The Exceptional Sale presents the arc of history - from antiquity to modernity
The Exceptional Sale tells the history of humanity, how from the dawn of civilisation we looked to the animal kingdom for symbols of divinity – An Egyptian granite head of Sekhmet 1390-1352 B.C. to Leonardo da Vinci’s wonder at the miracles of nature, drawing of a Head of a Bear, how we sort to codify the world through religious emblems, A Mexican silver-gilt pax, treasure the art of other cultures, A Sulka shield, master time through mechanics, An Augsburg ‘masterpiece’ clock, defy the laws of gravity, Isaac Newton’s Principia, yet our efforts to conquer the world are ultimately futile, Sarah Bernhardt’s sculpture of Le fou et la mort and we look to the stars for answers, The Fukang Meteorite.
The Exceptional Sale is the leading global auction platform for the decorative and applied arts bringing together the finest works of arts: from English and European furniture, sculpture and clocks to porcelain and silver. Focusing on provenance, rarity, design and craftsmanship, The Exceptional Sale offers the best of the best, with an emphasis on the European decorative arts but also encompassing masterpieces from other categories. This July The Exceptional Sale is led by an exquisite drawing of Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci, one of a very small number of sheets by the artist in private hands. The work is a precious example of Leonardo’s scientific interest, sensitivity to the natural world, exceptional gifts of observation, and unmatched mastery as a draughtsman. The extraordinary and monumental inkstand until recently on long term loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, is attributed to the Utrecht born silversmith Christiaen van Vianen for its design in the sinuous auricular style and fine virtuoso chasing which culminates in figural cartouches emblematic of the Seven Liberal Arts. The Baron de Besenval garniture comprises three pairs of ormolu-mounted Chinese celadon vases, exceptionally reunited for sale, they belonged to the Swiss-born Baron de Besenval (1722-1791), Commander of the Swiss Guards and intimate friend of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Other highlights include a wonder of horology, an orrery clock designed by Jacques-Thomas Castel, conseiller-secrétaire to the King, and sold from the fabled Rothschild collection at Mentmore Towers; a ‘Gothick’ style library desk to a design by Thomas Chippendale; an extraordinary ‘Japonisme’ corner cabinet by Christofle et Cie. rumoured to have been made for the Marquise de Païva; a monolithic slice of the Fukang meteorite, known as the most beautiful extraterrestrial substance known.
We invite you to view The Exceptional Sale presale exhibition at our King Street galleries from Saturday 3 July.
An immersive exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a bear will be open to visitors by appointment only from 3–8 July, including an augmented reality experience created in collaboration with digital artists Hackatao. Please click here to book your slot and download the Aria app to your smartphone ahead of your visit.
‘You can almost hear the pen scratching over the surface’: Sir Isaac Newton’s revisions to his greatest work, the Principia