Published: April 12, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Heritage Auctions
DALLAS – Heritage Auctions’ Curated Home Signature® sale on March 31 was a showcase of gilt, veneer and scalloped edges. The lots spanned at least three centuries and two continents, with 335 listings of sculpture and decorative art from Asia and Europe in a wide array of style and age. Just in time for spring, many of these sported fresh green hues in semiprecious stones, crafted from jade, celadon and malachite.
Two pairs of urns topped the sale’s listings, including a pair of French Sèvres-style gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain covered urns that claimed the highest result at $17,500. “It was a pleasant surprise,” said Karen Rigdon, vice president of silver and decorative arts at Heritage Auctions, “And most unexpected, nearly eight times their estimate!”
These came from the collection of Richard and Jinger Heath, cosmetics magnates and Dallas locals. After decades of accumulating, the couple is downsizing. The objects’ provenance drew more than the usual amount of community interest to the sale, 24 lots of which were formerly in the Heath collection. Rigdon believes that this escalated bidding. “Each of the examples brought in were beautiful,” she adds, “They truly have a wonderful eye.”
Malachite was a prominent mineral in this sale, represented in eight separate lots. These did not come from the same collection but arrived at Heritage independently. “Malachite has been coming out of the woodwork, it’s such an opulent material,” says Rigdon, “We didn’t plan to have so much, but sometimes that just happens.”
Because its porous construction makes cutting large slices difficult, malachite veneering was developed to line the exterior surface of metal objects. Also known as Russian mosaic, this painstaking process involves matching the stone’s natural patterns to create the illusion of a solid surface. The second highest price was achieved by a pair of monumental gilt and malachite urns, which almost dwarfed the large case piece they flanked during the auction preview. At 58 inches high and between 40 to 50 pounds each, the collective weight of the urns was worth $12,500 to their new owner. A late Gilded Age Louis XV-style malachite veneered vitrine cabinet claimed third place at $11,250.
Close behind was another lot from the Heath collection, a Louis XV-style bracket clock with celadon lacquer boullework, its face bearing the mark of Jean-Louis Bouchet (1737-1792), a Parisian horologist and royal clockmaker to Louis XV (r 1715-1774). His clocks are known for their delicacy, Bouchet being one of the first makers to create and popularize skeleton clocks. He was later responsible for maintaining all the clocks in the royal collection during the reign of Louis XVI (r 1774-1792), a monarch known for his mechanical interests such as the intricacies of locks and lock making.
“It has an incredible surface,” commented Rigdon, “and such an unusual color.” Bouchet’s work is rare, and the vice president of decorative arts has only seen a few come up for sale. Indeed, only 12 examples with Bouchet’s mark have been sold anywhere at auction over the past decade. However, she predicts that antique clocks are due for a comeback, as mantel and bracket clock sales have increased over the past few auctions.
The most expansive of the top lots was a 14-panel screen, papered with scenic wallpaper from French maker Zuber and in excellent condition. Its vibrant motif, “The Hindustan” is still printed today in their Rixheim factory with 1,265 antique woodblocks carved in 1807. Early examples, especially in this condition, are uncommon. Combining panels 1 to 7 with panels 14 to 20, this screen exhibits how Zuber’s wallpapers were originally meant to be installed in a single room, surrounding its inhabitants with panoramic views. At 10 feet high and almost 400 inches wide, many interested buyers were deterred by the screen’s size upon experiencing it in person. Brought in by a “California Gentleman Collector,” the screen went to its new, assumingly spacious home for $10,625.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.ha.com or 214-526-3500.
May 17, 2022
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