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ART AND FURNITURE FROM THE FRENCH ROYAL FAMILY TO BE AUCTIONED IN HONG KONG

 

 

By Culturekiosque Staff

HONG KONG, 12 AUGUST 2015— Sotheby’s announces the sale of works from the collections of the late Comte de Paris (1809-1999) and Comtesse de Paris (1911-2003) on 29 September 2015, featuring exceptional works and historical mementoes that have come down directly from the dynasty that reigned over France for nearly a thousand years.

This collection, consisting of paintings, drawings, furniture and mementos, brings to life the most illustrious members of the Royal family, including Marie-Amélie, Marie-Antoinette, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, Madame Adélaïde, sister of Louis Philippe, and other figures from the Orléans family.

These works have been safely housed since 1974 by the Fondation Saint-Louis in the Château d'Amboise. They were restored to the heirs of the Comte and Comtesse de Paris through a ruling by the district court of Paris on 29 September 2013.

The 200 objects presented at this sale come from the various residences of the Orléans family, the cadet branch, which later became the eldest branch of the Royal House of France. In previous times they were kept at the Hôtel de Toulouse, at the Château de Neuilly and also at the Palais des Tuileries. In 1848, during the July Revolution that ended the reign of Louis-Philippe, they went with the royal family into exile, firstly to Claremont House in England, then to the Manoir d’Anjou in Belgium, and then to Portugal. They returned to France in the 1950s when the exile act barring pretenders to the French throne from French territory was repealed. They have always remained the private property of the descendants of King Louis-Philippe.

The Orléans family descended from Louis XIII through his second son, Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, the younger brother of Louis XIV. This branch of the royal family ascended the throne in 1830 in the person of Louis-Philippe, the direct ancestor of all branches of the Orléans family existing today in France, Spain and Brazil.

Old Master and 19th Century Paintings and Drawings

The collection contains some genuine masterpieces from the leading artists of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Accustomed to painting the children of the bourgeoisie and more modest milieux, Nicolas Bernard Lépicié nonetheless left several portraits of the French aristocracy. Louis-Philippe, duc de Valois, au berceau (estimate: €150,000 - 200,000 / HK$1.3 - 1.7 million*), painted in 1774, is an example of the "silvery tone and skilful touch" lauded by contemporary critics.

A similar taste for the joys of daily life can be seen in the ordinary emotion of a parent – none other than "Philippe Egalité", Duc d’Orléans (1747-1793) – raising the curtain to ensure that his young baby is sleeping peacefully. The composition of the picture must have been a new direction for the artist. He takes care to detail the rich armchairs with palmette trimmings, the golden bed with its frieze of scrolls and crimson velvets, the green silks covering the porcelain-skinned baby, and the meticulously-painted lace with its magnificent play on transparency.


Nicolas Bernard Lépicié: Louis-Philippe, duc de Valois, au berceau, 1774 


The portrait of the little black servant in a turban with an oriental hat seems to have appealed to the painter as well: he draws our attention to this figure, which he must have found exotic, giving him a bristling cat to hold: the only aggressive note in this nursery scene.

We see a more intimate side to the Orléans family in a marvellous series of 19th century works showing the importance Louis-Philippe gave to his private life, and his affection for his wife and their eight children.

One of the most representative of these is a portrait of the Duc de Chartres tenant un cerceau" (estimate: €50,000 - 70,000 / HK$430,000 - 600,000), painted by Horace Vernet in 1821, evoking the desire of Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, to act as a"citizen prince. He gave his sons a liberal education, sending them to the lycée so that they could mix with middle-class children. His eldest son, aged eleven, poses in the courtyard of the Lycée Henri IV, as though arrested in mid-play with his hoop, while his fellow pupils can be seen gambolling in the background.

The quality, transparency and freshness of his painting are typical of the early style of Horace Vernet, who went on to essentially become the official painter to Louis-Philippe, and painted the most glorious episodes in the conquest of Algeria for Versailles, which involved the King's eldest sons.

A watercolour, executed in around 1860 by Joseph Nash, shows the Bedroom of Queen Marie-Amélie at Claremont exile (estimate: €25,000-35,000 / HK$210,000- 300,000). The Queen's entire past seems to be concentrated on the walls of her bedchamber, where we can see two portraits of Louis-Philippe, the posthumous portrait of the Duc d’Orléans by Henri Scheffer, that of the Prince de Joinville by Franz-Xaver Winterhalter, and portraits of her grandchildren. The numerous announcements that can be seen on the table perhaps symbolise the Queen's successive bereavements, which darkened the latter part of her life.

