Good quality antique marquetry furniture in Lancashire is always worth paying extra for, and at Christie’s in London, one determined bidder paid more than £229,000 to secure an elaborate gilt ormolu centre table with sycamore marquetry by E. Varlot of Paris.
The Opulent Eye – 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe, which took place at Christie’s, London, on 20th September, is the only auction in Europe devoted to 19th Century arts and furniture. The marquetry antique dining table, by Charles-Guillaume Diehl, highlighted the lavish and all-embracing way furniture designers reacted during a century of unparalleled change. From the same catalogue as Diehl’s neo-grec pieces of the 1867 Paris Exposition, the classical, stylised ornamentation included Grecian busts, roaring Etruscan helmet masks and a central marquetry panel depicting a chariot.
One of the more unusual highlights of the sale was an entire Louis XV panelled room consisting of doors, panels and architraves. Painted in parcel-gilt and cream and covering a floor area of 600 sq ft, it realised £493,250. This was eclipsed, however, by a French Japonisme and cloisonné enamel jardinière-on-stand by Christofle et Cie. Carrying a modest estimate of £60,000 – £100,000, the hammer went down at £668,450, plus commission.
The ‘Japonais’ style made a resurgence during the third quarter of the 19th Century. In Lancashire, Victorian dining chairs carrying the Liberty label are often ‘Japonised’ in some way. Antique dealers usually have a wide range of 19th Century furniture in stock, ranging from Victorian mahogany pedestal desks to antique dining tables, without the high commission and other costs of buying at auction.
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