RELEASE: The Opulent Eye - 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe - London, 14 March 2013

Christie’s is pleased to announce details of The Opulent Eye – 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe which will take place on 14 March 2013.


Christie’s is pleased to announce details of The Opulent Eye – 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe which will take place on 14 March 2013. Featuring 248 lots, the sale offers sumptuous furniture and works of art from the 19th century including tables, suites of chairs, marble and bronze statuary, clocks, and lighting from international collections; they are distinguished by their exuberant decoration and extravagant materials.

The sale is led by a recently rediscovered life-size marble group of The Three Graces after Antoine Canova’s original made for Empress Josephine and today in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (estimate: £150,000 – 250,000). It dates from the mid-19th century and is copied from Canova’s second version of the group commissioned in 1815 by John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford which is now displayed at the Scottish National Gallery.

The sale will feature a selection of pieces from the Collection of the late Sir Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert, including various hardstone, or pietre dure, tables and plaques. Highlights include a German ormolu and hardstone-mounted, tortoiseshell marquetry table, formerly in the collection of Alfred de Rothschild (d.1918) where it was listed and illustrated in an 1884 inventory (estimate: £25,000 – 40,000, illustrated left).

Examples of the most sumptuous furniture of the period include a magnificent ormolu and Japanese lacquer cabinet, made by one of the most prestigious furniture makers of the second half of the 19th century, Maison Kreger (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000). This cabinet is inspired by the oeuvre of Adam Weisweiler (d.1820) and is modelled on a sécretaire en cabinet in the style arabesque supplied by Weisweiler for Louis XVI's Cabinet Intérieur at Versailles.

Elsewhere in the sale an important French ormolu-mounted tulipwood, kingwood, bois satiné and marquetry grand piano is estimated at £100,000 – 200,000. This piano is in the distinctive fin de siècle style of high-rococo fused with Art Nouveau and was completed in April 1905 and sold for Fr11,400 on 5 October 1908.

A pair of Napoleon III ormolu-mounted patinated bronze ten-light floor-standing torchère-candelabra will also be offered (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000). Candelabras such as these were fully integrated into the palatial décor of their 19th century surroundings, standing at the entrance to grand salons, in great halls or at the base of monumental staircases.

A strong selection of 19th century clocks is led by a fine Napoleon III ormolu and rosso antico mantle clock (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000). The composition of this mantel clock includes Jean-Baptiste Clesinger's renowned La Dame aux roses, modelled from an original marble dating from 1867. The bust, cast by Maison Marnyhac, is flanked by doves, flowers, musical attributes, and an arrow and quiver. The Louvre acquired a bronze example of this bust from Clesinger's atelier sale in 1923, which is now in the Musée D’Orsay.

Further highlights include a large Napoleon III ormolu and patinated bronze three-piece clock garniture by Lerolle Fréres (estimate: £50,000 – 80,000).   This superbly crafted garniture was created by the renowned Parisian fondeur, Lerolle Frères, at no. 1 rue du Foin et Chausséedes-Minimies who produced all types of bronzes in the Renaissance, Louis XIII and Louis XIV styles.



About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.