This season, Christie’s New York celebrates a series of important Decorative Arts sales, presenting unique art and objects from a visionary decorator, a preeminent New York museum, a Danish silversmith-turned-international luxury brand and more.
Our month of Decorative Arts kicks off with the debut of our new sale series, Living With Art, a tastemaker-driven selection of furniture, contemporary art and decorative objects, led by the legendary Stephen Sills. The auction will be followed by the spectacular The Opulent Eye – 19th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Works of Art, Ceramics & Carpets, featuring its array of decadent treasures from top makers of the 19th century; the highly anticipated American Collecting in the English Tradition: Property of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offering a selection of 18th century English furniture, porcelain and silver from the storied museum’s vaults; and lastly, the Important Silver and Objects of Vertu sale, which brings together the eternally modern designs from Georg Jensen with historical silver dating back to the 17th century.
About the lot
"What I love about this painting is how the artist evokes vibrancy and movement through his use of color and line. While visually shocking, the work draws the viewer in with a playfulness that the artist is known for. Heavily influenced by graffiti artists and cartoonists, Robert Combas anthropomorphizes the subjects, giving them humorous, yet devious personality traits."
"These remarkable consoles have the characteristic bold curves and sculptural quality of German rococo furniture design. Their white-painted surfaces and alabaster tops add a lightness and cool sophistication to balance the forms’ volume that enhances the consoles’ presence in space."
"This chandelier is an unusual and rare model for Linke, who is considered the preeminent ébéniste of the late 19th and early 20th century. Stemming from a collaboration between Linke and the celebrated sculptor Léon Messagé—with whom Linke designed his most iconic masterpieces for the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris—it perfectly demonstrates Linke’s ability to take forms of the 18th century (the ancien régime) and imbue it with flourishes of the Art Nouveau."
"The city of Kashan in central Persia has been an important and prolific weaving center for over 400 years and the Mohtasham family workshops in the late 19th century produced the finest carpets in the city of Kashan. Very few Mohtasham Kashan carpets are signed, so this is a particularly special exception. The signature cartouche on this carpet reads ‘command of Hajji Mohammad Ja'far warshop....ali.’ The balance of design and color, lustrous wool and fineness of weave of this carpet epitomize the high quality of Mohtasham Kashan carpets. "
"This piece is one of Alfred Thomas Gobert’s masterworks—his importance to the Sèvres manufactory was felt not long after when he was made Director of the Works of Art Department. The vase is exceptional as pâte-sur-pâte works of this large size are rare and its provenance dates back to the Swall Estate, one of the seminal sales of 19th century decorative arts in the 1980s.”
"This striking and sculptural desk is finely carved to all sides and with its bold arched kneeholes, angled acanthus corners and severe Greek-key carved ends, the desk serves as the perfect statement piece to center a room. Although it features many of the key features of the renowned maker Thomas Chippendale, such as a red wash to the underside and short grain kickers in the drawers, its maker is as of yet unknown. Also unknown is the true history of the desk—ever since its early 20th century sale records, it has been reputed to have belonged to the Dukes of Wellington at Apsley House."
“It is always exciting to bring alive the history of the objects we sell. On this mirror, the Bowes family crest displayed on the cartouche tells us that the object was commissioned by Sir George Bowes (d. 1760). Bowes was ancestor to the Earls of Strathmore as well as Queen Elizabeth I, wife of George IV, affectionately referred to as ‘the Queen Mum.’ The mirror would have been intended for his estate at either Streatlam Castle, or Gibside, both in County Durham, and both of which received an extravagant refurbishment during George’s time, but there are no inventories or invoices to give us more precise information. This example is one of at least four mirrors in the commission—and possibly more. Take a close look at the carving which exhibits wonderfully inventive masks wherever they will fit as well as eagle heads to the base. It’s a grand architectural statement with a bit of whimsy thrown in.”
“Figural salt cellars became popular designs in the 1860s, particularly those designed by the French sculptor Louis-Victor Freret (1801–1879). The set of four figures depict a boy and girl in courtly dress, dubbed the ‘High Life,’ while the pair of figures depicting peasant children were referred to as the ‘Low Life.’ The sale also includes figural silver on a monumental scale—a pair of seven-light candelabra depicting courting couples at a picnic.”
"In the early 19th century Geneva was the international center of luxury-goods production. This singing-bird box draws upon several specialized skills brought to perfection in Geneva: goldsmithing, enamel-painting, jewel-setting and the highly complex art of building musical automata. Even the materials were meticulously sourced—the bird is cloaked in feathers of kingfisher from Asia and hummingbird from the Andes. The box itself, very finely chased by hand in three colors of gold, is marked by the firm of Rémond, Geneva’s most important and prolific specialist in enamel work. When the sliding lever on the front is activated, the oval panel opens to reveal a mechanical bird that pivots, flaps its wings and moves its beak while the box plays music. Besides for providing such amusement, the box’s back panel opens and snuff could be kept behind the very finely constructed hinged cover. Snuff-taking was an aristocratic ritual, with specific etiquette for its use, so containers for snuff tended to be accordingly refined—and this box is a perfect example of the ultimate in Empire-period refinement."
New York, Rockefeller Plaza