The auction house is marking the 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) with a 22-lot auction on July 5 which it says will “celebrate the genius of Chippendale’s designs and the perfection of his execution”. Estimates will range from £5000-5m.
The Dundas sofas are two of the top pieces on offer. They come from a famous suite of four sofas and eight armchairs commissioned by Sir Lawrence Dundas for the Great Room at 19 Arlington Street, London.
The suite was designed by Robert Adam and executed by Chippendale – the only known instance of the celebrated English cabinet-maker working to an Adam design. They were supplied to Dundas’ London residence in 1765.
In a video released by the auction house, the chairman of Christie’s UK Orlando Rock describes the sofas as “among the most voluptuous and exciting pieces of furniture ever made”.
The same pair of sofas were previously sold at Christie’s in July 1997, where they were offered as a single lot and knocked down at £1.4m. This time around they will be offered separately, each with a £2m-3m estimate.
The level of the estimates may well be based on the £2.17m (including premium) that another of the Dundas sofas fetched at Christie’s in June 2008. A further of the four sofas made for Dundas was sold by private treaty sale to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2014.
Also in the ‘Thomas Chippendale: 300 Years’ sale at Christie’s is a mahogany and Indian ebony commode that Chippendale supplied to Sir Rowland Winn for his London house in St James’s Square between 1766-69.
The lavish neo-classical commode will be estimated at £3m-5m.
It previously sold from the Messer Collection at Christie’s in 1991 for £935,000, a then-record for a piece of Chippendale furniture.
Speaking about Chippendale’s enduring reputation, Christie’s international head of furniture Robert Copley said: “Thomas Chippendale is without question Britain’s greatest cabinet-maker. He excelled in every style and medium he worked in, from the whimsical rococo and the fashion for all things Chinese in his early career, to the neo-classical with its straight lines derived from the ancient world.”
He described the works being offered at the upcoming auction as “a remarkable selection which we are proud to be bringing to the market”.