The quiet period of the February vacation in France did not discourage the L'Huillier Auction House from moving into the Hôtel Drouot to sell the contents of the Château de la Maroutière, in Anjou.
Willem Claesz Heda (1594/1595-1680), Still Life with Ham, Beer Glass and Silverware, 1651, oak panel, 63.5 x 81 cm/25 x 31.9 in (detail).
The results of the—almost—only sale of the week proved a good call. The two most important paintings received impressive bids. €160,000 went to Still Life with Ham, Beer Glass and Silverware, painted in 1651 by the Dutch artist Willem Claesz Heda, a specialist of the genre. The usual elements in this type of work are found here, as well as a characteristic double meaning: on the surface, an abundance of food—in this case, a substantial ham, beer and bread—but underneath the surface, the risk of upheaval and sense of passing time, with the dish in danger of falling, the overturned cup and the crumpled table linen. Everything is arranged according to a meticulous typology in attractively harmonized tones, where the muted grays of the silverware are echoed by the white of the tablecloth. The rich silverware—a Dutch silver tazza, a German vermeil cup from Nuremberg or Augsburg—and the wine glass are also trademarks of this Haarlem-born artist.
The second most eagerly awaited work was another painting, the Portrait de la comtesse Walsh de Serrant et de ses enfants by Louis Hersent (1777-1860), featuring the countess with her children in her chateau garden. This large work fetched €125,440: a world record well-deserved from every point of view (source: Artnet).
The sale, which garnered a total of €836,480 also featured two oil paintings by Édouard Louis Dubufe (1819-1883), again portraits, of a Woman Seated in an Armchair in a White Dress (116 x 89.4 cm/45.7 x 35.2 in) and a Woman in a Black Dress Holding a Book (140 x 110 cm/55 x 43.3 in). Their labels tell us that the former is Mme Charpillon and the latter the Baronne de Chataux. Bourgeoisie and nobility were neck and neck at €22,420 and €23,040 respectively.
In terms of objets d'art, the winner was Jason Presenting the Golden Fleece after Defeating the Dragon (€ 30,720). The demigod adorns a bronze clock with a double gold and brown patina (63 x 39 x 19 cm/24.8 x 15.4 x 7.5 in): a typical Empire model attributed to silversmith and bronze-maker Choiselat-Gallien (1784-1853), who specialized in liturgical furnishings.