Coming to the Château de Cheverny is always a treat.
The charm of the building, lavish decoration, tree-studded grounds and the orangery make it an "enchanted palace", said Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who lived there on several different occasions. A visit is twice as enjoyable during one of the famous garden parties that take place every summer, when the auction house offers a selection of the most valuable pieces that the region's greatest families or collectors have entrusted them to sell.
The items up for grabs at the 23rd auction are eclectic but outstanding on all counts. You will see for yourself but let’s just say that the many lots include an Etruscan anatomical model from the third-second century BC.
, giving new meaning to the term "extremely rare". The catalogue, backed up by research, says this is a unique object. The intact work, which Dr. Pierre-Alexandre Joseph Découflé bought from the famous dealer Charles Ratton in 1960 (€50,000/80,000), combines human figuration with a presentation of 28 internal organs! Rumour has it that museums are lining up to acquire it.
In a different vein, and almost as rare because there are just eight copies, is a birdcage clock with singing birds and automatons from the former collection of Countess de Noailles
, Marie-Antoinette's first lady-inwaiting, whom she called "Madame Etiquette". It is attributed to the queen's favourite clockmaker, the renowned Jaquet-Droz, who created amazing androids (€35,000/50,000).
There will also be furniture and paintings from a château in the Sarthe belonging to the Akermann family
— Adolphe Akermann was director of the Banque de France from 1859 to 1890 — including the “Portrait de Louise Marie Boquet de Saint Simon, épouse d’Adolphe Ackermann“ (Portrait of Louise Marie Boquet de Saint Simon, Adolphe Akermann's Wife) by François-Xavier Winterhalter
(€60,000/80,000), who painted this early Romanticisminspired work in 1837, three years after moving to Paris and living in Italy. It recalls the best of Dominique Ingres.
We mentioned eclecticism: the auction will feature three of the most successful examples of historicism. Henry Dasson, with Linke and Beurdeley, brought cabinetmaking techniques to their highest level while drawing inspiration from 18th-century designs and motifs. This pair of breast-high sideboards, based on a flagship model by Dasson, is dated 1877 and 1878
(€60,000). The 1879 rolltop desk is apparently a copy of the one at the Banque de France (40,000), which commissioned the cabinetmaker to produce the piece and gave it to Akermann as a retirement gift in 1878.
There are also two tapestries (ca. 1670-1680) featuring the adventures of Don Quixote
and his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza from England's Mortlake workshops, a royal manufactory James I founded to rival Flanders. Although the workshops' period of activity was relatively short-lived, it enjoyed a tremendous reputation within and outside England for the delicacy and beauty of its tapestries. For example, it is where the Acts of the Apostles series was woven after Raphael (Paris, national furniture warehouse). Our two pieces belong to the series based on the adventures of Cervantes' hero. Just five copies are known, at Cawdor Castle in Scotland. James II also owned one.
The dispersion sale on the following day, Monday 27 June, will also offer some fine pieces, including 20 drawings by Alberto Giacometti from the Tériade-Joannidès collection made in 1934-1935
, a crucial period in the sculptor's career when he broke with the Surrealists and developed his own distinctive style. Giacometti tirelessly visited the Louvre's Egyptian collections, which provided much of the inspiration for his work. In 2009 the Zurich Kunsthaus devoted an exhibition to the sculptor's Egyptian period. In addition to these drawings, there are others based on the works of the Italian painter Cimabue and Cézanne. They will not go unnoticed.