London – Christie’s Classic Week in London will bring together a dynamic array of objects from across 16 auctions from 5 to 15 December 2017. Highlights include masterpieces by Delacroix, El Greco and Rembrandt, medieval aquamanilia, and ornithological greats from The Astor Collection. Spanning Japanese works of Art, the Decorative Arts, Antiquities, Old Masters, Books and Manuscripts, Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art, 19th Century Works of Art, Australian Art and Topographical Pictures along with The Astor Collection from Tillypronie, Aberdeenshire, the auctions will take place across Christie’s live auction and online sale platforms, providing a wealth of opportunities for both new and established collectors around the globe.
Christie’s London is collaborating with interior designer Ashley Hicks as part of Classic Week. Ashley has drawn inspiration from a Roman sculpture hall in reconceiving King Street’s ‘West Room’ where a selection of his own contemporary designs will be juxtaposed with works from the Classic Week sales. To complement the curated display (2-7 December), Ashley will install excerpts from ‘David Hicks Scrapbooks’, Vendome Press, in homage to his late father, famous for his bold, eclectic interiors. The Classic Week pre-sales exhibitions will be open to the public between 2 and 14 December 2017.
Art of Japan | 5 December
The Art of Japan sale comprises a selection of fine Japanese art spanning the 6th century to the mid-20th century. The sale includes netsuke and inro from private collections, lavishly-decorated folding screens, intricately-decorated lacquer boxes, porcelain, samurai art, woodblock prints, and paintings. Highlights include a hanging scroll of a tiger by Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795) (estimate: £50,000-70,000), a Nabeshima Shakuzara porcelain dish (estimate: £100,000-150,000), a woodblock-printed large head portrait of an actor by Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794-95) (estimate: £30,000-40,000) and a pair of folding screens depicting fans on swirling waves, late 18th – 19th century (estimate: £70,000-90,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London until 4 December 2017.
Gold Boxes | 5 December
A Swiss jewelled enamelled musical gold snuff-box with automaton, The Music Lesson, will lead the sale (estimate: £80,000-120,000). The box is by Guidon, Gide & Blondet Fils (fl. 1801-1804), marked, Geneva, circa 1804, the movement with scratched signature 'Ant. Rojard à Genève, Invinit et Fecit, no 2170', for Antoine Rojard, Geneva. This wonderful musical automaton box is an exceptional example of the high quality of objects produced by the most eminent craftsmen in Geneva. It is extraordinary for the complexity of the musical and mechanisms which drive the five automatons. Further highlights included a Louis XV Gold snuff-box by Jean-Baptiste Bertin (estimate: £60,000-80,000). Examples of Bertin’s boxes are in the collections of the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Walter’s Art Gallery in Baltimore. Another Louis XV example is an oval snuff-box, by Jean-Bernard Sauvage, enamelled en plein with significant detailing on the sides and engraved with, ‘6th Duke’, which is on the inside of several boxes from the collection of the Dukes of Beaufort (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 2 to 4 December 2017.
Script and Illumination: Featuring the Karl and Elizabeth Katz Collection | Open for bidding from 5 to 12 December
Christie's online sale; Script and Illumination, will present exquisite manuscript leaves and cuttings. Led by the Karl and Elizabeth Katz Collection, the sale features an appealing range of Medieval and Renaissance European manuscripts, alongside equally diverse and attractive works from India and Iran. Highlights include fine examples of the work of renowned illuminators, among them Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna, Pacino di Buonaguida and the Master of the Brussels Initials, as well as leaves from the ‘Ghistelles Hours’ and the Chester Beatty Bible.
