16 avril 2014

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


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


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


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. 


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. 

faberge-2 (1)

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


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."


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.


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.


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. 


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


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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Sotheby's announces first dedicated exhibition of ancient Chinese erotic art in Hong Kong

Nouveau Dessin OpenDocument

A set of seven small porcelain figures, 19th – 20th Century. Photo: Sotheby's.

Hong Kong - Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery is delighted to present part of the Ferdinand M. Bertholet Collection, the world’s largest collection of erotic art, from 16 April to 3 May. The exhibition entitled Gardens of Pleasure: Sex in Ancient China, will feature more than 100 pieces of astounding works of art from the Ferdinand M. Bertholet Collection, with objects dating from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) to the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD). These trinkets include works in silk, ivory, bronze, and are whispers and slivers of tantalising tales from days gone by. Within these works, made up of alluring albums and provocative porcelains, an older, more mischievous China unfolds. As a collection, such pieces offer an unparalleled view into an exceptional story of sex in the ancient Middle Kingdom.

Ferdinand M. Bertholet, the collector, said, “I am very excited about the forthcoming exhibition at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, which marks my first opportunity to share my collection with the audiences in Asia. I remember when I first began collecting around 35 years ago, I entered an antique shop on the famous Hollywood Road in Hong Kong. In a chest of drawers, I came across entirely by chance a pile of seven large sheets from an album and was amazed to discover they were Chinese erotic paintings of unprecedented beauty. Never before had I feasted my eyes on real objects of such quality. I was overjoyed with this discovery and, somewhere deep within me, a passion was born. Through this exhibition, it feels like bringing back home the remnants of an almost lost heritage, and offering a tribute to the masters of Chinese erotic art.”

Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and International Head of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, said, “It is with great excitement that we present Ferdinand Bertholet’s collection of Chinese erotic art, which is the finest and largest in existence. It is the first time that an exhibition on the subject of sex in ancient China takes place in this part of the world and the collection is already well-known in the West, having been presented in illustrious museums such as the Cernuschi in Paris and the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin. The objects in the collection span many centuries and various media including album paintings, porcelain figures, bronze mirrors and phalluses. We trust that this exhibition will be an exciting eye-opener for the Asian audience and we encourage everyone to come and experience the gardens of pleasure.”


Phalluses in stone, ceramics and bronze. From Han Dynasty to Song Dynasty. Photo: Sotheby's.

About The Ferdinand M. Bertholet Collection

More than 30 years ago Ferdinand Bertholet discovered his first Chinese erotic album on display in an antique shop on Hollywood Road, Hong Kong. He was deeply impressed by the beauty of the illustrations: their decorative power, exquisite deployment of colour, and harmonious balance rapidly had a direct impact on his own paintings.

Over the years Bertholet managed to acquire a large variety of fine paintings, scrolls and objects, among which the absolute highlight of all times in this field; the famous set of eight Kangxi paintings from the former C.T. Loo collection. C.T. Loo's admiration for Chinese erotic art inspired Bertholet to produce the following publications: Dreams of Spring (1997), Gardens of Pleasure (2003), and Concubines and Courtesans (2010).

In the meantime the collection gained international renownal, and the most important parts of it were exhibited at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (2002), the Cernuschi Museum in Paris (2006), The Barbican Art Gallery in London (2007), The Museum of Asian Arts in Berlin (2011), The British Museum (2014), the Berkeley Art Museum (2014), amongst many other world class institutions.



Love Games in a Flowering Garden. From Gardens of Pleasure Series. Late 17th Century. Set of eight. Ink and colour on silk; 39.5 x 55.5 cm. Photo: Sotheby's.

The work’s foreground is populated by a couple in pre-coital bliss, bodies intertwined: the Ming headdress points to the man’s social status, while his female companion’s hairdo—here worn up—signals her status as a married woman. And yet, many features residing in the background of the piece begs its audiences to question the legitimacy of the pairing. Magnolias and peonies deceptively bloom side by side within the painting, which is a fallacy considering how they flower separately throughout the seasons. A blue tai hu rock elegantly balances the piece, and in a moment of provocative insinuation, one might even discern our hero and heroine’s copulating outlines within the unassuming rock itself.

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Meiren at Her Bath. Early 19th Century. Ink and colour on silk, hanging scroll, 155 x 87 cm. Photo: Sotheby's.

In this bathing scene, a beautiful lady, meiren, sits next to her bathtub on a bench made of mottled bamboo. Her nudity is underlined by a see-through dress, but in ancient China it is above all her exceedingly small feet which cause utmost excitement. Behind her, an orchid emergers decoratively from a varnished pot. A large sconce with a reflector illuminates the scene.


One Wooden Chair for “Foot-binding” and Two Pairs of Silk “Golden Lotus” Shoes, 19th Century. Photo: Sotheby's.

Towards the end of the Yuan period, foot binding had become a privilege available only to the aristocrats. To have one’s feet bound was to possess immeasurable poise and beauty, as well as social status. When girls from upper-class families reached the age of five, they would become eligible for this tradition. This process of performing the rituals involved a special foot-binder’s stool, a rare item which will also be showcased in the present exhibition. The chair is displayed with shoes of the then considered highly elegant designs of the lotus bud foot, that were seen as capable of walking with “the elegant sway of a lily” on her delicate stem.


A scroll with 20 lesbian figures (detail). Ink and colour on silk, 17 x 136 cm. Photo: Sotheby's.

One intimate and delicate piece portrays two ladies coupling with the use of a phallus. Their bound feet suggest their high social statuses, most likely two courtesans within an emperor’s harem. Behind the women is a closed landscape panel, pointing to the privacy of their coupling. Considering the fact that our protagonists have kept their immaculately small shoes on, one can only assume that this work was painted as a means to arouse a male audience, or that the ladies too are tantalised by these adornments.

15 avril 2014

A large and rare Dutch Delft blue and white vase and cover, circa 1700


A large and rare Dutch Delft blue and white vase and cover, circa 1700. Photo Sotheby's

the tapered cylindrical sides painted with a frieze of a cherub seated amongst flowering shrubs and birds, above a gadroon moulded border painted with panels of birds in branches alternating with acanthus, the rim surmounted with eight moulded scallop shells, the high domed cover further painted with a cherub amongst flowers and birds beneath a spire finial, indistinct blue painted mark, some restoration to scallop shells. Quantité: 2; 41cm., 16 1/8 in. high. Estimation 7,000 — 10,000 GBP

Provenance: The Stodel Collection (paper label to base)

Sotheby's. The Gustav Leonhardt Collection, Property from the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. London | 29 avr. 2014 - www.sotheby's.com

A rare Dutch Delft blue and white ater cistern and cover, circa 1750-1760


A rare Dutch Delft blue and white ater cistern and cover, circa 1750-1760. Photo Sotheby's

by Jan Pennis, of rectangular form with two chamfered corners and a rounded shoulder, painted in blue with landscape cartouches against diaper and foliate panels, with a glazed pierced hole for hanging and a metal tap, the cover with a large portrait bust finial, IP mark in underglaze-blue for Jan Pennis owner of De Porceleyne Schotel (The Porcelain dish) factory, cover restored. Quantité: 2; 45.2cm., 17 6/8 in. high. Estimation 4,000 — 6,000 GBP

A cistern of this form decorated with similar diaper and foliate grounds, but reserving cartouches of Chinese figures is in the Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam, illustrated by Ferrand W. Hudig, Delfter Fayence, 1929, pl. 237.

Sotheby's. The Gustav Leonhardt Collection, Property from the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. London | 29 avr. 2014 - www.sotheby's.com

A rare Dutch Delft blue and white ewer, circa 1691-1721


A rare Dutch Delft blue and white ewer, circa 1691-1721. Photo Sotheby's

by Lambertus van Eenhoorn, of baroque helmet form with high blue-ground flat-scroll handle, the basally fluted body painted with ribboned flower swags and foliate strapwork below a blue-ground border of flowering cherry, the domed foot with a formal foliate strapwork border, the interior with a small clump of water plants below a further scroll border, LVE mark over letters for Lambertus van Eenhoorn owner of De Metale Pot factory, minor damage; 30cm., 11 6/8 in. high. Estimation 2,000 — 3,000 GBP

Provenance: The Stodel collection (paper label to base)

Sotheby's. The Gustav Leonhardt Collection, Property from the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. London | 29 avr. 2014 - www.sotheby's.com

A rare Dutch Delft blue and white flask, circa 1690-1701


A rare Dutch Delft blue and white flask, circa 1690-1701. Photo Sotheby's

by Adrianus Kocx, of slender form applied with four rope twist moulded handles and two lion masks to the sides, upon an oval foot, painted in blue with bands of formal foliate borders, a flowering garland with perching birds and a band of twisting Chinese dragons at the shoulder, AK mark in underglaze-blue for Adrianus Kocx of De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory, some damage; 31.4cm., 12 in. high. Estimation 1,500 — 2,000 GBP

An example of this rare form is illustrated by Christopher Perlès, Céramique Anciennes, catalogue 13, no.21.

Sotheby's. The Gustav Leonhardt Collection, Property from the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. London | 29 avr. 2014 - www.sotheby's.com

A large Dutch Delft blue and white double gourd shaped vase, circa 1700


A large Dutch Delft blue and white double gourd shaped vase, circa 1700. Photo Sotheby's

the ovoid body painted with panels of flowers and fruiting vine beneath ruyi lappets enclosing flowers, the swollen neck painted with a band of further flower lappets beneath single flowers, blue painted AK monogram for Adrianus Kocx, the owner of the De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory from 1686 to 1701, some restoration, 62cm., 24 1/2 in. high. Estimation 3,000 — 4,000 GBP

Provenance: The Stodel Collection (paper label to base)

Sotheby's. The Gustav Leonhardt Collection, Property from the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam. London | 29 avr. 2014 - www.sotheby's.com

Posté par Alain Truong à 23:28 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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