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The Jean Nicolier Collection, the Triumph of Ceramics

Published on , by Christophe Provot
Auction on 06 July 2022 - 14:00 (CEST) - Salle 5 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009

The majolica, earthenware and porcelain pieces collected by the erudite expert reaped the highest results, and a very rare Sèvres porcelain lamp surpassed all expectations.

Manufacture de Sèvres, 1760, soft porcelain lamp and perfume burner in three parts—a... The Jean Nicolier Collection, the Triumph of Ceramics

Manufacture de Sèvres, 1760, soft porcelain lamp and perfume burner in three parts—a square baluster-shaped pedestal section, a middle octagonal section with four pilasters in relief and an openwork lid surmounted by a hen and her young—interlaced "LL" mark, "G" letter, date, mark of the painter Jean-Louis Morin, h. 23.5 cm/9.25 in.
Result: €1,016,000

Jean Nicolier’s eclectic collection met with success, netting a total of €2,731,535. Dispersed at Drouot, it was the last vestige of what Tajan had not sold when the auction house closed on the Quai Voltaire on March 28, 1995. Preciously kept by the family, it reveals the enlightened collector’s keen eye and varied taste. The sale included many surprises. First and not least was an unusual Sèvres porcelain lamp and a three-part perfume burner that shattered its high estimate of €120,000 with the tidy sum of €1,016,000 (see photo). This model is extremely rare: only three are known, all of them in England. Its distinguishing feature is the internal moving apparatus. The oil-burning pilot light seems to heat a cylindrical silver water tank surmounted by three oblique tubes, turning the liquid into steam. Nicolier tested and validated the hypothesis that the device may have been used to boil eggs. The surprising lid decorated with a hen and her chicks in their nest supports that supposition. The piece also stands out for its rich green and blue backgrounds, whose bold juxtaposition can be found on very elaborate pieces from 1758 on.

Between December 1758 and January 1759, the merchant Lazare Duvaux delivered the distinctively pink “Richelieu service” to the maréchal-du

Between December 1758 and January 1759, the merchant Lazare Duvaux delivered the distinctively pink “Richelieu service” to the maréchal-duc de Richelieu. The sugar bowl (23 x 11.5 cm/9.05 x 4.52 in) featuring polychrome bouquets of flowers and fruits in cartouches surrounded by leafy gold palmettes, foliation and branches highlighted with brown probably comes from the service, which had two of them, each costing 240 livres. Marked with interlacing “LLs” and the letter-date “E” for 1758, they fetched €50,800.

This Kangxi period pair of yellow, brown and green enameled biscuit pitchers shaped like seated deer (h. 22.5 cm/8.85 in) with a handle si

This Kangxi period pair of yellow, brown and green enameled biscuit pitchers shaped like seated deer (h. 22.5 cm/8.85 in) with a handle simulating a flowering branch in relief and a spout in the form of foliated scrolls fetched €86,360, skyrocketing past the €3,000/5,000 estimate. The word for deer, an emblem of grace and longevity, sounds like the one for "emoluments" (lu), which symbolizes prosperity as well as the wish for honors and official advancement. Westerners collected this rare type of zoomorphic ewer or pitcher in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Similar objects can be found shaped like carp, crayfish, lions or monkeys holding a peach, symbolizing longevity.

This round majolica dish (diam. 48 cm/18.90 in) featuring the polychrome bust of a man in profile wearing a feathered headdress sold for €

This round majolica dish (diam. 48 cm/18.90 in) featuring the polychrome bust of a man in profile wearing a feathered headdress sold for €152,400. Dated c. 1610, it was made in Deruta, a town in Umbria where majolica production started as early as 1280. Large ceremonial dishes of this type are decorated only on the top and have broad rim. They are the emblem of local production, and therefore the most desirable. Ours, which comes from the Adda Collection, appears in the book on Italian majolica by Doctor Joseph Chompret, whose collection was dispersed at Drouot on May 13.



Two sumptuous Sèvres plates from the "Emperor’s private service", also known as the "Quartiers généraux" (“Headquarters”) set, commissioned by Napoleon I in 1807, were hotly contested. The Château de Fontainebleau acquired the first, showing the removal of the horses from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, for an undisclosed sum. The second, featuring a view of the Rambouillet estate from the lake, went for €254,000. In the modern art category, Francis Picabia's The Philosopher (100 x 81 cm/39.37 x 31.89 in) fetched €330,200.
 

Without question, the most spectacular result was achieved by this ink drawing entitled Architecture de fantaisie (27 x 14 cm/10.62 x 5.51

Without question, the most spectacular result was achieved by this ink drawing entitled Architecture de fantaisie (27 x 14 cm/10.62 x 5.51 in), which at €17,780 shattered its modest estimate of €200/400. The bidders certainly had an attribution in mind for the briskly stroked drawing, but the catalog only mentions the "18th-century Italian school". All bets are open.

Wednesday 06 July 2022 - 14:00 (CEST) - Live
Salle 5 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009
Fraysse & Associés
Gazette Drouot
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