Antiquities | 6 December
The Antiquities sale will be led by an Egyptian wood female figure, a rare survival of exceptional size and quality representing a high-ranking woman of the Old Kingdom and dating from 2500-2055 B.C. The figure (estimate: £250,000-350,000) was part of the collection of celebrated Dutch artist John Rädecker, who designed the Dam Square National Monument in Amsterdam. Another highlight of the sale is a Roman marble head of the ‘Albani’ type, first recorded by Professor Haverfield at West Park in 1883 (estimate: £100,000-150,000). This rare depiction of the goddess wearing a wolf cap, or ‘Cap of Hades’, is a Roman copy of a late 5th Century Greek original. This type is named after another example at Villa Albani in Rome. Also featured in the sale is an Etruscan bronze appliqué in the shape of the winged sun god ‘Usil’ (estimate: £25,000-35,000). Thought to be a lavish decoration for a chariot, it is the only example still in private hands and the best preserved of a group of five comparable pieces, all likely to have been produced in Vulci, Southern Etruria. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 2 to 5 December 2017.
European Sculpture & Works of Art | 6 December
A wealth of Sculpture will be offered, led by Man & Beast: A Unique Collection of Medieval Aquamanilia and Metalwork. From the Latin words for water (aqua) and hand (manus), an aquamanile is an animal- or human-shaped vessel for pouring water used in hand washing in both secular and ecclesiastical contexts. In the medieval church, at each Mass, a deacon would pour water from a pitcher or aquamanile, so that the priest could wash his hands in preparation for the Eucharist. At the medieval nobleman’s table aquamanilia were grand and decorative vessels used to clean hands before and after a meal. At this time, the fork was not commonly in use, which meant that people ate with their hands, and so the cleaning of hands became an integral part of etiquette. Aquamaniles were expensive objects made in fantastical shapes, of both men and beasts which became an important status symbol in medieval Europe. Further highlights include an important private collection led by Neptune, a powerful marble figure attributed to Francesco Maria Schiaffino (1688-1763), Genoa, circa 1740-60, high, one of the leading lights of the Genoese school that became a major force in Italian art in the eighteenth century (estimate: £150,000-250,000). Standing 58 ¼ in. (148 cm.) tall, the quality of this sculpture is a testament to the artist’s ambition to challenge the skills of his forbearers, in particular Bernini, whose Neptune and Triton was then the toast of Rome. Elsewhere, the sale presents a notable group of Limoges enamels, including a group from a French private collection led by a footed cup and cover in parcel-gilt grisaille enamel, attributed to Jean Court (active 1555-65), Limoges, third quarter 16th century (estimate: £40,000 - 70,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 2 to 5 December 2017.
Old Masters Evening Sale | 7 December
El Greco’s Saint Francis and Brother Leo in Meditation will be offered from Property from the Collection of Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. Stanford Z (estimate: £5,000,000-7,000,000). Rothschild, Jr. was an investor, philanthropist and collector who helped champion civic leadership in his Maryland community. Enthralled with artists and the creative process, Stan assembled a striking collection of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by artists whose work was both intellectually rigorous and historically provocative. He was especially drawn to El Greco, Claude Monet, Robert Delaunay, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Russian artists of the twentieth century. Certain works in the collection are being sold by the Rothschild Art Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Stanford Z. Rothschild, Jr. Overall, the collection includes 51 works and is expected to exceed $30 million. For the full press release on the collection, please click here. El Greco’s Saint Francis and Brother Leo in Meditation is one of the artist’s greatest and most celebrated compositions, known in several versions and copies. With its dazzling and spontaneous brushwork and richly-worked paint surface, the present canvas is among the finest and best preserved examples of the subject, a mature work by this seminal Spanish painter of a sort rarely found in today’s market. To view Christie’s video with Art historian Jacky Klein discussing the devotional power of this 16th-century masterpiece by El Greco, please click here.
Further leading highlights offered in the sale include a portrait of Petronella Buys (1610-1670) by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Leiden 1606-1669 Amsterdam) from the Collection of The Late Commandant Paul Louis Weiller (estimate: £1.5-2.5 million). Dated 1635, this painting was executed at a time when Rembrandt was flourishing, having established himself as a remarkable portraitist, able to capture likeness with greater vigour and more psychological depth than his rivals. The pendant to this picture, a portrait of her husband Philips Lucasz, hangs in the National Gallery, London. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 2 to 7 December 2017.
