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The entire contents of a Bordeaux town house are to be offered for sale in the city by Briscadieu on March 3. This late 18th century cased diorama depicting the Place de Bourgogne in the port area of Bordeaux in 1786 is estimated at €25,000-35,000.

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Alongside the furniture, works of art and paintings one would expect to find in such a residence, is a particularly elaborate piece of very local interest.

This late 18th century cased diorama, above, created in spun glass from Nevers and applied with shells, depicts the Place de Bourgogne in the port area of Bordeaux in 1786.

The scene, viewed from the right bank of the river Garonne, shows the square in perspective populated by numerous figures in 18th century plus a merry-goround and carriages.

On the river are warships sporting cannon and the colours of the king and the French navy, while to the quayside are equestrian figures marching around a carriage containing the governor of Guyenne, Louis-Urbain Aubert de Tourny. He was charged by Louis XV with modernising the city, with the aid of the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, and creating open spaces such as this square.

Balloon fever

Over the entire display hangs a hot air balloon, a reference to the ballooning fever that hit France around the time and numerous ascents held in Bordeaux.

With its painted wood display case, the diorama measures 2ft 3in (70cm) high x 2ft 2in (66cm) wide.

It was formerly in the collection of Arturo Lopez Willshaw (1900-62). The son of a wealthy Chilean industrialist and one of the great patrons of the arts in Paris in the inter-war period, he financed, among other things, the restoration of the shell cottage at the Château of Ramboiullet and silk weavings at Versailles. A collector of works of art and furniture, he also donated his Nevers spun glasswares to the Musée des Art Decoratifs.

The Diorama is estimated at €25,000-35,000.

briscadieu-bordeaux.com