'Treasures' at Sotheby's

Sotheby’s held a sale in London of extraordinary objets d’art for their ‘Treasures’ sale. The pieces were selected for their tremendous quality, rareness and origin and really are as unique as the title suggests. Each piece has come from historic collections, including the personal collection of Earl of Carlisle of Castle Howard, Madame de Pompadour, Napoleon I and King George IV to name a few. We couldn’t help but remember Oliver Hoare’s exquisite exhibition ‘Every Object Tells A Story’ which we visited this month, as these pieces follow suit; each one has its own very individual and personal history and story. We source antiques for clients and while we often chose items solely on their aesthetic value and suitability, their stories and origins have always been something that has inspired us. The sales held by London auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christies are fantastic places to visit if you are looking to buy an item with charm and history and we would recommend visiting if you are interested in starting or adding to a truly special collection, although sales such as ‘Treasures’ can comprise fairly high price tags!

This Italian marble and inlaid black lacquer tabernacle mirror frame came from 16th Century Venice. The frame is designed to echo an architectural form complete with a broken pediment flanked by columnar supports. The frieze includes nero antico and alabastro marble and the black lacquer ground is stunningly decorated with parcel-gilded arabesques. This technique of lacquer-work was popular in 16th Century Venice and had been developed by Venetian craftsmen. Since Venice was a famous departure point for European journeys to the East, Eastern influences on art in Venice were increasingly popular. The patterns on this frame emulate Turkish and Persian lacquer and metal-ware which was becoming a prized export in the West.

Estimate: £40,000-60,000

These Italian carved giltwood armchairs (c.1770) caught our eye for their beautiful style and impeccable condition. They were inspired by French designs while alluding to the new rococo style of the time. Each one has a cartouched shaped padded back with foliate carved cresting. The cabriole legs end with hoof feet and there is a great deal of details in every feature. It is thought that these originated from the Palazzo Borghese in Rome as an identical chair was found with the inscription ‘L. Borghese’. Their neoclassical design certainly fits with the style of the Palazzo.

Estimate: £40,000-60-000

Price realised: £50,000

This marble inlaid tabletop (c.1560-1580) was another Italian piece that grabbed our attention. It is made from a single slab on white marble with inlaid hard stones including jasper ovals, agates and lapis lazuli. While each inlay is incredibly detailed with stunning natural pattern, its geometric design lends a sense of elegance and harmony. The variety and sumptuous colouring of each hard stone is rarely seen on one piece of surface like this. This table top came from Florence, and this taste for inlaid stone is typically Florentine for the time. Much of the inlaid stone would have come from the archeological ruins of Imperial Rome, deepening their history. It has been suggested that this might have belonged to the renowned Medici Family as Vasari writes about similar pieces in their collection.

Estimate: £80,000-1,200,000

Price Realised: £965,000