An important and rare table lamp by Tiffany Studios was sold for $1,202,500 by Sotheby's at the "Important Tiffany" auction in New York on December 16, 2010 Tiffany Studios Grape Table Lamp More details on Sotheby's website
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Sotheby's recently sold one of the most exquisite carpets for $5,458,500 in Doha on March 19. As the catalog note says: "The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an extraordinary work of art that is a true testament to the wealth, sophistication, and grandeur of the legendary courts of the maharajas as well as an extant example of the fabled riches of India." Hold your breath: This legendary carpet is made of approximately 1.2-1.5 million pearls and around 2,500 table cut and occasional rose cut diamonds. The total estimated weight of the pearls is 30,000 carats and the diamonds are estimated to be 350-400 carats in total, all set in silver topped gold or possibly blackened gold. Below are a few pictures. For high resolution, zoomable view please visit the image viewer on Sotheby's website The Pearl Carpet of Baroda
The pearl Carpet of Baroda
From the catalog's note:
"A Royal Commission: The Making of a Legend The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an extraordinary work of art that is a true testament to the wealth, sophistication, and grandeur of the legendary courts of the maharajas as well as an extant example of the fabled riches of India. Embroidered with as many as one and a half million of the fabled 'Basra' pearls, which were harvested in the southern Gulf region and along the coasts of Qatar and Bahrain, and embellished with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies, this piece has been known throughout the past 150 years as the Pearl Carpet of Baroda. Named after its patron, the lot offered here was commissioned circa 1865 by Gaekwar Khande Rao, the Maharaja of Baroda (r.1856 – 1870); reputedly originally intended as a gift for the tomb of Mohammed at Medina, it is one of the most iconic masterpieces of Indian craftsmanship known today. Instantly legendary, this work of art is mentioned by foreign travellers as early as 1880. The exquisite execution, the remarkable state of preservation, the unquestionable rarity, and the highly unusual combination of form and material make this piece undeniably one of the most remarkable objects ever created. Baroda: A Land of Dynasties The family ruling over Baroda, a state of approximately 8300 square miles about 250 miles north of Mumbai, has a long a history going back some 2000 years in time. The city of Baroda itself was first mentioned in historical accounts in the early ninth century. Over the centuries the region was controlled by different powers, including the Gupta Empire, the Chalukya Dynasty, and the Solanki Rajputs. Hindu kings ruled here until the thirteenth century, when the Solanki lords were defeated by the Delhi sultans who were themselves later overthrown by forces of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century. During the Mughal era (1526-1857), ongoing warfare characterized the region as local Marathas, an Indo-Aryan caste of Hindu warriors, resisted the new power and fought for their territories. By the eighteenth century the Marathas had secured control over the region, even resisting British forces from the west. Eventually, the ever-growing British presence in India became overwhelming, and after the First, Second, and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars the Maratha Empire was turned into a principality of the British Raj in 1818. From their defeat until 1948 the Gaekwars remained rulers of Baroda, although the de facto power was in British hands. After the formation of present-day India, Baroda became part of Gujarat.1 During the British era, industries flourished in Baroda and the state maintained its role as a cultural centre. It was during this period that Khande Rao ascended to the throne as the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda in 1865 and established a court that was renowned throughout the subcontinent for its sophistication and richness. The new maharaja was known for his love of display and magnificence, and generous patronage of the arts and architecture. He had a special fondness for jewels and acquired some of the most magnificent gemstones known to the world, such as 128-carat "Star of the South" diamond.2 Opulence and Tradition: Art at the Maratha Court During the second half of the nineteenth century, art-loving Indian lords such as Khande Rao had access to some of the most talented artists who had previously worked for the Mughal court. Due to the strong political and cultural ties between the subcontinent's Muslim empire and Persia, the oeuvre of Mughal artists had been influenced by Safavid art. As a result, a distinct Mughal style emerged that was an amalgamation of Persian and indigenous Indian traditions. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, these royal craftsmen were left without a dependable income as there was no central power with well-established courts able to employ such a highly-trained and expensive workforce. Jewellers and gem cutters were among those displaced court-artists forced to seek new patrons at the smaller, but still very lavish, households of local rulers. As these artists came from a distinct artistic tradition, their work retained strong characteristics of the old regime and the art commissioned by their new patrons was strongly influenced by traditional Mughal aesthetics. This was true for the products of both jewellers and weavers who created works that exhibited characteristics of Persian art. Textile art, particularly embroidery and brocade weaving, had a long- standing tradition in Baroda and many former imperial craftsmen engaged in that trade found a new home at the Maratha court. Gem-cutters and jewellers were particularly welcome at court not only because Baroda was one of the richest of all states in the subcontinent, but also because of the old Indian court tradition of giving expensive gifts.3 Western travellers throughout the centuries noted that many Indian rulers presented lavish gifts to their visitors, courtiers, religious institutions, and even the poor. The tradition of gift-giving and the love for precious gems, coupled with a solid financial background, enabled maharajas and local lords to offer the most lavish gifts, often trying to outshine each other. During his journey to India, the British traveller John Hawkins noted that during a court visit pearls, coral, and amber were given to courtiers and holy men.4 He also witnessed the ritual of ceremonial giving when observing the emperor handing out gold and silver to the poor, while the Frenchman François Bernier recalled the precious royal gifts amassed at the mosques of the empire.5 In such a generous culture the most unusual and lavish objects were executed by court craftsmen in order to express the sophistication of the patron and to impress and dazzle not only the receiver of the gift but also those witnessing the presentation. With its overwhelming beauty and astonishing value, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda was a perfect object for such purpose. Bejewelled Textiles: An Ancient Tradition Bejewelled textiles embellished with metallic thread and precious and semi-precious gems were not unknown in the eastern world. Weavings decorated in such manner were kept in very high regard not only in India but also in Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkey. The prestige of these textiles is illustrated in a portrait of Mehmet II, one of the most powerful rulers of the early modern ages, where Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) depicted the Sultan in an architectural niche partially covered with a bejewelled weaving whose embroidery echoes the Renaissance bas-relief carving of the arch framing the sitter.6 The earliest known bejewelled carpets, adorned with pearls, jewels, and gold, date from the Sassanian period (226-636) in Persia.7 According to Pope, the rugs in Khusraw II's (590-628) throne room in the palace at Ctesiphon were "said to have been made of gold-woven fabrics with pearls embroidered on them." 8 The largest carpet, which represented a garden in full bloom, in Kushraw II's palace was even more elaborately decorated with gemstones and was called the Spring of Khusraw or Winter Carpet.9 Later, fables from The Thousand and One Nights also mention carpets decorated with pearls, rubies, and turquoise, not unlike the weaving in the portrait by Bellini, from the times of the Abassid Caliphate (750-1258).10 The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an exceptional 19th century revival of this ancient form. Existing examples of nineteenth-century Indian textile art show the continuity of the tradition of embellishing fabrics with three-dimensional adornments. For lengths of dress material from the 1850s decorated with metallic thread and pieces of sparkling beetle wing, an inexpensive alternative to gemstones, see Rosemary Crill, Indian Embroidery, London, 1999, figs. 62 and 64, pp. 70-73. A Legendary Masterpiece: Eyewitness Accounts From the earliest mentions of The Pearl Carpet of Baroda, it has impressed writers as an extraordinary work of art. Most literature states that this remarkable work was commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda, Khande Rao, in 1865 with the intention that it be given to adorn the tomb of Mohammed at Medina. In 1880, George M. Birdwood wrote: "But the most wonderful piece of embroidery ever known was the chaddar or veil made by order of Kunde Rao, the late Gaekwar of Baroda, for the tomb of Mahommed [sic] at Medina. It was composed entirely of inwrought pearls and precious stones, disposed in an arabesque pattern, and is said to have cost a crore (10 million) rupees. Although the richest stones were worked into it, the effect was most harmonious. When spread out in the sun it seemed suffused with a general iridescent pearly bloom, as grateful to the eyes as were the exquisite forms of its arabesques." 