Outlook On The Classic Week
“The Classic week did a particularly great job at mixing styles and periods. The resulting mix and match were both very stimulating and relaxing. The two pieces of furniture, once the property of Marie-Antoinette is true masterpieces. The décor of the armchair is wonderfully lavish and extravagant. Setting the stage for objects with such a prominent royal provenance is challenging as they request appropriate space and grandeur. Luckily, Christie’s gave me carte blanche for the scenography.
This idea of mixing styles could be pushed even further. Periods don’t tell the whole story. There is a direct link between the 18th Century’s quest for idealised lines and today’s design. Beyond auctions, I believe writing the history of taste is another mission of Christie’s.”Patrick Hourcade, Artist,
Le XVIIIe siècle aux sources du design, Château de Versailles
Classical Arts And Marie Antoinette Through An Armchair
Created by Georges Jacob, the most renowned Louis XVI chair maker, a royal Etruscan style armchair combining sumptuous sculpted decor and purity of line was sold for €906,000, nine times its presale estimate. A perfect example of the artistic influence of Queen Marie Antoinette, his illustrious patron who never ceases to fascinate, this armchair epitomizes the market’s interest in the demanding aesthetic research of the 18th Century.
Field of excellence of a discipline that will later be called Design, the classical seat furniture pieces achieved very good results. Among the dozens of lots sold during Classic Week, a ceremonial armchair stamped Jean Avisse tripled its estimate, and a chaise à chassis, by Pierre Falconet for the Duc of Penthièvre, multiplied its estimate by seven.
Sold for €2.5 million, La nymphe Ersilie effrayée par un satyre masqué is a masterpiece by Eduard Müller that set a new artist record and illustrates the growing interest in 19th Century neoclassical sculpture. This work of unquestionable virtuosity is a perfect example of the antiquarian spirit of Ancient Greece and Rome of the time.
The Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, were among the four museums that acquired pieces of the highest quality in sales.
“Following the outstanding success of the Getty and Givenchy collections, this sale further confirms the strong resurgence of classic works in recent years. This is particularly striking for Sculpture, and especially for Neoclassical works of extraordinary stature.”Alexandre Mordret-Isambert, Sculptures Specialist, Christie’s
Classical Thinkers And Scientific Spirit
Treasure of bibliophilia and testimony of Colbert’s interest in mathematics, an extraordinary copy of the Lettres de A. Dettonville sold for €378,000. Founder of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Colbert had this copy made by his personal librarian. The Rare Books and Manuscripts sale featured rare editions, high-quality manuscripts and prestigious provenances which met with great results.
A book by Blaise Pascal published under a pseudonym, in reply to a mathematical challenge he had issued to the whole of Europe, achieved strong results, further demonstrating collectors’ appetite for scientific documents. This work tripled its estimate, just as an important 18th Century microscope sold over a million euros during last year’s edition of Paris’ Classic Week, crystallizing the high scientific standards of the time.
“The 18th Century in France, with its exuberance, playfulness, measure and harmony, represents life as it ought to be lived.”Karl Lagerfeld
Karl by Marie Ottavi, Editions Robert Laffont, 2021
Chanel, Lagerfeld And Lesage At Their Best
A rare evening coat from Chanel’s Fall-Winter 1996 collection sold for €277,200 to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. This exceptional piece, the new world record for a piece by Chanel and one of the highlights of Paris’ Classic Week, is a vibrant tribute to Karl Lagerfeld’s genius and his love for Versailles and the 18th Century.
This result demonstrates the ever-growing recognition of his work (several of his drawings far exceeded their estimates during an auction last December at Christie’s), just before his major retrospective at the Met Museum in 2023. Through the sale of iconic collections (Elizabeth Taylor in 2011, Catherine Deneuve in 2019, and a highly curated collection coming to auction in Paris in January 2023), Christie’s further strengthens its historical expertise in remarkable Haute Couture pieces. This Coromandel coat is a masterpiece of embroidery from Maison Lesage, who works closely with the greatest Haute Couture designers.
“I am deeply moved to see this unique piece of work, result of a historic collaboration between Lesage and Chanel, meet with such success. This piece epitomizes the savoir-faire and excellence of Lesage, and I am delighted to see it enter the collections of a major international museum. This story is truly beautiful.”Hubert Barrère, Creative Director, Maison Lesage
Iconic images crystallizing an era and its aesthetics, such as this Salvator Mundi painted after Leonardo da Vinci, are also highly prized on the market. Painted over a century after his famous original piece, this late copy sold for €1,062,000. footsteps of the Mona Lisa replicas that have achieved very strong results at various auctions in recent years. There is an increasingly important market for works after Leonardo da Vinci, as illustrated by several Mona Lisa copies that achieved very strong results at auction in the last few years, demonstrating the strong fascination exerted by these timeless images.