18th-Century French furniture, porcelain and sculpture to be auctioned in a landmark sale on 2 April at Christie’s New York.
Christie’s recently announced that the auction Dalva Brothers: Parisian Taste In New York will be offered on 2 April in New York. The family firm of Dalva Brothers has been a fixture in New York as the go-to source for the best in 18th-century French furniture and decorative arts for the past eighty years and across three generations, selling to collectors and to museums including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Versailles and the Louvre.
Dalva Brothers is renowned for holding one of the finest and deepest inventories of 18th-century decorative arts in the world, and the auction will present approximately 250 lots including European furniture, Sèvres porcelain, Chinese works of art, clocks, and sculpture. A second sale will take place in Paris in November 2020.
In collaboration with Christie’s Education, a four-part series of classes on the decorative arts, with lectures and handling sessions, will launch with the exhibition of the auction on March 27 at Christie’s Rockefeller Galleries.
Leon Dalva remarks: “My mother always said that Dalva Brothers was collecting for collectors. While my family has been privileged to work with these objects from the Age of Enlightenment, this auction heralds a new chapter for Dalva Brothers. It is our wish that these works of art will bring happiness to their new owners just as they have to my family and our clients over the years.”
Dealing from elegant townhouses on 57th Street and more recently on 77th Street with six floors filled with treasures, Dalva Brothers’ storied clients have included Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John Dorrance, while more recent luminaries from the design and art world drawn to the timeless appeal of the 18th century at Dalva Brothers have included Givenchy, Valentino, Peter Marino, Ian Schrager and George Condo.
The auction features a superb selection of works by the most important craftsmen of 18th century France, highlighted by a sumptuous Louis XVI pietra dura and ormolu-mounted ebony secrétaire en cabinet by Adam Weisweiler and supplied by Dominique Daguerre, circa 1785-1790, the ormolu attributed to Francois Rémond, the pietra dura plaques attributed to the Grand Ducal Workshops, Florence, late 17th and 18th century (estimate: $600,000-1,000,000). This jewel-like cabinet can possibly be identified in the sale of Daguerre’s stock held by Christie’s in 1791, while a near-matching example in Japanese lacquer is in the collection of the Huntington Library, Pasadena.
An exciting and unique highlight is a Charles X birds eye maple, amaranth, coloured strass and silver exhibition panel made for the Exposition des produits de l’industrie of 1827 (estimate: $150,000-300,000). This technical tour de force demonstrates the great interest in technology in the 1820s, with its avant-garde design made by the jewellery designer Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Laurent Douault-Wieland. The panel is densely inset with multi-coloured panels made of strass, a form of rhinestone-like glass, with portrait medallions patriotically depicting the Bourbon monarchs from Louis XII to Charles X.
The sale is particularly strong in works of royal and aristocratic provenance, led by a Sèvres porcelain gold-ground teapot and cover (thière ‘bouillotte’) circa 1779, likely made for Marie Antoinette or Louis XVI (estimate: $30,000-50,000), an intricately inlaid table à la Bourgogne with spring-loaded rising compartment, made for Madame Infante, the daughter of Louis XV for the ducal Palace at Colorno (estimate $100,000-200,000), and a Consulat ormolu-mounted mahogany and Angoulême porcelain clock, circa 1800, supplied to the Château de Saint-Leu for Napoleon’s brother, Louis Bonaparte and his wife Hortense de Beauharnais, later the King and Queen of the Netherlands (estimate: $60,000-100,000).
A remarkable selection of clocks spanning the most inventive period of French clock-making is led by a spectacular monumental Louis XV ormolu, Meissen and French porcelain mantel clock, circa 1750, the Meissen group modeled by J.J. Kändler (estimate: $250,000-400,000). It depicts the god Phoebus Apollo driving a chariot pulled through clouds by four horses, the Meissen group charging before a mantel clock applied with French porcelain flowers. The Dalva clock is recorded in 1777 in the Hôtel de Langeac, Paris, a private home on the Champs Elysées subsequently rented by Thomas Jefferson. J.J. Kändler later adapted this group for a commission of 1772-1773 featuring a series of large-scale mythological porcelain groups made for the Russian imperial palace of Oranienbaum outside St Petersburg.
Highlights from the extensive selection of porcelain biscuit figures and wares from the Royal and later Imperial porcelain manufactory of Vincennes/Sèvres include a pair of Vincennes wine bottle coolers, circa 1752, painted by the renowned painter Louis-Denis Armand l’aîné with exotic birds within trellis vignettes (estimate: $20,000-30,000); a pair of Sèvres porcelain beau bleu vases and two covers, circa 1780 (estimate: $60,000-80,000) and a set of thirty-three Sèvres porcelain plates from the ‘service des fruits ornements en brun rehaussés en or’ that once belonged to Gianni Versace (estimate: $30,000-50,000).