the upper part with four gilt-tooled leather document boxes, the corners fitted with pendant ribbon-tied swags, the sides centered by masks and the whole outlined with ormolu borders, surmounted by an ormolu-mounted plinth fitted with a drawer supporting an associated clock with white enameled dial inscribed Robin a Paris within an arched case flanked by patinated bronze putti linked by swags, raised on a rectangular base; the associated movement inscribed C.H. Dutertre a Paris. INSCRIPTION ON THE DOCUMENT BOX One of the document boxes has a label with ink inscription (illustrated above): "This table & inkstand belonged to the Duc de Choiseul Prime Minister of Louis XV.  They were bought at the sale of his house and effects in 1796 by the first Lord Malmesbury during his diplomatic mission to the Directory at Paris for 100 Louis.  A duplicate is at Versailles wh (sic) belonged to the King.  Malmesbury." Family tradition holds that this note regarding the purchase of the desk is probably in the hand of James Howard Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury (1807-1889). THE ATTRIBUTION TO JOSEPH The inventory taken on March 28, 1772 after the death of Joseph lists numerous pieces of furniture still under construction which were evaluated by the ébénistes Martin Carlin and Charles Joseph Dufour.  The first and the most expensive piece was listed as follows: "Un grand bureau de six pieds de longeur plaqué en ébène à gaines avec des canelures garni de ses bronzes non doré, prisé huit cent livres ...800" Another bureau was listed as follows: "Un autre bureau de même grandeur non garni de ses bronzes prisé quatre cent livres ... 400" It is interesting to note therefore that the value of the bronzes without gilding was estimated at 400 livres, a large sum, and one half the value of the bureau.  At this period, Joseph had been using two maîtres fondeurs Oblet and Prevost and three maîtres ciseleurs Piault, Crampon and Tielman. Only one other identical bureau is known: this was formerly in the collection of Lord Elgin and has no cartonnier.  Another of this model but veneered in kingwood and also lacking its cartonnier, formerly in the collection of Edmund de Rothschild, was sold, Christie's, London, June 20, 1985, lot 93. The present desk is fitted with ormolu frieze mounts incorporating foliate rinceaux in the center flanked by S-scrolls enclosing acanthus leaves.  These are identical to the frieze mounts on a commode and a pair of corner cupboards, stamped Joseph and supplied before 1776 for the Marquis de Brunoy, formerly in the collection of René Grog, now in the Louvre, illustrated, D. Alcouffe, A. Dion-Tennenbaum & A. Lefébure, Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Dijon, 1993, pp. 194-195.  The legs are also fitted with identical ormolu laurel leaves above gadrooned toupie feet.  The commode and one of the corner cupboards bears the trade label of the marchand mercier Darnault, one of the leading dealers of the day. Identical mounts decorate the frieze and apron of a commode and a pair of corner cupboards, stamped Joseph, supplied in 1769 by Darnault for the Duchesse de Mazarin, now in the British Royal Collection.  The commode is illustrated, Pradère, op.cit. p. 239, fig. 243, and one of the corner cupboards is illustrated, Augarde, op. cit. p. 36, fig. 33.  Each of these pieces is veneered in Japanese lacquer; the commode was originally fitted with a Sèvres porcelain plaque in the center which was exchanged for a Japanese lacquer panel after George IV acquired it in 1825. The laurel leaf mounts at the base of the legs and toupie feet are found on a bas d’armoire attributed to Joseph, made circa 1765-70, now in the Wallace Collection, illustrated, Hughes, op. cit. pp. 574-575, No. 124.   The same mounts are fitted to the legs of another bas d’armoire stamped Joseph, illustrated, Pradère, ibid. p. 239.  Each of these pieces was probably made to the order of the influential marchand mercier Julliot.  Another cupboard also stamped Joseph, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, has chamfered corners inset with ormolu flutes and chandelles which are surmounted by ormolu Ionic capitals identical to those on the present piece. Ebony bureaux plats were rare in the 18th century, although several ébénistes such as Dubois, Carlin, Weisweiler and Montigny are known to have made them.  A bureau of this type is described in the Beaujon sale in April 1787.  The cartonnier decorated wtih pine needles recalls the work of Montigny. In 1788 Daguerre supplied to the cabinet of the Garde des Sceaux at Versailles: "un bureau et son serrepapier en bois d'ébène garni d'ornemens de bronze doré d'or moulu, le dessus dudit bureau couvert en marroquin vert avec une pendule aussi de bronze doré d'or moulu ... 2000".  The description in this bill is magnified in the Ministry inventory at Versailles. A second, smaller bureau lacking clock, was delivered the same day for the arrière cabinet for 1,000 livres.  This same bureau lacking cartonnier and clock was sent to the Convention Nationale in Paris on the 15 Messidor An 2.  It is now in the Palais Bourbon (J.-P. Samoyault, La Patrimoine de l'Assemblé Nationale, 1996, p. 37). JAMES HARRIS, 1ST EARL OF MALMESBURY (1746-1820) Born in St. Ann’s Gate House in Salisbury, the eldest and only surviving son of James Harris (1709-1780) MP and philosopher, and his wife, Elizabeth Clarke, Harris, who was educated at Winchester College, Merton College, Oxford, and at the Dutch University at Leiden, rose spectacularly to become the leading British diplomatist of the last quarter of the 18th century and an important adviser to the government. After successful postings in Madrid as chargé d’affairs and at St. Petersburg as envoy-extraordinary to Catherine II, then as envoy-extraodinary and plenipotentiary to the Hague, Harris had clearly become the leading professional diplomatist of his generation.  He was a ruthless professional who also had the exceptional social skills which were so necessary for any successful 18th century diplomatist. Harris was promoted to the rank of Ambassador in 1788 and was ennobled as Baron Malmesbury, a title which was subsequently raised to an earldom.  In late 1788 he was considered for the Paris embassy which was the equivalent in rank of a cabinet post and would have been testimony to his pre-eminence in the British diplomatic corps; following normal practice, however, the post was filled by an aristocratic amateur. Malmesbury carried out extended and wide-ranging missions to the continent and his final missions were linked to the search for peace with France in 1796-7.  Britain’s quintessential ancien régime diplomatist now encountered the very different methods of the French revolutionaries.  A period of difficult, often futile, discussions ensued with very little progress.  His efforts were effectively resolved by the coup d état in September 1797 which purged the Directory of the moderates who had been conducting the peace negotiations.  They were replaced by hard-liners and Malmesbury, who could do no more, was recalled, breaking off the discussions in Lille. Malmesbury had arrived in France in October 1796.  In his diary he records a visit on November 1 to an hôtel in the rue Grange Batelière where he viewed some very fine appartements.  There can be little doubt that this was the hôtel de Choiseul , being as it was the only one of any significance on that street.  On November 5 he visited the dealer Paul Eloy Lignereux where he admired some "beautiful furniture".  He purchased furniture there on November 17.  By 21 Pluviose an 5 (February 9, 1797) he still owed 2040 livres to Daguerre-Lignereux. THE HÔTEL DE CHOISEUL The hôtel de Choiseul, situated at the former No. 3, rue neuve Grange Batelière, now rue Drouot, was built by the architect Lecarpentier for the fermier général Michel Bouret. Acquired by the duc de Choiseul in 1782 and subsequently restored, it served as the duc's Paris residence until his death in 1785 when it was rented to the Tribunal des Maréchaux.  Seized following the Revolution, from 1793-1795 it served as the War Ministry, and subsequently during the Directoire, it functioned partially as a sales room as witnessed by an advertisement dated 23 Frimaire an V (December 13, 1796).  Citoyen Richard exhibited fourteen pawned items including two pieces of furniture that had belonged to Marie Antoinette in the "appartements et galerie de la dite maison".  A rental advertisement was posted on March 20, 1797 and the space appears to have been taken rapidly by the dealer Baudoin who is recorded at this location by October 5, 1797.  During the Restoration the new opera house was erected in the gardens and the house was converted into storage for the opera sets and a foyer.  The hôtel was demolished at the end of the 19th century following extensive fire damage; it was replaced by a block of flats. JOSEPH BAUMHAUER (?-1772) Ebéniste Privilégié du Roi c. 1749 Joseph Baumhauer takes his place amongst the distinguished group of German émigré ébénistes who contributed so greatly to the pre-eminence achieved by cabinet-makers in 18th century Paris.  He was universally known by his first name, rather than his surname which was difficult for his French contemporaries, and he used his first name for his estampille. Nothing is known about Baumhauer’s youth or when he actually settled in Paris, but it was before 1745 which is the recorded date of his marriage to Reine Chicot.  Joseph Baumhauer never became a maître ébéniste, but rather became Marchand-ébéniste privilégié du roi suivant la cour (as had Jean-Pierre Latz before him) circa 1749 working from his establishment located in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine.  When Baumhauer died in 1772 the size of his workshop revealed an extremely successful enterprise, however very few pieces were left in stock.  This would tend to confirm the theory that Joseph Baumhauer worked largely on specific commissions which he received from the marchands merciers who supplied his furniture to a distinguished and highly discriminating clientèle. Joseph was unique amongst his peers in that he was equally adept in the rococo and nascent neoclassical idioms.  In both styles he created extremely luxurious and exquisitely well-executed pieces of furniture, and he was the only ébéniste of his generation to work with Japanese and Chinese lacquer, with pietra dura, porcelain and even metal (‘Boulle’) marquetry, not to mention the extremely fine marquetry which he made using a variety of exotic wood veneers.  The very high quality of the materials used by this ébéniste again confirms that Joseph worked closely with the leading Parisian marchands merciers who controlled much of the supply of these precious materials.

  • USA
  • 2005-11-04

An italian pietre dure table top inlaid with the arms and symbols

On an English Elizabethan style gilt wood base with a fluted frieze on four gadrooned and tapering legs incorporating strap work, the top incorporating various types of  very fine hard stones including agates, jaspers, chalcedonies, lapis lazuli, amethyst, cornelians  and more precisely: Diaspro di Sicilia, Agata di Siena, Diaspro di Boemia, Quarzo ametistino, Calcedonio orientale , Lapislazzuli, Agata di Germania, Diaspro di Barga, Diaspro sanguigno, Diaspro di Candia, Calcedonio di Volterra, Corniola. The re-emergence of the, here presented, two magnificent inlaid hardstone and antique marble table tops from Warwick Castle has to be one of the most exciting artistic discoveries in this field in recent years. Long rumoured to have a connection with the famous palaces commissioned by the Grimani family in Venice, during the mid-15th and 16th century, this provenance has now been substantiated through archival sources. Both palaces were, and remain famous for, their stylistic innovations, their homage to a classical past and in particular their lavish use of marbles in the decoration of their sumptuous rooms. These outstanding table tops indeed reflect the sheer splendour of the Grimani's taste, in keeping with that of the greatest Italian and European families, whom all coveted these types of inlaid works of art. The Grimani tables exemplify the differences of Rome and Florence's approach to design and technique. The use of these precious stones can be judged here in its most sublime form, illustrating the extraordinary level of skill present in the two cities. The fact that each table comes from their  respective cities give a very rare opportunity to compare and contrast the different styles present within them at the turn of the 16th century. They also give credence to the connoisseurship and sophistication of one of Venice's greatest families. Detailed description of the hard stones used The top is entirely inlaid with pietre dure while there is just small space left to Belgio nero marble that constitutes the background. The support is made of a white marble slab described as Carrarese in the archives (see post). A wide range of various types of pietre dure which Ferdinand I (1549 – 1609) demanded from different sites from the moment he became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1587. Diaspro di Sicilia is most widely used in all its different typologies which correspond to each vein of origin. In the large central section of jasper shows shades varying from yellow to red and green, these also occur in the four narrow polygonal frames surmounted by Agata di Siena which adorn the empty cartouche made of Diaspro di Boemia. Diaspro di Boemia is also employed for the two vases centring the short side and resting on pillars of Diaspro di Sicilia. The outer frame is a mannerist tour-de-force made up of a continuous and inventive strap work of Diaspro reticolare di Sicilia and ten cartouches; eight of lapis lazuli and two of Quarzo ametistino. A further variation of Diaspro di Sicilia, with starkly contrasting white and yellow pattern, is draped around three of the four coats of arms. Made with the same Diaspro di Sicilia is the lion of St Marks atop one of the Grimani emblems. The halo of the lion is also made of this type of jasper, whilst the wings are of Diaspro di Boemia and the book of Calcedonio orientale. Taking advantage of the transparency of this Indian precious stone, a canonical text 'PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEUS' was traced under the two plates of the book and is still visible. The lapis lazuli, which stand out prominently among the decorations of the top is of the finest quality with an intense colour, hails from Persia (now Afghanistan). Another stone which can be noticed strongly in several sections of the top, and in varying typologies, is the agate. The four central sections are made of Agata di Siena and are placed to reflect each other. Agata di Germania is employed in the four circles at the very centre of the table and for the frames of the two opposing cartouches (which are above the cartouches of Quarzo ametistino). The external borders of these framed cartouches are made of red and white Diaspro di Barga. This material was used exclusively by the Medici and was extracted from the cave of Garfagnana inTuscany at the time of Francesco I, whilst the internal ovate is made of Diaspro sanguigno, a variety of Eliotropio from Sicily. The uniform and vivid yellow stone that occurs in the four corner sections and the leaves is Diaspro di Sicilia; the nearby red stone, this one uniform and vivid as well, is Diaspro di Candia. The light and uneven strips of the Grimani emblems are made of Calcedonio di Volterra. The Corrniola constitutes the buttons and the claws which constellate the outside and interior borders, while the 'corno' of the Dogal headgear is made of Calcedonio orientale under which a coloured and metallic foil is placed. A comparable technique is employed to create the 'pearls' that adorn the head gear. They are sem-spheres made of Calcedonio orientale, mounted in the top and underlined by a silver foil. This is a specific technique of the Grand Ducal workshops, where it was still in use for several centuries. The abstract designs of this magnificent top coupled with the armorial crests found in this table are demonstrative of a highly unique piece of art. The sumptuous choice of hard stones arrests the viewer eyes, whilst the intricate details surrounding the crests draws one in, highlighting the exceptional skill and imagination of the artisans in the Florentine Grand Ducal workshops at the turn of the sixteenth century. Clearly a work which was meant to stupefy and impress the viewer.The lavish use of inset pietre dure combines to form one of the grandest and most visually striking table tops known to have been made. Commissioned to glorify the dynastic power of the Grimani family this is surely one of the greatest demonstrations of wealth, taste and patronage. Florentine armorial hardstones table tops The familial crests found in this table relate to a small number of Florentine armorial hard stones table tops (either commissioned or given as presents) created in the Grand Ducal workshops at beginning of the 17th century, including the top completed in 1623 for Maximilian I, with the arms of the Elector of Bavaria, Munich Residenz, the table top commissioned by Emperor Rudolph II in 1597( lost in a fire during the 18th century), a table completed in 1603 for a foreign duke (a duca straniero), possibly the Duke of Lerma, the table with the arms of and commissioned by the Duke of Osuna, circa 1615 and the table with the arms of the Almirante de Castilla, circa 1625 (both in Prado Museum, Madrid). The Grimani table forms part of this select group, but is uniquely placed with in it. The entirely abstract decorative motifs surrounding the crests is a departure from the more common figurative ones (including trophies, flowers, and birds) favoured by the Grand Ducal workshops. Whilst the ostentatious use of four crests, here so prominently displayed, cannot be found in any other Florentine work. As the Medici family practically had the monopoly of the manufactory it could be suggested that this top was in fact a gift from the Medicis to the Grimanis although the possibility of a private commission from the Venetian family could not be discarded. The Medicis and the Grimanis The Medici family rose to prominence as bankers in the 14th and 15th centuries coming to own the largest bank in Europe from the mid-15th century. By the late 16th early 17th century the family had been elevated to the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and were one of the most powerful families in Europe, counting four Popes and two Regent Queens of France amongst their ranks. It was the passion of the Medici for importing precious stones which led to Ferdinando I de' Medici's founding of the court workshops in 1588 (the Grand Ducal Workshops),which still survive as the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. Royal patronage encouraged craftsmen to migrate to Florence, and their practices gradually spread to such centres as Augsburg, Paris, Naples, Madrid, and St. Petersburg. The primary objective of the workshop which comprised artists, architects, painters, stone carvers and metal-smiths was to manufacture opulent furnishings and works of art for the Grand Duke's residences and to distribute to foreign nobility as ambassadorial gifts. The court workshop had been set up in the Casino di San Marco moving to the Uffizi in 1586 where it continued to develop for the next three hundred years. The present table, whilst on one hand possibly an extraordinarily generous gift from one noble family to another, was also a demonstration of extreme wealth, and a tool used by the Medici to express their power at whichever court the inlaid works of art resided, throughout Europe. As will be seen the connection between Grimani and Medici was a powerful one. Doge Marino Grimani visited Florence before his coronation in 1595 at the request of his cousin by marriage the Grand Duchess Bianca Cappello, wife of the Grand Duke Francesco de Medici. Like Marino, Bianca Cappello, daughter of Bartolomeo Cappello and Pellegrina Morosini, was from a great Venetian family and would have felt a familial bond to Marino. Another Grimani, Antonio (d. circa 1625), Bishop of Torcello and Patriarch of Aquileia was stationed in Florence. According to a report, of the Ambassador of the Serenissima Francesco Morosini, in 1608 Antonio was the Papal Nuncio in Florence. Although little is written about him it is clear that he was tied to the Medici family and acted as their ally in both the Vatican and Venice. Indeed historians have noted that Pope Paul V was deeply suspicious of his Florentine Nuncio, believing that he was omitting reports regarding the Grand Duke's military movements giving the Medici's an advantage over their Borghese counterparts. Stylistically it is plausible that this table would have been commissioned during the reign of both Ferdinando I d'Medici and Doge Marino Grimani. However, given that the execution of such a complex work of art would have taken several years and the fact the Antonio Grimani's role as Papal Nuncio is celebrated in the crossed keys, It seems that Antonio Could have been the ultimate recipient of such a magnificent work of art. The design Chronologically the top comes at the beginning of a new form of manufacture. At this period in Florence, the taste for antique marbles imported from Rome, which for long time had been favoured by Ferdinando de Medici, was replaced by the preciousness of the pietre dure, spearheaded by, amongst others, the mannerist Florentine artist Bernardo Poccetti (1548 – 1612). Initially trained as a decorator and designer of facades and ceilings he enrolled in the Florentine the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Drawing) in 1570. Among the early examples of this "new style" one can list the table with View of Porto di Livorno from 1604, and another work with panels of landscapes and religious scenes made for the Cappella dei Principi, San Lorenzo, Florence whose columns of abstract form and palate of hard stone colours strongly directly relate to this table. The figurative themes, specific to the Grimani table, are limited to the angular emblems, made with exceptional fineness, but what is also comparable is the marvellous appearance of the sumptuous substance and magnitude of the pietre dure, designed together in a chromatic correspondence relating to the frame of the Caduta della Manna, San Lorenzo, Florence (fig.1) accomplished by 1620 to a design by Poccetti. One can see further reference to Poccetti, who was frequently engaged in the first decades of the seventeenth century as creator of designs for commissions, in an invoice from 1605 for the supply of "various drawings for small tables". The use of the expanded stone sections to the centre and of the coloured foil underlined with transparent calcedonio relates to those inlaid works that were in production during the first decade of the seventeenth century. An example also based on drawings by Poccetti and relating to our table top is the Cappella Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, specifically the small pillars on the altar. (fig.2). The Gimani Dynasty The Grimani family, one of the most illustrious Venetian dynasties, rose to the heights of political and clerical power in Venice during its golden age in the late 15th and 16th centuries. By 1600 the then head of the family Marino Grimani (1532 - 1605) was the Doge and the family was established in not one but two of the city's greatest palaces, The Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa and the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca on the Grand Canal. It was in these two buildings that they displayed their great collections which included the foremost group of antiquities ever to have been assembled in the Lagoon, together with cameos and gems, Venetian and non-Venetian paintings and outstanding works of art including the famous Grimani Breviary (now in the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice). In political terms nothing underlines better Marino Grimani's aspirations for the city than his prolonged battle with the Papacy as he attempted to severely limit its power in the Republic. Equally nothing underlines better the lavishness of his lifestyle and sophistication as his coronation as Doge in 1595 accompanied by the outstanding music of Giovanni and Antonio Gabrielli and that of his wife Morosina Morsini-Grimani as Dogaressa two years later in 1597, revealed in the woodcut by Giacomo Franco (BM. 187. 1209. 473) (fig.4) The patriarch of the family Antonio Grimani (1434 – 1523) whose legendary business acumen built a vast fortune off the back of the Venetian spice and textile routes, was made Capitano da Mar (1494) and later Doge (1521- 23). The next generations assumed high positions in the Venetian republic and in Papal Rome, taking active roles in contemporary politics and maintaining control of the rich patriarchate of Aquileia for more than a century. The first major collector of the family was Antonio's son Cardinal Domenico Grimani (1461 – 1523) an elected senator of Venice and Cardinal of San Marco under Pope Julius II; he was an erudite scholar and aesthete. Following his death Domenico passed it to his protégé and nephew Cardinal Marino Grimani (1489 – 1546) on the condition that it would be gifted along with the vast majority of his extensive collection to the Republic of Venice in his will. One of Marino's (1489-1546) two younger brothers, Giovanni, born in 1506 also entered the church and was appointed Bishop of Ceneda in 1520 aged 14. His ecclesiastical and political activities were in the main devoted to the city of his birth and through accumulated wealth he was able to clear his brother's debts in 1546. In doing so he saved for the family and then for Venice itself the celebrated collection of antiquities that had been seized by his bankers. These antiquities with Giovanni's own collection, formed during a long life - he died when he was 87- were housed in his palace the Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa. The Roman table top in particular is a reflection of this prevalent antiquarian taste which dominated the aesthetics of the Grimani collection. The third of these brothers Girolamo (1496-1570) had a secular career as a Venetian politician serving consistently on The Council becoming a wealthy merchant. His success led him in the latter part of his life to build the second Grimani palace, the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca which abutted the Grand Canal. It was his aforementioned son Marino (1532-1605) who further cemented the families pre-eminent position in the city, becoming through extensive bribery, the families second Doge in 1595. He was in a fortunate position of not only being heir to his father but also to his uncles. Marino Grimani (1532-1605) was perhaps the most celebrated member of his family and its second Doge. His election in 1595 to this office was greeted with enormous celebrations. His wealth and his popularity amongst the people of Venice turned the occasion into one more reminiscent of such ceremonies in the city's opulent past. Marino's tenure as Doge saw the reduction of Papal power in Venice and the widening of its foreign policy with envoys being sent both to the court of Mahommet lll in Constantinople and to James Vl in Edinburgh. In 1560 Marino and his brother married sisters: Morosina and Angela, the joint heiresses to the great Morosini fortune. This was to swell the Grimani coffers significantly in 1575 on the death of their father. Trained as a lawyer Marino took up important Government positions both in Brescia and Padua before returning to Venice and serving on The Council of Ten. In 1585 he was one of the city's ambassadors to the Holy See attending the coronation of Sixtus V in Rome where, interestingly he took in his entourage the architect Scamozzi. After this Roman visit he travelled on to Florence at the aforementioned invitation of the Venetian Grand Duchess, Bianca Cappello, wife of the Grand Duke Francesco de Medici. There after returning to Venice he took up appointments including the Governorship of Padua and the second most important position in the city The Procuratorship of St Marks. He was again in Rome in 1592 attending the coronation of Clement Vlll. Three years later he was elected Doge. As has been noted his period of office was characterised by independence for the Republic and a strong foreign policy. Marino died in 1605 leaving his palaces and collections to his family and these survived largely intact until the overthrow of the Republic by Napoleon and the subsequent absorption of the city by Austria in the early 19th century. The Coats of Arms of the Grimanis The four corners of the Florentine table top contain the Grimani arms, each with a different crest. This is not mere decoration. It is almost a brazen assertion of the expanding power of the family during the 16th century which culminated in Marino Grimani as Doge. The arms surmounted by a red domed hat decorated with gemmed cloth of gold over a fine white linen cap - The Doge's Corno Ducale. This is a reference to the patriarch of the family Antonio Grimani (1424 - 1523) who accumulated a vast fortune trading in spices and textiles and laid the foundation on which the family built its political power. He rose to become Capitano da Mar (1494) but more importantly he was elected as Doge in (1521) the first of three member of his family to reach the highest of Venetian offices. It is also a reference to the likely recipient of the table Doge Marino Grimani (Doge 1595 – 1605) who, as will be seen, was perhaps the most prominent member of the family. The arms surmounted by a lion holding a book, the symbol of Venice's patron saint St. Mark and therefore of the great basilica San Marco itself, refer to Antonio's eldest son Domenico Grimani (1460- 1523). Domenico's humanist studies, commenced in Venice, were also to take him to Florence in the late 1480s where, in the circle of Lorenzo de Medici, he studied alongside Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano. In 1493 he was made a Cardinal and in 1505 a Cardinal Priest of San Marco. The crest also refers to Domenico's nephew, Vettore, who held the same position as his uncle, possibly 'inheriting' it as was the family tradition. The crossed keys of St Peter refer to both Domenico and Antonio Grimani. Domenico was a huge supporter of Pope Julius II, being rewarded for his support by becoming Cardinal Bishop of Albano in 1508 which, as Albano was a papal Bishopric, would account for this crest. During his lifetime Cardinal Grimani was made the apostolic administrator of Nicaea (Cyprus), Patriarch of Aquileia, administrator of the diocese of Albano, and Bishop of Ceneda (now Vittorio Veneto). He was also the family's first serious collector of works of art and these now form part of Museo d'Antichitá in the Biblioteca Marciana. He assembled works including paintings by Leonardo, Giorgione, Titian and Raphael and it was he who acquired the famous Grimani Breviary which had formerly belonged to Pope Sixtus IV now in Biblioteca Marciana, Venice. Antonio was also in the Pope's employment being made Papal Nuncio to Florence in 1608. The crest surmounted by a double cross and Patriarchs cap refers to Cardinal Grimani's heir, his nephew Marino Grimani (1489-1546). It is both his uncle's and his position as Cardinal Patriarch of Aquileia which is celebrated in this coat of arms. Under his uncle's patriarchy the former state of Friuli was added to the Patriarchate and thus its enormous revenues, which in turn helped to swell the Grimani coffers. No wonder that when Domenico relinquished that office he arranged for his nephew to 'inherit' it. Indeed the family was to maintain its tight hold of this important See throughout the 16th century in the person of Marino, Marco, and Giovanni and yet another Giovanni Grimani. THE TABLES IN VENICE AND THE VENETIAN PALACES OF THE GRIMANI It is highly likely that these tables were originally displayed in the Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa, (now The Museo di Palazzo Grimani) from where they were certainly displayed at the time of their purchase in 1829. The palace had become the property of Marino Grimani in the early 16th century. It had been originally been acquired in the late 15th century by Doge Antonio Grimani. For over forty years, commencing in 1532, it was transformed into one of the greatest Venetian palaces, first by Vittore and then by Giovanni Grimani. The most notable of Venetian architects, Sansovino, Serlio, Palladio, Sanmicheli and Ruscone were all employed there. Its size was doubled and in its final form it was both a demonstration of the family's power and wealth, paid homage to the family's forebear in the Sala Doge Antonio, and was so arranged to specifically display the family's collection of antique marbles. Each of the rooms of the palaces speak to the family's passion for antique marbles and hard stones which are mirrored in the two tables. The visitor would enter through a doorway sculpted by Alessandro Vittorio and then would emerge into a large internal courtyard, in the style of a Roman palazzo, with marble colonnaded loggias. A large vaulted staircase led up to the piano nobile, it's ceiling frescoed by Frederico Zuccaro with religious allegories surrounded by grotesque work. On gaining the first floor a large open corridor led to the first of the parade rooms, Il Cameron D'Oro (The Large Gold Room) entered through a vast marble portal. From this room could be glimpsed on axis the famous Tribuna. Passing under another great portal of coloured marbles the visitor would enter the most extravagant room of all, The Tribuna. Here architecture, normally reserved for the externals of a building, is deployed in the most extreme way, reflecting such Mannerist exuberances as the rooms of the Palazzo del Te and the Capella Medici. The floor was inlaid with coloured marbles, deep pink and cream, a radiating pattern set within a square: the walls with niches and brackets for displaying antiquities were constructed in a variety of marbles and stones. It is no exaggeration to say it one of the greatest 16th century rooms in the city, even though now it no longer contains the staggering 130 pieces of antique sculpture that it was arranged to display. Beyond in the next corner of the palazzo was the room reserved for honouring Doge Antonio Grimani. Here coloured marbles were used to great effect: sheets of the material, with fine graining, was surrounded by stucco frames. Although no evidence has come to light as to where the tables stood in the palazzo, as will be seen later in this note they were clearly placed in positions of honour as when they came to be sold in the 1820's their bases were retained and copies made of their tops so that their disappearance would not be noticed. What can be seen today when visiting the palazzo (or viewing the video of it on www.palazzogrimani.org/video) is that these marble tables are consistent with the lavish use of marble to be found in the palace and that the appearance of the ancestral crest on the table top accord with the ancestor "worship" that is a hallmark of the building. Whilst it is tempting to associate these tables with the palazzo Grimani Santa Maria Formosa there is an alternative location. A palace built by Marino Grimani's father Girolamo, the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca on the Grand Canal, which over the next two hundred and fifty years, was to divide the family between two lines differentiated according to their respective palazzos. The Palazzo was initially commissioned from the architect Michele Sanmicheli. Following Sanmicheli's death in the 1550's the responsibility fell to Giangiacomo de' Grigi. Its great and, for Venice, highly unusual classical façade with three tiers of Corinthian columns, rears up above the Grand Canal near the Rialto. The initial building was completed by the 1570's but Marino employed Rusconi and Scamozzi to finish and decorate the palace thereafter. Although its original interiors were destroyed in the 19th century they must have been magnificent providing as they did accommodation for both the Duke of Mantua and Ladislao Vll of Poland in the 16th century. The Grimanis of palazzo San Luca suffered an enormous economic decline following The Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797 selling the vast majority of their collection, possibly to their relatives in Santa Maria Formosa, although research into this is still being undertaken. A further palace on the Grand Canal in San Polo, Venice called Palazzo Marcello was also owned by the Grimani family however it was inherited by Piero Grimani's wife in 1732 and so unlikely to have ever held the tables. What is certain is that by the 1820's the tables were both in the Palazzo Grimani Santa Maria Formosa as the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca was sold by the family to the new Austrian Government between 1816 -18 after which it was converted into the General Post Office (and subsequently into the Venetian Court of Appeal). The sale of the tables: Venice 1829 Given the paucity of the Grimani archives it has not been able to accurately ascribe a date at which time the tables entered their collection - although research is in the process of being carried out. However, as the Florentine table is so clearly linked to the Grimani family and fits stylistically with the Grand Ducal workshops output of the early 17th century, it is unquestionable that it entered the Grimani collection at this time. Less can be inferred for the Roman. However, that they would sit comfortably amongst the works of art commissioned or bought by Marino and his family can be inferred from those elements that remain in situ from this period in Palazzo Santa Maria Formosa. It is of course of note that Marino's ambassadorial duties, taking him to both Rome and Florence meant that he would have encountered the new ambitious design schemes which were being practiced in both cities at the same time. It is very plausible to suppose that it was during Marino's two visits to Rome in 1585 and again in 1592 he would have seen and bought the Roman table top as his trips tie in with the dates of manufacture of the table. Marino's re-decoration of the Doge's palace, his and his wife's patronage of both contemporary and antique art and his inordinate wealth all add to this theory. The tables remained in the Grimani family standing in one of their palaces, the Florentine top certainly for over two hundred years. During the 17th and 18th century, the family took a less active role in the administration of the city. Focusing their attention primarily on the development of theatres and Opera houses which still fill the city today (for example Teatro Malabran). By 1806 the palazzi and their contents had descended to Michele Grimani (c. 1780 – 1865). To cope with the financial crisis, visited on most of the Venetian noble families following Napoleon's invasion and the subsequent end of the Republic, he made sales from the collections, not only these tables but for instance Antico's Bust of the Young Marcus Aurelius now in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (fig.5) (see Leonard N. Amico, "Antico's Bust of the Young Marcus Aurelius", The J. Paul Getty Museum, Journal, vol.16, 1988, pp. 95-104). He disposed of the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca to the new Austrian Government in 1816 and retrenched to the Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa. Whilst researching the tables a most revealing discovery was made in the uncatalogued Warwick Papers now housed at the Warwickshire County Record Office. Not only did full details of their purchase emerge but also confirmation that both tables were bought from the Grimani palace in Santa Maria Formosa. The correspondence includes letters and bills between Lord Warwick, his agent Richard Bingham, his bankers, Hoare's, the British Consul in Venice, William Money, and a Venetian agent, Angelo Mongaldo. The third Earl and the Countess of Warwick visited the continent in 1828. From their surviving foreign account book covering 1828 -9 (CR 1886 Box 788/23) it can be inferred that they arrived in Venice, travelling from Vienna, by the 25th October 1828. They subsequently travelled on and were in Florence by the 22nd November. During that short Venetian period Lord Warwick had clearly made contact with the British Consul William Taylor Money and acquainted him with his wish to buy marble to floor the newly restored Great Hall at Warwick Castle which was in the process of being rebuilt by Ambrose Poynter. The Warwicks do not seem to have returned to Venice, spending the winter in Florence and the spring in Naples and Rome before slowly returning to England via Geneva and Paris. This helps to explain the extensive correspondence concerning the marble floor and the purchase of our tables which extends to 1830 when Lord and Lady Warwick were back in England. The first surviving letter related to these purchases was written in French by Angelo Mongaldo to the Earl on 15th June 1829. He offers His Lordship treasures from the Grimani Palace accompanied with drawings and descriptions including the pietre dure and marble inlaid tables. On the 7th July Lord Warwick's agent Richard Bingham wrote from London confirming the arrival of the five coloured drawings and descriptions of inlaid tables. It does not specify from where each top came, however, the bundle of correspondence within the Warwick Record Office suggests that they were all offered from Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa. The number of tables purchased by the 3rd Earl is also unclear however in Kendal's 1853 inventory he describes that 'between the Windows a Table of Pietra Commessa worked into Flowers in which the Lapis Lazuli is introduced' this could account for the table to the bottom right of the page, although it has since passed out of the collection of the Earl's of Warwick and its whereabouts is unknown. Also unknown is the whereabouts of the other two tables, no. 1 and no. 2 in the bill of sale, the watercolour of one remains and is reproduced below. Within the Warwick archive four of the watercolour drawings remain (reproduced here), two of which, as stated, are of the tables offered, both inscribed: From the Palazzo Grimani (CR1886 Box 393/3). There are also corresponding descriptions of the tables written in Italian (CR1886 Box 818/26) and a list of prices (reproduced fig. 6) in which the Florentine top is described as one of the richest and most splendid works of this kind of the 16th century. The two most expensive offered were: no.4 Florentine Table 210 Louis no.5 Roman Table 120 Louis A further letter arrived from Mongaldo dated 23rd July 1829 encouraging Lord Warwick to make the purchase. Mongaldo writes that the tables " are now the principal ornamentation of the Grimani Palace and Mr Money thinks they would add to the estate of Warwick Castle and ........ charge you to make the purchase". The negotiations over the tables were conducted alongside the purchase and shipping  arrangements for the marble floor. Money himself had written on 17th July giving the cost of crates that would be needed and this is followed by further letters in August and October concerned with the shipping of the marbles. By the end of the year the shipments had been made and in January Money was having to write to the Earl reminding him that payment was outstanding. It wasn't however until August 1830 when the money was forthcoming. There is a letter from Hoare's Bank confirming the release of £220.15s. from Lord Warwick's account on 14th to pay for his Venetian purchases. At some point Lord Warwick or his agent must have written to Money asking why the bases had not accompanied the table tops. On 30th November Money replied "I (am pleased) that the whole of the paving Marble and the Slabs are now at Warwick Castle and that which ( I am ) gratified to learn they offer perfect satisfaction". He goes on "with respect to Legs and Stands of the tables, the facts are these – wounded pride would not allow the Grimani family to sell them thus they are standing in their palaces, supporting false tables – the same thing occurred when I bought a table from the Zenobi family, under the circumstances I propose that I should endeavour to get exact drawings of the exact legs & stands, according to which your Lordship may have others made in England"(CR1886 393/3) In the event Lord Warwick decided to obtain his own stands and by 1847 when the table tops were on display in the Gilt Drawing Room and The State Bedroom at Warwick Castle they were on their current stands. The letters reproduced on the next pages describe in incredible detail the offered table tops at the time of their purchase in 1829 from the Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa. They not only lyricise the phenomenal quality of the tops but also make reference to the types of marble and hard stone used in their production. Reproduced with their corresponding watercolours they offer an unprecedented first hand insight into the artistic taste and correspondence of the Grand Tourists. "It is difficult to say what is the most admirable: if it is the abstraction of the design or its perfect execution. If it is the prodigious number of precious pietre dure or their clever arrangement. One cannot imagine something to be executed so magnificently. Furthermore it presents an historical memorial to the conspicuous Grimani family for whom the commission would have been made. A truly princely work. The magical effect created by this admirable design cannot be appreciated without seeing this distinguished work. Any description cannot fully convey the reality. From perhaps the 2000 pieces that make up this immense work there is not one that that is not perfectly suitable be it in colour or in shape to the location in which it is placed nor can one spot the slightest interruption in the fitting together of these various tiny parts. It will be quite difficult to establish whether it would be the very rare materials or the masterly division of the sections, of which we seem to have lost all trace of, or whether it would be the perfect execution which one could not find more highly finished, that would be of greatest merit. Its state of conservation is such that it presents not only all the liveliness of innovation but also a solidity that defies the centuries" "...and these were inlaid in the 16th century by the Florentine artist following an admirable design made of trophies, arabesques and large square, oval and round stones that form a sumptuous collection.' The number of pieces used in this immense work is immeasurable. The conservation, the joints of the mosaic of the pieces and the polish are perfect" Extract from letter No. 5 describing the Roman table. THE ENGLISH OWNER: HENRY GREVILLE, 3RD EARL OF WARWICK (1779 -1853) The 3rd Earl of Warwick was the only surviving son of George, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1746 – 1816) and his second wife Henrietta Vernon. Born in 1779 he grew up to witness his father's prodigious activities as a collector, which eventually led to his bankruptcy in 1806. The great castle at Warwick, architecturally transformed by his grandfather was filled by his father with an extraordinary range of treasures: paintings by Rubens and Van Dyck; works of art including classical antiquities such as the famous Warwick Vase (The Burrell Collection, Glasgow) purchased through Lord Warwick's uncle Sir William Hamilton; and magnificent furniture. Fortunately the onset of personal bankruptcy did not affect the collection as it was entailed in 1806. The inventory taken that year gives a mouth-watering account of the contents of the state rooms in the castle (CR1886 464). In the same year the Prince Regent made a visit: one very significant collector visiting another. Unfortunately Lord Warwick could not meet the Prince because of his parlous financial state so it was his son who had become the 3rd Earl who conducted him round. The Morning Chronicle reported on 9th September that "His Royal Highness went through all the apartments and viewed, en virtuoso, the valuable collection of pictures which had been from time to time placed in the noble residence. The whole arrangement of which is perfect in character with the sublime antiquity of the structure". The 3rd Earl would certainly have been up to the task of conducting the Prince around. Not only would he have been familiar with his father's acquisitions but also through his education at Eton, Winchester and Edinburgh and subsequent Grand Tour would have gained a familiarity with such cultural treasures. Indeed his Grand Tour had been a more broadening experience than might have been the case owing to the Napoleonic wars. For not only did he manage to visit both France and Italy during the Peace of Amiens, he also toured to Russia and as far east as Constantinople, from where he returned to England in 1803. Thereafter he entered Parliament sitting for the town of Warwick until his father's death in 1816. In the Commons he was a supporter of William Pitt and gave his backing to the early moves to abolish slavery. It was whilst in Venice in 1828 that Lord Warwick made, or renewed, the acquaintance of William Henry Money the youngest son of Captain William Money, a director of the East India Company. Money had entered Parliament in 1816 for the constituency of Wootton Bassett. He like Warwick supported measures to bring about the abolition of slavery. A decade later as a consequence of financial difficulties of his estates in Java, Money renounced his seat and took up paid diplomatic work as Consul to the Lombard States, based in Venice. It was here two years later that he encountered Warwick and assisted in the marble floor for the castle's Great Hall and these two tables. Interestingly the Warwick's were not the only ones to be grateful to Money. Clearly he had considerable influence in a high level in the city of his adoption. In 1832 Sir Walter Scott visited Venice on his peregrination through Italy. His biographer John Macron recorded in his Life of Sir Walter Scott, 1833- 4, p.144 that "Mr Money, British General (in Venice), whose hospitality is extended to all his English & I might even add to every foreigner. Sir Walter expressed himself particularly happy there "...." Wherever he wanted to go to the British Generals gondola took him. He expressed a wish to see the Arsenal which was conveyed to the Admiral commanding by Consul Money and the Admiral received him as a Prince". This chapter of Anglo Venetian relation sadly came to an end with the death of Money in the following year.

