A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE
A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE
A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE
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A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE
11 More
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF BARONESS CARMEN THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA (LOTS 112-114)
A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE

PARIS, 1750-1756, MAKER'S MARK LACKING, THE ENAMEL ATTRIBUTED TO LOUIS-FRAN?OIS AUBERT

Details
A LOUIS XV ENAMELLED GOLD-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL TRAVELLING NÉCESSAIRE
PARIS, 1750-1756, MAKER'S MARK LACKING, THE ENAMEL ATTRIBUTED TO LOUIS-FRAN?OIS AUBERT
Comprising: four bottles of square section and two of oblong section, the rims enamelled en plein and basse taille with vari-coloured opaque flowers and translucent green leaves, each cover with a double cartouche finial enamelled with opaque pink flowers and buds and translucent foliage, each with copper-gilt stopper; a diamond cut tapering funnel and a fluted beaker with fared rim, each with gold mounts and a spoon with fiddle shaped terminal, enamelled with opaque blue and white ribbons suspending flowers and foliage, on an engraved diaperwork and rococo scroll ground, the spoon marked with the charge and five bottles marked with the décharge of Julien Berthe, one bottle and the mounts on the funnel and beaker apparently unmarked, the spoon and each bottle marked with a later tax mark for Lemberg, some pieces further marked with later differing French import marks, each piece with painted inventory number 'DW 35/9-9-10.', contained in a red velvet lined and fitted contemporary gilt-metal mounted Japanese black lacquer case heightened in gilt with cranes
the case 9 ¼ in. (23.5 cm.) wide; 8 ½ in. (21.4 cm.) deep and 7 in. (18 cm.) high
the spoon 5 ¾ in. (14.5 cm.) long
Provenance
Russian Imperial Collections (Leningrader Museen und Schlosses Eremitage, Palais Michaeloff, Gatschina u.a.); Rudolph Lepke, Berlin, 6-7 November 1928, lot 265.
David David-Weill (1871-1952).
The David David-Weill Collection; Ader-Picard, Paris, 4 June 1971, lot 69.
with A la Vieille Russie, New York, 22 November 1976.
Literature
A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Renaissance Jewels, Gold Boxes and Objets de Vertu, London, 1986, pp. 188-189, no. 54.
Exhibited
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 19 October 1974-5 January 1975.
St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum and Moscow, The State Russian Museum, Gold and Silver Treasures from Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, 1986, p. 79, cat. no. 79.
Miami, Center for Fine Arts; Omaha, Joslyn Art Museum; Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art; Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum; Memphis, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Gold and Silver from Thyssen- Bornemisza Collection, 1987-1988, cat. no. 79.

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Lot Essay

18TH CENTURY FRENCH ENAMEL
Discussing enamellers working in 18th century France, C. Truman notes that they seem to ft into three categories: those who were registered as goldsmiths, those who worked for the Sèvres porcelain factory and were able to work on their own account, and those whose names come to us through contemporary inventories, but about whom little is known (C. Truman, The Wallace Collection of Gold Boxes, London, 2013, p. 40). Perhaps best known in this last group is Louis-François Aubert (1721-1755), to whom the enamel on the present necessaire could be attributed. Truman records that his works were so widely known, and presumably respected, in the 18th century that it could be recognised by its style. Most of the work now believed to be by him is unsigned, though a portrait miniature of King Louis XV signed ‘LF Aubert. F. 1752’ is known (Christie’s, London, 27-28 November 2012, lot 300). It would certainly seem that Aubert was celebrated for his enamelled flowers, which appear regularly in 18th century inventories, including one described as ‘une boîte d’or, émaillée par Aubert, à feurs de relief, fond mat à mosaïque et bordure d’or polie’ [a gold box enamelled by Aubert with flowers in relief, a matt gold patterned background with border of polished gold] (op. cit., p. 40). It is interesting to note that that box was by Jean Ducrollay, to whom the present necessaire has previously been attributed.

Another box with enamel attributed to Aubert was purchased from Lazare Duvaux by Mme de Pompadour. Described as ‘une tabatière d’écaille piqué, en cage, à contours, la garniture en or, émailllé de rose par Aubert’ [a shaped tortoiseshell pique snuffbox mounted in gold and enamelled in pink by Aubert]. Mme de Pompadour owned at least two other boxes which were included in the inventory of her chattels on her death ‘une boeste en or, émaillée par Aubert’ [a box in gold, enamelled by Aubert], valued at 437 livres and ‘une autre émaillée à feurs en relief par Aubert’ [another enamelled with flowers in relief by Aubert], valued at 400 livres (A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Renaissance Jewels, Gold Boxes and Objets de Vertu, London, 1986, p. 32).

Truman notes three boxes in the Thyssen collection with enamel that may be attributed to Aubert, (Somers Cocks and Truman, op. cit., pp. 174-179, nos. 47, 48 and 49). This attribution however is complicated by a further box in the Wrightsman collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1976.155.14). That box is by Jean Frémin and dated 1756-1757 and, in the opinion of Truman, is by the same hand as the three Thyssen boxes. As Aubert died in 1755, this calls the attribution into question, however Truman notes that the enamel could still be by his widow or workshop continuing to work after his death (Somers Cocks and Truman, op. cit., p. 32).

