A.lain R. T.ruong

16 avril 2014

Formally property of Thomas Mann. A belle époque diamond longchain, circa 1910

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Formally property of Thomas Mann. A belle époque diamond longchain, circa 1910. Photo Bonhams.

comprising 257 collet-set old European-cut-cut diamonds; estimated total diamond weight: 30.00 carats; mounted in platinum; length: 60in. Sold for US$ 87,500 (€63,392)

Renowned German novelist Thomas Mann, the recipient of the 1929 Nobel Prize for Literature, gifted this necklace to his wife, Katharina Pringsheim. In 1901, at the age of 26, Mann first published 'Buddenbrooks'. This marked a point of early success in his career, and most likely a gift for their wedding in 1905.

This is a fine example of the long fluid chains of this time period; fine wire chains were embellished with collet-set diamonds or natural pearls that women wore to complement their changing styles which reflected a new modern attitude. This style of long fluid neckchains has stayed in in fashion and few remain of this vintage in their original length.

This necklace was passed onto their son Michael (and Gretta) Mann; then gifted to their niece Nica Borgese (daughter of Elizabeth Mann and G.A. Borgese); which was passed to her cousin, Raju Mann for her wedding, where it has remained in the third generation of Manns.

Bonhams. FINE JEWELLERY. New York, 9 Apr 2014 - www.bonhams.com

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A gem-set and diamond butterfly brooch, French

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A gem-set and diamond butterfly brooch, French. Photo Bonhams.

with cat's eye black hard stone body, extending calibré-cut sapphires, peridot, citrine and onyx wings, enhanced by vari-cut diamond detail; with French assay mark; length: 3in. Sold for US$ 27,500 (€19,923)

Bonhams. FINE JEWELLERY. New York, 9 Apr 2014 - www.bonhams.com

Posté par Alain Truong à 14:48 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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A diamond solitaire ring

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A diamond solitaire ring. Photo Bonhams.

set with a cut-corner rectangular step-cut diamond, weighing 11.07 carats; flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamond shoulders; mounted in platinum; size 4 3/4 (with sizer). Sold for US$ 125,000 (€90,560)

Bonhams. FINE JEWELLERY. New York, 9 Apr 2014 - www.bonhams.com

An art deco sapphire and diamond brooch, circa 1925

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An art deco sapphire and diamond brooch, circa 1925. Photo Bonhams.

designed as an openwork pavé-set diamond plaque of geometric design, centering a cushion-cut sapphire, weighing 5.68 carats; estimated total diamond weight: 2.70 carats; mounted in platinum; length: 1 3/4in. (one diamond deficient). Sold for US$ 137,000 (€99,253)

Accompanied by Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) report #65208, dated October 3, 2012, stating the sapphire as: Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating.

Accompanied by AGL report #CS 82347 and letter dated October 16, 2012, stating the sapphire as: Classic Kashmir origin, no indications of heat or clarity enhancement.

Bonhams. FINE JEWELLERY. New York, 9 Apr 2014 - www.bonhams.com

Chalcanthite

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Chalcanthite

Posté par Alain Truong à 14:36 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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La Collection Russe - Russian Collection from the Hillwood Museum

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Œuf de Fabergé de Catherine II, ou l'Œuf en grisaille. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Une magnifique pièce en or, diamants, perles, argent, platine et verre. Ce chef-d'œuvre a été réalisé par Henrik Wigström, dernier chef orfèvre de la société Fabergé, et abrite une cachette secrète. L’œuf a été créé pour l'empereur Nicolas II à titre de cadeau de Pâques pour sa mère en 1914.

Catherine the Great Easter Egg. Fabergé (firm); Wigström, Henrik Immanuel (workmaster); Zuev, Vasilii Ivanovich (miniatures).Saint Petersburg, 1914. Gold, diamonds, pearls, opalescent enamel, opaque enamel, silver, platinum, mirror. H. 4 3/4 in. (without stand). Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Henrik Wigström, Fabergé's last head workmaster, created this egg for Nicholas II to present to his mother, Maria Fedorovna, on Easter morning in 1914. Vasilii Zuev, a designer employed by the Fabergé firm, painted the monochrome en camaïeu pink enamel panels with miniature allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences after French artist François Boucher. According to a letter from Maria Fedorovna to her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, the surprise in this egg was a mechanical sedan chair, carried by two blackamoors, with Catherine the Great seated inside (it has now been lost). To feature Catherine the Great, who prided herself on being a patron of the arts and sciences, as part of the surprise is certainly in keeping with this elaborate egg's style and imagery.

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Fabergé. L'Œuf aux douze monogrammes. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Il s’agit d’un œuf Fabergé en or recouvert d'un émail bleu-ciel et de diamants, offert par l'empereur Alexandre III à son épouse en 1896. Les rangées de diamants divisent cet œuf en 12 compartiments, dont chacun est orné des initiales des personnalités couronnées – soit d'Alexandre, soit de son épouse Marie Fedorovna. L'émail a été astucieusement enlevé par endroits afin qu'on puisse voir l'or qu’il recouvre. En 1885 l'empereur a initié la coutume d'offrir à son épouse un œuf Fabergé pour chaque fête de Pâques, et son fils a poursuivi cette tradition.

Twelve Monogram Egg. Fabergé (firm); Perkhin, Mikhail (workmaster), Saint Petersburg, 1896. Gold, champlevé enamel, diamonds, satin. H. 3 1/8 in., W. 2 3/16 in. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

In 1886, Alexander III initiated the custom of presenting his wife, Maria Fedorovna, with a Fabergé egg each Easter. Beginning with this particular egg, Alexander III's son, Nicholas II, continued the family tradition each Easter by giving an egg to both his mother, Maria Federovna, and his wife, Alexandra. Rows of diamonds divide the egg into twelve panels. The crowned ciphers of Alexander III and Maria Fedorovna, set in diamonds, provide a simple yet elegant decoration against the dark blue enamel. Only under high magnification is it possible to notice the champlevé enamel technique. Areas for the enamel were carved out of the gold, leaving the thin red-gold ribs that form the foliate design. To the naked eye, it appears that the gold design was painted on the ovoid surface.

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Horloge Fabergé. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cette horloge en argent du XVIIIème siècle, de style rococo avec des compartiments secrets, appartenait à l'impératrice Marie Fedorovna, mère de l'empereur Nicolas II. Selon la légende, Marie admirait la version originale de cette horloge qui avait été construite par l'orfèvre anglais James Cox pour l'impératrice Alexandra, épouse de Nicolas. Le couple impérial a commandé à Fabergé la réplique de cette horloge dans un style plus commode où ont été ajoutés des panneaux latéraux avec les portraits de Nicolas et d'Alexandra.

Table Clock. Fabergé (firm); Rappoport, Julius (workmaster); Henry Moser & Cie (movements), Saint Petersburg, 1896. Silver gilt, bowenite, watercolor on ivory. H. 11 1/4 in., W. 4 in. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

As this clock demonstrates, famed Russian designer Carl Fabergé borrowed ideas not only from eighteenth-century France, but also from the English rococo. An eighteenth-century clock attributed to James Cox that reputedly belonged to Empress Alexandra (now at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore) served as the basis for the piece in the Hillwood collection. According to legend, Maria Fedorovna, Alexandra's mother-in-law, admired the English clock by Cox. Nicholas and Alexandra then commissioned Fabergé to create a new piece as a gift for Maria, whose monogram appears on the back. To create the clock in the Hillwood collection, Fabergé both copied and altered details from his model. Both clocks take the form of chests of drawers, and two putti at each side support the clockworks. In addition to drawers, the Fabergé clock has side panels that open to reveal portraits on ivory of Nicholas and Alexandra.

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Coupe de récompense militaire.  Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cette coupe militaire en or pur de style néoclassique russe a été remise au général-adjudant Stepan Apraskine en 1833. Apraskine a participé à la guerre de la Russie contre Napoléon en 1812 avant de mener une brillante carrière militaire. Au cours de son règne Nicolas Ier récompensait les mérites des hommes éminents en commandant des pièces exclusives, comme cette coupe. La poignée de la coupe a la forme d’un casque de la garde impériale orné de plumes.

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Couronne nuptiale. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

C’est la couronne de diamants portée par l'impératrice Alexandra lors de son mariage avec l'empereur Nicolas II en 1894. Les diamants sont fixés sur une base recouverte de velours et, au-dessus de la couronne, on retrouve une croix faite de six diamants de plus grande taille. Les six bandes, liées par une septième qui fait le tour de la couronne, sont ornées de trois rangées de diamants plus petits entre lesquelles se trouvent deux rangs de plus gros diamant.

Nuptial Crown. Headgear. Maker unknown. Saint Petersburg, 1884. Silver, diamonds, velvet. H. 5 3/4 in., Dia. 4 in. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Empress Alexandra wore this crown at her wedding to Nicholas II in 1894. It came to be considered part of the imperial wedding regalia, along with a diamond studded kokoshnik that was worn in front of it, long diamond earrings, a jeweled clasp for the robe, and heavy bracelets, some of which date to the time of Catherine the Great. Bands of diamonds are sewn onto the velvet-covered supports of this orb-shaped wedding crown, and a cross of six larger, old mine-cut diamonds surmounts it. Three rows of small diamonds with two rows of larger diamonds in between form the bands.

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Calice de Saint-Pétersbourg (pour la communion). Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Ce calice du XVIIIème siècle fait d'or et orné de diamants et de pierres précieuses a été commandé par Catherine la Grande pour la cathédrale de la Trinité de Saint-Pétersbourg. L'impératrice avait commandé à Iver Windfeldt Buch deux ensembles liturgiques, dont chacun comportait un calice et plusieurs autres objets destinés au rituel. L'ensemble dont faisait partie ce calice a été créé pour la cathédrale de la Trinité et l'autre a été utilisé à la cathédrale de l'Assomption du Kremlin de Moscou. Pour la fabrication de ces ensembles, Catherine II avait fourni à Buch l'or et les diamants du trésor de l'Etat.

Chalice, Saint Petersburg, 1791. Gold, diamonds, chalcedony, bloodstone, nephrite, carnelian, cast glass. H. 13 in., Dia. 7 in. (bowl). Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

In December 1790, Catherine the Great commissioned Iver Windfeldt Buch to produce two liturgical sets, each comprising a chalice and several other pieces necessary for celebrating the divine liturgy. One of these sets was intended for the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Catherine presented the other set, which included this chalice, to the Trinity Cathedral in the Aleksandr Nevskii Monastery in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1791. To construct the set, Catherine provided Buch with gold and diamonds from the State Treasury; carved gems representing scenes from the life of Christ, saints, and angels, which came from her private collection. Of the gems, a thirteenth-century Byzantine cameo of the Archangel Michael is the oldest. The remaining ones are mostly seventeenth- and eighteenth-century examples, some no doubt contemporary with the chalice.

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Portrait de Catherine II. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Sur cette peinture à huile de Dmitri Levitski, Catherine II pointe son sceptre en direction de la couronne impériale, de l’orbe et du buste de Pierre le Grand. Les peintres, connus et anonymes, ont fait de nombreuses copies de ces portraits, qu'ils accrochaient dans les établissements publics, les résidences de gouverneurs ou encore dans les établissements sociaux et d'enseignement supervisés par l'impératrice. Ce portrait de 3 mètres de haut a été offert en 1788 à titre de récompense au britannique qui était un conseiller financier de l'impératrice.

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Portrait de la comtesse Samoïlova. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Le célèbre peintre russe Karl Brioullov, considéré comme une figure-clé dans le passage du néoclassicisme au romantisme en Russie, a composé ce portrait pour son amie Ioulia Samoïlova en Italie. Ce tableau de presque 3 mètres de haut est décrit, au musée de Hillwood, comme "probablement le plus important travail du peintre en dehors de la Russie". Aux yeux de Brioullov la comtesse incarnait la féminité et la beauté et il l'a peinte au moment d'une joyeuse salutation, manifestant une élégance mondaine raffinée.

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Boîte émaillée. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Trente diamants sous forme de roses soulevées entourent le portrait de l'empereur Alexandre II sur cette magnifique boîte miniature émaillée réalisée approximativement en 1870.

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Boîte à musique. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cadeau des princes Félix et Nicolas Ioussoupov à leurs parents pour leur 25ème anniversaire de mariage en 1907. Félix est surtout connu pour son implication dans le meurtre de Grigori Raspoutine, guérisseur, ami proche et homme de confiance de l'empereur Nicolas II et de l'impératrice Alexandra. Raspoutine a été tué dans le palais impérial des Ioussopov sur la rivière Moïka à Saint-Pétersbourg, représenté sur cette boîte.

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Plat. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Les orfèvres de la célèbre société de bijoux de Pavel Ovtchinnikov ont créé ce plat décoratif richement orné en 1883. On y voit les miniatures de l'empereur Alexandre III (au-dessus), de son épouse l'impératrice Marie Fedorovna (à droite) et du jeune Nicolas II (à gauche).

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Chaîne de l’Ordre impérial de Saint-André Apôtre le premier nommé. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Chaîne du XIXème siècle remise aux membres de la famille impériale, aux membres de familles royales étrangères et aux hauts fonctionnaires importants. Cette chaîne était portée pendant des cérémonies spéciales. Elle est composée de plusieurs médaillons, dont l’un représente un aigle à deux têtes – symbole de l'Empire russe – regardant à la fois vers l'est et l'ouest. Le grand médaillon du bas représente Saint-André crucifié sur une croix en forme de "X".

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Armoire  Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cadeau fait par Alexandre II à un prince russe et à son épouse pour leur anniversaire de mariage, au XIXème siècle. Ce meuble en bois était initialement orné de quatre portraits sur les portes de devant, qui représentaient le prince et sa famille. Lorsque Marjorie Merriweather Post a reçu l'armoire depuis l’Union soviétique, les portraits étaient absents et elle a ordonné de les remplacer par des panneaux en lapis-lazuli.

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Lustre en verre du palais de Catherine. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

On estime que ce lustre vient du palais de Catherine à Tsarskoïe Selo. Sous son règne est née une nouvelle ère de la verrerie avec un style original et des couleurs vives. Post l'a accroché dans son salon matinal, où il se trouve jusqu'à présent.

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Flambeaux. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Probablement utilisés dans le Palais d'hiver de Saint-Pétersbourg, ces chandeliers de 104 cm datant du XIXème siècle représentent la déesse grecque de la victoire. Sur chacun d'eux, elle se trouve au sommet d'une colonne de lazurite, tenant dans ses mains un chandelier pour six bougies.

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Icône de la Vierge de Kazan. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cette icône de la Vierge à l’enfant est une copie du XVIIème siècle. Selon la légende, l'icône originale, découverte à Kazan en 1579, a aidé les armées russes à libérer Moscou des occupants polonais en 1612.

Mother of God "Promise of Those Who Suffer". Icon. Maker unknown. Moscow, 1790-1795 (icon); 1795 (oklad). Tempera on wood with gilding, silver gilt, gilt, and niello. H. 12 1/2 in., W. 10 5/8 in. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

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Icône de Saint-Georges avec Déisis, les Saints et les Martyrs. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Cette icône du XVIème siècle représente Saint-Georges terrassant le dragon. Saint-Georges, martyr chrétien, est entouré par Jésus, la Vierge Marie et les archanges.

St. George with Deesis, Saints, and Martyrs. Icon. Maker unknown. Russia, 16th c. Tempera on wood. H. 28 1/4 in., W. 22 in. Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

The Great Martyr St. George the Victorious is pictured at the center of this large church icon. Surrounding the central figure is a wide border on which the bust-size figures of selected saints are painted. Above St. George appears the Deesis – Christ with the Mother of God and John the Baptist – flanked by the Archangels Gabriel and Michael. To either side stand three pairs of saints: Nicholas and Elijah, Peter and Paul, and Anthony the Great and a monastic. Along the lower border are seven martyr saints, each of whom holds the eight-point cross that symbolizes their martyrdom. 

The iconography of St. George slaying the dragon was particularly popular in the city of Novgorod, as was the commissioning of icons with selected saints. In doing so, the client was able to specify an array of saints who were of special significance to himself and his family.

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Service à thé. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Ce service à thé du XIXème siècle vient de la manufacture impériale de porcelaine, à Saint-Pétersbourg. On dit que l'impératrice Marie Fedorovna offrait traditionnellement des services à thé aux membres de sa famille et à ses amis. Bien qu'il n'existe aucune preuve que celui-ci ait justement été l'un de ses cadeaux, ce genre de présents était très raffiné et à la mode pendant la première décennie du XIXème siècle.

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Objets du service Orlov. Credit: Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Objets du service à thé commandé par Catherine la Grande pour le comte Grigori Orlov au XVIIIème siècle. Accompagné par ses quatre frères, Orlov a organisé le coup d'Etat qui a permis à Catherine de se retrouver sur le trône russe en juin 1762. Sur le service, on voit les initiales en cyrillique d'Orlov – GGT – et sur les poignées apparaissent des petits anges.

(Sources: fr.ria.ru & www.hillwoodmuseum.org)

Hillwood appoints curator of 19th-century art; Re-dates Faberge imperial Easter egg

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Fabergé Twelve Monogram Egg. Long believed to have been made in 1895, was actually one of the two eggs fabricated in 1896

WASHINGTON, DC.- Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens has appointed Wilfried Zeisler to associate curator of 19th-century art. With an academic background in French 19th-century art in the Russian court, Zeisler brings significant professional and academic experience to this important and unique area of focus at Hillwood. He began his new position last month. 

Zeisler had previously been a curatorial fellow at Hillwood in 2013, during which time he conducted research into the intersection of French 19th-century decorative art with Russian imperial art and its patrons. Since returning to Hillwood for this new position last month, Zeisler has already applied his findings to two new projects: the re-dating of Hillwood’s Fabergé Twelve Monogram Egg and the acquisition of a rare Franco-Russian tablecloth. 

“Representing the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside Russia, Hillwood is also known for the distinct blend of Russian and French decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries that founder Marjorie Merriweather Post cultivated and brought together with perfection here,” explained executive director, Kate Markert. “The unique background that Wilfried brings to us will open up a new window onto these interconnected areas of Hillwood’s collection.” 

Zeisler received his doctoral degree in art history from Sorbonne University, Paris, with a dissertation on “The Purchases of French objets d’art by the Russian Court, 1881-1917,” offering a dual perspective on French and Russian decorative arts in the context of political, commercial and artistic interactions of the time. He has also been a research lecturer at the École du Louvre on the subjects of French decorative arts from the Middle Age to Art Nouveau, French 19th-century art, French jewelry, 18th to 19th-century Russian art, Fabergé, and the history of Russian palaces from 1825 to 1925. 

Re-Dating the Twelve Monogram Egg
The news last month, just as Zeisler began at Hillwood, that one of the last missing Fabergé imperial Easter Eggs was re-discovered, prompted him and colleague Dr. Scott Ruby, Hillwood’s associate curator of Russian and Easter European art, to explore further the notion that Hillwood’s Twelve Monogram Egg, long believed to have been made in 1895, was actually one of the two eggs fabricated in 1896, as some scholars had put forth. The re-discovered egg, purchased several years ago by an anonymous scrap metal dealer in the mid-West for its intrinsic gold value, is believed to be the third of the finely-crafted Easter eggs made by Carl Fabergé’s jewelry workshop for the Russian royal family from 1885 to 1917. Alexander III began the tradition when he gave his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna the Hen Egg for Easter in 1885. Nicholas continued the tradition until he was overthrown in 1917. Known as the Third Egg, this egg fits the description found in the invoice for the 1887 egg: “Egg with clock decorated with rose-cut diamonds and sapphires.” This date had been previously associated with the Blue Serpent Clock Egg (Monaco), which in actuality did not fit that description, primarily for its lack of sapphires and also because neither the price nor design correspond to such early egg fabrication, as noted by Fabergé scholars Marina Lopato and Geza van Habsburg. Rather, the Blue Serpent Egg does fit the description of an 1895 egg: “Blue enamel egg, Louis XVI style…,”which was associated with Hillwood’s Twelve Monogram Egg.

Marjorie Merriweather Post acquired the Twelve Monogram Egg from a private collector in Italy in 1949. This imperial egg, a masterwork of Michael Perkhin (1860-1903) for Fabergé, was originally a gift of Nicholas II to his mother dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. Since Post bought it, the egg’s date has changed several times between the years 1892 to 1895. The 1895 date was proposed in 1997 by Tatiana Fabergé, Lynette G. Proler and Valentin V. Skurlov on their seminal book on the history of the imperial Easter eggs, in which the authors published new archival material, including Fabergé invoices. The Twelve Monogram Egg features blue enamel but does not fit with the Louis XVI style description, a style particularly well-mastered by the Fabergé firm. 

Following up on scholars’ suggestion that the Twelve Monogram Egg more accurately fits the description in the Fabergé invoice: “Blue enamel egg, 6 portraits of HIM Alexander III, with 10 sapphires and rose-cut diamonds and setting” of 1896, Zeisler connected additional dots to establish the new date for Hillwood. The mention of portraits, which are not apparent on the Twelve Monogram Egg, had made the association with the 1896 invoice inconclusive. However, in reviewing personal letters between the Emperor Nicholas II and his mother the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, first published in an article by Preben Ulstrup in 2002 then quoted in Geza von Habsburg’s 2004 Fabergé: Treasures of Imperial Russia, Zeisler concluded that the portraits mentioned were the now missing “surprise” that was a part of every imperial Easter egg. In a letter dated 22 March 1896, the dowager Empress wrote to Nicholas: “…I can’t find words to express to you, my dear Nicky, how touched and moved I was on receiving your ideal egg with the charming portraits of your dear, adored Papa. It is all such a beautiful idea, with your monograms above it all…” This correspondence places together the monograms with the portraits, corroborating the new proposed date of 1896. 

Tablecloth Commemorating Franco-Russian Alliance
Shortly after arriving at Hillwood, Zeisler seized on the opportunity to acquire a tablecloth commemorating the military and commercial alliance between the Russian and French nations that began in 1891, when the French navy was welcomed in Russia. Dating ca. 1893-97, the superbly-crafted ceremonial tablecloth features iconography of both nations: the double-headed Russian imperial eagle and the crossed French and imperial flags, all connected with garlands of pansies. It will be on view in the Breakfast Room at Hillwood, alongside French and Russian objects from the collection that are examples of those featured in the tablecloth, from May 5 to June 2, 2014.

 

Posté par Alain Truong à 12:51 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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Newly discovered Imperial Fabergé Easter egg: A critical note from a Fabergé collector

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One of the eight missing imperial Faberge eggs has gone on show in London after it was purchased by a scrap metal dealer in a flea market. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIE.

PARIS.- Fabergé Easter Eggs are one of the world's most famous art icons, not in the last place because of the exorbitant prices they fetch through auctions and private sales. The last Egg that appeared at a public auction was the 1902 Rothschild Egg. It was sold for $18 million in 2007, and this Egg was not even Imperial (not commissioned by the Tsar). It is therefore not surprising that the news of the recent discovery of the long lost third Imperial Easter Egg (1887) has spread like wild fire via the global and social media. The story behind the discovery is so fantastic that Kieran McCarthy of Wartski in London (the specialized shop where the Egg will be displayed on April 14th) could only compare it to Indiana Jones finding the lost Ark. 

The Indiana Jones of this adventure is an anonymous American scrap metal dealer who bought the Egg at a bric-á-brac flea market for $14.000, arguing that if the piece would be melted down he could make a small profit. When trying to sell it he was told he had overestimated the value of his investment. Too stubborn to take a loss, he held on to it. Ten years later Mr Jones decided to look into his bric-à-brac bargain and googled the words "egg" and "Vacheron Constantin" (the famous clock maker that has made and signed the time piece that is hidden surprise inside the egg). The search results led him to an illustrated article published by the Telegraph titled 'Is this £20 million nest-egg on your mantelpiece?'. 

It is hard to imagine why it took Mr Jones ten years to investigate his price possession which concept and design clearly resembles one of the world's most recognized art icons. Show anyone a jeweled egg with a surprise inside and they will tell you it might be by Fabergé. But grand discoveries in the art world are often paired with permeable provenances, and if it turns out that the piece is indeed the original 1887 Imperial Easter Egg, it would be a tremendous contribution to Russia's historical and cultural heritage. The real problem lies much deeper than the Egg's provenance. 

The Wartski store has received much press coverage owing to the discovery of the egg, but besides from opening the door to Mr Jones who showed them the photos, they had little to do with it. It was in fact a 1964 catalogue, discovered in 2011, in which the 1887 Imperial Easter Egg was featured (including a photograph) that led to the article in the Telegraph that was found by Mr Jones. 

Instead of celebrating Wartski, the art world should ask itself how the egg could have been missed in the first place. The catalogue description and the photo of the egg were somehow ignored by all the in-house and consulted experts of one of the biggest auction houses in the world. Ironically the auction took place just before Easter. Missing an Imperial Egg is one thing, but over the last decades those who call themselves experts or connoisseurs here in Europe and the USA have seriously damaged Fabergé's legacy by misattributing Easter Eggs and causing auction scandals. 

At the time of the auction, in 1964, Wartski was already famous for its Fabergé stock. Founder of Wartski, Mr Emanuel Snowman, went on buying trips to Russia where he bought Easter Eggs and other items that were confiscated by the Sovjets. One of the many Imperial Eggs that was brought to Europe is the 1901 'Basket of Wild Flowers'. In 1953, Snowman's son and successor Mr Kenneth Snowman (who in his time as owner of Wartski was considered to be the Fabergé expert) suddenly decided that the Imperial Egg was not by Fabergé but by the French Jeweler Boucheron. It was rectified only much later by Russian Fabergé scholar Valentin Skurlov. In 1976 Kenneth Snowman boosted the sale of the alleged 'last' Imperial Easter Egg (coined the 1917 Twilight or Night Egg) by stating in the auction catalogue that it would be featured in his upcoming exhibition in the Victoria and Albert museum in London. It was sold and indeed exhibited at the exhibition, but turned out be fake. In 1985 Snowman stopped the sale of an alleged Imperial Easter Egg, the 1913 'Nicholas II Equestrian Egg', on the evening of the auction at Christie's, because he believed it was a fake. It was presented as the only Easter Egg commissioned by the Tsarina, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. Strangely enough, Snowman himself had vouched for the Egg when it was sold through Christies to Mr Eksander Aryeh in 1977 by stating: "I confirm, without hesitation, that this is undoubtedly an authentic work by Fabergé". The egg turned out to be fake and Mr Areyh sued Christies for $37 million; the case was settled outside of court. Recognized Fabergé expert and protégé of Snowman, Mr Geza von Habsburg, was the in-house Christie's auction expert during both of the incidents. 

The roles and agendas of experts with the moral authority to authenticate or dismiss artworks has been a controversial issue ever since art became a commodity. It has been wonderfully deconstructed by scholar Henk Tromp in 'A Real van Gogh: How the Art World Struggles with the Truth'. Unlike medical specialists, lawyers, and accountants, art experts have no organization of their own to admit persons to their profession by legal means. It is only in the art world that the sheer conflicts of interest caused by the many different roles that experts play in the market (auction consultant, dealer, private collector, curator ect...) remain completely accepted and unquestioned by the vast majority of the people. Whoever believes, or hopes, that these are issues of the past is, unfortunately, being naive. There are numerous examples from throughout the art world that have have made the headlines the past years. In 'Leonardo's Lost Princess' Peter Silverman has written a fascinating account of his fight against the established art experts over a newly discovered Leonardo da Vinci. The documentary 'Who the f*#% is Jackson Pollock' (available on Youtube), provides a intriguing insight into the corrupted world of contemporary art. 

I was not yet a collector in 1964 when the newly discovered third Imperial Easter Egg was up for sale at the Park-Bennet auction, but I was in 1991 when I attended a Sotheby's auction in Geneva. It was the same scenario; an obvious Fabergé Egg was missed by all the auction experts, and catalogued as 'in the style of Fabergé'. I bought the 1893 'Bouquet of Yellow Lilies Clock-Egg' and it starred in the 1992 'Fabolous Epoch of Fabergé' exhibition in Saint-Petersburg and later in the 2000 'Fabergé; Imperial Craftsman and his World Exhibition' in the USA. During the latter, the Egg was broken by a staff member hired by the exhibition organizers. It resulted in a trial that started out as an insurance case (the clock-egg was insured by the exhibition for $2.5 million) but ended in a dispute over the clock-egg's authenticity. Against all odds the curators of the exhibition, Mr Geza von Habsburg and Mr Solodkoff, testified for the insurance company and had suddenly changed their minds about the authorship of the clock-egg, stating it was not by Fabergé. The judge followed them even though Tatiana Fabergé and Valentin Skurlov (the authors of the 1994 standard work for Imperial Easter Eggs, 'The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs' published by Christie's) came to court and testified in favor of the clock-egg. I lost both the case and the Egg. Many newspapers reporting on the verdict quoted the judge when he stated that "it was very unlikely that Mr Kamidian can really have thought in 1991 that he knew better than the experts at Sotheby's." 

Exciting as it may be, the newly discovered third Imperial Egg has proven again that it is in fact very likely that art experts mess up. They should not be trusted blindly, but instead ought to be scrutinized as their often questionable contributions, either driven by incompetence or agenda, can cause serious damage to precious art heritage. 

By: Michel Kamidian, Fabergé collector

1 Kenneth Snowman (1953), The Art of Carl Fabergé.
2 Christie’s Geneva auction catalogue of 10 November 1976.
3 The New York Times, Owner of ‘Faberge’ Egg Is Suing Christie’s, 16 January 1986.
4 Von Habsburg refers to Mr Kenneth Snowman as his mentor in his 1994 article ‘Fauxbergé’ published in Art & Auction, Vol.16, pages: 76-79.
5 http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/jun/28/art

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An employee of Antique dealers Wartski poses with a Faberge Egg in London on April 7, 2014. One of the eight missing imperial Faberge eggs has gone on show in London after it was purchased by a scrap metal dealer in a flea market in the United States. London antique dealer Wartski said the man bought the egg a few years ago for about $14,000, completely unaware that it was worth about $33 million (24 million euros). AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIE. 

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An employee of Antique dealers Wartski poses with a Faberge Egg in London on April 7, 2014. One of the eight missing imperial Faberge eggs will go on show in London after it was purchased by a scrap metal dealer in a flea market in the United States. London antique dealer Wartski said the man bought the egg a few years ago for about $14,000, completely unaware that it was worth about $33 million (24 million euros). AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIE. 

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An employee of Antique dealers Wartski poses with a Faberge Egg in London on April 7, 2014. One of the eight missing imperial Faberge eggs will go on show in London after it was purchased by a scrap metal dealer in a flea market in the United States. London antique dealer Wartski said the man bought the egg a few years ago for about $14,000, completely unaware that it was worth about $33 million (24 million euros). AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIE. 

Posté par Alain Truong à 12:30 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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Cartier diamond brooch leads Bonhams New York Fine Jewellery Sale

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A gem-set, diamond and enamel brooch, Cartier, circa 1925, designed as a coral and onyx bead fan motif, suspending a rock crystal ring, enhanced by circular-cut diamonds;signed Cartier; estimated total diamond weight: 3.50 carats; mounted in platinum; length: 2 1/4in. Sold for US$ 317,000 (€229,660). Photo Bonhams.

New York  – Bonhams auction of Fine Jewellery held in the firm's Madison Avenue salesrooms on April 9 was an overwhelming success, realising $4.3 million.

Highlighting the auction was a Cartier gem-set, diamond and enamel brooch, circa 1925, that flew past its pre-sale estimate to bring $317,000. The signed piece, from the Estate of Patricia Mitau Rhein, is designed as a coral and onyx bead fan motif, suspending a rock crystal ring, enhanced by 3.50 carats of circular-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum. An additional art deco Kashmir sapphire and diamond brooch, also circa 1925, from the various owners portion of the auction, brought $137,000.

The 185-lot sale was highly energetic, with a filled to capacity auction room and registrants bidding online and by telephone from over 20 countries worldwide. Susan Abeles, Bonhams Head of US Jewellery, and Virginia Salem, the Director of the Jewellery Department in New York, commented of the sale, "Rare pristine signed jewellery and fine coloured stones continues to command significant interest and results. The market is very strong, and participation increases with every auction."

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A fine jadeite jade bracelet designed as a carved hololith bangle; diameter: 2 1/4in. Accompanied by GIA report #15224480, dated August 24, 2006, stating jadeite bangle as: jadeite jade, natural color, no evidence of impregnation. Sold for US$ 209,000 (€151,416). Photo Bonhams.

Especially notable in the sale was a fine jadeite jade bracelet, designed as a carved hololith bangle, that brought $209,000 against an estimate of $40,000-60,000, and a natural pearl and diamond necklace, comprising of 71 graduated round white pearls, completed by an openwork single-cut diamond clasp, and centering an old mine-cut diamond, with its clasp mounted in platinum, that achieved $173,000, past a $30,000-50,000 estimate.

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A natural pearl and diamond necklace comprising seventy-one graduated round white pearls, measuring approximately 8.58 to 4.37mm., completed by an openwork single-cut diamond clasp, centering an old mine-cut diamond; clasp mounted in platinum; length: 19 1/2in. Accompanied by GIA report #1152863239, dated January 20, 2014, stating: predominantly natural saltwater pearls, no indications of treatment. Sold for US$ 173,000 (€125,335). Photo Bonhams.

