Meissen & More from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Collection

Launch Slideshow

Although nearly unknown when it was unexpectedly bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1975, the Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection came to be regarded as one of the finest collections of French and German 18th-century decorative arts ever assembled. Starting in the late 1920s, the couple made many acquisitions together; for decades after her husband's death, Emma Sheafer meticulously added to the holdings with her keen eye and careful connoisseurship. Among the objects being sold from this exceptional collection on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum to benefit its acquisitions fund are fanciful Meissen figures, an ornately carved oak Louis XV style cabinet, and more. Click ahead for a look at these works of prestigious provenance.  

Collections: European Decorative Arts
27 October | New York

Meissen & More from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Collection

  • An assembled pair of Meissen Crinoline Figures of 'The Thrown Kiss' circa 1737. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    This whimsical “thrown kiss” pair of figures — or Kusshand-Gruppe as this style is known in German tradition— were modelled on the engraving Le Baiser Rendu by Pierre Filloeul after the painting by Jean-Baptiste Joseph Pater. The elegantly dressed woman figure, clad in a fuchsia and yellow-green petticoat, glances over her fan, while a well-groomed man, bedecked in an elaborate dressing gown, leans as though to blow a kiss or whisper in her ear. Sotheby’s sold a similar pair of figures from the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in 1985. 

  • Two rare Meissen figures of golden orioles circa 1733–40. Estimate $50,000–70,000
    Johann Joachim Kändler modelled a number of oriole figures in the 1730s and 1740s, including the present pieces; however due to the lack of descriptive detail in his records, it is impossible to date this pair with certainty. The taller stumps are more typical of the artist’s earlier models, suggesting that these figures were made between 1733 and 1740. In 1919 three of Kändler orioles were auctioned in a sale of porcelain from the Royal Saxon Collection, Dresden at Rudolph Lepke’s in Berlin, where these figures are thought to have been lots 107 and 109.


  • A South German Rococo ormolu-mounted, carved, parcel-gilt and cream-painted commode with a scagliola top Franconia, probably Bamberg, mid-18th century. Estimate $50,000–80,000
    This commode came from the Seehof Castle, near Bamberg, the summer residence of the prince-bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg. Its intricate and inventive carvings are believed to be by the studio of sculptor Ferdinand Dietz (or Tietz), who had created a group of large stone figures for the castle's gardens. This commode’s curved front and sides are reminiscent of the japanned commodes made in Venice in the mid-18th century, which may have inspired the designer of this cabinet. 

  • A Continental gold and enamel snuff box, possibly German, 19th century. Estimate $7,000–9,000.  
    This vibrant deep-blue enamel snuff box is engraved with a stag hunting trophy, while the sides and base are ornamented with bouquets in basse-taille technique. Made to hold leaves of smokeless tobacco, snuff boxes were exceedingly popular in Europe and North America during the 18th and 19th centuries and were often made of rare materials or intricately decorated with engravings or inlays of stone, silver and gold.  

  • A German silver-gilt salver on foot, Gottlieb Satzger, Augsburg, 1759-61. Estimate $6,000–9,000.
    This refined salver is chased with images of two courtly children: one plays the French horn while the other rests near a Rococo trellis. Exotic birds, flowers and rocaille pendants embellish its edges. 

  • Two Meissen figures of gray parrots, circa 1731–34. Estimate $70,000–100,000.
    Rendered with slightly distinct patterns of plumage in shades of grey, grey-blue and red, these parrot figures perch on tree stumps that are decorated with rocks with patches of green foliage at their bases. Each is mounted on later gilt-bronze bases, which are marked by crossed swords on the back.

  • A pair of German silver-gilt large oval jewel caskets, Gottlieb Satzger, Augsburg, 1775–77. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    These remarkable jewel cases were made by Gottlieb Satzger, who is best known for his decorative boxes intended for dressing table toilet services. A similar pair of jewel cases by Satzger, dated 1749–51, remains in the Sheafer Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

  • A Louis XV carved oak display cabinet, Aachen or Liège, circa 1750. Estimate $7,000–10,000.
    Liège, now part of present-day Belgium, had a strong local carving tradition throughout the 18th century, which was heavily influenced by both Parisian and Germanic styles. Liège furniture is unique in that it is joined, not pegged or nailed, and the carved elements are part of the structural wood rather than applied carving. The scale of the present cabinet is an interesting and unusual feature – most other display cabinets of this type do not have the pronounced difference in width between their upper and lower sections, as seen here. 

  • A Louis XV/XVI transitional ormolu-mounted tulipwood, fruitwood and marquetry table en chiffonnière by Nicolas Petitcirca 1770, stamped N. Petit JME. Estimate $12,000–18,000.
    As one of the most important furniture makers in 18th-century Paris, Nicolas Petit maintained an extensive list of artistocratic clients, including the Duc d’Orléans and the Duc de Bouillon. Although Petit produced a number of small tables in walnut and mahogany, he made only six in marquetry and, of those, just three in floral marquetry, making the present table a rare and significant work in his oeuvre. Petit often included musical trophies in his pieces, as in this tabletop’s elaborate rendering of a “bouquet” of sheet music, trumpets and a string instrument.


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