In a remarkable display of artistry and auctioneering prowess, Christie’s Paris achieved unprecedented success during its Classic Week, culminating in a staggering total of €18.2 million in sales.
With 886 lots sold across seven carefully curated auctions, the event saw a remarkable 62% of lots sold exceeding their high estimates, indicating a strong and vibrant art market.
Moreover, Classic Week welcomed a significant influx of new buyers, with 20% of the participants making their maiden purchases at Christie’s. In this in-depth article, we delve into the highlights and notable sales that contributed to this resounding achievement.
Classic Week: A Celebration of Art in Diverse Forms
Christie’s Classic Week, held from November 15 to November 22, was a vibrant celebration of art in its myriad forms. The centrepiece of this event was the Goût Rothschild, a thematic thread that ran through the week.
The Goût Rothschild showcased a selection of exceptional lots from the esteemed Rothschild family, featured across various auctions. This eclectic collection attracted art connoisseurs and collectors from 50 different countries, further emphasizing the global reach of Christie’s.
Old Masters Auction: A Captivating Start
Classic Week commenced with the Old Masters auction, captivating art enthusiasts both in person on November 15 and online from November 2 to 17. This segment alone achieved a remarkable €2.4 million in total sales.
Among the standout pieces was Charles Antoine Coypel’s previously unseen painting, “Renaud abandoning Armide,” formerly part of the Rothschild family’s collection, which commanded an impressive €352,800. This masterpiece shared the stage with Jacob Levecq’s magnificent oil painting, fetching €151,200.
Notably, the auction also featured sculpture, with Anton van Wouw’s bronze masterpiece, “The Basuto Witness (L’Accusé),” reaching a final price of €20,240.
Derniers Souvenirs de Ferrières: The Highlight of the Week
The highlight of Classic Week was undoubtedly the Derniers Souvenirs de Ferrières collection, hailing from the Rothschilds’ renowned château. Presented on November 16 and showcased online from November 7 to 21 under the title “Greniers de Ferrières,” these auctions exceeded all expectations, totalling an astounding €4 million, doubling their high estimate.
An exquisite miniature by Jean Decourt, depicting Catherine de Médicis and her family, found a new home at the Musée Condé in Chantilly for €22,680. However, the pièce de résistance was a gouache enhanced with gold on vellum, a collaborative work by Noël Bellemare and Jean Clouet, portraying François Ier and his court, acquired for an impressive €453,600—ten times its initial estimate.
Exceptional Sale: Extravagance Meets History
The Exceptional Sale on November 21 featured an essential pair of Louis XVI-period marble pedestals, adorned with sumptuous bronzes by Pierre Gouthière, sourced from the Rothschild collection.
These pedestals achieved an astonishing €1.5 million, soaring past their estimated range of €300,000 to €500,000. A royal Louis XIV spruce, bearing the signature of Jean-Baptiste Voboam, also exceeded expectations, fetching a total of €302,400. Originally crafted for Madame Elisabeth-Charlotte d’Orléans, niece of Louis XIV, this piece had a storied history, passing through the collections of Richard Peñard y Fernandez and the Rothschild family.
The sale concluded on a fashionable note, with a Chanel Haute couture wedding dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld, showcased at the Autumn-Winter 2014-2015 fashion show, finding a buyer for €94,500. In total, the Exceptional Sale raked in €5.3 million.
In a historic first for Christie’s Paris, the auction house presented the online sale of the Bayreuth Collection: Gold Boxes. Following the successful sale of the silver collection in London in July, this event showcased remarkable pieces such as a Louis XV period bonbonnière in gold and lacquer by Daniel Gouers and a Swiss snuffbox in gold, enamel, and micromosaic by Jean-François Bautte. These exquisite items sold for €81,900, contributing to a total sale value of €1.2 million.
Livres Rares et Manuscrits: A Grand Finale
The auction week came to a triumphant close with the sale of Livres rares et manuscrits, incluant une sélection de la bibliothèque de la famille Rothschild. This segment was a resounding success, generating €3.8 million in sales.
An impressive 91% of lots found new owners, with a remarkable 68% of them surpassing their high estimates. Two lots, La Muse limonadière de Charlotte Reynier Bourette (lot 39) at €2,394 and the manuscript Abrégé d’Histoire universelle by Comte Henri de Boulainvilliers at €2,520 (lot 151), were pre-empted by the Bibliothèque Universitaire de la Sorbonne.
Among the exceptional offerings, the Code Civil des Français, printed on vellum and from the personal library of Emperor Napoleon, was sold for €88,200, over seven times its high estimate. Another highlight was Thomas Daniell’s Oriental Scenery, a renowned work on India from the collection of Baron James de Rothschild, in a first edition binding from the first half of the 19th century, bearing the Rothschild family coat of arms, which sold for an impressive €604,800—six times its estimate.
The zenith of the sale, however, was Raymond Radiguet’s autograph manuscript, an extremely rare copy of the initial version of Le Diable au Corps, marking the centenary of the writer’s death. This unique manuscript found a new owner for €352,800.
In conclusion, Christie’s Paris Classic Week was an extraordinary success, setting new records and showcasing the enduring allure of art and history. The remarkable sales, outstanding pieces, and enthusiastic global participation highlight the enduring fascination with art and the dedication of collectors worldwide.
As the art market continues to thrive, Christie’s Paris remains at the forefront, providing art enthusiasts with exceptional opportunities to acquire treasures that span centuries of human creativity and craftsmanship.