The Lure of Naples: A Private Collection of Italian Views | Open for bidding from 30 November to 7 December 2017
Collected by a private couple over four decades, this online sale comprises over sixty drawings, offered across forty lots, presenting views of Italian cities, principally of Naples and its surroundings, and genre drawings. Italy’s riches fascinated students, connoisseurs and artists alike, who brought home treasures bought during their travels in increasing numbers from the nineteenth century when large-scale rail transport enabled more widespread access. Italian artists met the rise in numbers with rich and colourful drawings and gouaches which were readily transportable by the tourists. Some of the earliest vedute in the collection are the work of foreign artists, including the monumental Cascata Grande of Isola del Liri, dated 1793 by the Germany-born Jakob Philipp Hackert (estimate: £10,000-15,000), Goethe’s favourite artist, who spent most of his life in Italy. Among the best works by artists specialising in the tourist market is the pair of views of Palermo by the Sicilian Francesco Zerilli, which are arguably the largest and most attractive gouaches by him to have come to auction in recent times (estimate: £20,000-30,000). The main focus of the collection is on the city of Naples, among its best example is a charming landscape by Xavier della Gatta that shows the city surrounded by its lush, green hills (estimate: £6,000-8,000). The collection also presents genre drawings capturing Neopolitans as well as their exuberant customs and extensive panoramic views.
Old Masters including Old Master & British Drawings and Watercolours | 8 December
The sale is led by a number of landscapes: the first, a Dutch example by Allart van Everdingen inspired by the artist’s trip to Norway and Sweden in 1644, An extensive landscape with a waterfall, with a hilltop castle and a village beyond (estimate: £100,000 - 150,000); the second, a set of four views of Naples by Tommaso Ruiz, whose mid-eighteenth century works provide a key record of the city's development (estimate: £100,000 - 150,000). Figurative works include Portrait of a Knight of the Jerusalem Brotherhood, Workshop of Jan van Scorel, at auction for the first time in over 40 years (estimate: £40,000-60,000); Portrait of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (1503-1564), bust-length, Workshop of Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen (estimate: £40,000 - 60,000); and, at auction for the first time in over 170 years, a pair of portraits of William and Jane Salmond by George Romney (estimate: £50,000 - 80,000). Drawing highlights include Study for 'Alpine mastiffs reanimating a distressed traveller' by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (estimate: £3,000 - 5,000), which presents a rare opportunity to acquire the study for a final painting which is being offered in the same season’s Evening Sale (lot 36, estimate: £500,000 - 800,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 2 to 7 December 2017.
Arts of the Samurai: the Dolphyn Collection | Open for bidding from 6 to 13 December 2017
From 6 to 13 December, Christie’s online sale Arts of the Samurai: the Dolphyn Collection will present samurai art amassed by the late Willem Dolphyn (1935-2016). The sale encompasses suits of armour, helmets and masks, as well as swords with elaborate lacquer mounts, sword fittings and other samurai accoutrements; displaying the warriors’ history through works of extraordinary craftsmanship and exquisite design. Highlights include a matching saddle and stirrups with horse bits, with date Horeki Ju-Ichi Nen Go-Gatsu Hi (fifth month of 1761), dating to the Edo Period (19th century) (estimate: £8,000-10,000) and a Yokohagi Do Gusoku (suit of armour with horizontal plate cuirass) from the Edo Period (17th century) (estimate: £6,000-8,000). With estimates starting from under £1,000, the sale presents exciting opportunities for emerging as well as established collectors.
Victorian Art, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art | 13 December
Unseen for nearly fifty year, The Mandolin, signed by James Smetham and dated 1866, is a notable rediscovery and an important addition to the Rossettian cannon (estimate: £100,000-150,000). It may be considered Smetham’s masterpiece; in conception it bears all the hallmarks of Smetham’s friend and supporter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The half-length female figure presented close to the picture plane, without background perspective, richly attired and mesmeric in beauty, characterised Rossetti’s oeuvre at this date. Between 1863 and 1868 Smetham spent every Wednesday in Rossetti’s studio in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Two of Rossetti’s studio props feature prominently in the picture: the lute and the swansdown scarf. The extent to which the picture may be a collaboration between the two artists is unconfirmed. A note on the reverse, dated 9 January 1933, states
that the then owner was informed by Smetham’s widow that the picture was partially painted by Rossetti at the latter’s studio. Further highlights are led by The Heart of the Lotus, a design by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt., A.R.A., R.W.S. (1833-1898) for an embroidered evening bag (estimate: £70,000-100,000). Unusually for Burne-Jones, the subject is somewhat abstract. It is offered for sale from the Collection of Sir Roy Strong, C.H. - a leading scholar of Elizabethan portraiture who has been Director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum - and his late wife, Julia Trevelyan Oman, Lady Strong, a theatre designer. Elsewhere, the sale also includes a group of Sporting Art and Maritime Art. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 13 December 2017.
Valuable Books and Manuscripts | 13 December
The Classic Week Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale will offer highlights of literary, scientific and artistic culture from the 10th century to the present day. The sale includes the long-lost copy of Darwin’s sheets of the third edition Origin of Species with his autograph annotations (estimate: £300,000-400,000), which were incorporated into the fourth English and all subsequent editions, thereby becoming Darwin’s definitive text. The rediscovery of this annotated copy provides a rare insight into his working method, and documents the further development of Darwin’s ideas for his ‘big book’. Further highlights of the sale include Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize Medal for Literature, awarded in 2007 (estimate: £150,000-250,000), the earliest dated glass celestial globe, engraved by John Cowley (estimate: £100,000-150,000) and one of only 23 known copies of the Ripley Scroll, dating from 1624 (estimate: £200,000-300,000). This is the only Ripley Scroll in private hands, a rich and detailed mix of cryptic verse, legend and emblematic image, depicting the manufacture of the Philosopher’s Stone, capable of transmuting a base metal into gold. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 12 December 2017.
Australian Art | 14 December
This auction will present works by some of the leading figures in Australian art. Modern highlights of the sale include Arthur Boyd’s Woman Drinking from a Stream, with red dog (estimate: £200,000-300,000), Sidney Nolan’s Sketch for Ned Kelly, 1955 (estimate: £30,000-50,000), Fred Williams Water and Acacias (estimate: £150,000-200,000) and John Olsen’s Portrait of Robert Hughes (estimate: £10,000-15,000). Australian sculpture is represented by Robert Klippel’s Opus 335, 1979 (estimate: £30,000-50,000) previously in the collection of W.R. Burge. The sale also features turn of the century paintings by Ethel Carrick Fox (Sur la Plage; estimate: £40,000-60,000) and Tom Roberts (Ada Bancroft; estimate: £20,000-30,000), and works from the collection of the late Sir Denys Lasdun, CH (1914-2001), grandson of Louis and Golda Abrahams, including Streeton’s Portrait of
Louis Abrahams (estimate: £60,000-80,000) and Frederick McCubbin’s The Yarra from Kensington Road (estimate: £100,000-150,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 13 December 2017.
Topographical Pictures | 14 December
A masterpiece of 20th century South African Art, Irma Stern’s Watussi Chief’s Wife leads the Topographical Pictures sale (estimate: £600,000–800,000). The candescent portrait, from Stern’s second trip to the Congo in 1946, was shown in her 1947 exhibition at the Galerie des beaux arts in Paris where it was acquired by the grandparents of the present owner. The portrait of the royal Tutsi subject is painted in a rich impasto, with the sitter placed on a glowing golden ground, set in one of Stern’s trademark Zanzibar frames. The sale will offer the finest selection of pictures by Thomas Baines to come on the market in recent years, led by two exemplary works painted for the artist’s host in South West Africa on his return from the Victoria Falls with James Chapman in 1863. The descendants of the Anglo-Swedish explorer and pioneer trader in Namibia, Charles John Andersson, have consigned Baines’s Brilliant meteor on the Zambezi (estimate: £200,000-300,000), a defining image of the Victorian encounter with Africa. The Americas section is led by John Webber’s highly finished watercolour of Nootka Sound (Vancouver Island) (1785) from Cook’s third voyage (estimate: £200,000-300,000), and Gerard van Edema’s large oil of a fishery in Newfoundland (1679) (estimate: £300,000-400,000) – these are two of the earliest views of the North American continent by professional artists. George Chinnery’s ravishing portrait of a Chinese lady (estimate: £70,000-100,000) leads the Asian section, and Nicolas-Martin Petit’s profile of the Aboriginal teenager and rebel Toulgra (estimate: £70,000-100,000), taken in Sydney in 1802, leads the Australasian section of the sale. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 13 December 2017.
Old Master Prints | 14 December
Christie’s Old Master Prints sale brings together works by the towering greats of European printmaking from the 15th to the 19th century, headlined by an extraordinary selection of self-portraits by Rembrandt van Rijn. Amongst the earlier works, three outstanding series of prints depicting The Passion of Christ by Albrecht Dürer (estimate: £70,000-100,000), Albrecht Altdorfer (part of a group lot, estimate: £20,000-30,000) and Lucas van Leyden (estimate: £10,000-15,000) allow for a fascinating comparison. Elsewhere, Francisco de Goya is represented by two fine first editions of the only two series of etchings published in his lifetime, Los Caprichos (estimate: £250,000-350,000) and La Tauromaquia (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Besides these geniuses of printmaking, this large sale of over 200 lots offers works by an intriguing range of artists, including Martin Schongauer, Marcantonio Raimondi, Urs Graf, Jacques Callot, Hendrick Goltzius, Elisabetta Sirani and Louis Jean Desprez. The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 13 December 2017.
19th Century European & Orientalist Art | 14 December
On 14 December 2017, Le 28 juillet – la liberté guidant le peuple, 1830 by Eugène Delacroix (estimate: £700,000-1,000,000) will lead Christie’s Classic Week 19th Century European & Orientalist Art auction. This vibrant and spontaneous autograph painting is the only known sketch in oil that fully outlines the intended final composition for Delacroix’s masterpiece La liberté guidant le peuple, in the collection of Le Louvre, Paris. Providing a rare insight into Delacroix’s creative process, the fast and fluid lines of the final composition takes form with the figure of Liberty at the centre, surrounded by the fallen men who populate the primary plane. A pivotal figure, looking up in hope and admiration, is present to the left in both the preparatory and the final painting. To read more about this work please click here. Further highlights range from a contemplative seascape by Gustave Courbet, Bords de la Mer, Palavas (estimate: £200,000 - 300,000), to a bustling street scene, Mercato a Costantinopoli, by Alberto Pasini, circa 1880 (estimate: £200,000 - 300,000). The sale will be on view at Christie’s London from 9 to 14 December 2017.
The Astor Collection from Tillypronie, Aberdeenshire | 15 December
Christie’s will present The Astor Collection from Tillypronie, the finest collection of sporting and ornithological art to come to the market in over 20 years, as part of December Classic Week 2017. The auction will reflect the Astor family’s thoughtful collecting interests and includes one of the most comprehensive selections of works by ornithological artist Archibald Thorburn, along with a younger generation of artists such as Claire Harkess, Steven Porwol, Darren Woodhead and Jonathan Sainsbury, many of whom have been hosted at the historic Tillypronie estate in Scotland. The collection also presents sculpture, furniture and decorative arts and will be offered at Christie’s London on 15 December 2017, along with an online-only sale that will be open for bids from 4 to 18 December 2017. For the full press release, please click here.