J oining our prestigious Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art sale with the recent success of Small Wonders: Early Gems and Jewels, Sotheby’s is delighted to present a beautiful array of historic artworks in this December auction. Our selection of important sculpture, gems and jewellery from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods is complemented by an exciting collection of cups and vessels from a cabinet of curiosities.
The art of gem engraving has been appreciated since antiquity. This December’s auction includes several beautiful cameos and intaglios, including a superb cameo with Apollo engraved by Giovanni Pichler (lot 62). The jewels section is led by an exceptionally rare early 17th-century monogram pendant with the initials FR (lot 4), which evokes the splendour of the world of Shakespeare and the Jacobean court.
The sale is led by a superb pair of bronze busts by the Florentine sculptor Pietro Cipriani, whose bravura skill is evident in the exquisite chasing of their surfaces. Coinciding with the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death, the auction presents a rare monumental marble bust of Bonaparte attributed to Lorenzo Bartolini, after Canova’s celebrated portrait.
The sale is distinguished by a diverse grouping of cups and vessels which were collected by a husband and wife in the last decades of the 20th century. Amber objects, like the elaborate 17th-century gadrooned cup (lot 117), and rock crystals, like the Southern German late 17th-century vessel (lot 118), were prominently displayed in princely Kunstkammern. The collection evokes the contrasting 17th-century interests in nature and artifice.