Thursday, January 23, 2014

Former Property of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte Sold *

Photo: Sotheby's
Today, Sotheby's London sold a cabinet formerly belonging to the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, mother of Grand Duke Henri. The Italian ebony and hardstone inset cabinet-on-stand from the second half of the 19th century fetched £152,500 after originally being estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 GBP. (Convert it into the currency that's most convenient for you here.)

The cabinet was described as featuring an "architectural break-front upper structure incorporating a clock with brass chapter ring, flanked by gilt bronze statuettes of Roman soldiers, above an arrangement of drawers and retractable compartments, the panelled sides with inlaid brass banding, the front overall elaborately inlaid with shaped pietre dure and marble plaques including lapis lazuli, bianco, rosso e giallo antico, alabaster and onyx; supported on an ebonised sphinx stand".

Sotheby's describes the cabinet as "property of a European ruling family" and mentions Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte as a former owner by bequest. The original owners of the piece were Prince Philippe of Belgium, Count of Flanders and his wife née Princess Marie-Luise of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the great-grandparents of the Belgian-born Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte. See the cabinet standing in the Salon d'Audience of the Count and Countess of Flanders here.

Photo: Sotheby's
Another lot described as the "property of a European ruling family" did not mention Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte but it seems rather likely that the demi-parure consisting of a necklace and earrings were also formerly her property. Estimated between £15,000 and 20,000, the lot did not sell.

Made circa 1860 and consisting of gold and coral, the cameos of the necklace and the pendants of the earrings feature depictions of classical deities and maidens respectively. The original owners of the demi-parure were King Miguel of Portugal and his wife née Princess Adelheid of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg; "thence by descent". Among their descent is the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg through numerous ways. Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte was a great-great-granddaughter of the couple and considering that the only other piece in the auction description as "property of a European ruling family" also came from Luxembourg, we think that it is pretty likely that this one comes too.

The third lot described as "property of a European ruling family" and to formerly be owned by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte includes to Italian statues from the late 16th or 17th century. It is believed that the statues of Mars and Venus either come from Venice or Padua and were created by someone in the circle of artist Tiziano Aspetti (1559-1606). The statues are made out of "bronze on ebonised wood bases with bronze herm mounts and inlaid with lapis lazuli".

It's entirely possible (and suspected by us) that some other pieces in the auction that do not have a clear provenance description are also Luxembourgish property. As we've mentioned many times before, most of the property included in the original auction that was cancelled due to public outcry was still sold just in a quieter fashion.

Source: Sotheby's Lot 48, Sotheby's Lot 47, Sotheby's Lot 217

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