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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to Auction Sculpture from the Collection of Michael Hall

Christie’s New York will present an exceptional sale of 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, including Oriental Carpets and including Sculpture from the Collection of Michael Hall on June 11, which will comprise over 400 lots from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The sale will include exquisite treasures such as bronze sculptures from the Collection of Michael Hall, a monumental pair of Italian baroque cabinets, and a beautifully carved pair of Louis XV giltwood canapés.

Highlighting the sale is a spectacular pair of Italian tortoiseshell, ebony and ivory cabinets-on-stands from Naples, circa 1660-1680 (estimate: $400,000-600,000). These monumental Baroque cabinets stand fully 10 feet high and are among the largest known examples of this impressive form. They represent the absolute height and expression of the art of baroque cabinetmaking–as demonstrated in the cabinets’ architectural form, use of red tortoiseshell and ebony, and central niches with theatrical illusionistic scenes. More recently, they were supplied to the current owner’s family by the legendary taste-maker and interior designer Renzo Mongiardino.

Sculpture from the Collection of Michael Hall
Christie’s is proud to offer this enticing selection from one of the most fabled collections of sculpture in America. Michael Hall has collected throughout his life and has a wide range of interests including Greek and Roman marbles, Imperial Chinese carpets, Renaissance ceramics, but it is sculpture that has always been his primary focus. The works of art offered have a real emphasis on handsome modeling, dazzling contortions and glistening surfaces and many relate to Giambologna’s works. A prominent highlight is a bronze group of Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, attributed to Gianfrancesco Susini (1585-1653), after the model by Giambologna (estimate: $400,000-600,000). This early 17th century group bears many of the hallmarks of the great Florentine bronzes of the late 16th and early 17th century. Through the mythological subject matter, model, and bravura treatment of the bronze, it has all the hallmarks of the great Italian baroque masters.

Furniture and Works of Art
The furniture in the sale covers a whole range of styles from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The rococo style is represented by a beautiful pair of Louis XV Giltwood Canapés en Corbeille with sinuous sculpted frames (estimate: $100,000-150,000), crafted by Sylvain Nicolas Blanchard, circa 1760. These superb canapés formed part of the collection of Karl Lagerfeld, the legendary couturier and style icon, the sale of whose collection at Christie’s Monaco in 2000 was a landmark event.

Exotically appealing is a spectacular pair of Italian blue and polychrome-Japanned and parcel-gilt armchairs, circa 1730, which represent the Italian taste for chinoiserie and the foreign in the 18th century (estimate: $80,000-120,000). The figures depicted on these armchairs were inspired by the travelogues of Europeans who visited the Orient and brought back the exotic sights they had seen in the form of tales and engravings. Also offered in the sale is a pair of George II mahogany library armchairs, circa 1755 (estimate: $100,000-150,000), whose elegant and richly carved serpentine frames reflect the Rococo “French fashion” as interpreted by English mid-18th century cabinet makers.

An extraordinary pair of Regency faux bamboo, japanned, painted and parcel-gilt open cabinets which are attributed to Marsh and Tatham, circa 1806-1810 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) demonstrate the Regency vogue for Chinese design interpreted in a most vivid way, a style that was driven by the enthusiasm of the Prince of Wales, later George IV. An Empire ormolu, patinated bronze and porphyry gueridon, circa 1810 (estimate: $200,000-300,000) makes an impressive, splendid center table that illustrates the fashion taste for à l’antique furniture designs in the early years of the Napoleonic Empire. The table is based on a design by architect Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine and is nearly identical to one made for the Elysée Palace, now in the Grand Trianon at Versailles. The enduring fascination for ancient Rome among English collectors is reflected in an exceptional Regency Goncalo Alves and Scagliola center table, circa 1820 (estimate: $80,000-120,000), which features vivid scenes of Ancient Rome on a superb scagliola table top; while an Irish Regency oak and pollard oak bookcase, made by Scott and Pasley, in Dublin circa 1829-30 (estimate: $70,000-100,000) is a spectacular rare example of full-scale architectural furniture in the Egyptian taste of the early 19th century.

Ceramics and Glass
Among the ceramics on offer are plates from important services made in Germany at Meissen (the Möllendorf and Earl of Jersey Services) and in France at Sèvres (the Rohan, Auckland, and Sudell services), an interesting Sèvres ecuelle, cover and stand painted with garlands of flowers and trophies of music edged in gilt in imitation of cloisonné enamel by either Louis-François L’Ecot or Jean-Jacques Dieu, a trophy of Love hidden beneath the broth bowl on the emplacement of the stand (estimate: $12,000-18,000). The sale also features a selection of Italian porcelain descended through the family of Don Placido de Sangro, Duca di Martina, half of which collection is now housed in the Museo Nazionale della Ceramica Duca di Martina in the Villa della Floridiana, Naples. Among the group are two impressive sculptures of circa 1800 modeled by Filippo Tagliolini at the Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea, Naples (estimates of $20,000-30,000 and $25,000-30,000). Also in the sale are a small selection of Continental and English wine glasses and decorative beakers, and a well rounded selection of paperweights by Baccarat and other important glass makers with estimates ranging from $2,000 to $7,000.

Notably featured in the sale is a Louis XIV silk-embroidered table carpet, France, circa 1675 (estimate: $150,000-250,000). This magnificent carpet, designed to embellish a table rather than cover a floor, displays the highest quality of workmanship, design, material and technique. The allegorical animals such as the peacock and lion further enhance the mystery of who might have commissioned an elaborately conceived and finely executed piece that truly stands in a class of its own among the known embroideries of its time. Further highlights include a Heriz carpet, Northwest Persia, late 19th century (estimate: $15,000-20,000); a Sarouk Fereghan carpet, West Persia, circa 1900 (estimate: $25,000-35,000); and a silk Mohtasham Kashan rug, Central Persia, late 19th century (estimate: $6,000-9,000).

Image: A bronze group of Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, attributed to Gianfrancesco Susini (1585-1653), after the model by Giambologna. Estimate: $400,000-600,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010