11 This carpet and a round one of similar work were exhibited at the Delhi Exhibition of Indian Art, 1902-3. In his book entitled Indian Art at Delhi, Sir George Watt notes: "Perhaps if any one article could be singled out as more freely discussed at the Exhibition than any other, it would be the Pearl carpet of Baroda. The circular portion shown in the Plate [see page x of this catalogue] was probably originally intended as the veil or canopy, and the rectangular carpet shown on the walls of the Loan Collection Gallery close by is one of the four such pieces that are said to have formed the carpet. --- The field is in seed pearls, the arabesque design in blue and red being worked out in English glass beads with medallions and rosettes of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, freely dispersed. To place on the four corners of the carpet were constructed four large weights in solid gold thickly set with diamonds. One of these weights will be seen hard by the carpet. Needless to add, this superb gift never went to Mecca." 12 From this we learn that the 'carpet' offered here is one of a suite that originally consisted of four rectangular pieces, a circular piece and four finials. All of these together may have formed a structure that would be carried in the procession between Mecca and Medina with it then being given to the treasury of the mosque.13 As Bernier wrote, Khande Rao would also be following a Mughal tradition in this generous donation, possibly with the desire to relate his own sophistication and wealth to those of the Mughal emperors. Another visitor to the palace, the Reverend Edward St. Clair Weeden, whose account A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda, was published in 1909, describes being shown "four great squares, each as large as a fair-sized carpet,...[which] hung on the walls, apparently of tapestry. Closer inspection showed that they consisted entirely of jewels---pearls, emeralds, rubies, diamonds and so on..." 14 By this time the 'carpet' was not on the floor, but hung in the palace of the Maharaja. Indeed, this pearl covered, jewel inlaid 'carpet' would not seem to be the most appropriate floor covering. However, by 1914, when E. L. Tottenham visited the Palace, he noted that only one of the rectangular carpets was still remaining : "Upon the wall hung the oblong [rectangular]-shaped and famous pearl carpet ... It was made in duplicate, the first to be dispatched to Mecca to go over the Tomb of Mohammed. This one now only remained. Its value at the time of making was 68,500 rupees, but this day it was worth 2 lakhs. The piece consisted of three big diamond-set flowers along the middle portion, and thirty-three {sic.} smaller flowers along the border; in the floral design are 1,269 rubies and 596 emeralds. The remaining portion of the carpet, in size 6 feet by 10 feet, is made of seed pearls, except the blue, green and red lines in the floral design, which are of coloured glass beads." 15 While Kande Rao was himself a Hindu, several writers suggest that he ordered the suite to be given to a mosque in a show of his respect and admiration for Islam.16 Weeden also notes that the Maharajah died before the gift could be sent to Medina and his successors did not feel compelled to carry out his wishes. Maharaja Gaekwar Khande Rao died in 1870 implying the carpet had been completed by then. He died of natural causes, having survived an attempt made on his life by his brother Mulhar Rao who had tried to kill him with a concoction of crushed diamonds.17 It has also been suggested that it may have been his brother who was responsible for commissioning the pearl carpet for a local temple and which he then decided to keep.18 This is the only mention of the carpet having been ordered by anyone other than Khande Rao. Both maharajas were known for their love of luxury but Khande Rao was particularly passionate about jewels, as evidenced by his 1867 purchase of the "Star of the South," one of the largest diamonds in the world. The diamond, the surviving rectangular carpet and the circular canopy remained in the Gaekwar family collection, and were amongst the pieces in her personal collection which Maharani Sita Devi , wife of the then maharajah, Gaekwar Pratapsingh Rao, brought with her when she moved to Monaco in 1946. The Pearl Carpet of Baroda: A Revival of Mughal Splendour The design of the carpet appears to hearken back to Mughal tradition with the vinery forming three arches, each above a large diamond-filled roundel and topped with an elegant palmette. An example of an antecedent design can be found in a pair of Mughal saphs with three arches and palmette finials in the Keir collection.19 The elaborate swirling vinery and dense floral elements more closely resemble the 18th century millefleurs designs of the very finely woven pashmina shawls and rugs of Northern India. For examples of such delicate weavings see Daniel Walker, Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, New York, 1998, figs. 127 and 128, pp. 130-131. This legendary carpet would be mentioned whenever a Maharaja of Baroda was the subject of an article, for example that of Michael White, writing in the New York Times, May 13, 1906, "How Maharaja Gaekwar Became Ruler of Baroda," he states that: "Maharaja Gaekwar possesses the most costly piece of jewelry in the world. In dazzling magnificence, it never has been, or is ever likely to be, excelled. This treasure is in the form of a shawl or cloak of woven pearls, edged with a deep border of arabesque designs of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires." The Pearl Carpet of Baroda reflects the confluence of many Indian decorative traditions in addition to being one of the most luxuriant works of art ever created. But it's allure lies not only in the richness of the materials from which it was made: as Stuart Cary Welch writes: "However unbridled the opulence of its million pearls of excellent quality, of its fine diamonds, rubies, and emeralds beyond count, the design is suitably restrained and dignified, a classic arabesque descended from the Mughal tradition and probably inspired by the legendary jewelled covering ordered by Shah Jahan to adorn the cenotaph of Mumtaz-Mahal in the Taj Mahal. If one approaches with an eye only for worldly delight, or even amusement, one soon backs off, sensing the degree of underlying seriousness and religious devotion." 20 It seems very likely that this carpet was commissioned in imitation of the Mughal bejewelled coverlet woven for the tomb of Mumtaz-Mahal at the Taj Mahal. A ruler as grand and powerful as Shah Jahan would most certainly have been an inspiration for a Maharaja such as Khande Rao. In the Pearl Carpet of Baroda a work of art was created that has captured the imagination of viewers for over a century to such an extent that its appeal transcends the use of pearls and gems and it remains a singular masterpiece and true reflection of the splendour of the Maharajas. 'Basra Pearls': A Princely Preference Besides being a magnificent manifestation of the taste and power of the maharajas, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda is also a reminder of the flourishing pearl-trade between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Gulf . For over two millennia, pearl fishing was a steady source of income for the people living in the area surrounding the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The first-century geographer Isidorus Characenus noted in his work entitled Journey Around Parthia that the majority of the inhabitants of the city of Charax Spasinou, capital of the Kingdom of Characene, then part of the Parthian Empire, supported themselves by diving for pearls.21 Throughout the following centuries, locals from the Gulf region traded extensively with merchants from all around Asia and Europe, with their most reliable buyers coming from India. By the seventeenth century, most of the pearls harvested in the southern Gulf region and along the Arabian coast eventually ended up in the treasuries of the Indian elite who, as great lovers of gems and pearls, used them to adorn their lavish jewellery, decorative art objects, and textiles. The pearl trade dominated the Gulf's economy and reached its golden age in the mid-nineteenth century. Some of the highest quality pearls were discovered at this time and were then sold in Basra, centre of the trade, mostly to Indian merchants.22 Due to the excellence and abundance of the pieces exported from Basra, pearls from the Gulf region were known as 'Basra pearls' throughout the world. Between the 1850s and the early twentieth century, the vast majority of the pearls utilized by Indian jewellers were 'Basra pearls.' The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is the apotheosis of the Indian love of these pearls, its scintillating surface composed of countless 'Basra pearls.' To execute such a unique and precious object Khande Rao chose the best raw materials to match the unparalleled craftsmanship of artists he commissioned to execute this extraordinary work of art. Completely covering such a large surface with the most valued type of pearls, a meticulous work that took years to complete, clearly indicates that the Maharaja of Baroda only accepted the very best in design, craftsmanship and material. REFERENCES 1 For more information, see Francis Watson, A Concise History of India, London, 1987. 2 Tottenham, E. L., Highness of Hindustan, London, 1914, p. 154. 3 Maharaja of Baroda, The Palaces of India, New York, 1981, p. 151. 4 Bhuj Bushan, Jamila, Indian Jewelry, Ornaments and Decorative Designs, Bombay, 1964, p. 74. 5 ibid., pp. 74-75. 6 Carboni, Stefano, ed., Venice and the Islamic World, New York, 2006, p. 68. 7 Pope, Arthur Upham, A Survey of Persian Art, Vol. II, Tehran, 1938, p. 2273. 8 ibid., p. 2274. 9 ibid., pp. 2274-2275. 10 ibid., p. 2276. 11 Birdwood, George M., The Industrial Arts of India, London, 1880, p. 284. 12 Watt, George, Indian Art at Delhi, 1903, Calcutta, 1903, p. 444, pl. 59. For an illustration of the round carpet see the same. 13 Maeder, Edward and Dale Carolyn Gluckman, The Pearl Carpet of Baroda, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1985, p. 4 and footnote 14. 14 St. Clair Weeden, Edward, A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda, Boston, 1909, pp. 310-312. 15 Tottenham, pp. 154-155. 16 ibid., p. 154; St. Clair Weeden, p. 312. 17 Welch, Stuart Cary, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, New York, 1986, p. 438. 18 Moore, Lucy, Maharanis, New York, 2004, p. 31 who in turn sites Phillip Sargeant, The Ruler of Baroda, London, 1928 19 Spuhler, Friedrich, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collection, London, 1978, no. 64, 65, p. 128. 20 Welch, p. 438 21 Mattern, Susan P., Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate, Berkeley, 2002, p. 34. 22 Bhuj Bushan, Jamila, Indian Jewelry, Ornaments and Decorative Designs, Bombay, 1955, p. 137. "
Portrait of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre BergéOne of the most anticipated art sale events this year so far was the week long viewing exhibition and auction of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé. This stunning collection of antiquities, modern and decorative arts, interior designs, sculptures and everything in between and beyond was collected by the two men during a period of 50 years and now auctioned off by Christie's and Pierre Bergé Associates in Paris. This Legendary Collection - as Pierre Bergé said - is a piece of art itself. Yves Saint Laurent noted - "Pierre Bergé and I wished for our selection to reflect our favourite pieces and for it to evolve with them, quality being the only criterion to guide us." The auction raised a total of €373,935,500 ($483,835,144), which is the world record sum for a private collection sold at auction. The nearly half a billion dollars will benefit the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and a new foundation with the purpose of supporting scientific research and the fight against AIDS. Many blogs and news outlets covered the record breaking sales and some of the controversies, so we decided to include some of the lots with million-dollar hammer prices, categorized according to Christie's lots.Impressionist & modern paintings, drawings & sculpture "Jeune fille en chapeau d'été" by Edouard Manet - €721,000 ($929,459) Jeune fille en chapeau d'été - Edouard Manet
Decorative arts of the 20th century A Circular Occasional Table by Armand Albert Rateau - €1,129,000 ($1,455,422) A Circular Occasional Table by Armand Albert Ratea
Old master paintings & drawings "Portrait of André-Benoît Barreau" by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres - €913,000 ($1,176,971) Portrait of André-Benoît Barreau by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
European furniture and works of art Paire De Fauteuils by Jean Dunand - €625,000 ($805,703) Paire de fauteuils by jean Dunand
European sculptures and works of art from the renaissance Chronos supporting an armillary sphere - Jakob Mannlich - €781,000 ($1,010,501) Chronos Supporting An Armillary Sphere
Antiquities Roman Marble Minotaur - €913,000 ($1,176,971) Roman Marble Minotaur
"The Legandary Collection" and the history behind - from Christie's press release (PDF) by François de Ricqlès:
"There is no doubt that Christie’s sale of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection will be a milestone in the history of great auctions. It is also the reflection of a whole era and its lifestyle. A lifestyle shaped by the creative intuition and talent of a few personalities such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. When Christian Dior died in 1957, one could read in the newspapers the name of the great couturier’s successor: ‘Yves Saint Laurent, 21’. From that day, and for almost half a century, encouraged and faithfully supported by Pierre Bergé, the brilliant designer’s three initials, YSL, became the symbol of French elegance throughout the world. Supremely chic, sober and revolutionary, giving women a new freedom, his style has not yet been surpassed. In 1983, at the height of his career, the designer became part of the art world when Diana Vreeland, the queen of fashion, organised a retrospective of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Pierre Bergé, who created the fashion house with Yves Saint Laurent and accompanied him throughout all his life, is much more than just the well known tycoon. A refined literary figure (he was a friend of Jean Giono and Jean Cocteau), a renowned expert in music, he also discovered the talent of Bernard Buffet at the very start of his career. He was, and still is, one of the great patrons of our time; an active donor to major humanitarian causes. The Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, the National Gallery in London and many other important institutions owe M. Bergé a great deal, as do Covent Garden and the Paris Opera, of which he is President. Highly sought-after and acquainted with all those who set the ‘tone’ of the social, political and cultural life of Paris, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé guarded their incredible collection of works of art, as if it were their secret garden. The dazzling nature of their collection is shaped by a single principle: each piece was purchased for the simple satisfaction of the two collectors looking for exceptional pieces. Indifferent to trends, their main reference was the large mansion in Paris of Vicomte and Vicomtesse de Noailles, where they were frequent guests in their youth. This rich, aristocratic and eccentric couple had inherited masterpieces and major pieces of furniture from their ancestors, which they combined with works bought from their artist friends, Picasso, Giacometti, Balthus, Tanguy, Dalí and many others. In a stunning room covered in vellum by Jean-Michel Frank, antique pieces and modern art were audaciously and gracefully mixed. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé would never forget this lesson: the search for perfection, an insatiable curiosity and freedom of taste. It suited them perfectly. In 1972, when they moved into the flat on rue de Babylone, formerly occupied by Marie Cuttoli, herself a great patron of the arts, they followed the same path with their own strong personalities. They recreated the atmosphere which had fascinated them and which was described as a ‘sublime hotchpotch of works of art’ by Philippe Jullian, who understood everything about taste. The creative bond that united Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé enabled them to assemble a collection where each period and artist is represented at the highest level. To paraphrase Proust, whom Saint Laurent revered, they ‘built a cathedral which they defended valiantly’. In the 1960s they were among the first collectors, along with Andy Warhol and Ileana Sonnabend, to acquire furniture and objects from the Art Deco period which was only just being rediscovered. Jacques Lejeune, Jacques Denoël, Stéphane Deschamps, Félix Marcilhac, Bob and Cheska Vallois, Alain Blondel, Maria de Beyrie as well as Anne-Sophie Duval and her mother Yvette Barran were some of the dealers they frequented. At this time, they were able to buy pieces from the Jacques Doucet collection and works by Jean- Michel Frank, who had been completely forgotten. They ended up building up one of the world’s most important collections of decorative arts from the twenties and thirties. At the same time they commissioned François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne to create some of their first big sculptures. Their international reputation has not stopped growing ever since. Later on, the immense success of the House of Saint Laurent allowed them to acquire masterpieces for their collection: the portrait of a child by Goya, four major works by Léger, a cubist Picasso from the best period, a monumental Burne-Jones, a rare portrait by Ingres, one of the most beautiful works by Géricault, five Mondrian and three Matisse. Of all those many wonderful pieces, the extraordinary wooden sculpture by Brancusi, Madame L.R., is for me one of the most striking pieces. The artist swapped it for a work by Fernand Léger the year the two men met. The collection of Art Deco furniture and masterpieces, which is worthy of the best-known museums, sits alongside objects from every civilisation and all five continents: African pieces, antiquities and Renaissance sculptures as well as antique furniture. The subtle décor created by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, in the rue de Babylone became the most extraordinary living and artistic space, immediately taking any visitor’s breath away. The oak panels in the main drawing room are hung from floor to ceiling with paintings, watching over an enchanted world of bronzes, vases and various works of art. In the library, opposite the Burne-Jones, a Mondrian provides a contrast with its bold geometry. Fifteen floral bronze mirrors and wall sconces by Claude Lalanne adorn the walls of the music room. A tiny room with glass cabinets houses a collection of the rarest cameos from Antiquity and the Renaissance. Everywhere, light is filtered through the dense vegetation of the garden from which emerges a fearless Roman marble Minotaur, embodying the spirit of this place. In 1992, Pierre Bergé moved to his own apartment in rue Bonaparte. At first glance, the beautiful flat looks lavishly traditional, but a second look enables you to realise that the same eclectic taste reigns there. Le désespoir de Pierrot, a poignant masterpiece by Ensor, paintings by Mondrian, Degas, de Hooch, Manet and Géricault are mixed with a Weisweiler table and spectacular bronzes from the Summer Palace in Beijing. Most outstanding of all, is the group of German ceremonial silverware, enamels from Limoges and Venice, bronzes, rock crystal and ivory objects. A real Wunderkammer. It is one of the most fabulous treasure troves one could ever imagine being in private hands. Pierre Bergé always highlights the fact that, apart from the Art Deco collection, he owes a lot to dealers like Alain Tarica for the paintings, and for the works of art, to Nicolas and Alexis Kugel, worthy heirs to their father Jacques Kugel, the legendary antiques dealer. It is very unlikely, almost impossible, that such a collection could be assembled today. None of the pieces was inherited. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé built it up over the course of 50 years. It is the result of their quest, their eye, their knowledge, their strong will and, above all, their pursuit of perfection. We feel very privileged to offer this wonderful collection for auction. The word ‘collection’ which is so over-used today, should be written here with a capital C, providing its full historic meaning: each piece has its own intrinsic value as a work of art, which gives the entire collection a universal and timeless quality. In February 2009, the whole Collection will be exhibited in the prestigious setting of the Grand Palais in Paris. Five catalogues, which will in turn become ‘collectors’ items’, will be produced. It is important to know that the proceeds of the sale will benefit the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and will enable Bergé to create a new medical foundation dedicated principally to scientific research and the fight against AIDS. The Collection will be sold over three days in the city where it was assembled, offering every art lover the opportunity to acquire a piece bearing the legendary provenance of the ‘Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Collection’."
