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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to auction two private collections Works of Art from The Collection of the late Lord Forte and An Interior by Françoise de Pfyffer

Christie’s London are to auction two private collections: Works of Art from The Collection of the late Lord Forte and An Interior by Françoise de Pfyffer.

This sale presents the discerning style of the late Lord and Lady Forte – keen collectors with an excellent eye for important, decorative and beautiful objects – alongside that of the inimitable tastemaker Françoise de Pfyffer, the glamorous decorator and designer whose prestigious career has spanned three decades; first as a contemporary art dealer and then as a decorator. Featuring over 340 lots in total, with estimates ranging from £500 to £250,000, the sale as a whole is expected to realise in the region of £1.5 million. Highlights include contemporary art, Alberto and Diego Giacometti bronze furniture, European Old Master paintings, English and European furniture and works of art, important Russian porcelain, silver, clocks and decorative objects.

Highlights include:
A pair of charming capricci [poetic imaginary compositions] by Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793), were acquired 40 years ago (estimate: £50,000-70,000). It is thought that Guardi produced such works to suit the taste of Ventian patrons who preferred them to the straightforward topographic views of Venice which appealed to foreign tourists. These works repeat motifs such as ruined classical arches and churches, Gothic ruins and dilapidated bridges often inhabited by peasants, fishermen or washerwomen and sometimes elegantly dressed figures.

Nine Russian porcelain plates are offered from the Kremlin service, commissioned by Emperor Nicholas I in 1837. Made by the Imperial porcelain factory, St Petersburg, each of the four dinner plates and five serving plates are inscribed with red inventory numbers for the Winter Palace. The design was entrusted to the painter and future professor of the Academy of Arts, F.G. Solntsev and the motifs were inspired by 17th century Russian metalwork (estimate: £40,000-60,000).

A remarkable early 19th century Italian Royal ormolu-mounted lapis lazuli, porphyry, crystal and onyx inkstand, modelled as La Fontana dei Dioscuri, Rome and attributed to the workshops of Giuseppe Valadier, Rome, was given to Lord Forte at Christmas, 1983, by the children of the late King Umberto II of Italy in memory of their father who had been a friend of Lord Forte, (estimate: £20,000-40,000).

An arresting untitled painting, from 1953, by Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), marks an important period in the artist’s oeuvre: when he discovered what was to become his signature style of applying and smearing the paint with his palette knife (estimate: £150,000-250,000). Displaying an intricate mosaic of colour and forms, the painterly surface creates an interplay of contrasts and instills an intense awareness in the viewer of the activity of the artist – who is known to have been a trance-like state – when applying the colours.

Fauteuil à tête de lioness, by Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), was acquired directly from the artist, circa 1975 – 1976 (estimate: £40,000-60,000). This striking chair illustrates the way that Diego Giacometti merged the world of sculpture and furniture design in to one remarkable whole, brought to life by the artist’s unique imagination, his sense of proportion. The elegant lioness’s heads reflect the artist’s love of the animal world. Considering himself an artisan, Giacometti’s aim was to create beautiful and useful objects. Elsewhere in the sale of works from this interior, a large 19th century decalcomania glass sphere, measuring 15 in. (38 cm.) diameter, present a quirky and decorative lot with a hint of the Surreal (estimate: £1,000-1,500).