Palladio ’70: A marriage of English Furniture and French Pieces of Royal Provenance

Palladio ’70: A marriage of English Furniture and French Pieces of Royal Provenance

Auction at Sotheby’s in Paris – 8 October 2015 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Exhibition on Saturday 3 October and from Monday 5 to Wednesday 7 October

On 8 October, Sotheby’s France will offer at auction the contents of one of the Côte d’Azur’s most beautiful mansions. The stately home, which overlooks the Bay of Cannes from Esterel to the Lérins Islands, boasts a refined collection of approximately 250 lots bringing together 18th and 19th Century French and English furniture and works of art in& a neo-Palladian setting.

As proof of its ineffable charm, Alfred Hitchcock used the mansion as a setting for the adventures of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in his masterpiece To Catch a Thief. The mansion was built in the early 20 th century based on plans by architects Edmond Fatio and Pierre Nouveau. The estate embodies the height of lavish Belle Époque splendour on the Riviera. In 1925, it was acquired by the jewellery designer Burma , who entrusted the famous Parisian interior architect André Carlhian with turning it into a dazzling showplace. Right after the war, it became closely associated with cinema, hosting the first Cannes International Film Festival in 1946. A few years later, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly played a legendary scene on the terrace in To Catch a Thief. In the late 1960s, the mansion was acquired by a brilliant industrialist who undertook a sweeping refurbishment. Extended and restructured by the architect Alan Gore, in a “neo-palladian” style inspired by the Wrotham Castle. A guest house, a place for the staff and a servant’s domain were added to this sumptuous house.

For the interior, Thomas Kyle was asked to coordinate the work, with the famous team of British decorators John Fowler and Tom Parr. The Palladian spirit guided the project, revisiting the aesthetics of Italian, English, French and American mansions. In 1970, the garden was restored: an orangery was installed in the east pavilion, in addition to a winter garden and a Turkish pavilion. Connaissance des Arts magazine published an article about the house, “Palladio’70”, in June 1972.The Mediterranean offers an incomparable setting for this décor highlighted by colourful notes that can easily be imagined in the stately homes of the English countryside. The mansion is currently offered for sale by “Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty”, the exclusive representative of Sotheby’s International Realty France on the French Riviera.

The major pieces of furniture include a George II console table in carved and white lacquered wood and gold ( estimate: € 120, 000 – 180, 000 / $133,000-199,000) based on a design by William Kent, who brought the Palladian style back into fashion. Kent frequently worked for the closed inner circle of the royal family and the aristocracy, so his designs influenced the style of English stately homes. A large neo-Classical Russian chandelier in chased and gilded bronze, ca. 1790-1800 (estimate: € 60,000-80,000 / $66,500-88,500), with a stunning array of 30 lights, was made in Saint Petersburg in the late 18 th century. The overall form, airy structure, red glass décor and cut crystal attest to unsurpassed craftsmanship, marvellously embodying the decorative repertory of Russian luminary art ca. 1800. A late Louis XVI pedestal guéridon in patinated bronze and gilded bronze (estimate: € 80,000-120,000 / $88,500-133,000) is directly based on ancient models, which came back into fashion during this period. It was probably made for the Russian court. These tables naturally fit in with neo-Classical interiors and helped to spread the influence of French decorative arts abroad, especially in Russia.

A pair of Louis XVI commodes by Adam Weisweiler from Lord Elgin’s former collection at Broomhall, S c o t l a n d ( estimate : €250,000 – 450, 000/ $276,000-496,000) is one of the auction’s highlights. This model with three hinged breakfront doors belongs to a set of furniture typifying the master craftsman’s output. Aesthetes in search of delicate pieces will be drawn to a delightful creation by a marchand-mercier — a pair of porcelain Chinese figures carrying a vase, skilfully mounted with gilded bronze stamped with a crowned “C” (estimate: € 100,000-150,000 / $111,000-166,000) — or to four mirrors in carved and gilded wooden frames, two from the George II period, ca. 1750, and two made in the second half of the 19 th century (estimate: € 200,000-300,000 / $221,000-331,000) . Several pieces of royal provenance crown this group, including a pair of flat-backed, gilded wood Louis XVI marquises, ca. 1784, attributed to Georges Jacob (estimate: € 200,000 – 300,000 / $221,000-331,000). They belonged to the Comte de Vaudreuil, Grand Falconer of France, a close friend of Marie-Antoinette’s and the Comte d’Artois. To pay off his debts, Vaudreuil sold the contents of an entire room to the Garde-Meuble royal, the royal furniture storehouse. The chairs found their way to Marie-Antoinette’s apartments in the Tuileries Palace in 1791 and the Luxembourg Palace in 1795 and 1799, where they were branded with the letters “DE” because they had become the property of the Directoire Exécutif , or Executive Directory .

Other Louis XVI furniture A pair of Louis XVI gilded wood bergères by Jean-Baptiste Sené was delivered to the King’s Gaming R o o m a t t h e P a l a c e o f Fontainebleau in 1787 (estimate: € 50,000-80,000 / $55,500-88,500). The 1787 records of works by Sené, now in the National Archives, attest to this royal commission. Another pair o f f l a t – b a c k e d g i l d e d w o o d bergères is attributed to Jean- Baptiste-Bernard Demay (estimate: € 50,000-80,000 / $55,500-88,500). A similar pair, once owned by the Marquise de Ganay, is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The present chairs probably belonged to the same group. Lastly, a beautiful pair of gilded bronze vase sconces, ca. 1765-1770, attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, is probably based on a design by Jean- Louis Prieur (estimate: € 90,000-120,000 / $99,500-133,000). Its creator, one of the mid-18th -century’s greatest bronze-founders, gave free rein to his talent in rococo furnishings.

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