• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1353

    Important Pocketwatches and Wristwatches

    12 May 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 303

    Patek Philippe. A very fine and unique 18K gold hunter case keyless lever watch with enamel miniature "Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette" after Pierre-August Renoir by G. Menni


    Price Realised  


    Patek Philippe. A very fine and unique 18K gold hunter case keyless lever watch with enamel miniature "Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette" after Pierre-August Renoir by G. Menni
    Signed Patek Philippe, Genève, ref. 865/112, movement no. 933'264, case no. 2'831'076, manufactured in 1987
    Cal. 17-170 nickel-finished lever movement stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 18 jewels, the white dial with Roman numerals, blackened Louis XVI hands, in finely engraved scroll and foliage decorated case and bow, a painted polychrome enamel miniature depicting Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette after Pierre-Auguste Renoir, signed G. Menni, case, dial and movement signed
    48 mm. diam.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with polychrome enamel miniature painting "Le bal du Moulin de la Galette" after P. Renoir, back cover ornamented with engraving, in 1987 and its subsequent sale on 6 October 1993. Furthermore delivered with the original fitted wooden presentation box and outer packaging. It has never been offered in public before.

    For over 3,000 years, fine enamelling has decorated and enriched watches, jewellery and objets d'art. Patek Philippe maintains this rare craft of miniature enamelling, traditionally associated with the finest Geneva timepieces, and in many ways the most difficult of the decorative arts.

    Nowadays, only few artists such as G. Menni and Suzanne Rohr still master this art, more commonly found in openface watches. Hunter case examples, such as the present watch, are particularly rare. These fine Patek Philippe timepieces are, in general, made to special order with the subject matter to be represented chosen by the client. They often include famous landscape and portrait paintings, celebrities or even family members of the future owner.

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) "Bal au Moulin de la Galette", Oil on canvas, 1886, 131 x 175 cm, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
    Renoir painted this composition in the summer of 1876, in the attempt to perfectly reproduce the atmosphere of the popular dance hall "Moulin de la Galette". The work is so rich in attractions, so full of enchanting details, that it becomes nothing less than an affirmation of the goodness of living.

    Renoir's depiction of the Sunday afternoon dance in the acacia-shaded courtyard is one of his happiest compositions. In Paris' still rural Montmartre, the Moulin called 'de la Galette' from the pancake which was the house's specialty had a local clientele especially of working girls and their young men together with a sprinkling of artists who, as Renoir did, enjoyed the spectacle.

    Owned by John Hay Whitney, his widow sold the work for US$ 78 millions at auction in New York on 17 May 1990. At the time of sale, it was one of the top two most expensive artworks ever sold, together with van Gogh's Portrait of Dr Gachet. Still today it is amongst the most expensive paintings ever sold.

    Pre-Lot Text