  • GBR
  • 2015-12-10

Marilyn Monroe "Subway" dress, from The Seven Year Itch

Marilyn Monroe "The Girl" ivory pleated "Subway" dress by Travilla, the most recognized costume in film history, from The Seven Year Itch. (TCF, 1955) Ivory rayon-acetate halter dress with pleated skirt. Handwritten label "1-27-1-8171 M. Monroe A-734-12." Worn by Marilyn Monroe as "The Girl" in one of the most iconic images of film history in The Seven Year Itch, when she stood above the subway grate and uttered that famous line, "OOOH isn't it delicious?" The Seven Year Itch storyline, unlike some of Monroe's earlier films, held no promise as a costume showcase. It was not a period piece and had no dance routines. Yet this was to become the vehicle for Travilla's most famous dress design, in bias-cut crepe with a halter top and sunburst pleats. "So I wondered what could I do with this most beautiful girl that Marilyn was to play to make her look clean, talcum-powdered, and adorable," Travilla mused. "What would I give her to wear that would blow in the breeze and be fun and pretty? I knew there would be a wind blowing so that would require a skirt." [Hollywood Costume Design by Travilla, Maureen Reilly]. The fabric Travilla chose was an ivory colored rayon-acetate crepe, heavy enough to flow beautifully as Marilyn walked but still light enough to blow up in an interesting way. A fabric very hard if not impossible to get now, the closest is georgette. Travilla never normally used man-made fabric but this posed a challenge with pleating as 100% natural fabric would not hold such stiff pleats, so for all his pleated creations a special fabric had to be made with just a small amount of man-made fiber in it to maintain the structure. Acquired by Debbie Reynolds directly from Twentieth Century-Fox during the "pre-sale" when she bought all of the Marilyn Monroe wardrobe from the studio prior to the auction in 1971.

  • USA
  • 2011-06-18

Stunning marble & alabaster soda fountain

LIQUID CARBONIC MARBLE & ONYX SODA FOUNTAIN - Made for the Colubian Exposition of the Chicago World's Fair - The counter is 3' 6" high and 21' 2" in length, the back bar is 10' high and 19' 9" long; this bar was made by Liquid Carbonic Co. and exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition; the back bar is mostly onyx with black and green verigated marble column caps and trim; the two top end panels are set with stained leaded glass, showing urn flanked by wreath with ribbon adornment at the base; they are beautifully framed by the onyx surround and topped with a double-layered arch with its own centered accent keystone; the top panels of the back bar are further adorned with 8 inset green and gold glass tile inlay patterns; the mirrors are trimmed with molded bronze; further complimenting the back bar are 8 ornate brass light fixtures. The bottom section for the back bar retains the Liquid Carbonic Co. plaque and features 5 evenly spaced steel doors in nickel finish with nicely detailed hinges and hardware. For accuracy it should be noted that the top counter of the back bar is beautifully matched for color and graining and was replaced in the 1970's; the front counter is mostly onyx with black and green marble trim and features 10 reeded flat columns and 2 alabaster fountain dispensers with 3 spigots each; the dispensers are topped with stained and leaded glass fruit and foliate shades; the shades are not the same era as the rest of the soda fountain, but are quite complimentary in tone and color and are of good age; the shades have some closed cracks and one repaired panel; the Coca-Cola lettering on the 2 large central mirrors is a re-creation of the lettering and wording found in a turn of the century photo and certainly reversible should the next purchaser desire. Like many pieces in the museum and collection, this soda fountain has been an integral and highly observed component of the collection and has been enjoyed and admired by thousands of people for many years. The condition and appearance of this lovely soda fountain would easily fit in the EX category.

  • USA
  • 2012-03-25

The johnson family important queen anne figured maple dressing table

This dressing table was originally owned by the Johnson family of Philadelphia, successful tanners, property holders and Quakers, and stood for approximately 130 years in their home in Germantown. The house was completed in 1768 and given by Dirck Jansen, an early settler of Germantown, to his son John Johnson on the occasion of his marriage to Rachel Livezey in 1769 (Harold Eberlein and Courtlandt van Dyke Hubbard, Portrait of a Colonial City, Philadelphia, 1670-1838, p. 380). The dressing table was most likely purchased around the time of their marriage, probably from William Savery (1721/2-1787), the Philadelphia chair maker and a fellow Quaker. It remained in the possession of family owners of the Johnson House until 1905 and is owned by a Johnson descendant today. Retaining its original brass hardware, this dressing table is distinguished by its exceptional carving and fine construction of highly-figured maple. It displays several characteristics associated with William Savery’s work. The edges of the skirt are traced with an uninterrupted scored line similar to that found on his early chairs (see Joseph Downs, American Furniture, New York, 1952, pl. 110). The top drawer simulates his preferred design for three short top drawers while at the same time following the local preference for one long top drawer. The scalloped skirt with a central fish-tail pendant appears on a dressing table that has been attributed to Savery on the basis of a history of descent in his family (Samuel W. Woodhouse, Jr., “Philadelphia Cabinet Makers,” PMA Bulletin 20 [January 1925]: pp. 62-63). Other Philadelphia dressing tables with this distinctive pendant include one illustrated in the Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition catalog (New York: American Art Galleries, 1929, no. 566), one illustrated in American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, Volume I, p. 195, and another believed to have been originally owned by Ben Franklin (see Jack Lindsey, Worldly Goods, 1999, no. 56, p. 145). An additional example sold in these rooms, Property from the Collection of Gunston Hall Plantation, January 20, 2002, sale 7753, lot 1136. A set of six maple side chairs in a private collection with the same family history in the Johnson Family also bears an attribution to William Savery. They were sold in these rooms, Important Americana, January 20-22, 2006, sale 8158, lot 530, for the record price of $2,144,000.

  • USA
  • 2007-01-21


A LOUIS XIV ORMOLU-MOUNTED AND BOULLE BRASS-INLAID BROWN TORTOISESHELL BUREAU PLAT CIRCA 1710, ATTRIBUTED TO ANDRE-CHARLES BOULLE Inlaid overall en première partie, the rounded rectangular tooled long-grain brown leather top with monumental pounced and moulded border with domed lambrequin and scallop-shell corner clasps, the inverted breakfront frieze with three walnut-lined frieze drawers, the central drawer with weeping Heraclitus handle, all inlaid with foliate arabesque marquetry within channelled borders, the kneehole flanked by gadrooned berried laurel swept mounts, the shaped side drawers with cartouche escutcheons and baluster handles, the arched ends with further arabesque panels with a Bacchic mask with ribbon-tied garlanded hair, with descending husk-trailed chutes and acanthus scroll sabots, the plain ebonised walnut moulding directly beneath the top almost certainly original but with one end section replaced, the central drawer with replaced support, the side drawers with later cross-struts to the interior to prevent tipping, the right-hand of the kneehole concealing a spring-loaded hidden secret drawer to interior, the underside of the top inscribed 'DEVA', the reverse of the frieze with simulated drawers with handwritten blue paper label numbered '8944' 41¾ in. (80.5 cm.) high; 80½ in. (204 cm.) wide; 41¼ in. (105 cm.) deep

