• Twenty rooms: The private coll auction at Christies

    Sale 2857

    Twenty rooms: The private collection of the late Mrs Elias-Vaes

    27 - 29 April 2010, Amsterdam

  • Lot 1



    Price Realised  


    Of rhomboidal form, 32 cm. long; and a quantity of flaked flint tools, 4th Millennium B.C., 7.5 cm. long av.(a lot)

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    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €20,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €20,001 and €800.000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €800.000. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Acquired in the 1960s or early 1970s.

    Pre-Lot Text

    rotterdam, 14th of January 2010.

    Throughout her whole long life (1908-2002) Mrs Elias-Vaes has been a passionate collector of objects with which she fell in love. Thus she devoted her time in assembling a wide range of objects from many different regions and periods of time.
    Gradually this resulted in a collection worthy of exhibiting publicly. A number of public exhibitions were staged, a.o. 'Bezeten Bezit' (Obsessed Possession) in the Historisch Museum Rotterdam in 1970.
    In the 1960s Mrs Elias-Vaes acquired premises at the Hoflaan 58-62 in Rotterdam-Kralingen. Always eager to share the beauty of the objects with others and also to promote historical awareness, in 1990 she installed her collection in some 20 rooms at these premises and opened the 'Kralings Museum'.
    From then on many articles about her museum appeared in the media and the number of groups visiting the museum grew each year.
    Following the death of Mrs Elias-Vaes in 2002 it became clear that the Kralings Museum was in a delicate position. The endowment left to the museum was not sufficient to establish a professional museum organisation. Assisted by a number of volunteers, the Board of the museum tried to find ways of keeping the museum open. However, the revenues from visiting groups did not cover the bills and the increasingly rising level of the annual costs forced the Board to decide to close the museum and sell the collection and premises.

    We trust that the passion and pleasure which Mrs Elias-Vaes had in assembling this Collection will be reflected in a series of exciting sales. At the same time, the sale catalogue is a tribute to her many efforts, recording what she achieved in her collecting life.
    It is our hope that all kinds of buyers, young and old, and at all price ranges, will be able to participate in the sales just as Mrs Elias-Vaes did for so many years in the past. May the many objects from her Collection find new homes and admirors throughout the world and in that way internationally represent the vision and passion of Mrs Elias-Vaes.

    The proceeds of the sales will make it possible to establish a special fund which will support the study of art and art history for young people. This is very much in line with the intentions of Mrs Elias-Vaes, who was convinced that part of a good education is the understanding of art and history and their complex interaction. Through this fund, her legacy will be continued in a new way for many years to come.

    The Board of Het Kralingsmuseum, Stichting Vaes-Elias

    J.L. Janssen van Raay, Chairman
    J.A. Heuvelink, Secretary
    G.M.B. Toxopeus

    BEEP ELIAS-VAES (1908-2002)

    Rarely in recent years has a Collection surfaced on the market of the scope and quantity of 'Beep' Elias-Vaes. In all, the Collection includes more than 4,000 objects, spanning some 3,000 years of international cultural development. To understand more about her passion and collection, a brief description of Mrs Elias-Vaes's life seems appropriate.

