An extremely rare artifact left collectors breathless as it galloped far ahead of a plate by Picasso and a landscape by Charles-Henri Contencin.
Netherlands, probably Amsterdam or Antwerp, first third of the 17th century. Transparent glass with whistle, Venetian style filigree, repoussé silver work, cut out and engraved with traces of gilding, h. 20 cm/7.9 in.
€191,000 was the excellent result that the highly original 17th-century transparent Venetian glass with a whistle realized, after a high estimate of €15,000. The fragile piece was hotly contested by mostly German, Dutch and Belgian bidders. This unique object was in use in European royal courts in the Netherlands and Flanders; we know of only a few examples, and only about ten are documented. Designed to amuse guests at the end of banquets, its mechanism was designed to make a roulette wheel turn, driven by a whistle. Here it sits between two herms surmounted by a small silver Bacchus, while the vetro a retorti (“glass with twists”) decoration of alternating with white canes—a technical feat perfected by master Venetian glassmakers—spreads its pattern throughout the container.
The sale then moved to the 20th century with a large oval dish from 1952, Tête de chèvre de profil (Goat’s Head in Profile) by Pablo Picasso, which sold for €21,500. Executed in beige, green and blue polychrome terracotta on a raw clay background with decorated edges, this is marked "Madoura Plein feu" and "Empreinte originale de Picasso" on the reverse (51 x 31.5 cm/20 x 12.4 in). It is reproduced in Georges Ramié’s flagship book Céramique de Picasso.
The decorative arts section also included a pair of three-light wrought iron sconces resulting from the successful partnership between Edgar Brandt and the Daum company garnered €7,125. These are decorated with stylized scrolls and have frosted glass shades with metallic leaf inclusions. In the painting section, Chamonix: le Lac Blanc et l'Aiguille Verte (50 x 61 cm/19.7 x 24 in) on Isorel by Charles-Henri Contencin obtained a fine winning bid of €10,000.