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The Malatier Collection

On 15 October 2018, by Anne Doridou-Heim
The Malatier Collection
€88,420
Sèvres, 1766, "Roussel" ewer and oval basin in soft paste porcelain with a polychrome decoration of blue cabbage leaves, with gold fillets and garlands of flowers, h. 18,2, l. 27 cm.

During a two-day exhibition at Drouot, everyone came to admire the objects assembled by Jacques Malatier (1926-2017). The erudite spirit imbuing this collection was reflected in the final result: €3.2 M, with 94% of lots sold. It took a battle up to €505,600 to carry off the large composition by Jean-Charles Nicaise Perrin (1754-1831), "Hector in Helen's palace upbraiding Paris for his cowardice and announcing a single combat". Everything in the painting is permeated with a sense of antique theatricality, from the majestic Hector poised for combat, alone before his passive brother, to the group of women troubled by the danger. The scene comes from a Canto in Homer's Iliad, and we all know what happened next… Perrin, admitted to the Académie in 1787, regularly exhibited at the Salon (the title tells us that this painting was certainly presented at the one in 1808 under no. 466,  with the title "Hector reproaching Paris for his inaction") but is relatively rare at auction: only 23 paintings signed by or attributed to the artist feature on Artnet. The one here garnered a world record well above the previous one established at €72,000 by "La Mort de Sénèque" on 16 November 2006 (Christie’s Amsterdam). The Old Master section continued to do well, later achieving a splendid €164,320 for "La Pêche", a painting by Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), which certainly came from the King's small dining room at Fontainebleau. The 18th century was very much in the limelight, particularly the drawings, which were generously rewarded, including a pastel by Joseph Vivien (1657-1734) of Charles Albert, Prince Elector of Bavaria, kissing his father's hand – a monument of filial piety executed in around 1726, which fetched €30,336–, a draped female figure carrying an urn or another object by George Romney (1734-1802), for whom Lady Hamilton was the putative model (€48,032), and the "Head-and-shoulder portrait of a man with his chin on his hand", attributed to Jacques Stella (1596-1657) which garnered €49,296.
 

€82,160 Attributed to Jean-Pierre Lancry, Russia, early 19th century, 18-branch chandelier in patinated gilt bronze with openwork crown featuring palm
€82,160
Attributed to Jean-Pierre Lancry, Russia, early 19th century, 18-branch chandelier in patinated gilt bronze with openwork crown featuring palmettes, supported by six intertwined thyrsi ending in figures of lionesses biting the latter, h. 125, diam. 123 cm.

A taste for objects
Unexpected gems included a dodecahedron: a bronze object from Roman times (2nd-3rd century), of which around 100 examples have been excavated to date. Some scientists think it was a measuring instrument used by armies on battlefields to assess the distance separating them from the enemy… At €58,144, it multiplied its estimate by ten. With objets d'art, two vases in Egyptian porphyry, carved in Rome in the mid-17th century, fetched €65,728, paving the way for a patinated gilt bronze chandelier featuring six intertwined thyrsi. €82,160 rewarded this early 19th century piece of work from St Petersburg, attributed to Jean-Pierre de Lancry, a French craftsman who set up a business in Russia in response to the local clientele's enthusiasm for his country's style. Last but not least, ceramics – keenly awaited by buyers – stood out with a soft paste porcelain pot-pourri vase knocked down for €69,520, produced in Saint-Cloud in around 1695-1700, with decoration inspired by the "Grandes Grotesques" published by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau in 1566, and with a highly original large Sèvres Empire foot bath (€58,144). But the palm went to a cabbage: €88,420 and a pre-emption from the Cité de la Céramique-Sèvres & Limoges, which came to pay tribute to this "Roussel" ewer and oval basin made in 1766 with an extremely uncommon decoration of blue cabbage leaves. Celestial!
 

€65,728 Rome, mid-17th century, two vases in Egyptian porphyry with twisted gadroons and rolled handles standing on a moulded pedestal, with gadroon-d
€65,728
Rome, mid-17th century, two vases in Egyptian porphyry with twisted gadroons and rolled handles standing on a moulded pedestal, with gadroon-decorated lids with handle, h. 33 cm.
 
€505,600 Jean-Charles Nicaise Perrin (1754-1831), "Hector in Helen's palace, upbraiding Paris for his cowardice and announcing a single combat", oil o
€505,600
Jean-Charles Nicaise Perrin (1754-1831), "Hector in Helen's palace, upbraiding Paris for his cowardice and announcing a single combat", oil on canvas, 129 x 162 cm.
 
