On 22 November, the headline event of Classic Week celebrates a Queen of France, feminist figure and global pop culture icon.
One year after the auction of her spectacular diamond bracelets at Christie’s in Geneva, Marie-Antoinette is set to reign over the Paris Classic Week and its four sales devoted to classical arts. On 22 November, The Exceptional Sale – the highlight of this series of auctions – will offer two remarkable lots that come directly from the collections of the last Queen of France.
The sophistication of a chest of drawers with Chinese-inspired red and gold decorations showcases the young Austrian archduchess’ enduring fascination with the Far East. An extremely rare armchair by Georges Jacob – a neoclassical masterpiece – comes directly from the royal bed-chamber in Versailles where the other three chairs in the series are now preserved; two lots whose qualities and origins celebrate the fascination that Marie-Antoinette has inspired for over two centuries.
The star of Cannes and Hollywood is now returning to our screens in a new series on TV, Canal+… This historical figure with an extraordinary destiny inspires writers and directors, influencers and Instagrammers alike. She is the perfect embodiment of the unique genius of the classical arts, which, far from being forgotten, are constantly coming back into fashion in a process of reinterpretation passed on from generation to generation.
Marie-Antoinette’s Love Of All Things Chinese
This chest of drawers, a remarkable example of Marie-Antoinette’s furnishings, is both a technical and artistic triumph. Unusually, we have evidence of the considerable interest this piece of furniture aroused at the time of its production, thanks to a publication dated 24 July 1770 in the Gazette du Commerce. The chest of drawers was delivered to Marie-Antoinette at the Château de Compiègne in 1770 together with its twin, now at Versailles.
With its gold and vermilion lacquered decoration, this extremely rare chest of drawers, standing on elegantly curved legs, is one of the most accomplished examples of the frantic race to master the technique of “Chinese-style” lacquer, known as vernis Martin, among the great Parisian lacquerers. It was acquired by her private Garde-Meuble from the famous cabinetmaker Pierre Macret (estimate: €800,000 – €1,200,000).
A Masterpiece Of French Neoclassical Carpentry
This intricately carved armchair is decorated in the Etruscan style, which was particularly favoured by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. It is part of the last order delivered by Georges Jacob for the Queen’s bedchamber in Versailles. In 1788, Marie-Antoinette moved into her new, more private apartments on the ground floor of the Château de Versailles in order to be closer to her children.
The Queen wished it to be refurbished in a more modern style for the occasion. She instructed her intendant of the Garde-Meuble to order the chairs from her favourite carpenter, Georges Jacob. During the French Revolution, all the royal furniture was abandoned at the palace and was later sold by the National Convention. In 1793 over 17,000 lots were auctioned off, including this armchair. Three of this series of four chairs have found their way back to Versailles, where they are on public display. The piece offered for sale is the last to remain under private ownership (estimate: €100,000 – €200,000).
Arts from antiquity to the 20th century
The Exceptional Sale live sale on 22/11 at 4 pm
Livres rares et manuscrits online sale from 9 to 21/11
The Collector: Le Goût Français online sale from 10 to 23/11
Maîtres Anciens – Peintures, Sculptures, Dessins online sale from 17 to 28/11
Viewing: from 16 to 21/11/2022
Opening Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm, except Sunday 20th from 2 pm to 6 pm
9, Avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris