Wednesday, November 13, 2013
A Man of Mystery
When I was in a used bookstore the other day, I found this Sotheby's New York auction catalogue, dated October 26, 1990. I admit that the auction catalogues that intrigue me most are those which feature interiors on the cover, and this particular interior especially intrigued me. The room was very elegantly appointed, and yet, quite cozy looking too. The catalogue cover had me wondering just who the collector was who had lived in such refined surroundings and amassed such refined pieces.
Unfortunately, the catalogue did little to answer my question. The auction title itself, "Property of a European Foundation", implies that the collector, or perhaps his foundation, wished to maintain a certain amount of anonymity. The catalogue's introduction, written by Derek Ostergard, did little to lift the veil of secrecy, with Ostergard referring to the man in question simply as "a contemporary collector" who was noted for "his degree of connoisseurship".
One clue is that the auction and its catalogue were given the designation, 6078 "Weltkunst". A Google search shows that there is a Weltkunst foundation, not to mention a German decorative arts magazine titled Weltkunst. Perhaps there is a connection? Also, the back cover of the catalogue featured an illustration of the drawing room, which appears to have been decorated for Christmas. The illustration is reminiscent of those by Serebriakoff, although the artist's signature, partially visible in the bottom right corner, shows that it was not done by Serebriakoff. And one more thing: the interiors have a number of Colefax & Fowler flourishes, including a trefoil-shaped ottoman and Bowood chintz in the drawing room and a Rocksavage-like print carpet in the guest bedroom. (I can't tell if it's actually Rocksavage or a similar print.)
If you know who the collector was, I would appreciate it if you would let me know. Even if I never get the bottom of this, this much I do know: the collector was a man of great style and taste.
The Drawing Room
The Master Bedroom to the left and Guest Bedroom to the right
Colonel George Fergusson Henry Bey at the Sultan's Court by Guillaume Francois Gabriel Lepaulle, 1846, was one of the lots that was auctioned off.
Another view of the Drawing Room
A Vieux Paris Porcelain Centerpiece, Samson White Biscuit Mantel Clock, and two French porcelain boat-form inkwells, also featured in the auction.
A Five-Piece Chinese Blue and White Garniture set, Kangxi; this lot must have been displayed in the collector's library, don't you think?
An important Louis Philippe Four-Fold Silk Royal Tapestry Screen, Gobelins, c. 1830
An Italian Neoclassical Ormolu-Mounted Mahogancy Bookcase, early 19th century