    Wilhelmina Gerardina Vaes was born into a wealthy Rotterdam family in 1908. Her father, Johannes Gerardus Vaes (1871-1940), originally a broker in consumable oils, later became a director of Unilever. In 1901, he married Johanna Geertruida van der Veen. 'Beep' and her elder brother Nikolaus Johannes ('Bob') grew up in Kralingen, the exclusive residential area of Rotterdam. Here, the family lived in the mansion 'Het Oude Slot', Slotlaan 29. The family also owned a house in the country, where they would often spend time in the summer. The Vaes family made a number of journeys to other countries, including Egypt. These travels aroused Beep's keen interest in many different cultures and formed the basis for the variety and broad scope of her Collection.
    In 1930 'Beep' Vaes married Jonkheer Adrien Elias (1903-1963), a member of a Dutch noble family that counted Admiral Michiel de Ruyter and an Amsterdam mayor amongst their ancestors. Having no children, Mrs Elias-Vaes focussed on collecting Art and Antiques following the death of her husband in 1963. Initially she acquired objects related to Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. Gradually she extended her interest to a wider range of objects including paintings, books, furniture, sculpture, clocks, ceramics and glass, metal objects, silver, arms and armour, enamel and ivory.
    Mrs Elias-Vaes developed her Collection further with objects from very different regions and cultures such as Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman as well as Chinese and Japanese art.
    By the late 1960s, the Collection had grown to such a size that it was regarded as worth exhibiting. In 1970, large parts of the Collection were shown in a special exhibition in the Rotterdam Historical Museum, appropriately entitled 'Bezeten Bezit' ('Obsessed Possession'), accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.
    In subsequent years, Mrs Elias-Vaes organized bi-annual exhibitions of small specialized selections from her Collection in the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. These included exhibitions of European pewter, early stoneware, early Persian and Egyptian art, various Chinese artworks, European arms and armour, the history of the House of Orange, and many other subjects. These exhibitions were curated to emphasize their educational aspect, which was important to Mrs Elias-Vaes. During the 1970s and 1980s further purchasing enabled the Collection to increase its depth and scope.
    Early 1991, she opened the 'Educational Institute for Cultural History Het Kralings Museum' at Hoflaan 58-62 in Rotterdam, with the intention to educate those who visited her Collection. The museum comprised no less than twenty individual rooms, each dedicated to a specific period, region or style, which Mrs Elias-Vaes furnished accordingly with suitable objects from her Collection, often specifically acquired for these rooms. A visit to the Kralings Museum would take one from Classical Antiquity to the beginning of the 20th Century. The rooms connected different times and cultures, leading to an appreciation of their development and interaction. Despite the fact that the premises of the Kralings Museum were originally intended as a retirement home, the museum was very much a combination of a private home and a professionally organized museum. Many of the rooms were decorated with specially selected curtains, ordered from Dols & Co., Amsterdam.

    Over the years, Mrs Elias-Vaes predominantly acquired works of art in the Netherlands, both from auction houses and dealers, and sometimes from other private collectors. The auction houses included F. Muller; P. Brandt; Mak van Waay (later Sotheby's); Christie's, Amsterdam; the Notarishuis, Rotterdam; Mak, Dordrecht; Van Stockum, The Hague and Van Spengen, Hilversum.
    The dealers from whom Mrs Elias-Vaes acquired works of art included B. van Leeuwen, The Hague; Ch. van der Heyden, Rotterdam; Peters, Tilburg; Nijstad and Lochem, The Hague; Beekhuizen, Helmond; Dirven, Eindhoven; Premsela & Hamburger, Amsterdam; J. Schulman, Amsterdam, besides many others.

    In 1999, Mrs Elias-Vaes donated the Collection and the premises to the Stichting Vaes-Elias. By placing her maiden name first, she emphasized the fact that she was the force behind the Collection. She also donated a number of pieces of arms and armour to the Cavalerie Museum in Amersfoort.

    Following the death of Mrs Elias-Vaes in 2002, the board of the museum did much to reinforce the position of the Kralings Museum and the Stichting Vaes-Elias in the Netherlands. In 2006, a small number of pieces of arms and armour were sold at Christie's in London. Over time however, it became clear that the museum could not survive independently with the funds available.
    The board of the Stichting Vaes-Elias carefully selected specific objects from the Collection (partly from the Vaes family Collection) to be donated to institutions such as the Municipal Archives of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

    The Collection to be auctioned offers a unique chance for buyers to find something that interests them specifically, be it early Egyptian, Roman, 16th or even early 20th Century. Indeed, visitors at the viewing days run the risk of being distracted from their regular field of interest by the many categories represented in this sale, and might discover a fascination for an object in a new field. This may well result in an expansion of their knowledge and passion for a hitherto undiscovered personal interest just as Mrs Elias-Vaes was lucky enough to experience for so many years.

    Many lots carry estimates below 1,000 euros, which certainly offers new buyers or those with limited budgets an opportunity to acquire their own treasure from the almost infinite Collection of Mrs Elias-Vaes.

    TUESDAY 27 APRIL 2010


    (Lots 1-181A)

    The Antiquities room
    (Lots 1-119)