• Press release
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  • Paris
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  • For immediate release
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  • 9 May 2017

An Educated Eye, Masterpieces from a private Swiss collection

Paris – On 16 May, Christie’s France will offer the important Swiss collection of major pieces of classical and modern decorative arts gathered by a talented and passionate collector. The sale, which comprises approximately 130 pieces of art, objects and furniture, includes masterpieces by the greatest designers of the 20th century such as Eugène Printz, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Armand Albert Rateau, Jean-Michel Frank. The collection also features important classical decorative objects from the late 17th to the 18th centuries.  

Lionel Gosset, Head of Collections: “We are honored to present this magnificent collection, reflecting the perfect taste and connoisseurship of a talented collector, who gathered these important works of art over many decades of collecting. He acquired major decorative art pieces from the 18th and 20th centuries bringing together renowned artists as diverse as Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, Eugène Printz and Robert Rauschenberg”.


20th Century  Decorative Arts

Leading the sale is an exceptional sideboard by Eugène Printz (1889-1948) executed between 1942 and 1946. Made of Gabon ebony, sycamore and brass, this rare piece of furniture will be offered with an estimate of €650,000-850,000. From the beginning of his career as a cabinetmaker for Pierre Chareau, Printz has earned his reputation as an innovative decorator. Of pure and elegant shape, characteristic of the Art Deco esthetic, this long sideboard of 250 cm, epitomizes Printz’ stylistic language in the 40s, still showing the strong influence of African Art – already present in his previous work – and translated here in a powerful manner. Using a very specific rare wood timber he loved: Gabon ebony, the façade of the piece acquires a spectacular rhythm presenting 5 sculptural columns of abstract geometrical design, reminiscence of some cubist works, underlined by the contrast between the darkness of the wood and the gold color of brass.  

Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938) is the other great Art Deco figure defining the collection. Represented by several works of amazing quality, in bronze or carved wood, connoisseurs will rediscover three magnificent pieces made for the legendry fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin in the 1920s including a beautiful carved oak desk (estimate: €220,000-280,000), a carved oak armchair (estimate: €40,000-60,000), a patinated bronze and marble adjustable reading table flanked by a bronze bird. Only two models of this table were created, the other one was the property of Rateau himself (estimate: €450,000-650,000). A beautiful pair of patinated bronze and alabaster table lamps “aux fennecs” (the animals represented on the lamps) is also part of this collection (estimate: €450,000-650,000). All these creations are characteristic of his style which remains unique until this day.

Further highlights of the sale include two pairs of armchairs, made between 1920 and 1926. These oak armchairs are a perfect example of the famous decorator’s style in the delicacy and the quality of the carved wood (estimate: €80,000-120,000 for each pair). Four wood panels executed around 1920 (estimate: €35,000-55,000) and an alabaster-mounted suspension light suspension from the same period (estimated: €25,000-35,000) complete this exceptional ensemble by Rateau.

The talents of Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) are also highlighted in this sale with a beautiful shagreen coffee table realised circa 1930 (estimate: €120,000-180,000). Many high quality artworks of 20th decorative arts will be included in this section of the sale such as pieces by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Pierre Chareau, Carlo Bugatti, Jean Besnard and Francis Jourdan.

17th- and 18th-century Decorative arts

Dating from the end of the 18th century is an exceptional pair of vases by the Imperial Arms Factory of Tula, Russia (estimate: €180,000-250,000) founded by Peter the Great in 1712. The workers of the factory had such talent that they soon began a parallel production of decorative objects which were made with the techniques associated with gun-making like chasing, blueing and overlay. The present pair decorated with diamond-like studs, is typical of the décor that flourished under the reign of Empress Catherine the Great.

The collector’s eye for detail and quality also reflects in a pair of ormolu candelabra attributed to Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (estimate: €40,000-60,000). The model for these candelabra was almost certainly created in 1729 at the birth of the French Dauphin, an event to which the three cartouches refer.

A pair of celadon vases and covers match the collector’s requirements in terms of quality and aesthetics (estimate: €80,000-120,000). European appetite for Chinese porcelain grew particularly strongly during the 18th century, notably in Paris which imported a significant quantity of goods through many different trading posts. The imported porcelains were then decorated by marchands-merciers and bronziers with opulent mounts, as demonstrated on this pair in the shape of winged-mermaids. Also from Asia, is a pair of mid-17th century Japanese lacquer coffers (estimate: €30,000-50,000) which were intended for the European market. They include panels depicting characters gazing wistfully at the full moon.

Post-War and Contemporary Art – New York 17 May 2017

On 17 May in New York, Christie’s will offer two major artworks from this important collection, Dante’s Inferno: Drawings for Dante’s 700th birthday, by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) executed in 1965 (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). It was first presented at the Leo Castelli gallery in New York and part of several museum shows including the Guggenheim Museum New York. Wayne Thiebaud (B. 1920) will also be a highlight of the May sale with an oil on canvas titled Salt, Sugar and Pepper realised in 1970. Offered with an estimate of $1,000,000 to 1,500,000, this work was acquired in 1986 by an American private collector from the Allan Stone gallery, before joining this Swiss collection a few years later.

Auction in Paris: Tuesday 16 May at 3pm. Viewing: From 10th to 15th May from 10am. to 6pm.
Christie’s: 9 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris

Auction in New York: Wednesday 17 May at 7pm. Viewing: From 6th to 17th May from 10am. to 5pm.
Christie’s: 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 10020

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction, private and digital sales in 2017 that totalled £5.1 billion / $6.6 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.