€164,320 Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), "La Pêche",oil on canvas, 89 x 94 cm.
€164,320
Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), "La Pêche", oil on canvas, 89 x 94 cm.
Wednesday 10 October 2018 - 13:30 - Live
Ader ,
SGL Enchères - Frédéric Laurent de Rummel et Peggy Savidan
Exquisite French Taste

Jacques Malatier (1926-2017) was one of those cultivated, questing spirits who still abounded in the 20th century. This intensely erudite banker, loyal to the Hôtel Drouot (where his collection is now being sold) put his talent and money into building up a top-level collection with treasures of exquisite French taste in different art specialities. As expert Éric Turquin tells us, "he started with objects and moved on to paintings."  

A love of the 18th century
Here, every meticulously thought-out purchase was designed to take its place in an ensemble dominated by the 18th century. A pastel by Joseph Vivien (1657-1734) encapsulates its guiding spirit. The artist is now seen as possessing a charm that could be delicately described as old-fashioned. But his portrait of Charles Albert, Prince-Elector of Bavaria, kissing his father's hand in a sign of submission and loyalty, executed in around 1726 on blue paper (€15,000/20,000), is imbued with a modern, mellow touch that makes it undeniably unique… and desirable. The same goes for the large majority of the 284-odd lots in the sale. Drawings by or attributed to Giorgio Vasari (including a remarkable pen drawing of a "Bacchanale" at €50,000/60,000), Pierre-Paul Sevin, Jacob Philipp Hackert and George Romney are succeeded by some equally magnificent Old Masters. Fishing, illustrated by this painting by Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), estimated at €100,000/150,000, proved a judicious choice. The painting was a royal commission. In 1737, Natoire received 3,600 livres as payment for six decorated lintels intended for the petits appartements at Fontainebleau. For the small dining room, he produced two works entitled "La Pêche" (photo above) and "Personnages se reposant auprès d'une fontaine". During refurbishment work in 1749, the panelling was altered and he delivered a second version. Its spirited feel, authentic touch and pentimentos all indicate that the painting in the Malatier collection was the first version of one of these decorated lintels, now making its debut on the market.
 

Sèvres, year XIII (November 1804-November 1805), large cylindrical foot basin, hard-paste porcelain with gold decoration on blue background, h. 35.5 c
Sèvres, year XIII (November 1804-November 1805), large cylindrical foot basin, hard-paste porcelain with gold decoration on blue background, h. 35.5 cm, diam. 49.5 cm.
Estimate: €20,000/30,000


Intriguing curiosities  
While the collector had a liking for "light-hearted" subjects, several works illustrate the serious side of the 19th century, starting with an imposing Neo-classical painting by Jean-Charles Nicaise Perrin (1754-1831), very probably exhibited at the Salon of 1808: "Hector in Helen's palace, repudiating Paris for his cowardice, announcing a single combat" (€60,000/80,000). Decorative items, carved gilt wood pieces and stamped furniture by the leading exponents of the 18th century, including two "à chassis" armchairs (with removable frames) by Louis Delanois (€30,000/50,000) rub shoulders with exquisite Sèvres porcelains – including an irresistible 1766 "Roussel" pitcher with an oval bowl, decorated with cabbage leaves in a vibrant celestial blue (€20,000/25,000) – and some highly unusual objects. One of the most curious is an armed lodestone made in Russia in the last third of the 18th century (€3,000/4,000). Meanwhile, expert Claire Badillet is delighted to have handled this perfume burner by Pierre Germain, aka "le Romain", cast and chased in Paris in 1760-1761, which once belonged to the Karl Lagerfeld collection. The object is striking for its modernity, while its – reasonable – estimate of €6,000 to €7,000 is sure to appeal. Jacques Malatier was proud of his collection and loved showing it to friends and specialists. It will be sold on behalf of the Fondation de France within a Malatier-Jacquet umbrella foundation, designed to finance the restoration and layout of furnishings at the Châteaux of Versailles and Chambord. A splendid posterity.  
 

Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), “La Pêche”, formerly round oil painting on canvas, cut to circular then to rectangular form, 89 x 94 cm (detail).E
Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-1777), “La Pêche”, formerly round oil painting on canvas, cut to circular then to rectangular form, 89 x 94 cm (detail).
Estimate: €100,000/150,000


 

The collection:
key figures


14
specialities  

55
Old Master drawings, 21 Old Master paintings, 95 objets d'art and furnishing items.

€200/300
is the lowest estimate, for an 18th century wooden box from St Lucia.

530 BC
is the date of the oldest object in the collection: an Attic black-figure krater (€15,000/20,000).
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