  • GBR
  • 2005-12-14

A highly important louis xvi ormolu-mounted amaranth bureau plat circa

The rectangular removable top inset with a gilt-tooled green leather writing surface on an amaranth ground inlaid with stringing and surrounded by an ormolu border fitted at the corners with acanthus leaf-cast clasps, the frieze with three drawers and mounted all around with ormolu interlocking circles enclosing finely chased flowerheads within laurel wreaths, and foliate paterae respectively, three laurel wreaths forming the drawer handles, all flanked by scrolling berried foliage on a stained green ground and surrounded  by borders cast with leaf tips, the legs surmounted by foliate capitals above rectangular blocks inset with ormolu paterae continuing to tapered legs inset with ormolu flutes and ending in stepped ormolu sabots.  The underside of the desk with ink inscription: Madame la Comtesse de Flahaut Mai 185(?) Jean-François Leleu, maître in 1764   The underside inscribed in ink  Madame la Comtesse de Flahaut Mai 1-5 .. Jean-Francois Leleu, maitre in 1764 (stamped on upper edge of left hand drawer) Auguste-Charles-Joseph, Comte de Flahaut and Margaret, Baroness Nairne and Keith Auguste-Charles-Joseph, Comte de Flahaut (1788-1867) was the natural son of Talleyrand and nephew of the Comte d’Angiviller (nephew of Marigny and his successor as directeur-général des bâtiments du Roi).   Flahaut was a professional soldier who had been Aide de Camp to Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.  He was the lover of Hortense, wife of Louis Napoleon (later King of Holland), an affair which the Emperor’s sister, Caroline Murat, had tried to prevent because of her own infatuation with the young officer.  That her attempt was futile is evident since in 1811 Hortense bore Flahaut’s son, Monsieur de Mornay.  After the Restauration and in exile in England, he courted the enormously rich Margaret Mercer against the wishes of her father, Admiral Lord Keith, who not only mistrusted the motives of the impecunious Flahaut, but also was a  confirmed anti-Bonapartist.    Over her father’s objections, Margaret married Flahaut in 1817 and henceforth they embarked upon a  peripatetic life which periodically changed in response to the prevailing political conditions. Sharing a common, passionate interest in politics, the Flahauts were variously associated with both the Orléans and Bonaparte families.   They maintained houses in great style and lived very much in the manner of the ancien régime  in London, Paris, Vienna and  in Perthshire in Scotland.  For these houses they amassed a justly celebrated collection of French furniture and works of art, much of which was inherited by their eldest daughter, Emily Jane Mercer Elphinstone de Flahaut who married the 4th Marquess of Lansdowne in 1843 and it was through this marriage that much of the collection passed  into the Lansdowne family. As persona non grata in France, the Comte de Flahaut was obliged to live with his bride in London and Scotland after their marriage in 1817.  Madame de Flahaut had already inherited the Mercer family property at Meikleour in 1790 through her mother and later, on her father’s death in 1823 she came into the Keith estates in Fife including the newly-built Tullyalan Castle (built between 1817-1820).  Inspite of the risks involved in travelling to France, Flahaut did go to Paris in the early 1820’s which is confirmed by records kept by Madame de  Flahaut, in her own hand, referring to purchases which had been made by her husband in Paris in 1823, the same year that she inherited  Tullyanan. The couple returned to France in 1827 eventually purchasing the former Hotel de Massa which they furnished from 1830-1831 to universal acclaim.  It is of considerable interest to note that there are contemporary accounts which confirm the Flahaut’s taste for the furniture of the ancien régime such as the present lot.  A bill from Bresson Jeune who was a dealer in “ancien Bronzes ainsi que d’anciennes Porcelaines; en general tout ce qui concerne l’antiquité …”  cites five items, including a commode, purchased for the sum of 290 francs.  The maréchal de Castellane also noted, “l’ameublement est magnifique … ce sont des formes d’anciens meubles et de belle étoffes, de mode il ya a de longues années et qui le redeviennent.”  It seems most likely that the Flauhauts acquired the present lot in Paris during this period.  The couple remained in their Paris residence during the 1830s, frequently visiting England.  In 1841 Flahaut was appointed Ambassador in Vienna where, once again, a suitably impressive residence was furnished. By the mid 1850s the Flahauts were settled in England where they leased Coventry House at 106 Piccadilly  for their London residence.  A partial inventory of items at Coventry House in Madame de Flahaut’s hand notes a number of pieces known to have passed later into the Lansdowne collections.  The present desk cannot be identified in any inventories of any of the Flahaut’s many residences during their respective lifetimes nor has it yet been determined when they purchased it.  It is interesting to note that the inventory marking beneath the table refers to Madame la Comtesse .. and not to the Comte, making it likely that this was recorded in a European residence rather than any of the Scottish or English estates where, after her father’s death in 1823, she was habitually referred to as ‘Lady Keith’.  An inventory taken at Tullyanan Castle, Fife,  in 1895 lists “1 do (Writing Table) much ornamented with brass”;  a “French Writing Table” recorded as the property of comte de Flahaut in the proposed list of items belonging to the Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne to be moved from Tullyanan Castle to Meikleour in 1868 following her mother’s death in 1867  could possibly be the same table which was described as a “Rosewood oblong writing table with chased ormolu mounts” recorded in an inventory taken at Meikleour in 1895; either one of which might prove to be the present piece. Jean-Francois Leleu (1729-1807) was born in Paris and was first apprenticed in the workshop of Jean-Francois Oeben.  On Oeben’s death in 1763, the thirty-four year old Leleu was poised to take over the workshop, only to be supplanted by his younger colleague Jean-Henri Riesener who later married Oeben’s widow. Receiving his maitrise in 1764, Leleu settled in the Chaussée de la Contrescarpe in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, he later moved to the street now known as the Rue Birague near the Place des Vosges. Leleu’s clientele included notable pioneers of the neo-classical style, among them were Madame du Barry who although arguably more of a fashion-follower than a trend-setter,  nevertheless had a notable collection of highly innovative neo-classical furniture.  Leleu provided a number of pieces of case furniture for the baron d’Ivry for the château d’Henonville which had been modernized by the architect Nicolas Barré.  Barré also designed the château du Marais for which Leleu provided some important furniture; also notable was furniture in extemely advanced taste delivered to the château de Méréville for the Marquis de Laborde who was the Court banker.  Leleu also made furniture for the Duc d’Uzès whose Paris residence had been altered by Ledoux in 1769.  We see, therefore, a pattern of newly-built or modernized residences owned by fashionable  and discerning patrons who turned to Leleu for some of their most innovative “modern” furniture, executed in his inimicable architectural style. By far the most important commission Leleu was to receive came between  April 1772 and June 1776 when the Prince de  Condé ordered furniture for the Palais Bourbon.  These furnishings delivered at the tremendous cost of over 60,000 livres included: “two secrétaires a abattant, two bureaux à cylindre; seven commodes; two writing desks, twenty-seven games tables and eleven screens of various kinds”.  Some of this furniture is today in the Wallace Collection, London, in the Petit Trianon and the Louvre. The furniture made by Leleu for the Palais Bourbon incorporated designs at once intensely modern and yet classical and was considered to be extremely influential in the emerging neoclassic style in Paris.  The present table is certainly made in the same spirit and almost certainly at the same period in time, indeed Eriksen has written “The workmanship is of the same high order as that found on the Palais Bourbon furniture and, while no table like this is listed in the bills Leleu rendered to the Prince, it is probably not far wrong to assume it is contemporary with the Bourbon pieces”.  (Eriksen, op. cit., p. 323). A pair of commodes delivered for the Duchesse de Bourbon’s bedchamber at the Palais Bourbon by Leleu in May 1773 is fitted with similar foliate capitals surmounting the legs as has a writing table delivered that month, illustrated top right.  Another writing table of this model is illustrated, Pradere, op. cit. p. 390, illustrated bottom right.  It is interesting to note that it is veneered with marquetry  around the frieze incorporating interlocking guilloche enclosing flowerheads, reminiscent of the ormolu mounts on the frieze of the present table. The present table is notable for a feature which is not currently operable, that is a concealed spring button which will release the integrally designed keyhole cover when engaged, thus obviating the need for a drawer handle which would interrupt the design.  This is a refinement which Leleu almost certainly learned in Oeben’s workshop, along with the practice of concealing the fastenings of the ormolu mounts.  These devices both represent standards of the highest possible quality, and in the case of the keyhole covers, means that the architectural integrity of the frieze mounts is uninterrupted and the eye follows a straight line running from each of the forceful columnar legs. The ormolu mounts on the present desk are of the highest quality.  Leleu’s suppliers do not appear to be recorded, however when working in Oeben’s workshop, he would have been familiar with the mounts provided to Oeben by the bronze-founders Hervieu and Forestier, and also those of Pierre Caron and Anne-Francois Briquet who were both doreurs-ciseleurs who executed orders for Oeben (Eriksen, ibid. p. 208).

  • USA
  • 2004-10-23

John webb the hertford jewel cabinet, commissioned by john rutter

Acajou flamée, faux lapis lazuli-painted tôle, the cupboard beneath three spring-loaded secret drawers, opening to reveal eighteen small drawers, three spring released frieze drawers, the cresting bearing the coat-of-arms of Marie-Josephine-Louise of Savoy who married Louis XVI's younger brother, the comte de Provence, the future Louis XVIII, in 1771. The pair of vases on the cresting replaced with castings made from the original cabinet by kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen. The present lot is shown without the pair of gilt-bronze, faux lapis vases on the cornice, presumed lost between 1912 and 1957 when the photograph, fig.1 of the three-volume Wallace Collection catalogue, was taken by Connaissance des Arts. While the Riesener cabinet was being restored at The Royal Workshops at Malborough House on The Mall in London, Christopher Payne, acting as agent on behalf of the present owner, obtained permission from Her Majesty The Queen through the offices of the Surveyor of the Queen’s Works of Art to have copies of the vases on the cresting of the cabinet made from the Riesener original. Thus, the vases on the present lot were replaced between 2002 and 2003. Castings of the foliate details were taken from molds in London, the socles and vase bodies were made in Paris from detailed measurements. The fine chasing and the lapis coloring were also done in Paris prior to assembly in London to join the cabinet, by then on loan at the Wallace Collection. During the restoration of the original at Marlborough House, the present lot was restored in a nearby workshop, enabling a detailed examination of the two cabinets by conservators from the Royal Workshops, the Wallace Collection, and Christopher Payne. Upon examination, it was evident that the carcass was made by an English-trained cabinetmaker. The exquisite gilt-bronze mounts have no markings on the reverse, and so it is only speculation as to where, or by whom, they were cast. Precise measurements were taken with a Vernier scale using a digital readout, and the difference between the originals and the copy was infinitesimal, often a tolerance of only 0.01 mm. It was generally accepted that it was barely possible to distinguish the original mounts from the copies once disassembled, not only for size, but for the quality of chasing and gilding. It is not certain how the bronze mounts were made on the Webb cabinet. While the construction of the cabinet shows that it is clearly of English origin, the country of origin of the extraordinary workmanship of the cast brass and gilded mounts is less clear.  Of the various methods available at the time for casting mounts, no satisfactory answer has yet been found as to how the mounts on the copy are so exact, sizes from original to copy differing by less than one percent. The quality of the chasing and burnishing is exemplary and the gilding in near-perfect condition. Side by side comparison with mounts from the original showed virtually no difference, and it is not readily possible to identify which were made in the 1780s from those of 1853-55. Although there had only been less than seventy years between making the original and the present lot, it is unlikely that any master models were available from Riesener's workshops. Indeed, in his May 1769 description of his bureau du Roi, Riesener describes how he made the models for the bronze mounts in wax 'fait en cire tous les differents objects de bronzes.' These wax models would have been lost during pouring of the molten bronze; thus, the mounts may have been surmoulé, however this does not allow for the unavoidable shrinkage that occurs with this technique, shrinkage clearly not evident upon measuring. It was noted that the carcass of the upper part of the cabinet had been slightly raised in height, allowing speculation that the bronze mounts were indeed cast in Paris, sent to London with an error in measurement by the English cabinetmakers which needed to be corrected. Observers have further speculated that possibly only the house of Beurdeley was capable of such castings at the time, but without archival proof this cannot be substantiated. Also from Paris, the firm of Grohé was capable of making such castings; their standing barometer made to match the Riesener regulator (and now in the Louvre) is an outstanding tour de force of bronze casting and chasing. Ledoux-Lebard records a commentary in the 1867 Exposition Universelle that the furniture and bronzes of Grohé are “superieurs a ceux de Riesener et Gouthière." Others such as Winckelsen, Denière or Millet père were also more than capable of such work if the client had deep enough pockets. However, it is probable that the celebrated London firm of Hatfield may have carried out the castings. The records of H. J. Hatfield & Sons Ltd. were unfortunately destroyed; however, Geoffrey de Bellaigue noted that he had been shown a photograph of a set of four four-light candelabra made by Hatfield's for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1882. As with the present lot, the originals were, and still are, in the Royal Collection, with permission to copy them granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria (illustrated, ‘Buckingham Palace’ by John Harris, Geoffery de Bellaigue and Oliver Millar, London, 1968, p. 154). Verlet (p. 364) notes a remark written by (Victor de) Champeaux, undated but probably circa 1880: “Hatfield, fondeur et ciseleur du XIXe Siecle. Etait très habile dans la reproduction des oeuvres françaises de l’époque de Louis XVI. Il eut un neuveu qui herita de la delicatesse de son burin." The Franco-British connection would have facilitated the casting, chasing and gilding and would have appealed to Lord Hertford, who was in Paris at the time of the commission. If the bronzes were indeed cast in Paris, it might even explain the slight adjustment apparently made to the carcass on the cornice when the bronzes were fitted. However, with the political unrest in Paris at the time -- an unrest that later in 1870 caused Sir Richard Wallace to return to live in London -- there were a number of highly skilled French craftsmen working in London, with one influx after the July Revolution of 1830 and later, more relevant to the present lot, the 1848 revolution which unseated Louis-Philippe. The mahogany veneers on the present lot are also extraordinary for their close comparison with the original panels. The cabinetmaker is clearly not familiar with Riesener's box-like construction and either ignored it or did not have intimate access to the original. The easiest guide to it being an English craftsman is the quarter or dust moldings in the small drawers of the interior. Slight differences in the dovetailing are a further but not obvious clue. Lord Hertford’s Commission The impetus for making this cabinet appears to have come from the exhibition held in 1853 at Gore House, South Kensington, titled Specimens of Cabinet Work. It was the first retrospective exhibition of French furniture held in England in the 19th century. The loans, recorded in an unillustrated catalogue of one hundred and twelve items, were sourced from eminent collections, such as those of the Elector of Bavaria and the Dukes of Buccleuch, Northumberland and Hamilton, as well as Queen Victoria. Although Lord Hertford did not travel to London to see the exhibition, he was clearly aware of some of the exhibits, possibly aided by photographs taken by the Victoria & Albert Museum’s photographer, Charles Thurston. The exhibition preamble states ‘Persons are privileged to make Drawings and Sketches’ and on June 11, 1853, Lord Hertford wrote to the London picture dealer Samuel Mawson: ‘I should very much like to have drawings made of some of the principal & the most beautiful articles of furniture not of the middle ages, but of the times of Louis XIV, XV & XVI, especially the fine Cabinet by Gouthières sent by the Queen. I should like these drawings to be most accurately made, with sides & backs, with exact dimensions & plans of the shapes. The ornaments very carefully copied as well as other details.' In a significant letter on December 11, 1853, Lord Hertford again wrote to Mawson: ‘Many thanks for having had the drawings completed…I hope that it [the cost] will not be very considerable for I find, between you & I, that some dealers we know, have had the fine things of this collection surmoulé so they will be able to obtain perfect copies & from drawings it is impossible.'  To make such furniture from accurate drawings alone would seem an improbable task, and five days later Lord Hertford again writes to Mawson: ‘By what I have heard, between you & I, I am certain that complete casts have been taken of some of the things, shape & all.'  Had John Webb, the Bond Street dealer who had helped to organize the Gore House exhibition, been able to take squeezes of the mounts, thus accounting for the extraordinary accuracy of the present lot compared to the original at Windsor? By October 1853, Lord Hertford had commissioned Edward Rutter, an English dealer working from 10 rue Louis-Grand in Paris, to make copies of some of the Gore House exhibits. Rutter writes to Lord Hertford on January 20, 1854: ‘I had the pleasure of addressing you respecting your copies of Her Majesty’s cabinet…I now beg to offer for your inspection 4 Photographs taken very cleverly from each of the originals,…one from Her Majesty’s Cabinet …and I am happy to inform you that they are progressing. I expect…Her Majesty’s Cabinet about the end of this year, there being [in the latter] a tremendous quantity of most difficult work,.' It appears that Lord Hertford commissioned these elaborate pieces without an estimate, possibly with no idea as to the eventual costs, as Rutter continues his sentence ‘I expect to be able shortly to inform you of what will be about the cost of the five pieces of Furniture.’ The order appears to have then been passed to John Webb; an account of December 1855, from Webb to ‘The most Honble. The Marquis of Hertford KG’ lists seven copies from the Gore House exhibition. Webb describes the present lot ‘To a magnificent cabinet of Mahogany with stand & stretcher, elegantly and elaborately ornamented with or-mat decoration after as the one at Windsor Castle…2500.’ The group of four replicas, including a pair of commodes, on this invoice, sent in 1857, totalled £6,270 and appear to have been more expensive to make than the cost of buying second-hand 18th century furniture on the market at this time, the most expensive being the so called ‘Artois’ cabinet, the present lot, at £2,500, just over three times the cost per item of the other copies. [The relative value calculated by measuringworth.com at £1,958,130.54 using the per-capita Gross Domestic Product (a staggering £4,261,894.32 using the economy’s total output or GDP).] An interesting comparison is the cost of making the large bell for ‘Big Ben’ at the palace of Westminster, £2,401 four years later in 1848. By way of comparison, in 1868 Lord Hertford paid ‘only’ the equivalent of £400 for the Riesener secretaire supplied to Marie-Antoinette at the Petit Trianon in 1783 (Wallace Collection no. 199 (F302)). John Webb (b. circa 1800 - 1872) had, by 1825, a business at 8 Old Bond Street, London, until circa 1853. Litchfield writes that ‘he employed a considerable number of workmen and carried on a very successful business.' He purchased objects for both the South Kensington and British Museums and became a friend of Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria & Albert Museum. In his will, Webb left the museum the considerable sum of £10,000 to establish the John Webb Trust Fund. He enjoyed an English country house and a villa near Cannes in the south of France. It is possible that, at the age of 53, the wealthy Webb left his Mayfair business to devote himself to helping to organize the Gore House exhibition in which the Prince Consort, Queen Victoria’s husband, was actively involved. Certainly his involvement in the exhibition would have given him an unrestricted access to the furniture on display. There can be no one better placed to receive the commission from Rutter on behalf of the Marquess of Hertford. Sixteen copies appear to have been commissioned for the Lord Hertford, of which seven were made through John Webb, the remainder in France.  During this period the Marquess’ acquisitions of 18th century furniture continued unabated.  Lord Hertford was evidently content to possess a copy if the original was not available, and saw the replicas as an addition to his collection to show an even wider diversity of furniture than would otherwise have been open to him. The negative attitude towards fine quality copies that grew out of academic disdain in the 1920s clearly did not trouble one of the most important collectors of the 19th century. Hughes notes in ‘Replicas,' p. 60, that according to Webb’s bill, ‘all the replicas were delivered to Manchester House, the present-day Hertford House, they were all in fact kept in the Parisian collections of Lord Hertford, as though he did not wish to be parted from them.' Only three of these important replicas remain on permanent display in the Wallace Collection today. One, the copy of the writing-table made in circa 1715 for the Elector of Bavaria, number 170, was delivered with its pair in August 1857 at a cost £1,650; as with the present lot, the carcass work is of English construction.  Between 1855 and 1860, the copy of the bureau du Roi, number 204, was made in Paris, attributed to Henry Dasson, almost certainly the first copy of this celebrated model made originally by Oeben and Riesener and an encoignure, number 186, made between circa 1864 and 1870 to match an 18th century original by Riesener, number 185. Lord Hertford’s son, Sir Richard Wallace left the bulk of the collection to his widow, who in turn left the contents still at 2 rue Laffitte to her residuary legatee, Sir John Murray Scott. At the death of Sir John in 1912, the present lot was listed as being in the Bureau in the inventory taken at rue Laffitte for probate purposes between February 16, 1912 and November 11, 1913, described in the session of February 20, 1912 as "Grand meuble à bijoux en acajou richement garni de bronzes dorés.....- prisé cinq mille francs" (Wallace Collection archives, carbon copy given by M. G. Seligman, p. 56). These contents were bequeathed to Lady Sackville, who sold them to the dealer Jacques Seligman, becoming therefore available again on the open market. John Ayres Hatfield founded his company in 1844, referring to himself as a 'bronzist.'  His workshop was at 20 Cumberland Street in the London parish of St. Pancras and he lived next door at number 21. His brother Henry Charles, eight years younger, worked as John's bronze chaser, and it was his son Henry John who continued the business in 1881, being granted a Royal Warrent by Queen Victoria in 1882. However, Hatfield's had been working at Windsor Castle from November 1850. Among hundreds of invoices in the Windsor Archives, one letter-heading of the 1850s, the time that the present lot was made, serves to underline the company's capabilities: 'J. Hatfield, Bronze & Ormolu Manufacturer, Groups-Statues...and all kinds of Works of Art from Models, Designs or Originals cast and executed to the Antique.' Probably coincidentally, Hatfield's were employed to restore metalwork at the Wallace Collection when it was opened to the public in 1901. History of the Riesener cabinet The original cabinet is described by The Royal Collection (RCIN 31207) as 'one of the greatest masterpieces of furniture in the Louis XVI style, this object de luxe combines cabinet-making virtuosity of a high order with quite exceptional gilt-bronze mounts. The well-figured, plain mahogany veneers, characteristic of Riesener's output in the later 1780s, provide a deliberate foil to the mounts, jewel-like on the doors (as befits the purpose of the cabinet) and treated as sculpture-in-the-round at the front angles and on the cresting.' It was made in circa 1785 for Marie-Josephe-Louise de Savoie, daughter of Victor Amadeus III of Savoy. The cabinet represents a belated celebration of her marriage to Louis XVI’s younger brother, the comte de Provence, the three gilt-bronze cherubs on the cresting holding a princess’s crown above the combined arms of France and Savoy. The hymeneal crown, doves on the doors, and quivers of Cupid’s arrows forming the legs are further emblems of love and union. The original cabinet stood in the countesses’ apartment in the Petit-Luxembourg in Paris. Confiscated in 1793 by the Revolutionary Government and intended for the new Republic’s museum, it was sold in 1796 to the femme Aumont. She offered it to Napoleon in 1809 and again in 1811, the second time receiving the famous reproach from the Emperor ‘S. M. veut faire du neuf et non acheter du vieux.' Napoleon wanted new, not old and second-hand, furniture from the deposed regime. At some time after hostilities finally ended between France and England in 1815, the cabinet was purchased by George Watson Taylor, whose wife had inherited a fortune from the West Indies trade. In London, the cabinet was housed on the corner of Cavendish Square and Harley Street, not far from Lord Hertford’s house in Manchester Square. Facing bankruptcy, Taylor sold much of his vast collection at Christie, Manson & Woods in 1825. Six pieces were purchased by Robert Fogg on behalf of King George IV, including the Riesener cabinet which alone cost £420. The king described his new purchases in a letter to the Duke of Wellington as ‘quite suitable for Windsor Castle’ but the jewel cabinet was sent to the Riding House Store near Carlton House. It was sent to Windsor for Queen Victoria’s enjoyment and to this day is in the White Drawing Room at the castle. The official wedding photograph of His Royal Highness Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was taken in front of the Riesener cabinet at Windsor Castle, June 19, 1999. Morris, writing of the present lot in 1911, states ‘It is very representative of the development of taste towards the end of the eighteenth century. The severe form, the admixture of classicism and purely French decoration, are very characteristic.' He adds the amusing anecdote that a scantily clad portrait by Vestier of the Comte de Provence's mistress, Madame Duthé, hung in the state bedroom at Bagatelle, next to the study in which the original cabinet was housed. He further records a play on words popular in circa 1790 that, on seeing the comte's coach leaving the Royal palace on the way to Bagatelle, "Il en a assez de son Gateau de Savoie; il va prendre Duthé." Loans The original cabinet was lent by Queen Victoria to the ‘Specimens of Cabinet Work’ exhibition at Gore House, Kensington between May and July, 1853. One hundred and fifty years later it was further exhibited in ‘Royal Collection: A Golden Jubilee Celebration’, May 22, 2002 to January 12, 2003. The present owner loaned the present lot to the Wallace Collection from May 2002 to 2005, coinciding in part with the exhibition of the Riesener example in the newly-built Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.  The original cabinet was also exhibited at The Queen's Gallery, in 'The Age of Neo-Classicism,' 1972, no. 1619, pl. 138. Conservation Prior to 1996, the present lot had been stored for some years in a garage in Trouville, near Deauville, in northern France. Although generally in very good condition, it needed cleaning and conservation. The carcass and doors had moved and split, with some lifting and cracking of the mahogany veneers that were very dry in appearance. The gilt-bronze was dirty and had oxidized in some places. The cabinet was carefully dismantled in London and a re-hydration technique used to re-lay the veneer on the doors. A vacuum pump was used to draw air out of a specially-tailored plastic bag laid over a polycarbonate covering which acted as a clamp to reglue lifting areas of veneer. Polished surfaces were cleaned with an aqueous solution and non-ionic detergent to remove surface dirt. The shellac polish was rebuilt where the veneer repairs were carried out, and finally the whole cabinet was waxed with beeswax and Carnuba polish. The gilt-bronze mounts were washed with a non-ionic detergent, the oxidisation removed using Bioax. Once dried, they were given a coating of micro-crystalline wax.

