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    Sale 7731

    Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    2 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 124

    A FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT TABLE-SERVICE FROM THE BRANICKI SERVICE

    MARK OF FRANCOIS-DOMINIQUE NAUDIN, THE FRUIT KNIVES WITH MARK OF CHARLES GAVET, PARIS, CIRCA 1819

    Price Realised  

    A FRENCH EMPIRE SILVER-GILT TABLE-SERVICE FROM THE BRANICKI SERVICE
    MARK OF FRANCOIS-DOMINIQUE NAUDIN, THE FRUIT KNIVES WITH MARK OF CHARLES GAVET, PARIS, CIRCA 1819
    The table spoons and forks decorated with a peacock above a mask between two cornucopia, a bull's mask and stylised foliage, the dessert spoons and forks decorated with birds within foliage, each engraved with two coats-of-arms accollé below a coronet, comprising:
    Twenty-four table-spoons
    Twenty-four table-forks
    Twenty-four dessert-spoons
    Twenty-four dessert-forks
    Twenty-four fruit-knives with filled handles
    and the following to match:
    Twenty-four French table-knives with filled handles and stainless-steel blades, by Henin et Cie, circa 1900
    Twenty-four Portuguese fish-forks, Oporto, 20th century
    Twenty-four Portuguese fish-knives, Oporto, 20th century
    352 oz. (10,947 gr.) weighable silver
    The arms are those of Branicki for General Count François-Xavier Branicki (1731-1819) and his wife Alexandra Vasil'evna Engelhardt (1754-1838) whom he married in 1781. (192)


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    The Branicki Service

    This table-service forms part of a sumptuous and extensive service commissioned by the newly-widowed Countess Branicka in 1819. The bill of 300,000 francs, dated 13 May 1819, is preserved in the archives of the Maison Odiot in Paris.

    The Countess Branicka (1754-1838) was a woman of contrasts; her love of the rich and splendid is exemplified by Odiot's magnificent service but her collection of art and precious objects were housed in rooms panelled in plain wood. Her true passion was for horticulture, and both of the houses where she spent her last years, wintering at Belaya-Tserkov and spending her summers at Alexandria, had famous parks and gardens.

    As niece of Prince Potemkin, Alexandra Vasil'evna Engelhardt was presented at the court in St. Petersburg in 1772, when she was eighteen. She immediately became a favourite of the Empress Catherine and accompanied her on many of her travels. Stories later circulated that Alexandra was Catherine's daughter by Potemkin; while these unsubstantiated claims were circulated in the later years of her life by French writers, it is fairly well-documented that she was Potemkin's mistress as well as his niece.

    In 1781, Alexandra married Count François-Xavier Petrovich Branicki, of an old and powerful Polish family. Trained as a soldier and diplomat, Count Branicki held several posts before being sent to St. Petersburg. He became great friends with Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been Catherine's lover. Branicki enjoyed the favour of Catherine and, after supporting Russian suzerainty over the Sejm, or Polish parliament, he was awarded vast estates in Belaya-Tserkov after the province was ceded to Russia following the Partition of Poland in 1793.

    Countess Branicka accompanied the Empress on her journey to the Crimea in 1787. After Catherine's death, she and her husband retired to their estates where the Count died in 1819. The Countess did not return to court until 1824 when she accepted the post of ober-gofmeistrina or Senior Court Chamberlain. Having inherited the estates of her uncle Potemkin and her husband, she was thought to be worth 28 million roubles.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Countess Branicka (1754-1838) and then by descent.
    Perhaps until 1944 when much of the service, along with Wilanow Palace, was nationalized.
    Acquired by the father of Simone de Borges, who married into the founding family of the Borges & Irmao Bank of Portugual, who commissioned the additions to the service and who in turn sold the service to the family of the current owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A SPANISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
    (LOTS 120-125)