In praise of the locksmith's trade
A collection highlights the virtuosity of locksmiths, as used in technical sophistication and art.
Door ornament in the form of an engraved and chased bronze knocker with entwined snakes joining to frame a comedy mask with wide open mouth, flanked by laurel branches. Antique Italian work, late 19th century. 29,5 x 22 cm.
This sale begins in Roman times and then reveals treasures of inventiveness, in terms of both technical skill and visual beauty, right through to the 19th century. As early as the Middle Ages, and even more so from the 15th century onwards, protecting property soon became a pretext for decorating doors and furniture and creating genuine objets d'art. The Italian Renaissance inspired this magnificent door knocker, whose decoration suggests that it could have adorned a theatre door. Engraved with the coat of arms of Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's Superintendent of Finances, and attributed to Homer Mourie, a lock from the second half of the 17th century is lavishly chased and engraved on all visible parts of its mechanism, while a lion's head lords it on its case (€10,000/12,000). The king of the beasts also reigns over an imposing late 18th century lock. Thanks to an ingenious mechanism, his bronze jaw closes on the hand of the inept lockpicker - the keyhole lies in the big cat's mouth (€10,000/15,000).