A closer example to the enamel on the present lot is that on a travelling inkwell, which was once part of the exceptional collection of gold boxes, Renaissance jewellery and continental silver formed by Sydney J. Lamon (Christie’s, London, 28 November 1973, lot 17). This travelling inkwell was, like the present lot, not marked by the maker but, as well as the charge and decharge of Julien Berthe, it was struck with the date letter for 1752-1753. It, too, was enamelled en plein and basse taille with a combination of open pink and cream roses surrounded by vibrant green enamelled leaves and further partially opened buds. The Lamon box was formerly in the collection of Baron Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild and is believed to have been a gift to Mme de Pompadour from Louis XV.

THE RUDOLPH LEPKE SALE
The sale conducted by Rudolph Lepke in Berlin in November 1928 was one of the most significant disposals of works of art confiscated from the Russian Imperial and noble families by the Soviet Government following the 1917 revolution. The series of both private and public sales of such works of art in the 1920s and 1930s is discussed in detail in A. Odom and W. Salmond, eds., ‘Treasures into Tractors, The Selling of Russia’s Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938’, Washington. 2009.

In his forward to the Lepke catalogue, the art historian and curator, Wilhelm von Bode (1845-1929) wrote ‘We can only welcome the Soviet government‘s decision to sell in Berlin the surplus of works of art from its museums and palaces. The old treasures in the Hermitage have remained untouched and have been so greatly enriched that even with the addition of the Winter Palace’s premises in Leningrad it is impossible to show them all at the same time’ (Translated and quoted in A. Odom and W. Salmond, op. cit., p. 118).

The Lepke sale comprised 447 lots and included, in addition to fine art, a superb array of decorative arts selected from the collections of the Hermitage, Gatchina and the Mikhailovsky Palace. In addition to the present lot, the sale included 40 mostly French gold boxes. The sale, not unsurprisingly, attracted huge interest, with the best part of 1,000 people attending, and it fetched a total of just over 2 million marks with the 122 lots removed from the Hermitage making up approximately 850,000 of that total.

DAVID DAVID-WEILL
David-Weill was born in San Francisco in 1871, the son of Julia and Alexandre Weill, who had fled France in 1870 due to the Franco Prussian War. His extended family included the three brothers who founded Lazard Frères and Co. The family returned to Europe in 1883, and David-Weill studied at the Lycée Condorcet and the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. He married in 1897 and had seven children. He joined the family firm, eventually rising to the position of Chairman.

Besides being a banker, David-Weill was a passionate art collector who amassed a wide ranging collection, which resulted in him being named as president of the council of French national museums and vice president of the Friends of the Louvre. Much of his collection was confiscated by the Nazis and later returned to him, and was subsequently given by him to museums, including the Louvre, and to libraries. Despite this, a significant collection remained, and was sold decades after his death in a series of sales in the early 1970s. The silver and objects of vertu sales alone filled three catalogues in 1971 and 1972, and included, besides the present lot, masterpieces such as a Louis XV gold sugar box and cover by Louis Picasse, Paris, 1750 (re-sold Christie’s, Paris, 8 November 2013, lot 128) and works by François Thomas Germain.

THE NÉCESSAIRE
The nécessaire has existed in a variety of forms for centuries. Somers Cocks and Truman note one appearing in an inventory of Charles VI in May 1387 (op. cit., p. 188) and another belong to François I in the 16th century. The latter was supplied by Jehan Cousin l’aîné and comprised an ebony box containing a mirror, combs, brushes and on the cover a clock set with a large sapphire. It was not until the 18th century that these objects were to become known as nécessaires.

In discussing an English nécessaire of circa 1760 Vanessa Brett, former editor of the Journal of the Silver Society, writes:

'This nécessaire epitomises the trinkets or baubles that in the eighteenth century were known as toys, things which Samuel Johnson described as 'a thing of more show than use, a petty commodity, a trifle'. It would have been sold in a toyshop. Although by selling such wares toy-men and their customers were scorned by high-minded men such as Adam Smith and caricatured by the playwright Robert Dodsley, toyshops were amongst the most fashionable - if not the most fashionable - shops in London and Bath. Those who could afford these things appreciated the workmanship, technical advances, and new and exotic materials that went into their making. They liked their luxuriousness, femininity and sheer frivolity - they liked them as status symbols.

A toy-man or toy-woman, as they would have been known in London, did not make anything, instead acting purely as a retailer, the equivalent of a French marchand mercier, who would likely have supplied the present example. Indeed, Lazare Duvaux, who supplied a gold box enamelled by Aubert to Mme de Pompadour was known to have supplied nécessaires to his clients, including one for M. Duflot, which, like the present example, included four rock-crystal and gold flasks, a gold-mounted beaker and a funnel to fill the flasks (Somers Cocks and Truman, op. cit., p. 189).

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