Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safra Sensation at Sotheby's

Photo via Sotheby'sFor those who are following the Fall auction season last week was the second in the series of sales that Sotheby's has hosted from the collection of Edmond and Lily Safra. The event consists of six catalogues spread over four days of sales. The collections are exhaustive and completely top-notch. I have opted to cover one lot that really got me excited. May I present the late Louis XVI Secretaireand Commode formerly in the Hamilton Palace Collection...


Photo via Sotheby's

What can I say....these are completely tour-de-force examples from the period that hit all the high points: sumptuous ormolu mounts, top level Japanese lacquer panels and an amazing pedigree.


Photo via Sotheby's


Photo via Sotheby's

The overall style and in particular the use of this caryatid mount led scholars to assert that the pieces were made by Adam Weisweiller.

Photo via Sotheby's

The choice of satinwood for these interiors is always a welcome surprise. It is light and clean....starkly organized in juxtaposition with the complex ornament of the exterior

Photo via Sotheby's
I know I have mentioned in the past that Japanese lacquers were repurposed from their export forms to be used as sumptuous panels in other luxury pieces. These panels are spectacular utilizing most of the Japanese techniques. My favorite accent being kirigane, the pattern of square metallic pavers inserted in the edge of the hillside. In examples that are untarnished they catch the light as you pass by.

Photo via Sotheby's

Photo via Sotheby's

It wasn't too much of a shock that these pieces sold for $6.9 million. They are museum worthy and on par with another set in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Photo via Metmuseum.org

Photo via Metmuseum.org

This similar secretaire and commode were executed in 1783 by Jean-Henri Riesener form the private use of Marie Antoinette at the chateau of Saint-Cloud. After the revolution they too ended up in the collection of the Duke's of Hamilton. One wonders if both sets were displayed together. All told the Week of Safra sales made $45.9 million and you can review the results here. I was shocked and amazed at the results of the Russian porcelain section. Until next time-- AR

2 comments:

  1. In some ways I like the Safra pieces better than the admittedly spectacular Met ones. The rectilinear outlines, the greater degree of black background, and the absence of the ornate garlands give the Safra examples a reserved, tranquil quality which is more to my taste.
    --Road to Parnassus

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  2. Incredibly beautiful!
    __ The Devoted Classicist

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