Launching on 4 April 2023 is the inaugural international edition of The Collector, a series of three online auctions of decorative arts selling concurrently in London, New York and Paris. Featuring more than 600 lots in total, the sales will showcase European and English furniture, porcelain, silver, gold boxes and works of art dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
To launch the platform, Christie’s has invited renowned designers, event producers and authors Jane Schulak and David Stark to curate a series of striking vignettes that encourage collectors to visualise historical pieces in a fresh and innovative context.
‘It’s been great fun shining the spotlight on historic objects, recontextualising them as surprisingly contemporary in an eclectic mix of juxtapositions,’ says Schulak.
‘We’re trying to make stylised worlds that spark a conversation around how these objects from a different time period can be used today,’ adds Stark.
Stark is the president and chief creative officer of David Stark Design and Production, while Schulak is the founder and creative director of Culture Lab Detroit, a not-for-profit platform that makes action-oriented connections between Detroiters and a global network of activists, thinkers and makers.
In their recently published book, At the Artisan’s Table, they present a curated selection of tabletop designs juxtaposing historical tableware from museums around the world with contemporary pieces by international designers.
‘Each chapter is about creating dialogues between the centuries,’ says Stark. ‘Collaborating with Christie’s on The Collector sales in London, New York and Paris has been a very similar exercise.’
For Schulak and Stark, it was essential to establish a visual thread between the vignettes in the three cities. They alighted on vibrant trellised walls, a reinterpretation of a classical architectural motif, assigning each city a different trellis colour. They chose to keep the walls and floors the same in each location.
‘Treillage works beautifully as a backdrop for all the objects offered for sale, irrespective of period and origin,’ explains Schulak. ‘The unexpected pops of blazing colour give a context that is very now, with a respectful wink to history.’
In keeping with the theme of their book, each vignette features an elaborately decorated dining table. ‘Happily, there was porcelain, glassware and all manner of ornaments for the dining table in each location,’ says Stark. ‘We wanted to create dining spaces that were easy to live with.’
The London sale features pieces with exceptional provenance from celebrated collections, including those of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, novelist and collector William Beckford, and the Rothschild family at Halton House and Exbury House.
Central to the London vignette is a George II red and gilt-japanned secretaire cabinet. ‘We were drawn to its rich, deep colour, and so we built the room’s colour story around it,’ says Schulak. The dining table is decorated with a patterned tablecloth, a Booths china service depicting green parrots, and a group of 11 Meissen porcelain birds. A George II giltwood mirror and a pair of French ormolu and porcelain three-branch wall-lights complete the look.
Other notable lots offered in the London sale include a Louis XV red lacquer commode by Adrien Faizelot-Delorme and an inlaid marquetry gueridon by Alphonse Giroux and Veuve Ferdinand Duvinage.
The New York sale features property from several notable private collections, including a selection of English silver and furniture from Sugar Maple Farm, a Georgian-style equestrian estate in Dutchess County, New York.
A Flora Danica ‘Mushroom’ part dinner service served as the starting point for the dining table decor in New York. ‘We are very familiar with Danica’s signature floral dinner service, but much less so with its stunning fungi counterparts,’ says Stark. ‘As such, we couldn’t help but make them the staple of the scene in New York.’ The designers have complemented the dinner service with a crimson tablecloth and a pair of Japanese export porcelain boys, finished with daffodils.
When it came to styling the vignette for the Paris sale, Schulak and Stark drew inspiration from the eclectic mix of chairs coming to auction. ‘We couldn’t pick just one type to surround our dining table,’ says Schulak. ‘So we had to sample them all.’
Among those with exceptional provenance is an elegant royal bergère delivered for Madame Elisabeth, sister of Louis XVI, for her Pavillon de Flore at the Palais des Tuileries in 1791, and a set of six Louis XVI giltwood armchairs upholstered in Aubusson tapestry, by Jean-Baptiste Boulard.
Other notable chairs include a gilded walnut Louis XVI armchair stamped Martin Jullien, upholstered in a plush red and gold chequered fabric, and a Louis XVI armchair stamped Pierre Brizard, covered in a pretty floral design.
For the table setting, Schulak and Stark paired four silver Régence candlesticks from 1717 with 1907 Moser crystal glasses and plates from an 18th-century Chantilly part dinner service decorated with blue flora and fauna.
The series of three sales will open for bidding on 4 April 2023, closing sequentially in London, New York and Paris on 18, 19 and 20 April respectively. Pre-sale exhibitions of highlights will be on view to the public in each location
At the Artisan’s Table by Jane Schulak and David Stark is published by Vendome