Diamond rings were in high demand for the day. A Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring of bypass design, centering a 3.45 carat oval-cut sapphire and a 3.24 carat old European-cut diamond, with baguette-cut diamond shoulders, mounted in platinum, brought $191,000 past an $80,000-120,000 estimate. Another diamond ring, set with a 17.86 carat cut-cornered rectangular-cut diamond, sold for $173,000.

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A sapphire and diamond ring of bypass design, centering an oval-cut sapphire, weighing 3.45 carats, and an old European-cut diamond, weighing 3.24 carats, with baguette-cut diamond shoulders; mounted in platinum; size 6 1/2. Accompanied by AGL report #CS 59104, dated February 13, 2014, stating the sapphire as: Kashmir origin, no indications of heat or clarity enhancement. Sold for US$ 191,000 (€138,375). Photo Bonhams.

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A diamond ring set with a cut-cornered rectangular-cut diamond, weighing 17.86 carats, within a three-row baguette-cut diamond band, accented by pavé-set diamond 'X' motifs and gallery; estimated remaining diamond weight: 3.15 carats; mounted in platinum; size 6 1/2 (with sizer)Sold for US$ 173,000 (€125,335). Photo Bonhams.

Additional examples of note included a diamond solitaire ring, set with a 6.02 cushion-cut diamond, mounted in platinum, that brought $131,000, past an estimate of $50,000-80,000; a fancy coloured diamond and diamond ring, set with an 8.43 carat round brilliant-cut fancy light yellow diamond, with circular-cut diamond shoulders, that sold for $120,000; and also, from a Charleston Estate, a sapphire, diamond and 18 karat gold ring, horizontally set with a 7.60 carat oval-cut sapphire, with triangular-cut diamond shoulders within a polished gold mount, with an estimated total diamond weight of 1.00 carat, that realised $ 106,250.

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A diamond solitaire ring set with a cushion-cut diamond, weighing 6.02 carats;mounted in platinum; size 5. Sold for US$ 131,000 (€94,906). Photo Bonhams.

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A fancy colored diamond and diamond ring set with a round brilliant-cut fancy light yellow diamond, weighing 8.43 carats, with circular-cut diamond shoulders; size 6 1/2. Accompanied by GIA report #2155938663, dated February 25, 2014, stating the center diamond as: Fancy Light Yellow color, VS2 clarity. Sold for US$ 120,000 (€86,937). Photo Bonhams. 

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A sapphire, diamond and eighteen karat gold ring, horizontally set with an oval-cut sapphire, weighing 7.60 carats, with triangular-cut diamond shoulders, within a polished gold mount; estimated total diamond weight: 1.00 carat; size 6 1/2. Accompanied by Gübelin Gem Lab report #13090079, dated October 1, 2013, stating the sapphire as: Kashmir origin, no indications of heating. Accompanied by AGL report #CS 56518, dated September 4, 2013, stating the sapphire as: Ceylon (Sri Lanka) origin, with no evidence of heat or clarity enhancement. Sold for US$ 106,250 (€76,976). Photo Bonhams.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard's hymn to love and poetry at Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Sappho inspired by Cupid estimated at £800,000-1,200,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Sappho inspired by Cupid, a sensual work by the French 17th century Master, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, is to be sold at Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale in London on 9 July. It is estimated at £800,000-1,200,000. 

The painting is known informally as the Portanova Sappho to recognise its previous ownership by the socialite couple Sandra and Ricky di Portanova but also to distinguish it from Fragonard’s other works on the same theme. It was executed around 1780, when the painter moved away from the Rococo style with which he had established his early reputation and started to experiment with Neoclassicism. Sappho inspired by Cupid clearly struck a chord with art collectors because Fragonard repeated the composition many times and painted other allegorical works with a romantic theme – The Invocation to Love, The Fountain of Love and The Sacrifice of the Rose, for example, - again, in several versions. Of the known versions of Sappho inspired by Cupid, the painting in the Bonhams sale is regarded as the highest in quality. 

The poet Sappho, born around 600 BCE, lived on the island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea. She was famed throughout antiquity for her uninhibited approach to love as well as for the quality of her poetry, of which only fragments have survived. Her work celebrated beauty through love and Fragonard’s painting depicts the figure of Cupid in his traditional guise of a chubby young boy embracing and inspiring the classically perfect, but recognisably human, figure of the poetess. The modern identification of Sappho as a writer of specifically lesbian poetry would almost certainly have been unfamiliar to Fragonard - the terms lesbian and Sapphic were not coined until the last third of the 19th century- and there is no suggestion of this in the image. 

In December 2013, Bonhams set a new world record price for a painting by Fragonard when it sold The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt for £17.1m. 

Posté par Alain Truong à 11:27 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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