  • USA
  • 2007-04-19


THE IMPORTANT HOLLINGSWORTH FAMILY CHIPPENDALE CARVED WALNUT HIGH CHEST-OF-DRAWERS, MATCHING DRESSING TABLE AND SIDECHAIR Thomas Affleck (1740-1795), Philadelphia, 1765-1775 The high chest in two sections: the upper with a molded, broken-scroll pediment with carved rosettes centering a naturalistically carved rococo cartouche flanked by three-part, flame finials with fluted plinths above five thumb-nail molded small drawers, the center top drawer with a carved shell and acanthus appliques, over three large thumb-nail molded drawers flanked by fluted quarter columns; the lower section with applied moldings above a case with a long thumb-nail molded drawer over three small drawers, the center with a carved shell and acanthus appliqus, above an elaborately shaped skirt with a central applied scallop shell, flanked by fluted quarter-columns, on acanthus carved cabriole legs with ball-and-claw feet. The dressing table with a rectangular top with molded edge above a conforming case fitted with one long thumb-nail molded drawer over three small drawers, the center with a carved shell and acanthus appliqus, above an elaborately shaped skirt with a central applied scallop shell, flanked by fluted quarter-columns, on acanthus carved cabriole legs with ball-and-claw feet. The chair with a serpentine, bowed crest centering a carved shell flanked by acanthus foliage and bold shell-carved ears above an interlaced strap-work splat with deeply modeled volutes and leafage and a carved shoe flanked by fluted stiles over a trapezoidal slip-seat with original needlework upholstery, the front seat rail centering a carved shell, on acanthus-carved cabriole front legs with ball-and-claw feet high chest 94in. high, 42in. wide, 21in. deep; dressing table; 30in. high, 48in. wide, 19in. deep; chair 40in. high (3)

  • USA
  • 1998-01-16


A PAIR OF GEORGE III GILTWOOD ARMCHAIRS DESIGNED BY ROBERT ADAM AND MADE BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, 1765 Each with padded back, arms and seat covered in blue floral cut-velvet silk damask, the shaped rectangular back framed with foliage-bound reeding, headed at the angles by paterae, the scrolled serpentine toprail centred by a pierced anthemia, the padded arms with scrolled foliate supports, the terminals with flowerheads, the padded serpentine-fronted seat above a deep seat-rail edged with a husk border carved with a shell issuing scrolling foliage ending in winged sphinxes, the sides with interlaced scrolls and sphinxes, the back with scrolls, on cabriole legs headed by anthemions suspending ribbon-tied wreaths, on hairy paw feet headed by a beaded girdle enclosing anti-friction castors, both chairs with incised constructional numerals, one chair numbered on the back of the front-rail 'III' and with chalk inscription 'M.H. 28/11', the other numbered 'VI', the seat-rails raised for upholstery tacking, with large screw-holes in the centre of each seat-rail and at the top of each leg for constructional tightening, the frames and side seat-rails in beechwood, the side seat-rail facings, front seat-rails and legs in limewood, with beech cross-struts, originally oil-gilt, now water-gilt over a thin lacquer with traces of original oil-gilding 42 in. (107 cm.) high; the seats 27 in. (68.5 cm.) wide; 29¾ in. (75.5 cm.) wide, overall; 29½ in. (75 cm.) deep

