Christie's - The Exceptional Sale


“Brand Cabinet,” ca 1743. Est: £800,000-1,200,000. Photo: Christie’s Images.


The Exceptional Sale, taking place on 5 July in King Street, London, is Christie’s premier auction for the decorative arts. This exclusive annual sale includes the finest works of art in a variety of categories, from furniture and sculpture, to porcelain, silver and clocks. It is carefully curated to include only the very best examples.

From the Christie's Press Release:

In 2008 Christie’s launched a unique sale platform for the very best decorative arts; The Exceptional Furniture Sale saw 10 masterpiece works realise a total of £10.3 million. Building on the success of this sale and The Exceptional Sale held in 2011, Christie’s is pleased to announce details of The Exceptional Sale 2012 which will take place on the evening of 5 July. Comprising 48 lots, the sale presents three centuries of decorative arts, from the first quarter of the 16th century to the first quarter of the 19th century. Featuring the finest examples of furniture, silver, sculpture, clocks and porcelain – including recent discoveries and previously unknown examples – the sale exemplifies the very best of European decorative arts. It is expected to realise a total in excess of £13 million. Robert Copley, Deputy Chairman Christie’s UK, International Head of Furniture and Decorative Arts states: ‘With The Exceptional Sale Christie’s celebrates excellence in furniture and the decorative arts. The attributes of this carefully curated auction are provenance, rarity, design, and craftsmanship. From exquisite furniture by André-Charles Boulle and Thomas Chippendale to the magnificent Leinster silver dinner-service; from a rare maiolica plate by Nicola da Urbino to a newly discovered marble group by Jan van Delen; from glittering Chinese clocks and ormolu-mounted porcelain to the finest examples of Italian pietre dure, The Exceptional Sale offers collectors an opportunity to acquire the very best.’


The exceptional Brand Cabinet (above), a George II ivory-mounted padouk medal-cabinet, circa 1743 (estimate: £800,000-1,200,000), was made for the wealthy young Dilettante Thomas Brand, who like many English milordi went on The Grand Tour, arriving in Rome in 1738. It is here that he probably purchased the ivory plaques that depict figures from Classical mythology such as Leda and the Swan. A couple of years later, Brand’s contemporary and ‘intimate friend’ Horace Walpole also made the Tour. On his return he designed a cabinet to house his precious ‘enamels and miniatures’. No doubt inspired by William Kent, his cabinet and Brand’s are both made of padouk and are attributed to William Hallett of Great Newport Street, in Covent Garden. Walpole’s cabinet subsequently hung in the Tribune at Strawberry Hill and is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, while Brand’s cabinet remained at the family house, The Hoo, in Hertfordshire until it was first sold at Christie’s in 1938.

The Ogden Mills ‘Armoires à Six Medailles’ (above) are lavishly decorated with spectacular gilt-bronze mounts that fuse seamlessly with the scrolling foliate pattern of the sumptuous ground of brass and tortoiseshell première and contre-partie marquetry (estimate: £1,000,000–1,500,000). The Louis XIV armoire in contre partie is attributed to André-Charles Boulle, while the late Louis XVI in première partie is by Delorme. They are decorated to the doors with trails of medals celebrating the Life of Louis XIV as well as the figures of Aspasia and Socrates. Conceived initially with shelves to house collections of precious medals this series of armoires proved so successful it remained in production in Boulle’s workshop throughout the first half of the 18th century and was subsequently continued by Boulle’s followers.

To view the sale catalogue online, visit the Christie's link here.

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