See the photo slideshow of the event courtesy of Christie's ( see more on Flickr):
Below are two important gilt bronze figures - statues of Avalokiteshvara and Buddha, respectively - which were sold at Christie's "Masterpieces Of Himalayan Bronzes" auction event. Large gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara (sold for $1,538,500) Gilt Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara

From the lot description: "Expressively cast standing with his right hand lowered in the open-handed gesture of compassion varada mudra and his left hand resting against his hips, wearing a long dhoti finely incised with alternating bands patterned with diamonds and florets, an eloborate beaded necklace, armlets and a sash, all with pendent jewels, the ears with a diamond pendant and large earrings, the chest well-defined and powerfully modeled, his face with a benign expression with large almond-shaped eyes inlaid in silver, surmounted by a headdress of crescent moons enclosing jewels, with undulating sashes flaring down to the shoulders 27 in. (68.5 cm.) high " - More info at Christie's Monumental gilt bronze figure of Buddha (sold for $3,666,500) Gilt Bronze Figure of Buddha
From the lot description: "Seated in dhyanasana with his hands in bhumisparsa and dhyana mudra, his torso powerfully modeled wearing a tightly-fitted robe elegantly draped across his left shoulder, his face with a benign expression with large eyes and smiling lips flanked by long pendulous earlobes, his hair arranged in spiral curls, richly gilt overall 56 in. (142 cm.) high" - More info at Christie's
Louis XV Ormolu-mounted and Brass-inlaid Commode
An ormolu-mounted and brass-inlaid commode by Charles Cressent was sold at Christie's auction in Paris on Dec 16 for €994,600 ($1,363,334). The commode is dated circa 1730."Charles Cressent, a leading ébéniste and sculptor of the late Régence and early Rococo periods, became a master sculptor in 1719. He worked as both ébéniste and sculptor to the Regent, Philippe II, duc d'Orléans. His furniture was often decorated with plain veneers, usually of satinwood and amaranth, or veneers in patterns of parquetry." - source
  On Dec 18, also in Paris,  at Sotheby's Asian Art auction, the Tai Shang Huang Di carved jade imperial seal was sold for €612,750 ($857,850). Tai Shang Huang Di Carved Jade Imperial Seal Tai Shang Huang Di Carved Jade Imperial Seal Bottom
From the catalog's note: "The present Tai Shang Huang Di seal belongs to a three seal set and was used to make impressions at the right or left corner of a painting or piece of calligraphy (yajiao zhang). One of the other two accompanying small seals was a white jade Guizheng reng Xunzheng (Relinquished the Throne but Still Instructing the Course of Government) seal, and the other a white small Desui chuxin (Able to Follow My Original Intention) seal. Emile Guimet acquired a set of these three seals in their original zitan box in 1903 from the Parisian dealer Langweil for 300 francs (Inventory ref. EG1428, EG 429 and EG1430). The Desui chuxin sold in our rooms in Hong Kong on 8 October this year (Lot 2004) (fig.1). We are presenting today the TaiShang Huang Di. The third stamp Guizheng Reng Xunzheng whose impression is reproduced jointly with the other two in the Qianlong Baosou (Thicket of Seals of the Qianlong Era) (fig.2) is now lost. There are a total of twenty seals bearing the inscription Tai Shang Huang Di recorded in the official impressions of Emperor Qianlong Qianlong Baoshou kept in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Among them the example from the collection of Major General Gercey (1872-1939) which sold in our Hong Kong rooms on 9 October 2007 (Fig. 3). Its very characteristic circular impression could also be found on numerous scrolls and calligraphies housed in the collection Palace Museum in Beijing and museums worldwide. The impression of the present Tai Shang Huang Di is also found on on painting and scrolls that currently housed in the Palace Museum, as for instance on the scroll " Battle Scenes of Quelling the Rebellion in two Jinchuan Regions" by Xu Yang, Catalogue of the paintings in Palace Museum, vol.14, no.69, plate 69.15. p.266. "

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