The watercolours of François d’Orléans, Prince de Joinville, son of King Louis-Philippe, were used in the illustrated edition of his memoirs, Vieux Souvenirs (1808-1848) published by Calmann-Lévy in 1894, and are some of the most original works in the collection. Executed after 1870, these intimate and historic snapshots bear witness, often full of humour, to significant events in the prince's childhood and youth. The presentation of the Duc d’Orléans' children to King Louis XVIII, Un bal aux Tuileries (estimate: €4,000 - 6,000 / HK$34,000 - 51,000) and the celebrated scene of L’arrivée de la Viande du roi au Palais des Tuileries (estimate: €6,000 - 8,000 / HK$51,000 - 68,000), which the prince attended at the age of five, evoke court life during the French Restoration.

Several watercolours depict historical events during the reign of Louis-Philippe, in which the Prince de Joinville participated as a naval officer in Mexico, Morocco, Africa and Turkey, particularly his courageous action at Constantinople, which saved Pera and Galata from a terrible fire in 1839. The most spectacular episode in his career was the one illustrated by the watercolour La Belle Poule" dans la baie de Terre Neuve (estimate: €15,000 - 20,000 / HK$130,000 - 170,000). This was when the Prince de Joinville, commander of this frigate, was tasked with bringing back Napoleon's ashes to France in 1840.

18th and 19th Century Furniture

The few items of furniture, executed by the leading cabinetmakers of the time, illustrate meticulous craftsmanship, and some pieces are equipped with sophisticated mechanisms. A drawing table, which is the perfect size for a child, is a masterpiece of refinement and mechanics by the cabinetmaker David Roentgen. The latter made a similar table in 1784, now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, for the much-loved grandsons of Catherine the Great: the future Emperor Alexander I and his brother Constantine.

This table was probably a gift to the Duc de Chartres (the future Louis-Philippe) and his brothers and sisters from their generous grandfather, the Duc de Penthièvre, a loyal customer of Roentgen. Brought up in the Pavillon de Bellechasse by the vigilant Madame de Genlis, the Orléans children were given a highly comprehensive education, which included drawing lessons with Carmontelle and David (estimate: €150,000 - 250,000 / HK$1.3 - 2.1 million).

The lavish breakfast set in Sèvres porcelain, known as the Chasses Diverses (estimate: €100,000 - 150,000 / HK$850,000 - 1.3 million), delivered to Queen Marie-Amélie on 21 May 1840, illustrates the taste for the so-called "Gothic" period during the reign of Louis-Philippe: the delicate paintings that ornament the various shaped pieces, executed by the factory's most accomplished artists, were inspired by the Middle Ages and hunting, both themes being beautifully represented in the scene of the Conversion de Saint-Hubert decorating the breakfast tray. A real museum piece, this set was exhibited at the famous exhibition entitled Un Age d’or des Arts décoratifs 1814-1848 in the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris in 1991.

Historical Memorabilia

The sketchbook of 70 drawings attributed to the Dauphin Louis Dieudonné, son of Louis XIII (estimate on request), occupies a very special place in this collection. Bound in red morocco with the arms of France, it contains an inscription on the flyleaf indicating that according to family tradition, the drawings were done by Louis XIV, who gave them to his son, the Comte de Toulouse.

It is accompanied by the finest royal decorations that have ever appeared at auction in Paris. Collectors and museums are sure to show a keen interest in these insignia, the most prestigious of the French Orders of Chivalry. The most important piece is the enamelled gold chain of the Royal Order of the Holy Spirit Order (estimate: €200,000 - 300,000 / HK$1.7 - 2.6 million), consisting of 22 links, from which hangs the Cross of the. In addition to this magnificent piece we find several crosses with their cordons, together with plaques also belonging to the Order of the Holy Spirit.

This Order, created by Henri III on 31 December 1578, was reserved for the highest dignitaries of the kingdom. When they were admitted, all Knights of the Holy Spirit were also made Knights of the Order of Saint Michael, founded by Louis XI, and bore the title "Knights of the King". The collection also contains a jewel belonging to this Order dating from the 16th century, together with some later insignia.

Headline photo: Royal Order of the Holy Spirit Order

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