The auctioneer came across the collection of furniture when he undertook an estate inventory at a house in the Yvelines region. It had been put together over the course of 30 years, purchased from auctions and well-known French dealers such as the Galerie Maurice Ségoura and Galerie Gismondi, and featured a number of rare pieces from the late 17th through to the early 19th century.
The highlight of the 92-lot auction of furniture and objets d’art on July 2, which realised a premium-inclusive total of €3.16m, was a rare piece by the ébéniste Bernard II van Riesenburgh (BVRB) which was classed as a monument historique. This was a Louis XV period gilt bronze-mounted marquetry folio cabinet with two side leaves that open to reveal shelving compartments and seven drawers. The 5ft 6in (1.68m) wide piece bore the BVRB stamp of the cabinetmaker.
This cabinet, explained Pierre François Dayot, the furniture expert for the sale, was created for Jean Baptiste de Machault d’Arnouville (1701-94) whose roles included that of contrôleur général des finances du roi, in charge of the king’s finances under Louis XV.
Several pieces of furniture from Machault d’Arnouville’s prestigious collection are at the Château de Versailles.
The cabinet was made for the library of his Parisian hôtel particulier in the Marais and was designed to contain oversize volumes. It had passed down direct through Machault d’Arnouville’s family until acquired by Siméoni in the late 1980s and had featured in an exhibition titled 18e, aux sources du design, chefs d’oeuvre du mobilier 1650- 1790, held at the Château of Versailles from October 2014 to February 2015.
At the auction on July 2 it was bid to €1m (£862,070), far in excess of the €200,000-300,000 estimate. The new owner is the Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse.
Two other top-priced furniture highlights of the sale outstripped their estimates.
One of these was an impressive, 6ft 6in high x 4ft 5in wide (2m x1.34m) marquetry cabinet on stand attributed to Charles André Boulle which was acquired by Siméoni from the Galerie Gismondi in 1991 and was estimated here at €100,000-150,000.
This piece was an early example of Boulle’s work, dated to c.1670, with the elaborate foliate marquetry executed in different woods including amaranth, padouk and ebony. It sold for €320,000 (£275,860).
The other was a 4ft 9in (1.45m) wide marble-topped commode in Oriental-inspired colourful coromandel lacquer dating from c.1750-55 with the stamp of the ébéniste Pierre Roussel, which had been estimated at €50,000-80,000 and sold for €325,000 (£280,170).
£1 = 1.16