On offer is the collection of Nicolas Landau, who was also known as ‘Le Prince des Antiquaires.' It is comprised of nearly five-hundred items, including many antiques and works of furniture, decorative art, sculpture and painting.
Among the highlights are Picasso's ink drawing La Femme au chat from 1954 (€ 70,000 ‒ 100,000), a surprising 17th-century carved ivory tankard of German origin (€30,000 ‒ 50,000) and a table stand made of basalt dating from Roman Egypt (€40,000 ‒ 60,000).
According to Nicolas Landau, “What is rare is not what everybody buys but rather what many ignore.” The history of this collection is closely linked to his life. Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris then became an antique dealer in New York and eventually returned to the French capital, settling on rue de Duras, just behind the gallery Charpentier. Through his travels and discoveries, he continually enriched his collection with rarities from different periods and purposes, recreating a true cabinet of curiosities in the manner of the European princes of centuries past.
Honorary President of the Compagnie Nationale des Experts, Landau developed knowledge of a great variety of fields. Notably, a room at the Louvre dedicated to scientific instruments bears his name, in honour of his many donations. This type of work is represented in our auction by a remarkable Moroccan engraved brass astrolabe of the 18th century (€50,000-70,000).
More recently, the collection of Nicolas Landau was preserved and enlarged by Marcelle Landau's niece Jacqueline Goldman, who acquired for it works from some of the most revered antique dealers in Paris and New York. Fascinated by the 18th century and the personality of Marie-Antoinette, she developed a keen eye for iconic pieces of this period.
A highlight among her acquisitions is a series of four fauteuils à la reine stamped by the cabinetmaker Jean-Baptiste Gourdin (€ 60,000 – 100,000) – two similar models are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – and a Meissen porcelain dog (€100,000 – 150,000) from the sale of the Hamilton Rice collection at the Palais Galliera in 1964.
The results obtained for these two days of sales rewarded the style and taste of Nicolas Landau – a man renowned for his passion for refined works of art. This unique ensemble from his Paris apartment – preserved intact and further enriched by his niece Jacqueline Goldman – totalled €2.75 million ($3.6 million) and proved a tremendous hit among international connoisseurs.
Pierre Mothes, Vice-President of Sotheby's France said: ‘Nicolas Landau's eye and eclectic taste, the variety of the objects and the audacious juxtaposition of works from different cultures and periods, all combined to attract connoisseurs of cabinets of curiosity. The contribution of the Kugel Brothers and Axel Vervoordt, who were closely involved in the event, was a key to the sale's success.'