‘Refined objects which caught the eye and the imagination’

An Adventurous Spirit, a private collection sold across two auctions in December and February to benefit a charitable foundation, includes works by Lalanne, Munnings, Signac and Matisse, alongside important furniture, ceramics and more 

Assembled over a lifetime by a collector with homes in London, Saint Tropez and St Barths, An Adventurous Spirit  is a carefully curated collection of art, furniture, ceramics, silver and 20th-century design. 

The collection will be offered across two London sales — The Collection Sale  on 13 December and the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale  on 27 February 2019 — with major works being shown together in an exhibition at King Street during Christie’s Classic Week in early December.

‘These were homes of wonderful contrasts, filled with joy, and with refined objects which caught the eye and the imagination,’ says Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President. ‘Every object and every painting in the collection has been chosen with considerable care and with a grand design in mind.’

The double height library at the collector’s London home

The double height library at the collector’s London home

‘It's very much a collection about life lived well, and the fun  of collecting,’ says Charles Cator, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s International. ‘It’s very eclectic — there are Impressionist and Modern pictures, 20th-century decorative arts, wonderful French and English 18th-century furniture, ceramics and silver.’ 

Underlining that sense of fun is ‘a wonderful group of Lalanne sheep’,  by the French artist François-Xavier Lalanne, which will be offered on 13 December. Lalanne intended his sheep to be functional as well as sculptural. ‘It is, after all, easier to have a sculpture in an apartment than to have a real sheep,’ he once explained. ‘And, it’s even better if you can sit on it.’ Six sheep are being offered, ranging in estimate from £50,000-80,000 for a single stone and bronze lamb, to £100,000-150,000 for a pair.

François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) Two ‘Agneaux’, 2008. Produced by Blanchet-Landowski, Bagnolet, France, numbers 269 and 270 from the edition of 500, epoxy stone, patinated bronze, underside of each stamped with FXL BlanchetFondeur2008 and 269, 270 respectively. Each 20½ in (52 cm) high; 23½ in (60 cm) long; 6¼ in (16 cm) wide. Estimate

François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) Two ‘Agneaux’, 2008. Produced by Blanchet-Landowski, Bagnolet, France, numbers 269 and 270 from the edition of 500, epoxy stone, patinated bronze, underside of each stamped with FXL/ Blanchet/Fondeur/2008 and 269, 270 respectively. Each 20½ in (52 cm) high; 23½ in (60 cm) long; 6¼ in (16 cm) wide. Estimate £100,000-150,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Chrisite’s in London

Cator also singles out a pair of 18th-century coquilliers  attributed to André-Charles Boulle, below, which furnished the collector’s London drawing room. ‘When he decided to redo the room, he went for the best,’ Cator explains. ‘Their distinctive form added grandeur and scale.’ The commodes carry an estimate of £400,000-600,000.

A pair of regence ormolu and brass-mounted amaranth coquilliers, attributed to André-Charles Boulle or Boulle fils, circa 1720-30. 31¾  in (80.5  cm) high; 51¾  in (131.5  cm) and 51½  in (131  cm) wide; 27¼  in (70.5  cm) deep. Estimate £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in An Adventurous Spirit An Important Private Collection to be Sold to Benefit a

A pair of regence ormolu and brass-mounted amaranth coquilliers, attributed to André-Charles Boulle or Boulle fils, circa 1720-30. 31¾ in (80.5 cm) high; 51¾ in (131.5 cm) and 51½ in (131 cm) wide; 27¼ in (70.5 cm) deep. Estimate: £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in An Adventurous Spirit: An Important Private Collection to be Sold to Benefit a Charitable Foundation on 13 December 2018 at Christie’s in London

Impressionist and Modern Art specialist Anne Wallington, singles out Sir Alfred Munnings’ painting The Whip, Trevelloe Wood, Cornwall as the star lot of the December collection sale. Executed in 1913, the work, below, which shows a rider in red hunting attire mounted on a white steed, is estimated at £1,000,000-1,500,000.

Sir Alfred James Munnings P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959) The Whip, Trevelloe Wood, Cornwall. Signed ‘A.J. Munnings’ (lower left). Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in (101.6 x 127 cm). Estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christie’s in London

Sir Alfred James Munnings P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959) The Whip, Trevelloe Wood, Cornwall. Signed ‘A.J. Munnings’ (lower left). Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in (101.6 x 127 cm). Estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christie’s in London

‘What strikes you is the various layers of woodland he creates with the amazing array of different colours, and the thick layering of pigment,’ she explains.

Albert Marquet (1875-1947) Marché à Saint-Tropez, la Place aux Herbes, 1905. Signed Marquet (lower left). Oil on canvas, 24 x 19⅝ in (61 x 50 cm). Estimate £250,000-350,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christies in London

Albert Marquet (1875-1947) Marché à Saint-Tropez, la Place aux Herbes, 1905. Signed 'Marquet' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 24 x 19⅝ in (61 x 50 cm). Estimate: £250,000-350,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christie's in London

Wallington also selects an 1891 pastel work by the French avant-garde artist Louis Anquetin, depicting a young, red-headed woman carrying a parasol; a Fauvist painting of a Saint Tropez marketplace from 1905 by Albert Marquet (above); and a sensuous 1941 ink drawing by Henri Matisse of a seated woman (below).

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‘Each work is a wonderful example of the vivacious nature of the artist, and they really give you a sense of time and place,’ says the specialist.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Théme C Variation 8, 1941. Signed, dated and numbered Henri Matisse 41 C8 (lower right). Pen and India ink on paper. 15⅞ x 20½ in (40.5 x 52.5 cm). Estimate £200,000-300,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christies in London

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Théme C Variation 8, 1941. Signed, dated and numbered 'Henri Matisse 41 C8' (lower right). Pen and India ink on paper. 15⅞ x 20½ in (40.5 x 52.5 cm). Estimate £200,000-300,000. Offered in An Adventurous Spirit on 13 December at Christie's in London

Five more major works from the collection, by Paul Signac, Gustave Caillebotte, Félix Vallotton, Edouard Vuillard and Giovanni Boldini, will be highlights of the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 27 February 2019 at Christie’s in London.

Paul Signac (1863-1935) Le Port au soleil couchant, Opus 236 (Saint-Tropez), 1892. Oil on canvas. Estimate on request. Offered in Impressionist and Modern Art Evening on 27 February 2019 at Christies in London

Paul Signac (1863-1935) Le Port au soleil couchant, Opus 236 (Saint-Tropez), 1892. Oil on canvas. Estimate on request. Offered in Impressionist and Modern Art Evening on 27 February 2019 at Christie's in London

‘The Signac [above] is among the finest of the artist’s great Opus paintings, and certainly among the greatest of Signac’s works in private hands,’ says Pylkkänen. ‘The Caillebotte and the Vallotton are also museum-quality pictures which will challenge the world records for the artists.’