Treasures from Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie-Antoinette and More

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This year's Treasures sale in London on 4 July, part of Sotheby's annual Old Masters Week presents an array of works of both exceptional quality and provenance. As well as works owned by Marie-Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte, other highlights include Antonio Canova's masterpiece, Bust of Peace, which has not been displayed in public for over 200 years and Horatio Nelson’s pocket watch, carried with him at the Battle of Trafalgar. Click ahead to see more.

Treasures
4 July | London

Treasures from Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie-Antoinette and More

  • A Ming dynasty bowl (1522-1566) mounted in late 16th century parcel-gilt silver (circa 1580-1585) as a wine cup.
    Estimate £200,000-300,000
    This wine cup appears to be one of the earliest examples of Chinese porcelain mounted on European shores, pre-dating the large shipments of similar wares prevalent by the beginning of the 17th century. These early export pieces were treasured by European nobility and dignitaries, often presented as diplomatic or royal gifts in those countries situated along the Silk Road.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • Giambologna, The Dresden Mars, before 1587.
    Estimate £3,000,000-5,000,000
    The Dresden Mars was a personal homage by Giambologna (c. 1529-1608) to the Elector of Saxony and Erzmarschall of the Holy Roman Empire Christian I (1560-1591, r. 1586). This is the only small bronze the sculptor is known to have presented to a prince.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • Galatea and the Sea Monster. A Dutch silver salt, Adam van Vianen, Utrecht, 1624.
    Estimate £600,000-800,000
    Once owned by Baron Lionel Rothschild, this salt was made by Adam van Vianen, the master goldsmith whose auricular work is considered fundamentally important to artistic advancement in the Dutch Golden Age. The sinuous and elegant depiction of Galatea, the most beautiful of the sea nymphs, alludes successfully to the coming drama of love, death and transformation in this superbly crafted sculpture.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • A pair of Louis XVI gilt and patinated bronze candelabra, attributed to François Rémond, circa 1780-85.
    Estimate £250,000-350,000
    During Louis XVI’s reign, bronzes d’ameublement reached new heights of technical mastery, and interior decoration, thanks to refined designers and architects, achieved an unseen level of sophistication. These magnificent candelabra are hence exceptional examples of this historical moment when prodigious talents, such as François Rémond, were working in conjunction with architects and marchand-merciers to supply a fashion-driven, highly demanding, market. Important and always considered statements of wealth, candelabra like these were also functional, and part of a carefully thought decoration, where every element, from lighting to panelling, from upholstery to the tones of gilding were exquisitely balanced in a harmonious display.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • Antonio Canova, Bust of Peace, 1814.
    Estimate upon request
    Antonio Canova’s masterful Bust of Peace was last displayed in public over two hundred years ago when it was exhibited in the Royal Academy summer exhibition of 1817. It  was the first of the sculptor’s celebrated Ideal Heads (Teste ideali) to have been received by a high ranking British aristocrat at the close of the Napoleonic Wars. John Campbell, Lord Cawdor, was Canova’s earliest British patron and the Bust of Peace was the first such head to arrive in Britain and, by virtue of its subject, is symbolic of the peace established by the Great Powers after Waterloo.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • A George III ormolu musical automaton clock, circa 1790.
    Estimate £300,000-500,000
    This very fine and rare clock with Swiss automaton work within an English ormolu case was made for export to China. The charming automaton figure plays two tunes on eight bells accompanied by a colourful whorl - features that amaze today and were particularly popular amongst the most important Chinese collectors at the end of the 18th century.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • An Italian carved “microscultura” relief self-portrait by Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, 1796.
    Estimate £200,000-300,000
    A self-portrait by the most celebrated cabinet-maker and woodcarver working in Piedmont in the late 18th and early 19th century, Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (1745-1820), this exquisite panel is a bold statement of the artist’s supreme talent as a sculptor. Of unparalleled scale within his microscultura portraiture, this important piece is a recent rediscovery, its location hitherto unknown since the beginning of the 20th century. Of the multiple microscultura portrait panels and frames executed by Bonzanigo, his workshop and pupils working independently, the present example can be considered the genre’s chef-d’oeuvre, appropriately depicting its creator and leading master at the peak of his career for the Savoy sovereigns. He is presented dignified, with an assured expression and dressed as a successful gentiluomo.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • A pair of George III gilt-lacquered-brass mounted, gilt and painted serpentine corner cupboards, circa 1770.
    Estimate £120,000-180,000
    Referred to as Lord Delaval's lost corner cupboards, these rediscovered corner cupboards are en suite to the commode in the Lady Lever Art Gallery and are almost certainly the corner cupboards from the suite referred to in a letter from John Carrack to John Cobb dated 10 January 1776  and recorded  in an inventory of the contents of the Drawing Room at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland, in 1786  and 1801.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • Parcel-gilt, leather upholstered side chairs, circa 1820-30.
    Estimate: £80,000-120,000
    Made for William Beckford, possibly Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire and later Lansdown Tower, Bath. The set of twelve chairs and a pair of matching stools , almost certainly of the design referred to as the ‘Fonthill pattern’ appear in many of the artist, Willes Maddox’s interiors of Lansdown Tower. These chairs were exhibited in New York at The Bard Graduate Centre for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, William Beckford 1760-1844 : An Eye for the Magnificent, 18 October 2001-6 January 2002. London and The Dulwich Picture Gallery, William Beckford 1760-1844 : An Eye for the Magnificent, 5 February 2002-14 April 2002.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • A gold-mounted tortoiseshell snuff box inset with a portrait miniature of Empress Josephine, 1798-1809.
    Estimate £80,000-100,000
    This extraordinary miniature of Joséphine, Empress of the French , by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, depicts the popular Empress, dressed in the height of fashion, in a rather intimate moment of receiving a letter from her husband, Napoléon I, whose portrait miniature is hung from a gold chain attached to her purple velvet gown. Created as a family record, this wonderful miniature represents the aspect of an intimate portrait, as opposed to a state portrait, both of which are combined in this exceptional collection of objects of vertu from a direct descendant of the Bonaparte family.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • The first vase of the young Queen of France, 1773.
    Estimate £60,000-90,000
    This unpublished vase à oreilles was the first vase purchased by Marie-Antoinette, as Queen consort of France in the first year of her reign in 1774. Though inventory records have not survived the revolution it seems likely the vase was housed in the Petit Trianon in the grounds of Versailles. The painter Schradre beautifully uses as his source Piranesi’s view of the Arch of Drusus in Rome, evoking the classicism of the Trianon and the picturesque tranquillity of nature most favoured in late 18th century France.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • A pair of imperial gilt-bronze-mounted malachite vases, 1844 and 1847.
    Estimate £600,000-800,000
    This pair of vases is recorded as a gift from Emperor Nicholas I to his second daughter Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna as part of her magnificent dowry. She married, on 13 July 1846, Crown Prince Charles of Württemberg (1823-1891), later King Charles I. One of the vases of the present lot can be seen in a view of the dining room of Villa Berg in Stuttgart, the couple’s summer residence, a watercolour painted by Franz Heinrich (1802-1890).

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
  • Josiah Emery, An Early Lever Pocket Watch Movement, Now Mounted in a Carriage Clock, Case No 1104, circa 1787
    This watch once belonged to the great British hero, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson and set the pace of one of history’s greatest naval battles. Now mounted in a gilt-brass carriage clock case, this pocket watch is thought to be the timepiece carried by the Admiral during the Battle of Trafalgar.

    Treasures
    4 July 2018 | London
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