  • GBR
  • 2008-06-18

Exceptionnel cabinet en pierres dures, ébène, bronze doré et argent

La façade à trois niveaux et cinq travées, centrée d’un avant-corps, reposant sur un double soubassement ; le premier niveau rythmé par des colonnes corinthiennes, comportant une niche surmontée d’un fronton curviligne orné des armoiries du pape Paul V Borghèse ; le deuxième niveau rythmé par des colonnes corinthiennes, centré d’un fronton triangulaire, couronné d’une balustrade et flanquée d’allégories ; le troisième niveau rythmé par des cariatides et surmonté d’un fronton brisé couronné d’allégories couchées et d’une figure d’empereur ; les panneaux en marqueterie de lapis-lazuli, différents types de pierres dures et de jaspes, les colonnes en lapis-lazuli, les figures en argent et bronze doré, les côtés plaqués de palissandre ; un tiroir inscrit au crayon Joel Wood repair'd this thing Feb 27 Broad St 1824, London ; le dos marqué au fer VR BP N°188 / 1866 ainsi que C.M & W 1959 ; avec trois étiquettes, dont deux imprimées BUCKINGHAM PALACE / L.C.D. surmonté du chiffre couronné GVR (pour George V Rex) et FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT / BUCKINGHAM PALACE / FROM THE GREEN DRAWING ROOM / 7/5/58 ;le piètement en ébène, bois noirci et bronze doré, probablement réalisé en Angleterre par l'ébéniste Louis-François Bellangé vers 1821-1827, à fond de glace, épousant le ressaut central du cabinet, composée de colonnes ioniques jumelées surmontées d’un entablement orné d’une frise de rinceaux et reposant sur une plinthe Le Cabinet Borghèse-Windsor Alvar González-Palacios De nobles proportions, ce cabinet grandiose (en italien « stipo »), caractéristique du maniérisme tardif, se présente comme un palais en miniature ou, si l’on préfère, comme un magnifique objet d’art à très grande échelle  (178 cm - incluant la statuette – x 126cm x 54 cm). Composé de trois étages, il est entièrement recouvert de pierres dures et divisé en deux ordres de colonnes plaquées de lapis-lazulis, quatorze colonnes scandant le premier niveau et douze rythmant l’étage supérieur. La richesse de sa façade tient à la splendeur chromatique des pierres, du bleu intense des lapis-lazulis à la lumière polychrome des jaspes – blanc et rouge, rouge orangé, jaune strié. Agates, cornalines et autres pierres dures  tachetées de nacre et de tonalités plus claires soulignent au centre l’ovale en améthyste et à l’intérieur de la niche est plaqué le plus beau jaspe jaune de Sicile qu’il m’ait été donné de voir. Cette partie du meuble est particulièrement soignée, la voûte et les portes latérales sont ornées de bronze doré et le plancher marqueté en ébène et corne. Le reste du cabinet est également décoré en bronze et cuivre doré, depuis les bases  et les chapiteaux corinthiens des colonnes jusqu’aux volutes, des six cariatides aux quatre figures féminines en ronde-bosse – probablement des Vertus – et aux deux dernières couchées sur le tympan. Toutes les têtes de ces statuettes sont en argent. Au sommet du cabinet, la figure d’un empereur romain,  légèrement plus grande,  confère une aura patricienne à la somptueuse construction : ses traits rappellent ceux d’Hadrien ou de Lucius Verus. Les armes sur l’arc central sont celles de Paul V Borghèse (1552-1621, élu pape en 1605) : est fait ainsi allusion à la relation entre le pouvoir temporel des empereurs de Rome et celui plus spirituel du vicaire du Christ sur la Terre. Il s’agit du cabinet romain le plus important depuis plusieurs décennies à apparaître sur le marché. Son histoire est en partie connue, mais elle a été rappelée récemment dans l’ouvrage de Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd (voir note 3). Le meuble apparut une première fois à Londres le 4 juillet 1821, lors de la vente anonyme A Collector of taste : le catalogue Christie’s stipulait une provenance Borghèse, « this noble article is from the Borghese Palace ». Suite à la vente, il fut racheté par le célèbre marchand londonien Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845) qui le confia pour restauration à Joel Wood à Londres en 1824. Trois années plus tard, le 22 mai, Baldock le vendit à Georges IV (1762-1830). Le roi le destinait au Grand Corridor du château de Windsor : c’est pourquoi il fut restauré en 1828 par ses ébénistes, Morel & Seddon. Le cabinet Borghèse demeura dans les collections royales anglaises jusqu’en 1959, date à laquelle il fut vendu avec la table pariétale de goût néoclassique qui le soutenait, peut-être commissionnée par Baldock auprès de l’ébéniste français Alexandre-Louis Bellangé (voir infra) : il fut inclus dans la vente Christie’s du 2 octobre s’intitulant « Property of H. M. Queen Mary, from Marlborough House ». Tout ce qui a été écrit jusqu’à présent à propos de l’origine Borghèse de ce cabinet est exact. Le prince Camille Borghèse (1775-1832), auquel le cabinet appartenait en tant que descendant de Paul V, était jeune et assez riche : l’héritage des Borghèse était alors intact et tous les palais et les biens des Borghèse, à Rome et ailleurs, demeuraient en sa possession. Cet héritage comprenait également de splendides collections d’œuvres d’art, à l’exception de la plupart des antiquités classiques qu’il avait dû vendre à la France suivant la volonté de Napoléon Ier - ces dernières ne lui furent d’ailleurs jamais entièrement payées. Depuis son mariage avec Pauline Bonaparte en 1803, sœur de Napoléon Ier, le prince Camille était devenu citoyen français et Altesse Impériale. Après la chute de l’Empire, le prince partit vivre à Florence au palais Salviati Borghèse, redécoré somptueusement pour l’occasion ; ses relations avec Rome et la Papauté étaient cordiales mais légèrement assombries par son passé anticlérical. Son frère et héritier présumé, Francesco Borghèse Aldobrandini, vivait pour sa part à Paris en très bons terme avec la cour des Bourbons, revenus au pouvoir en 1815. Les relations étroites entre Louis XVIII et Georges IV sont connues, et cela aurait été inconcevable de vendre au roi d’Angleterre un objet qui se prévalait d’une origine Borghèse, si cette dernière avait été fausse. On pourrait se demander pourquoi un homme aisé et très en vue céda ainsi un meuble que nous considérons aujourd’hui un chef-d’œuvre[1]. Cependant les goûts changent et un cabinet comme celui-ci, si spectaculaire soit-il, ne fut pas toujours à la mode. Lorsqu’au XVIIIe siècle s’épanouit le goût rocaille, celui-ci s’accommoda mal des meubles en ébène et pierres dures. A l’époque du triomphe de la courbe, ce type de mobilier fut relégué dans des dépôts ou vendu. Dans le meilleur des cas, il fut, comme cela se produisit effectivement en France, envoyé dans des institutions scientifiques, à l’image du Jardin du Roi (actuel Jardin des Plantes). Ce ne furent pas des motivations artistiques qui déterminèrent ces choix, mais bien plutôt l’influence de grands hommes de sciences ou de naturalistes comme Buffon, lesquels souhaitaient étudier les pierres rares qui constituaient ces meubles. Il n’est donc pas surprenant que, quelques décennies plus tard, Georges IV ait eu la possibilité d’acquérir le cabinet Borghèse, ou que le duc de Northumberland ait pu acheter en 1824 les deux cabinets de Domenico Cucci, réalisés à Paris en 1683 par les lapidaires florentins des Gobelins pour Louis XIV. En dépit de leur provenance, Louis XV avait décidé de les céder dès 1751. Ils se trouvent toujours en Angleterre, à Alnwick castle, où  leur grande importance historique et artistique est maintenant parfaitement reconnue. A Rome, les meubles marquetés entièrement en pierres dures étaient fabriqués par des ateliers indépendants, et de nos jours demeurent rarissimes. A Florence au contraire, il n’y avait qu’un seul mais extraordinaire atelier appartenant aux Médicis, la Galleria dei Lavori qui occupait le premier étage des Offices. Cet atelier avait accumulé d’énormes réserves de pierres très rares, achetées au fil des décennies, parfois au prix d’expéditions lointaines. La réputation des œuvres florentines fut telle qu’on finit souvent par oublier celles exécutées à Rome. Le cabinet  Borghèse n’en est que plus exceptionnel, d’autant que les pierres qui le décorent sont exclusivement siliceuses, dénommées en italien pietre dure – pierres dures – à cause de la difficulté à les travailler. Le cabinet du pape Sixte Quint, conservé au château de Stourhead (Wiltshire, Angleterre) et dont les dimensions sont similaires bien que légèrement plus hautes (214 x 126 x 84 cm), comprend en revanche deux types de pierre, des pierres siliceuses et des marbres colorés appelés en italien  pietre tenere – pierres souples. Sur la façade, les colonnettes sont taillées en différents types d’albâtre ou de marbre, tandis que les côtés du meuble sont également marquetés en marbres colorés, avec seulement quelques médaillons de lapis-lazuli et ou d’agate. Sur le cabinet de Sixte Quint, les pierres dures sont donc rares et leurs dimensions relativement réduites. Le choix des pierres n’était pas sans implication dans le prix final de l’œuvre : scier et polir les pierres dures était très compliqué et représentait un coût élevé. Les marbres, en revanche, y compris les porphyres et les granits, comportaient moins de difficultés. Ce n’est pas par hasard que les documents d’archives pour ce genre de travaux recensent des artisans aux spécialités bien distinctes : ceux qui travaillaient les pietre dure ou siliceuses étaient pour la plupart des orfèvres et des joailliers, tandis que ceux qui s'occupaient des marbres ou pietre tenere étaient plutôt des tailleurs de pierre ou des marbriers. Pour saisir la différence essentielle qui existait entre ces deux  techniques, il convient de préciser qu’à ma connaissance, il n’y eut que cinq ouvrages réalisés exclusivement en pietre dure à Rome au XVIe siècle[2]. Même la magnifique table Farnèse, autrefois au palais éponyme à Rome et maintenant conservée au Metropolitan Museum de New York, fut exécutée en marbres colorés, ne comprenant que quelques détails en pierres dures. C'est l'absence d'une chronologie précise qui rend l’analyse de ce genre d’œuvre assez complexe. Très peu de meubles peuvent être datés précisément et les noms de leurs auteurs ne sont presque jamais parvenus jusqu’à nous, y compris pour la fameuse table Farnèse. Quant au cabinet de Sixte Quint (le meuble artistiquement plus proche du cabinet Borghèse, comme l’a déjà souligné S. S. Jervis[3]), il est impossible de le dater avec certitude : peut-être a-t-il été conçu, même si c’est peu probable, après le pontificat de Sixte Quint (1585-1590), mais une proximité stylistique  avec  la table de Philippe II exécutée en 1587, me fait pencher pour une datation avant 1590. Les deux cabinets papaux ne sont pas en tous points identiques. Structurellement, le cabinet de Sixte Quint est plus élancé que celui de Paul V ; en outre, les matériaux et l’échelle chromatique choisis présentent des différences. Le cabinet Borghèse ne peut être antérieur à la nomination de Paul V en 1605 ; sa silhouette et son allure sont moins gracieuses mais plus puissantes. Les figures en bronze et argent le décorant, possèdent un caractère plus plastique que pictural, relevant davantage du travail d’un sculpteur que de celui d’un joaillier. Enfin, la figure de l’empereur au sommet est très proche d’une sculpture ayant appartenu à la reine Christine de Suède : en albâtre et bronze doré, elle représente Tibère et fut conçue au début du XVIIe siècle à partir d’un torse et d’une tête antiques auxquels on adjoignit des mains et des pieds en métal doré (aujourd’hui au musée du Prado à Madrid).[4] Bien que peu d’années séparent les deux cabinets, leur conception est  différente. Non seulement le chromatisme dans son ensemble s’assombrit légèrement dans le cabinet Borghèse, mais on n’observe plus non plus certaines ornementations consistant en de petites bandes de disques de pierres dures, que l’on retrouvait aussi bien sur le cabinet de Sixte Quint que sur la table de Philippe II. Les côtés du cabinet de Sixte Quint sont, comme on l’a dit, ornés de marbres colorés et demeurent clairs et lumineux, bien qu’ils ne soient pas en pierres dures. Pour le cabinet Borghèse, on préféra supprimer la décoration latérale, les côtés étant désormais entièrement plaqués d’ébène et de palissandre,  conférant ainsi un aspect plus solennel et majestueux au cabinet. L’évolution stylistique des cabinets de marbres et pierres dures se poursuivit tout au long du XVIIe siècle : moins imposants, ils réduisirent en hauteur, ce qui atténua leur dimension architecturale. Le cabinet de la galerie Colonna par exemple (pour lequel nous n’avons pas de date certaine, même s’il serait prudent de le situer vers le troisième quart du XVIIe siècle) semble, à l’instar des autres meubles du même type, qu’ils soient en pierres dures ou non, avoir perdu en hauteur ce qu’il a gagné en largeur. De manière générale, le modèle du cabinet tendit à évoluer vers un dessin plus rectangulaire, de dimensions plus restreintes : toutefois, le changement majeur consistait non pas en un format plus petit, mais tenait surtout à un goût nouveau, privilégiant les lignes horizontales aux verticales.[5] Une paire de cabinets appartenant jadis aux Borghèse, et figurant depuis le XVIIIe siècle à Castle Howard (Yorkshire, Angleterre), a été vendue chez Sotheby’s à Londres le 8 juillet 2015 : présentant de nombreuses similitudes avec le cabinet de Paul V, ils ont probablement été réalisés autour de 1620, bien qu’il faille considérer cette date avec précaution, car ils pourraient tout aussi bien remonter aux années 1610. A l’occasion de cette vente, j’ai rappelé comment John Evelyn, après son séjour à Rome en 1644, racontait avoir vu de nombreuses œuvres en pierres dures appartenant aux Borghèse, lors d’une visite le 28 novembre, dans le palais qu’il pensait être celui du cardinal Borghèse (il s’agit sans doute d’une erreur puisqu’en 1644 aucun cardinal Borghèse n’était alors en vie). Le bâtiment qu’Evelyn visita était en réalité le palais Borghèse au Campo Marzio : “We were shown here a fine cabinet and tables of Florence work in stone” [6] (Evelyn les croyait florentines, ainsi que le pensaient souvent les visiteurs étrangers de l’époque). Il est fort probable que le meuble observé par Evelyn ait été le cabinet Borghèse présenté ici. Les Borghèse possédaient beaucoup d’autres cabinets que j’ai déjà dérits par le passé[7] ; cependant, ils n’auraient pas été qualifiés comme uniquement en pietre dure,  car ils étaient également composés de nombreux autres et luxueux matériaux. A partir des documents d’archives qui nous sont parvenus, on peut identifier les différents métiers impliqués dans la réalisation du cabinet Borghèse ;  il est bon de souligner que chacun de ces artisans intervenait sur des aspects bien spécifiques de l’exécution. A l’origine, un architecte livrait le dessin du cabinet et, dans la plupart des cas, supervisait la réalisation de l’œuvre. C’était ensuite au menuisier (falegname en italien) de construire un bâti en bois sur lequel un ébéniste venait plaquer les bois précieux et moulurer les tympans, encadrements et motifs en ébène. Un groupe de lapidaires concevaient les marqueteries en pierres dures, et probablement un autre lapidaire se chargeait spécifiquement des colonnes en lapis-lazuli ; un fondeur (metallaro)  fournissait  les montures en cuivre ou bronze doré, tandis qu’un sculpteur, et peut-être aussi un orfèvre, réalisaient les figures en bronze et en argent. Il fallait enfin que l’ébéniste fixe les montures sur le cabinet et qu’un serrurier (chiavaro) élabore les mécanismes pour ouvrir et fermer les différents tiroirs et compartiments. D’autres artisans étaient certainement sollicités, comme un ébéniste spécialisé dans le travail de l’ivoire par exemple. Les noms des artistes et artisans exerçant ces métiers sous le pontificat de Paul V sont connus.[8] Parmi eux, il est ainsi possible d’en relever quelques-uns, susceptibles d’avoir pu travailler sur ce cabinet, mais en aucun cas ces suggestions ne doivent être considérées comme des attributions. L’un d’entre eux, Innocenzo Toscani, était réputé pour travailler l’ébène : son nom nous amène à penser qu’il était italien, bien que les ébénistes les plus renommés de l’époque vinssent du nord de l’Europe. L’orfèvre originaire de Nuremberg Hans Keller (dénommé Cheller ou Chellero en italien) est mentionné pour la première fois en 1617. L’artisan le plus susceptible d’avoir apporté sa contribution au cabinet est l’ébéniste allemand Remigio Chilolz mais nous n’avons aucune information sur lui avant 1629 (il mourut en 1661). Le fondeur et sculpteur Giacomo Laurenziani apparait plusieurs fois parmi les fournisseurs de Paul V, ainsi que les orfèvres Tomasso Cortini et Martino Guizzardi. Enfin, l’ingénieur et bronzier Pompeo Targone (1575-v.1630)  conçut pour la chapelle Pauline (basilique Sainte-Marie-Majeure) - dont le chantier était suivi avec le plus grand soin par le pontife - des colonnes entièrement recouvertes de lamelles de jaspe enchâssées de métal doré : un tour de force technique jamais réalisé jusque-là, même sous l’Antiquité. Une hypothèse encore plus satisfaisante serait l’ébéniste flamand Giovanni van Santen (connu en Italie sous le nom de Vasanzio) : en 1606, il est mentionné comme proposant dans sa boutique de la Via Giulia des cabinets d’ébène ornés de gemmes, puis il travailla de 1613 jusqu’à sa mort en 1621, comme architecte attitré des Borghèse. Malheureusement, il n’existe pas d’objet comparable nous permettant de faire un rapprochement définitif avec l’œuvre de Vasanzio ou de Targone, bien que la technique employée pour les colonnettes en lapis-lazuli du cabinet Borghèse soit la même que celle employée sur les grandes colonnes de la chapelle Pauline. Un indice confortant la provenance du cabinet est l’exceptionnelle qualité des jaspes ornant sa façade. Dans les documents d’archives, Antonio Del Drago est mentionné en 1608 comme le préposé aux pierres dures du pape: la même année, il reçoit un dépôt de jaspes pour la chapelle Pauline du marchand Giovanni Geri qui approvisionna directement en jaspes le chantier de la chapelle à une autre occasion cette année-là. En 1612, on relève encore le nom de Del Drago vérifiant les fournitures livrées par le fondeur Fiochino (ce dernier pourrait être l’un des auteurs des montures du cabinet). En 1610, un prince sicilien fit livrer des jaspes pour la chapelle du pape et, en 1612, Francesco Cechone est indiqué comme sciant des marbres pour le même chantier (le document parle de marbres plutôt que de pietre dure). Quoi qu’il en soit, une attention toute particulière était portée aux jaspes siciliens puisque l’administration papale fit donner vingt-cinq écus « aux marins qui ont rapporté les jaspes de Sicile »[9]. Il y eut également deux achats successifs en 1609 et 1610 de lapis-lazulis auprès de Giovanni Battista Bolognetti à Venise : ces pierres semi-précieuses étaient, d’après les documents, destinées à la chapelle du pape à Sainte-Marie-Majeure, mais du point de vue de Paul V, ce qui était destiné au pape lui appartenait aussi en propre. N’était-il pas l’élu de Dieu ? [1] J’ai lu récemment la Description de l’inventaire de tout le mobilier existant dans les appartements du Palazzo Nobile à Rome et de celui des appartements du Casino, de la Villa Pinciana, propriétés de Son Altesse Monsieur le Prince Camillo Borghèse occupées temporairement par Sa Majesté le Roi Charles IV (Archives Secrètes du Vatican, Archives Borghèse, fascicule 309). Aucun meuble en pierres dures n’est mentionné au Palazzo. Néanmoins, les propriétés des Borghèse étaient bien plus nombreuses et je n’ai pas eu occasion de voir s’ils existaient des inventaires de l’époque pour les autres résidences de la famille Borghèse, ni n’ai pu accéder aux inventaires de l’époque pour les résidences du prince lorsqu’il vivait à Turin en qualité de Gouverneur d’une grande partie du Nord d’Italie. [2] Ces ouvrages sont : la table de Philippe II offerte par le cardinal Alessandrino au roi d’Espagne en 1587, aujourd’hui au Prado ; une table ayant appartenu au duc de Westminster, datable à mon avis des environs de 1585 (A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Las colecciones reales españolas de mosaicos y piedras duras, Madrid 2001, p. 62) ; une table autrefois à la Corsini Gallery à New York (A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Gusto dei principi, Milan, 1993, fig. 702) ; le cabinet de Sixte Quint, et le cabinet Borghèse présenté ici, même si ce dernier date du début du XVII siècle. [3] Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd, Roman Splendour English Arcadia, The English Taste for Pietre Dure and the Sixtus Cabinet at Stourhead, National Trust, Londres, 2015. Voir aussi les importantes enquêtes de H. Roberts, For the King’s Pleasure. The Furnishings and Decorations of George IV’s Apartements at Windor Castle, Londres 2001. [4] R. Coppel, Museo del Prado. Catalogo de la Escultura de Epoca Moderna, Madrid 1998, p. 338 (l’auteur semble attribuer la sculpture à Nicolas Cordier) ; M. Simal Lopez, « Marbres pour le décor du Palais de la Granja », in Splendor marmoris, sous la direction de G. Extermann et A. Varela Braga, Rome, 2016, pages 244-245, fig. 11. [5] Le cabinet Colonna est illustré dans le livre de A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Mobiliers et décors à la cour de Rome, Milan 2004, p. 23 – à la page 22 du même ouvrage est illustré un cabinet du château de Rosenborg, datant de 1678 et témoignant de cette tendance nouvelle : à propos de ce meuble et d’autres cabinets, voir le catalogue de vente Treasures , Sotheby’s, Londres, le 8 juillet 2015, lot 20, sous la direction de M. Tavella et A. Gonzalez-Palacios. Voir aussi Simon Swynfen Jervis et Dudley Dodd, cité supra, où on reproduit une vaste sélection de cabinets romains plus petits et de silhouette rectangulaire, pages 24, 26, 67, 68, 71 et 73. [6] The Diary of John Evelyn, sous la direction de A. Dobson, Londres 1906, 1er volume, p. 199. [7]  Voir Treasures , vente Sotheby’s à Londres, le 8 juillet 2015, lot 20 ; A. Gonzalez-Palacios, “Concerning furniture : Roman Documents and Inventories”, dans Furniture History, vol. XLVI (2010), pages 11, 12, 65-70. [8] A. M. Corbo, Massimo Pomponi, Sources pour l’histoire artistique romaine à l’époque de Paul V, Rome 1995, avec des index très utiles et une liste exhaustive de documents d’archives. [9] Corbo, Pomponi, cité supra, pages 39, 64, 65, 68, 70, 149, 160, 170. Le cabinet Borghèse-Windsor dans les collections royales anglaises Etabli à Londres au 7 Hanway Street, Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845) débuta son activité comme marchand de porcelaines, puis se spécialisa dans la conception et la revente de meubles ornés de plaques de porcelaine ou de pierres dures. Il fut l’un des principaux fournisseurs de George IV, ainsi que des grands collectionneurs britanniques comme le duc de Northumberland  à qui il vendit en 1824 les fameux cabinets de Domenico Cucci, provenant des collections de Louis XIV. Ce fut sans doute Baldock qui, afin de mettre parfaitement en valeur le cabinet, commanda la luxueuse console sur laquelle il repose encore aujourd’hui. Cette console est caractéristique de l’œuvre de l’ébéniste français Louis-François Bellangé (1759-1827), dont la production était particulièrement appréciée des amateurs outre-Manche et notamment du roi George IV.  