Sotheby’s is pleased to announce Vue sur la Riviera – La villa d’un collectionneur, a sale that will be held in Paris on 25 June.
Monaco in the third quarter of the 19th century was a thriving and growing metropolis. Its redevelopment during the 1860s had been overseen by its Prince, His Serene Highness Prince Charles III and the brilliant Francois Blanc. The opening of the casino, the building of sumptuous grand hotels, villas, pleasure gardens and thermal baths attracted European Royalty, grand dukes, aristocrats, rich South Americans, American plutocrats, English Lords, as well as the Ballets Russes.
The owners of the villa - whose collection comes to auction in this sale - followed the tradition of previous aristocratic owners of the property, and decided to perpetuate the Belle Époque ambiance when they refurbished and rebuilt what was to become their family home.
In an atmosphere of quiet elegance they sponsored musical evenings, talks about art and entertained royally. They aimed to recreate the mood and feel of a grand Belle Époque villa with only the best of what the exciting industrial age of the 19th century could produce in furniture and decorative arts.
They scoured salerooms and catalogues, met antique dealers and collectors, searching for the very best of paintings and furniture made by furniture makers such as Linke, Dasson, Zweiner, Sormani. They dressed vitrines with splendid ceramics with imperial provenance and sumptuous Fabergé silver, and added Imperial silver gilt services that the Tsarina Catherine might once have dined upon.
They created a home, but also an ambiance that the likes of the Francois Blancs, the Rochefoucaulds, Sherbatoffs, the Bessobrasovas, and the later émigrés such as Kschessinska and European Aristocracy would feel at home in.
But now they have decided to move on and let others share the fruits of their passion for collecting and love of these astoundingly energetic periods in the history of decorative art.