Two by two
A Swiss jewelled enamelled gold snuff-box, Geneva, circa 1820. Estimate: £40,000-60,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
Animal-shaped snuff-boxes were always made in pairs. The pair to this one belonged to King Farouk I (r. 1936-1952) and was sold in the Palace Collections of Egypt sale in 1954. Colourful and amusing, this box typifies the extraordinary skill and imagination of the many goldsmiths, enamellers and jewellers who were working in Geneva in the early 19th century. These highly prized and sought-after objects were destined for collectors in Europe, Asia and the Far East. A similar lion-shaped box is in the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection of gold boxes currently on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
An Italian micromosaic plaque, by Gioacchino Barberi, Rome, circa 1820. Estimate: £30,000-50,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
Gioacchino Barberi (1783-1857) had a workshop in Rome, near to the Spanish Steps. The area was a centre for the micromosaic artists who flourished in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century. Affluent tourists on their Grand Tour provided the ideal market for views of Rome and images from ancient history and mythology, carefully worked in minute coloured glass tesserae.
Other subjects were scenes of hunting with hounds attacking deer, or dogs fighting with cats. Barberi was a leading artist in the field, particularly noted for the extraordinary realism of his depictions of animals. This is a wonderful example of his skill and the depiction of a group of spaniels shown in a domestic setting is incredibly rare.
Bringing home the bacon
A George IV silver basket, mark of John Bridge, London, 1827. Estimate: £20,000-30,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
A couple who claims not to regret their first year of marriage will be presented not with paper, but with a flitch of bacon, according to a historical tradition described by Chaucer and practiced in the town of Little Dunmow, Essex until the late 18th century.
In 1828, when Harriet Coutts and her husband the Duke of St. Albans celebrated their first wedding anniversary, the Duke said he wished to revive this old custom. Instead he presented his wife with a silver basket on which was engraved a flitch of bacon and inscribed: ‘In the love can you be all formed to live and last / This gift records a blissful twelvemonth past / We claim then, boldly claim, thy flitch Dunmow / First of the blessed, to thy marriage vow’.
A German parcel-gilt silver nef, mark of Esaias zur Linden, Nuremburg, circa 1620. Estimate: £80,000-120,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
This silver and silver-gilt vessel in the form of a ship is called a nef. Often the most important pieces of silver in a Royal or Princely collection, nefs were a tour-de-force for the silversmith. The maker of this example, Esaias zur Linden, was a specialist nef-maker and seems to have been particularly inspired by contemporary engravings of sea monsters.
This piece was formerly part of the Eugen Gutmann (1840–1925) collection, which was notable for its quality and depth. Featuring Old Master pictures, Renaissance jewellery, gold-mounted hardstone objects, bronzes, maiolica, watches, miniatures and 18th century gold boxes — all areas pursued by the Rothschild families of Europe, Julius Wernher in England and J. Pierpont Morgan in America, among others — the collection epitomised late 19th century collecting tastes; but it was in the field of European and particularly German Renaissance silver that the Gutmann collection truly excelled.
Portrait of a young lady, by Nicholas Hilliard (British, 1547-1619). Estimate: £40,000-60,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
Though the identity of the sitter is unknown, judging by her sumptuous silk dress and ornaments she must have been a high-ranking member of the court of King James I of England. At one time the young lady was identified as the King’s daughter, Elizabeth, later Queen of Bohemia, while other suggestions have included Arabella Stuart who was considered as a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I. The exquisite rendering of the sitter’s lace ruff, silk rosettes and jewels showcases Nicholas Hilliard’s skill as an artist. Whoever the lady might be, there is no doubting the superb quality of this 17th century treasure.
Fit for a queen
A pair of royal bracelets by Mellerio, dits Meller, set with portrait miniatures of the children of Antoine of Orléans, Duke of Montpensier, circa 1848-1868. Estimate: £5,000-7,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
This pair of bracelets once belonged to Marie-Amélie of Bourbon Naples (1782-1866), queen to the French king Louis-Philippe (r. 1830-1848). They formed part of a group of jewellery that she commissioned from her official jeweller Mellerio, dits Meller.
The Queen was sensitive to the conservative mood in France following the Restoration of the Bourbons to the throne and was more inclined to wear the jewellery made by Mellerio than the showier royal jewellery collection. The bracelets are similar to a group of four that once also belonged to the Queen, sold at Christie’s Paris in 2008. On the Queen’s death she was found wearing a similar bracelet on her wrist.
A Dutch Delft 'Cashmire' vase and cover, circa 1700. Estimate: £3,000–4,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
Dutch Delft was greatly admired for its beauty during the 17th and 18th centuries — the Golden Age of production. It was particularly coveted by noble and aristocratic patrons, including William III of England (1650-1702) and his Queen Consort Mary (1662-1695) who decorated their palace at Het Loo in the Netherlands with an extensive collection of pieces.
Today, collectors can acquire examples in an array of beautiful and decorative styles such as this ‘Cashmire’ pattern vase and cover. Featuring bold chinoiserie birds and flowers, this type of decoration came to be called ‘Cashmire’ in the 19th century because of its similarity to the fine cashmere shawls produced in India at that time.
A Meissen crinoline group of 'La Tasse de Chocolat', circa 1740. Estimate: £10,000-15,000. This work is offered in our Centuries of Style sale on 1 December at Christie’s London
This rare early Meissen ‘crinoline group’ is one of the highlights of a collection that was put together in the late 19th and early 20th century to decorate a grand Parisian townhouse. In the 1960s, the whole collection — of which Meissen figures formed a major part — was packed into crates, which were only opened in 2014.
This particular example shows the ritual of drinking hot chocolate, which was fashionable in the late 18th century. The lady’s extravagant crinoline dress would have been the height of fashion at court in Dresden, as well as her pug dog — a favourite breed of the king. Symbolising devotion and fidelity, the pug was also chosen as the emblem for a secret Masonic society, the Mopsorden, set up by the Archbishop of Cologne following the abolition of freemasonry by the Pope in 1738.