Les Bellangé travaillèrent fréquemment pour Baldock : on retrouve la marque du marchand - EHB - sur un meuble en  pierres dures d'Alexandre Bellangé (cf. S. Cordier, op. cit., pp. 630-631, ALB 5). Epousant discrètement l’architecture du cabinet, la console repose des colonnes géminées dont les chapiteaux ioniques rappellent ceux du cabinet que Louis-François Bellangé livra en 1823 au marchand Maëlrondt ; la frise de rinceaux sur la ceinture de la console est aussi très similaire aux rinceaux du cabinet Maëlrondt  (cf. S. Cordier, op. cit., p. 619, LFB 25). Néanmoins, il se peut également que George IV ait directement commandé à Bellangé la console : une note de la Royal Household fait état en 1829 d’une dette importante de la Couronne envers la veuve Bellangé, correspondant à un meuble "purchased for His Majesty" (cf. S. Cordier, op. cit., p. 356). Jusqu’à maintenant, ce meuble n’avait pas été identifié et il pourrait s’agir de notre console, d’autant que tous les autres meubles connus des Bellangé appartenant aux collections royales proviennent de marchands ou de ventes publiques, et qu’aucun ne fut directement acquitté aux Bellangé. Nous remercions M. Sylvain Cordier pour ces informations qu’il nous a aimablement communiquées. Le 22 mai 1827, Baldock vendit finalement le cabinet au roi George IV (H. Roberts, op. cit., p. 248). Continuant l’œuvre de son père, auquel il succéda enfin en 1820, George IV (1762-1830) contribua grandement à la rénovation du château de Windsor : sous la direction de son conseiller Charles Long et de l’architecte Jeffry Wyatville, une gigantesque campagne de travaux fut entreprise afin de redonner tout son lustre à l’antique forteresse. L’une des innovations majeures fut la création du Grand Corridor : construit entre 1824 et 1828, il ne mesurait pas moins de 168 m de long et desservait les appartements royaux. The Long Gallery se révéla bientôt être un écrin de choix pour les collections du roi : tandis que, sur les murs, se côtoyaient tableaux de maîtres vénitiens et portraits de famille, une quantité impressionnante de consoles, cabinets en laque et meubles d’André-Charles Boulle, sur lesquels étaient disposés bronzes et porcelaines, alternait avec les bustes des monarques britanniques posés sur des gaines. Trois cabinets de pierres dures, dont celui acquis chez Baldock, étaient destinés à compléter l’ensemble (H. Roberts, op. cit., p. 238). Les ébénistes du roi, Nicholas Morel & George Seddon, furent chargés de la décoration du Corridor, aménagé dans le goût Tudor. Comme toutes les acquisitions du souverain, le cabinet leur fut confié pour restauration le 24 septembre 1828 : « To taking out thoroughly repairing, cleaning and polishing, the Mosaic panels lapis-lazuli columns, and precious stones of a large high cabinet […] » (H. Roberts, op. cit., p. 244). Une fois restauré, le cabinet fut livré à Windsor, puis mis en réserve le 13 août 1829. Le cabinet fut bientôt transféré au palais de Buckingham où il orna The Green Drawing Room : une aquarelle par Douglas Morison (1814-1847), datée de 1843 et appartenant aux collections royales britanniques, le montre dans ce salon côté fenêtres, sous un portrait par John Singleton Copley. Il s’y trouvait encore dans les années 1930 et figurait alors de l’autre côté du salon (voir photographie reproduite ci-contre). Mary de Teck épousa le futur roi George V en 1893. Lorsque ce dernier fut titré prince de Galles en 1901, le couple s’installa à Marlborough House, située à l’est du palais Saint-James, jusqu’en 1910, date de leur couronnement. Veuve en 1936, elle retourna habiter à Marlborough House où elle vécut jusqu’à sa disparition en 1953. Grand amateur d’art, Queen Mary fut une collectionneuse passionnée et contribua par de nombreux achats à enrichir les collections royales britanniques. Ses connaissances et sa maîtrise des inventaires lui permirent de retrouver des œuvres importantes, oubliées depuis longtemps dans les réserves ou même « empruntées » abusivement. Il n’est donc pas étonnant qu’elle ait souhaité  pouvoir disposer du cabinet Borghèse pour le décor de sa résidence londonienne. The Borghese-Windsor Cabinet by Alvar González-Palacios Of noble proportions, this late mannerist masterpiece looks like a miniature building, or perhaps a sumptuous objet on a grand scale (its dimensions are 178cm high, including the statuette, x 126 cm wide x 54 cm deep).  Composed of three storeys, its facade is completely covered with pietre dure, and divided by two orders of columns with lapis lazuli veneers, fourteen large columns articulate the ground floor level with twelve smaller columns above. Its splendour is emphasised by the rich colours of the stones, from the intense blue of the lapis lazuli to the variegated luminosity of the jaspers – white and red, orange-red, and yellow with netted markings.  Agates, cornelians and other hard stones with pearly striations and lighter colouring highlight the oval amethyst used in the centre and lining the niche is the most beautiful Sicilian yellow jasper that I have ever seen. This central focus of the constructions is particularly finely executed with the vault and the side tiny doors mounted with gilt bronze and the floor inlaid with ebony and horn. The whole cabinet is richly mounted with bronze and copper gilt from the base mouldings and Corinthian capitals of the colums to the three pairs of scrolls, from the six caryatids to the four female figures modelled in the round – possibly representing Virtues – and by two others on the uppermost pediment.  All the statuettes have silver heads.  The figure of a Roman Emperor is set on top of the cabinet giving the whole a patrician quality.  Its features recall those of Hadrian or Lucius Verus and it is slightly larger in scale than the other statuettes.  The arms in the central pediment are those of Paul V (Borghese, 1605-1621) making a connection between the earthly power of the Roman emperors and the more spiritual power of the Vicar of Christ on earth. This is the most significant Roman cabinet to have come onto to the market for many years.  Its story is partly known but has been retold by Jervis and Dodd (see note 3). Auctioned on 4 July 1821 as the property of an anonymous Collector of Taste, the  Christie’s catalogue description specified that ‘this noble article is from the Borghese Palace’. It was acquired (perhaps after the sale) by the famous London dealer Edward Holmes Baldock for whom it was repaired by Joel Wood in London in 1824.  Three years later on 22 May, Baldock sold it to George IV.  The King had it restored by his cabinet makers, Morel & Seddon in 1828 before it was placed in the Grand Corridor of Windsor Castle.  The Borghese cabinet remained in the Royal Collection until 1959, when it was sold along with its neoclassical stand, which may have been commissioned by Baldock from the French cabinet maker Alexandre-Louis Bellangé.  The Christie’s catalogue of 2 October 1959 describes it as ‘Property of HM Queen Mary, from Marlborough House’. Everything written so far on the Borghese provenance is correct. Prince Camillo Borghese (1775-1832), who as head of the family descended from Paul V, owned the Cabinet, was still relatively young and very wealthy.  The family estates were intact and included all the palaces and property of the Borghese in Rome as well as many properties elsewhere. There were also magnificent art collections, although the greater part of the classical antiquities had been sold at Napoleon’s request to France (although never totally payed for).  After the fall of the Emperor, Don Camillo moved to Florence to the Palazzo Salviati Borghese which had been lavishly redecorated for him.  He continued to have a cordial relationship with Rome and the papacy although it was slightly upset by his anticlerical past. He was a famous man, married since 1803 to Paolina, sister of Napoleon, becoming then a French citizen and a member of the Bonaparte family with the title of Imperial Highness. His brother and heir Francesco Borghese Aldobrandini, lived in Paris and enjoyed a warm relationship with the Bourbon court.  The close ties between Louis XVIII and George IV are well known and it was therefore inconceivable that an object with a doubtful Borghese provenance could have been sold to the King of England. One might wonder why a wealthy man with such a high social profile should have disposed of an object that today we consider a masterpiece.[1] However tastes change and this sort of work was not always in favour.  The Rococo style which emerged in the eighteenth century, was particularly ill-suited to being placed alongside pietre dure. In an age when curves were triumphant, objects made up of stone panels set into dark wood were either relegated to the deposits or sold off.  The most positive  destination for such an object at that time was the King’s Museum (now known as the Jardin des Plantes) not so much on account of its artistic merit but because the great scientists and naturalists of the day, like Buffon, wanted to study rare minerals and stones.  It is therefore unsurprising that George IV acquired the Borghese Cabinet or, that in the same period, the Duke of Northumberland, bought two cabinets made in Paris in 1683 by Florentine stonecutters from the Gobelins manufactory under the direction of another Italian, Domenico Cucci. Although originally made for Louis XIV for Versailles, by the mid-eighteenth century Louis XV was ready to dispose of them. They have remained in England ever since and there is now a much greater awareness of their considerable art historical significance. Furniture exclusively inlaid with pietre dure was made in Rome by individual workshops and is very rare.  In Florence on the other hand there was a single outstanding manufactory, the Galleria dei Lavori, on the first floor of the Uffizi, which belonged to the Grand Dukes, or, in effect, the state.  It had built up enormous reserves of very rare stones acquired over the years, sometimes as a result of expensive expeditions to source the materials in remote places.  Such was the fame of Florentine work that the contribution of Rome has often been lost or confused with that of Florence. This makes the Borghese Cabinet even more unusual because every one of the stones used is siliceous in type.  This means that they are hard stones - in Italian pietre dure – and, because of this characteristic, difficult to cut. The Sixtus V Cabinet at Stourhead House in England, (which is of a greater height at 214cm, but of similar width at 126cm and depth of 84cm), uses both siliceous stones and coloured marbles (defined as pietre tenere, or soft stones, in Italian).  On the facade the colonnettes are made of different types of alabaster or marble while coloured marbles are also set into the sides of the object with only the occasional disc of hardstone like lapis lazuli or agate included among them. The choice of material is noticeably varied, the few pietre dure are relatively small in size.  To cut such stone and polish it is difficult and therefore expensive. Marbles, on the other hand, present less of a challenge, even porphyry and granites require less demanding techniques. It is not surprising that the documents record craftsmen with different specialist skills undertaking this work.  Those that worked the siliceous or hard stones – pietre dure – were mostly goldsmiths and jewellers while those that worked marbles or pietre tenere were stone cutters or marble workers.  To understand the substantial difference between the techniques employed for the two different types of material,  it may help to realise that, to my knowledge only five objects made in Rome in the sixteenth century used pietre dure exclusively.[2]  Even the magnificent Farnese Table originally in  the Palazzo Farnese in Rome and now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, was made using coloured marbles with only a few details in pietre dure. What makes analysis of this kind of object quite complicated is the absence of a precise chronology.  Very few have documented dates and we almost never know the names of the makers even for the Farnese Table. Neither is there a firm date for the  Sixtus V Cabinet (which is the closest to the Borghese Cabinet as S. S. Jervis[3] has pointed out).  It is possible, though unlikely, that it was made after Sixtus V’s papacy (1585-1590), but stylistic ties with the Table of Philip II (Museo del Prado) made in 1587, point to a date before 1590. The two papal cabinets are by no means completely alike.  Structurally the Sixtus V Cabinet is more vertical than that made for Paul V and the materials and chromatic range are different. The Borghese Cabinet could not have been made before 1605 the date of his ascendance to the papal throne and its shape and character are less graceful though more powerful.  The bronze and silver figures that adorn it have a more plastic, less pictorial aspect, as if made by a sculptor rather than a jeweller.  The figure of the emperor on the top is strikingly close to a sculpture that belonged to Christina of Sweden and is now in the Prado Museum.  Made of alabaster and gilt bronze it shows Tiberius and was remodelled at the beginning of the seventeenth century with an antique torso and head and with hands and feet of gilded metal.[4] Although the two cabinets were made only a few years apart they are also different in character. Not only does the use of colour change from sumptuous and bright in the earlier cabinet to darker and less minutely defined in the later, but also the delicate bands containing little discs that are found both in the earlier cabinet and in the Table of Philip II are nowhere to be seen on the Borghese Cabinet.  The sides of the earlier object, made with coloured marbles, are luminous and bright, though they would have been even brighter had they been made only of pietre dure. A few years later a choice was made with the Borghese Cabinet not to decorate the sides with marbles but to apply veneers of ebony and rosewood instead, giving the object an austere, solemn presence. Cabinets continued to change throughout the seventeenth century, reducing in height and gradually giving less weight to their architectural character. The cabinet in the Galleria Colonna (for which we have no firm date, but which was probably made in the third quarter of the seventeenth century) appears to have lost in height what it has made up in width, like other furniture of this type in Rome whether made with pietre dure or not. In a sense the model itself was evolving towards a series of cabinets which are rectangular in shape but smaller in size.  However the change lay not so much in the reduced dimensions but in the new taste that favoured the horizontal over the vertical.[5] The 2015 Sotheby’s Treasures catalogue featured a pair of cabinets from Castle Howard that also had a Borghese provenance.  Very similar in style to the Paul V Cabinet and close in date, they were probably made around 1620, although this is by no means certain, and they could have been made around 1610. Writing about them in 2015, I described how during his visit to Rome in 1644, John Evelyn recalled having seen a number of objects made of pietre dure belonging to the Borghese.  Evelyn believed them to be Florentine, as did many travellers.  On 28 November he went to visit the Palazzo of Cardinal Borghese (and here he confuses one thing with another because in 1644 there was no Cardinal Borghese alive).  The building Evelyn was visiting was the Palazzo Borghese in Campio Marzio and he writes, “We were shown here a fine cabinet and tables of Florence work in stone”.[6]  It is highly likely that the object seen by Evelyn was the Borghese Cabinet of Paul V.  The Borghese family had many other cabinets, about which I have written elsewhere,[7] but they would not necessarily have been described simply as works in pietre dure because they were made of many other sorts of rich materials as well.  Documents from the archives make it possible to suggest names of craftsmen who may have been involved in building the Borghese Cabinet and it is useful to point out how these craftsmen specialised in different aspects of the construction.  To start with there would have been an architect who produced a design and usually oversaw each stage of the work.  A falegname (or joiner in English, menuisier in French) would build the wooden carcase, then a cabinet maker would lay the veneers of precious woods (in this case ebony and rosewood) and assemble the cabinet, carving architectural details such as the pediments and frames in ebony.  A group of stone cutters attended to the pietre dure inlays and probably a different stone cutter would make the lapis lazuli columns.  A founder or ‘metallaro’ (metalworker) supplied the gilt-brass ornament (such as the scrolls on the facade), while a sculptor and perhaps a silversmith made the more complex elements like the figures in bronze or silver.  The same cabinet maker or another cabinet maker would attach the ornaments and then a ‘chiavaro’ (or locksmith) would have supplied the mechanisms to open and close the cabinet.  I am convinced that there would have been other craftsmen involved as well, perhaps a specialist cabinet maker called in to make the ebony or ivory inlays for the niche. The names of many artists and craftsmen working at the time of Paul V’s papacy, are recorded with descriptions of their specialist skills[8] so it is possible to suggest some of those who might have worked on the cabinet.  Suggestions though should not be considered attributions.  Innocenzo Toscani is one of these and he was mainly a carver of ebony, his name indicates that he was Italian although the most well known cabinet makers in this period were from northern Europe.  Then there is Hans Keller (called in Italian Cheller or Chellero) who appears first, as far as we know, in 1617, whilst the name of the German cabinet maker Remigio Chilolz, who seems the most obvious craftsman to have been involved with Borghese Cabinet, is not recorded  until 1629 and we know he died in 1661.  The founder and sculptor Giacomo Laurenziani figures many times in the accounts of Paul V, as do the silversmiths Tomasso Cortini and Martino Guizzardi.  Meanwhile Pompeo Targone, a founder, engineer and maker of exquisite objects, designed the columns in the Cappella Paolina in S. Maria Maggiore, a project close to Paul V’s heart.  They featured narrow jasper veneers fixed between gilt metal mounts running along the length of the column, something never before seen even by the ancient Romans. Then there was the Flemish cabinet maker Giovanni van Santen (known in Italy as Vasanzio) who may be an even better candidate for the Borghese Cabinet.  In 1606 he is recorded as making ebony cabinets decorated with gems in his workshop in Via Giulia. Subsequently, from 1613 until his death in 1621, he served as architect to the Borghese. Unfortunately we have no other comparisons or relevant objects that would allow an attribution to either Vasanzio or Targone even though the technique used to make the little lapis lazuli columns on the Borghese Cabinet is the same as that used on the very large columns of the Cappella Paolina. One further possible, indeed convincing, indicator of provenance concerns the exceptional quality of jasper used on the facade of Paul V’s Cabinet.  The name of Antonio Del Drago is known from documents which describe him, in 1608, as  keeper of the Pope’s pietre dure.  That year he received a consignment of jaspers for the Cappella Paolina from Giovanni Geri who must have been a dealer in stones because he sold jaspers directly to the chapel on another occasion that year.  In 1612 Del Drago is recorded to supervise the accounts of the brass worker Fiochino (Fiochino could be another craftsmen involved with the mounts for the cabinet).  In 1610 a Sicilian prince sent jaspers for the “Cappella del Papa” and in 1612 Francesco Cechone is recorded as cutting marbles for the same building (the document mentions marbles, rather than pietre dure).  The Sicilian jaspers are however of particular importance since the papal administration recorded a payment of 25 scudi “alli marinari che han portato li diaspri di Sicilia” – to the sailors who brought the jaspers from Sicily.[9] In 1609 and 1610 on two separate occasions, lapis lazuli was acquired in Venice from Giovanni Battista Bolognetti and documents record that these semiprecious stones were destined for the Pope’s chapel at S. Maria Maggiore but as far as Paul V was concerned what belonged to the Pope belonged by right to him as individual, since he had been chosen by God. Translation by Emma-Louise Bassett [1] I have recently read the, “Descrizione di inventario di tutto il mobilio esistente nelli appartamenti del Palazzo Nobile di Roma e di quello delli appartamenti de’ Casini, della Villa Pinciana spettante a S. A. I. il Sig. Pnpe. Camillo Borghese provvisoriamente occupati da S. M. il Re Carlo IV” (Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Archivio Borghese, f. 309). No mention is made of any pietre dure furniture in the Palace.  However the Borghese had many other properties and I have not had the opportunity to discover if there are surviving inventories from this period for the family’s other residences, nor have I been able to access the inventories of the Prince’s residences when he was Governor General of a large part of Northern Italy and lived in Turin. [2] These include the Table of Philip II given to the King of Spain in 1587 by Cardinal Alessandrino, which is now in the Prado Museum;  a table that belonged to the Duke of Westminster, datable by my reckoning to around 1585 (A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Las colecciones reales españolas de mosaicos y piedras duras, Madrid 2001, p. 62); a table that was once in the Corsini Gallery in New York (A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il gusto dei principi, Milan 1993, fig. 702); the Cabinet of Sixtus V which has been mentioned and the Borghese Cabinet under discussion here, although this last object dates to the early seventeenth century. [3] Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd, Roman Splendour English Arcadia, The English Taste for Pietre Dure and the Sixtus Cabinet at Stourhead, National Trust, London, 2015. See also the significant findings by H. Roberts, For the King’s Pleasure. The Furnishings and Decorations of George IV’s Apartments at Windor Castle”,  London 2001. [4] R. Coppel, Museo del Prado. Catalogo de la Escultura de Epoca Moderna, Madrid 1998, p. 338 (the author appears to be drawn towards an attribution of the sculpture to Nicolas Cordier); M. Simal López, “Marmi per la decorazione del Palazzo della Granja”, in Splendor marmoris, ed. G. Extermann and A. Varela Braga, Rome 2016, pp. 244-245, fig. 11. [5] The Colonna Cabinet is illustrated in A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Arredi e ornamenti alla corte di Roma, Milan 2004, p. 23. On p.22 there is also a picture of a cabinet of 1678 in Rosenborg Castle which follows this new tendency. For more on this and other similar cabinets, see the auction catalogue Treasures, Sotheby’s, London, July 8th 2015, lot 20, ed. M. Tavella and A. Gonzalez-Palacios.  See also  Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd, cit., which includes illustrations of a wide range of smaller rectangular Roman cabinets, pp. 24, 26, 67, 68, 71 and 73. [6] The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. A. Dobson, London 1906, vol. I, p. 199. [7] See the auction catalogue Treasures, Sotheby’s, London, July 8th 2015, lot 20; A. Gonzalez-Palacios, “Concerning Furniture: Roman Documents and Inventories”, in Furniture History, vol. XLVI (2010), pp. 11, 12, 65-70. [8] A. M. Corbo, Massimo Pomponi, Fonti per la storia artistica romana al tempo di Paolo V, Rome 1995, for very useful indexes and an exhaustive list of archive documents. [9] Corbo, Pomponi, cit., pp. 39, 64, 65, 68, 70, 149, 160 and 170.

