Hongmiao Shi quizzes the specialists on a custom Hermès bag, an antique statue of Aphrodite and paintings by Tamayo and Berchem — all available for immediate purchase
‘For handbag collectors, a custom-made Hermès is considered the ultimate symbol of status,’ says Madeline Lee, a Christie’s Handbags specialist in New York.
Each year, only a select few of Hermès’ clients are given the opportunity to create their own special-order bag. We often see that they’re crafted in that season’s trending colours, but they can also feature colour variations in their detailing, stitching or interiors, which all reflect their owner’s individuality. These bags are also distinguished by a special, horseshoe-shaped stamp next to the Hermès logo.’
Given the unique nature of special-order Hermès bags, they are highly sought-after when they appear on the secondary market.
The creator of this 2017 custom bag chose to combine gold, one of Hermès’ most recognisable neutral colours, with pops of the colour feu, which means ‘fire’ in French and is one of the brightest, most neon shades of orange that Hermès produces,’ says Lee.
An Hermès Kelly bag done entirely in gold is a classic, but the unique mix of iconic and playful elements sets this bag apart, making it perfect for a collector searching for a subtle, bi-colour custom handbag.’
Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo was not only a pioneering painter, muralist and printmaker, but also a talented guitarist. Music played a central role in his life and art.
‘Tamayo’s paintings featuring musical subjects are among his most celebrated works,’ says Kristen France, Latin American paintings specialist. ‘In 2008, Christie’s set the auction record for a work by Tamayo with his 1945 painting, The Troubadour.
‘But for me, the beauty and importance of El Flautista (Flute Player) exists in more than just its subject — it showcases Tamayo as a supreme colourist, and is exemplary of the artist’s signature use of reds. It has featured in numerous books and international exhibitions since its creation in 1944, and was once held in the renowned IBM Collection in New York.’
For 17th-century Dutch viewers, landscape paintings offered a much-needed escape from city life, says Joshua Glazer, Old Master Paintings specialist in New York. The Netherlands had become increasingly urbanised over the previous century and, in response, artists such as Nicolaes Berchem offered a fantasy trip to the rolling Italian countryside.
That Berchem may never have visited Italy himself was of little importance. His art tapped into the always prevalent dream of escape, and for that he is now considered a master of Dutch Italianate landscapes.
‘The lockdown has greatly strengthened my own appreciation of sunlight and the outdoors,’ Glazer says. ‘When I look at paintings like this one, I can almost feel the warmth of a summer’s evening and taste its distinctive air. Tranquillity is a treasure when you live in New York, and this painting delivers it in spades.’
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Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was one of the most frequently depicted deities in Ancient Greece. Her image was equally popular for large outdoor sculptures as for small pieces intended for personal devotion — such as this example from the 1st century B.C.
‘What I particularly love about this sculpture of Aphrodite is its beautiful patina,’ says Antiquities specialist Hannah Solomon. ‘Over its 2,000-year history, the white crystal marble has developed some minor incrustations that now create a contrasting colour to its surface.’
This beautiful sculpture also has strong provenance — it was once in the collection of the celebrated art patron and philanthropist Lucille Ellis Simon, who has donated works to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington.