Held at the Château d’Artigny in Montbazonv on October 4-5, this offered 315 lots.
Featured here are some of the best-sellers.
Louis Gauffier painting
Topping the price list was an unpublished, newly discovered painting by the French artist Louis Gauffier (1762-1801) showing a family picking oranges on a terrace.
Gauffier, who was born in Poitiers, won the Prix de Rome in 1784 and spent the remainder of his life in Italy.
This particular oil on canvas was painted in Florence during the Directoire period and is signed and dated L Gauffier/Flor.ce an 6/ de la Rep.e (ie the 6th year of the Republic corresponding to 1797-98).
Until now the work was known only through a sketch that is in the Château de Versailles described as ‘Family reunion of a diplomat accredited in Italy under the Directoire’.
The 2ft 3in x 3ft 2in (69 x 99cm) painting depicts the Sainct-Même family: Alexandre Marie Gosselin de Sainct-Même (1746-1820), his wife Anne and five of his children and a young woman who was a friend of Madame de Sainct-Même. It has a provenance by descent through the family. The artist has shown them on a terrace gathering oranges from a tree in a large terracotta pot supported on an upturned Corinthian capital.
The family was originally from Marseille, with strong links to Corsica, and Sainct-Même was a financier in charge of part of the supply of food for the Italian army in 1796 providing the young General Bonaparte with the means to equip his army. This family portrait was painted in the year VI, after the Treaty of Campo Formio, which ended Bonaparte’s first Italian campaign.
The painting was hammered down to a British bidder for €660,000 (£600,000), setting an auction record for the artist. “We will probably see it again one day in an Anglo-Saxon museum,” said the firm’s Aymeric Rouillac.
Sun King presentation box
Another highlight was a rare diamond-set enamelled gold and silver box with a portrait of Louis XIV. The box features a profile of the Sun King that has the appearance of a hardstone cameo but is in fact a trompe l’oeil rendition in raised enamel. It is surrounded by no fewer than 20 rose-cut diamonds that are thought to originate from the mines of Golconda in India.
The box is attributed to two Parisian goldsmiths in the service of Louis XIV – Laurent le Tessier de Montarsy and his son Pierre – and the enamelling to Jean Frédéric Bruckmann, a specialist in this trompe l’oeil technique.
These portrait boxes were made for use as official gifts from the king. Only a few of the survivors retain their original diamonds. One of the other examples to still possess them is the box that sold for a premium-inclusive €481,000 at the Pierre Bergé/Yves Saint Laurent auction held by Christie’s in 2009. It is now in the Louvre.
The box offered by Rouillac has a particularly interesting provenance. It was given in 1696 to Capitaine Alain Porée (1665-1730), a highly successful privateer from St Malo, as a reward for his naval victories including the capture of the English warship the Dartmouth and the defence of St Malo. It had passed down by descent through his family.
The box ended up selling for €500,000 (£454,545) and was purchased against competition from the US by a buyer from St Malo.
Ceramics were also in demand at the Chateau d’Artigny. A large 22in (56cm) diameter rare Rouen faience platter from c.1725-30 sold for €200,000 (£181,820).
Intended from the outset as a display item, this piece has a distinctive form of decoration in ochre with blue or black foliate motifs that was an exclusive feature of Rouen faience c.1720. The platter also has vignettes of putti to the centre and around the borders. It is a pendant to a dish that is in the Louvre.
The Rouillac dish comes from a private collection and has an earlier provenance to the famous Rothschild family, having been in the collections of James de Rothschild, Gustave de Rothschild and Robert de Rothschild.
A 17-piece Empire period cabaret (tea and coffee service), for the Service de Bouche de l’Empereur in hard-paste Sèvres porcelain, was another ceramic best-seller.
Decorated with panels of Pompeian style figures and with vignettes of birds by Christophe Ferdinand Caron to the borders, the service appeared in the factory’s shop in the revolutionary year 12 (1804) and was delivered to the Imperial household in January of the following year.
It sold for €125,000 (£113,635). The service was purchased by a French collector who will lend it to the forthcoming exhibition Vivre à l’antique at the Château de Rambouillet.
£1 = €1.10