  • GBR
  • 2016-09-20

S.A.R. le Maharadjah d'Indore

Le Maharadjah Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shri Yeshwant Rao II Holkar XIV Bahadur (1908 - 1961), membre de la dynastie des Holkar de Marathas, épouse Shrimant Akhand Sahib Soubhagyavati Sanyogita Bai Holkar (1913 - 1937) en 1924. Il devient Maharadjah d'Indore en 1926, à l'âge de dix-sept ans, quand son père, Tukojirao Holkar III (1890 - 1978), abdique en sa faveur. Le Maharadjah et la Maharani ont tous deux suivi leur scolarité en Angleterre. Le couple est très amoureux de la vie européenne et ses fastes. Ils possèdent notamment deux maisons en France et leur fille, Usha, naît à Paris en 1933. Leur goût pour l'art moderne les pousse à se faire conseiller par Henri-Pierre Roché (1879 - 1959), marchand d'art de renom qui aide notamment Brancusi, Man Ray et Picabia à se faire connaître dans le monde de l'art. En 1929, le marchand recommande Bernard Boutet de Monvel quand le Maharadjah manifeste sa volonté de décorer l'un de ses palais en Indore, d'un portrait de lui-même, peint par un artiste de renom. Bernard Boutet de Monvel réalise ainsi un premier portrait du Maharadjah en 1929, accoudé à une cheminée dans la maison de l'artiste, passage de la Visitation, en costume de soirée (collection particulière; voir le lot 240 pour un dessin préparatoire). En 1933, le Maharadjah commande au peintre un second portrait, en habit de cour (180 x 180 cm, collection particulière), avec pour pendant un portrait de son épouse en tenue traditionnelle. La paire de tableaux également destinée à orner les murs du palais, coûte trois cent mille francs. Exposée à la galerie Wildenstein, New York en janvier 1934, elle rencontre un immense succès, provoquant la prolongation de l'exposition. Boutet de Monvel est si heureux de l'enthousiasme du public qu'il réalise la même année une réplique du portrait du Maharadjah, en vue de la montrer dans de futures expositions. Il s'agit du tableau présenté ici.  Stéphane-Jacques Addade décrit le tableau qui présente "[...] le maharadjah vêtu du costume maratha traditionnel. Assis sur un gaddi blanc, trône des Holkar, Yeswant Rao Holkar flotterait comme en apesanteur au centre de l'espace immaculé et de la toile si le grenat profond d'un tapis, comme les couleurs chatoyantes du sabre enserré d'une patka benarsi placé entre ses jambes, ne permettaient au spectateur de reconstituer une perspective profonde." (Stéphane-Jacques Addade, op. cit. 2001, p. 266). Le Maharadjah porte les spectaculaires "Poires d'Indore", diamants de près de quarante-sept carats chacun, montés sur un collier de perles par les soins de la Maison Chaumet à l'occasion de ce portrait. Les précieuses poires avaient été montées deux ans plus tôt par la Maison Mauboussin sur un splendide collier, les mariant avec une émeraude éblouissante, visibles sur le portrait de la Maharani en robe du soir peint en 1929. En 1946, Harry Winston se porte acquéreur des deux pierres. La Maharani meurt à l'âge de vingt-deux ans, laissant son mari dévasté. Il épouse l'américaine Margaret Lawler dont il divorce, puis l'américaine Lady Euphemia Watt, qui lui donne un fils, Richard Holkar. En 1948, le Maharadjah signe l'acte de réunion de l'Indore à l'Inde, et travaille beaucoup pour les Nations Unies. Il meurt en 1961 à Bombay. The Maharajah Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shri Yeshwant Rao II Holkar XIV Bahadur marries Shrimant Akhand Sahib Soubhagyavati Sanyogita Bai Holkar in 1924. In 1926, when he is 17 years old, he becomes the Maharajah of Indore. The young couple is very fond of of the European way of life: they own two houses in France, and give birth to their daughter, Usha, in Paris in 1933. Their taste for modern art leads them to have close ties with Henri-Pierre Roché, who advises them to ask Bernard Boutet de Monvel for their portraits when they inquire to decorate one of their palaces in Indore. In 1929, Boutet de Monvel executes a first portrait of the Maharajah posing in the artist's house, passage de la Visitation, Paris, by his fire place. In 1933, the Maharajah commissions another portrait to the painter, in his traditionnal outfit. The portrait is exhibited with its pendant, a portrait of the Maharani, in 1934 at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York and mesmerizes everyone with its modernity. The artist is so happy with the success of the exhibition that he executes a smaller replica of the portrait of the Maharajah, here presented. The beautiful "Pears of Indore" the Maharajah is wearing strike by their clarity and brightness - each diamond representing almost 47 carats. They were assembled by Chaumet especiallly for this portrait. In 1946, Harry Winston acquires them. The Maharani dies tragically at 22 years old, leaving a devastated man. He remarries an American woman, Euphemia Watt, who will give him a son, Richard Holkar. The Maharajah is very much involved with public affairs : in 1948, the Maharajah signs the union act between India and Indore, and works actively for the United Nations. He dies in 1961 in Mumbay. Signé en bas à gauche BERNARD / B. DE MONVEL 

  • USA
  • 2016-04-06

"The Stream of Life" Window from the First Presbyterian Church of

Attributed to Agnes Northrupwith upper tracery elements (illustrated) and three lower inscription panels (not illustrated) Signed and dated TIFFANY STUDIOS N.Y. 1914 in enamel The Stream of Life Tiffany Studios is known today for having introduced the landscape as a suitable subject for religious or devotional windows. In 1881, Louis Comfort Tiffany's first landscape, for an unknown church in Newark, New Jersey, appeared as a sketch in American Stained Glass, a pivotal three-part article by Roger Riordan in American Art Review. The Studio started making landscape windows in earnest in 1895, when Agnes F. Northrop (1857-1953), Tiffanys principal floral-window designer, created one for the Church of the Savior (now First Unitarian Church) in Brooklyn, New York. Landscapes would become a hallmark of the Tiffany style, and leave an enduring mark the history of this art form. The present window personifies Northrops mature style, drawn with confidence and mastery of her subject. A deeply contemplative scene, the composition is a quiet glade in the woods enclosed in trees. Distant mountains are visible only on the far left through a break in the foliage. A small waterfall in the center foreground focuses our attention, the sound of trickling water almost audible. The landscape is still, with huge boulders in the foreground signifying an eternity of time. Low blooming shrubs in the background replace Tiffanys usual riot of flowers, giving the scene solemnity and peace. There is a feeling of specificity here, as though we are visiting a particular place that was known to the donors or dedicatees. The magnificent selection of glass enhances this sense of peace. The flowing colors of the foreground boulders lend them weight, mass, and form. Selected to suggest soft, rounded glacier-tumbled rock, splotches of gold, green, and blue in each piece of glass hint at moss and lichen colonies on damp surfaces. Confetti or fractured glass forms foliage and shrubs, the shards of colored glass embedded in it emulating individual branches and leaves. Mottled or cats-paw glass creates dappled sunlight on the forest floor. The small meandering stream that culminates as a small cascade in the foreground is realistically depicted using plating (layering) of striated and etched glass. In his development of the landscape for religious windows, Tiffany answered a desire from liberal American congregations to illustrate the glory of Gods creation of this beautiful country, instead of Popish saints and rote Biblical stories. A central tenet of many of the newer Protestant sects, as well as a popular theme in American painting, was the sublime presence of the divine in nature. In his long-time employee Agnes Northrop, Tiffany found an able interpreter of the American landscape. Both Tiffany and Northrop were avid floral painters and garden aficionados. Northrop was raised in Flushing, Queens, amid lush gardens and nurseries. She spent her free time drawing or photographing flowers, shrubs, and vines. From the time of her hiring in 1884, Northrops role was to design floral windows, or parts of windows. This evolved into designing landscape windows in the mid-1890s, which became her lifes work. Northrop was one of Tiffanys most important and longest employees, staying with the Studio until its close in 1936 and continuing its work with its successor firm, Westminster Studios, almost until her death at the age of 96. She had her own room within the Womens Department at Tiffany, and traveled with Tiffany on sketching vacations. His fame as a landscape window designer is due almost solely to Northrops talent. Julie L. Sloan, Stained-Glass Consultant, North Adams, MA

  • GBR
  • 2016-12-14


Watt bei Ebbe (Fens at Low Tide)

Painted in 1912, Watt bei Ebbe exemplifies the energy and radical experimentation that defined Schmidt-Rottluffs involvement with Die Brücke. Along with Kirchner and Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff was one of the founders of the movement, pioneering a new form of art that promoted freedom of expression and rejected the traditions of academic painting that had been central to their artistic education in turn of the century Dresden. With faith in progress and in a new generation of creators and spectators we call together all youth, Kirchner wrote in the programme of Die Brücke in 1906, continuing: As youth, we carry the future and want to create for ourselves freedom of life and of movement against the long established older forces. Everyone who reproduces that which drives him to creation with directness and authenticity belongs to us (quoted in C. Harrison & P. Wood (eds.), Art in Theory, 1900-1990, Oxford & Cambridge, 1993, pp. 67-68).  Schmidt-Rottluff spent the summers between 1907 and 1912 in the small coastal town of Dangast often in the company of Heckel. The wild and untouched nature of the surrounding countryside was a significant source of inspiration and the related paintings show an increasing freedom of expression articulated through a visionary use of colour. In Watt bei Ebbe broad swathes of red and orange are juxtaposed against gloriously deep blues and blacks to create a work of remarkable emotional intensity. In their experimentation with colour the Brücke artists were keeping pace with prevailing currents of European modernism and particularly the painting of the Post and Neo-Impressionists. Van Gogh held a particular appeal for this new generation of German artists, as the Expressionist writer Ernst Blass recalled: Van Gogh stood for expression and experience as opposed to Impressionism and Naturalism. Flaming concentration, youthful sincerity, immediacy, depth; exhibition and hallucination The courage of ones own means of expression (E. Blass, quoted in Expressionism in Germany and France (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles & The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 2014, p. 48). A few months after the founding of Die Brücke in 1905, they had had the opportunity to see his work first-hand at the Van Gogh retrospective held at the Galerie Arnold in Dresden. This proved a pivotal moment for the group and had considerable influence on their development of an expressive aesthetic that was characterised by a flattened perspective. Equally, in the beautiful simplicity and rich colouration of Watt bei Ebbe the influence of Gauguin (fig. 2) is also apparent. Whilst the members of Die Brücke absorbed these influences, they also invested their art with a freshness and naïvety that expressed the self-confidence of youth. Theirs was the first distinctly German artistic movement of the twentieth century, and their bold aesthetic established Schmidt-Rottluff and his colleagues as a reckonable force among the European avant-garde. Perhaps most significant, however, is the correspondence with the vivid compositions of the Fauves (fig. 1), which the Brücke artists are likely to have seen as early as 1906. They also shared with them an interest in the primitive art of the past as a means of confronting the alienation of modern life which for the German artists was made manifest in their revival of older media, such as their use of woodcut prints. This influence is clearly felt in Watt bei Ebbe where Schmidt-Rottluff builds the composition with a remarkable economy of means that borders on abstraction, making full use of light and dark contrasts to achieve his pictorial vision. In the present work Schmidt-Rottluff embraces a Fauve approach to colour but the pictorial clarity is indicative of the singular style that defines his work of this period. Barry Herbert observed this tendency when writing about Schmidt-Rottluffs Brücke canvases: His work reached an extreme pitch of emotional intensity in its semi-abstract handling of form and colour without ever quite losing contact with tangible reality. The brilliantly coloured, loosely applied paint communicates that feverish involvement with the subject that distinguished the young German artist's vision from the more impersonal approach favoured by Matisse, and identified him as, above all, a direct successor to van Gogh and Munch (B. Herbert, German Expressionism, Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, London, 1983, p. 118). This work is registered in the archives of the Karl und Emy Schmidt-Rottluff Stiftung, Berlin. Signed S. Rottluff and dated 1912 (lower right)

  • GBR
  • 2018-02-28