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It wasn’t an unqualified success with only 58 per cent of the 231 lots finding buyers, although there was a higher proportion sold in money terms thanks to one or two individual prices that were strongly pursued, as discussed below.

Otherwise, the mix of elaborate light fittings, bronzes, marbles, ormolu-mounted porcelain garnitures, reproductions of famous 18th century French commodes or other more eclectic 19th century furniture confections were picked over carefully by an international mix of bidders that included a contingent of American interior decorators.

Amongst the pieces that gave an major boost to the final £1.8m total was a set of four Italian carved wooden statues of classical figures after 16th century originals by Sansovino, and a pair of Russian Imperial porcelain urns.

The near life-size figures of Apollo, Mercury, Pallas and Peace set on square stepped bases with canted angles are made of wood with a patinated finish to resemble the celebrated bronze originals made by the High Renaissance Italian sculptor for the Loggetta at Piazza San Marco in Venice.

These 19th century models are reputed to have once formed part of one of the Rothschild collections. Highly decorative and imposing works with an equally imposing estimate of £120,000-180,000, they managed to just top this, selling to Partridge Fine Arts for £190,000.

They were not, incidentally, the only sculptural offering based on a famous Italian prototype. Michelangelo’s figures on the Medici tombs in the family chapel in San Lorenzo, Florence, were the inspiration for three patinated bronzed terracotta figures by Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse set atop a monumental Napoleon III portor marble fire surround that rounded off this sale. Comparable to a fireplace executed by Carrier-Belleuse and the sculptors Manguin and Dalou for the dining room of the Hotel de Paiva in Paris, this example had come from an hôtel particulier in Lille. This was not, perhaps, as commercial an offering as freestanding statues, but Christie’s specialist Alexis de Limburg Stirum had thought it might appeal to a decorator and was disappointed to see this sold on low estimate at £25,000.

The porcelain urns, by contrast, were pursued way past their estimate. Standing 2ft 31/2in (68.5cm) high with Imperial Porcelain factory marks for the Nicholas I period, these were painted with two wooden landscapes after Hobbema to one side and with gilded Imperial eagle armorials to the reverse. Probably ordered by the Tsar himself as personal or diplomatic gifts, they were imposing pieces with high-quality decoration. Even though they had sold a similar pair last November for a multiple estimate £70,000, Christie’s decided to keep this pair pitched at an enticing £20,000-30,000. They generated much Russian interest and no fewer than 15 phone lines contested them with the hammer falling finally to a Russian phone buyer at £160,000.

The most expensive piece of furniture proved to be an £80,000 micromosaic-topped Italian table of c.1815. This had a 3ft (90cm) diameter circular top decorated with a square panel of Europa and the bull and four fruit-filled vases, and was set on a patinated bronze base with four monopodia panther legs joined by X-shaped stretchers.