Cottone to auction collection of exquisite European clocks, Mar. 31
GENESEO, N.Y. – Cottone Auctions’ Important Timepieces & Decorative Arts auction, scheduled for Friday, March 31, will feature the collection of Dr. William Thomas of Naples, Florida, showcasing 50 of the finest examples of French and European clock masterpieces. The auction, starting promptly at noon Eastern time, features 220 lots. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Both rarity and condition were important to Dr. Thomas. Highlighting his collection, assembled during a period of 50 years, is a Raingo orrery clock and music box with its original matching pedestal. The clock and music box are in fine running order, with beautiful patina and gilt bronze mounts, and the piece presents in remarkably original condition, making it possibly one of the finest known examples.
An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system, one that illustrates or predicts the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons. Orreries are typically driven by a clockwork mechanism, with a globe representing the sun at the center and with a planet at the end of each of the arms. It is widely believed that perhaps as few as 20 orrery clocks exist.
Most known examples, like the present clock, are in the form of a gilt-mounted, four-column rotunda, veneered with mahogany or amboyna. Few rest on a musical base, playing on the hour or at will. A well-known example, now at Windsor Castle, was purchased by King George IV in 1824. Other examples can be found in the Spanish Royal Collection at the Palacio Real de Madrid; the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris; the Musee International de l’Hologerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland; the Science Museum, London and the Sir John Soane Museum, London. The clock was purchased from renowned horologist Jim Cipra of Long Beach, California, who acquired it from an important Portuguese collection.
The orrery clock, signed Raingo A. Paris, circa 1820, has an exceptional Amboyna burl veneer and gilt bronze Neoclassical case in the form of a classical rotunda temple. It is supported on a round base that is set on a plinth with cylinder musical movement. It carries an estimate of $150,000-$250,000.
Another masterpiece from Dr. Thomas’ collection is an exceptional circa-1785 Louis XVI regulator with equation of time and remontoire, which represents a collaboration between clockmaker Robert Robin, Horloger du Roi, renowned enameler Joseph Coteau and case attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, Paris – the quintessence of Parisian luxury horology during the reign of Louis XVI. Such clocks were made for a handful of important connoisseurs, often people who were close to the royal family.
A near-identical model was in the inventory of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s horological collection, which was maintained by Robin. “The inventory of the Chateau de Saint-Cloud made in January 1794 features two clocks in Marie-Antoinette’s piece des nobles (room for receiving visiting nobility) that were not there during the previous inventory of 1789. Around 1860, the clock was still, or again, at Saint-Cloud, in the bedroom of Empress Eugenie, who surrounded herself with objects that belonged, or were thought to have belonged, to Marie-Antoinette.” –Vignon, Charlotte, The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook, New York: The Frick Collection, Scala, 2015.
The regulator being offered features a stunning dial by Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) who is regarded as the greatest enameler of all time, supplying dials for eminent horologists such as Antide Janvier, Robert Robin and Ferdinand Berthoud. This finely painted, jeweled and enameled porcelain dial with astrological zodiac cartouches and signed ‘Coteau’ is illustrated in Tardy, La Pendule Francaise: Des Origines A Nos Jours on page 201, and, like the orrery clock, was purchased from Jim Cipra. It stands a little above 15in tall and is is in running condition, with an estimate of $100,000-$150,000.
Also up for bid will be Tiffany Studios lamps from the collection of Dr. Robert McGann of Naples, Florida, led by a Poppy lamp with a 16in shade, estimated at $50,000-$80,000. Other fine works by Tiffany Studios from various private collections include a Lotus lamp with a 26in shade, estimated at $80,000-$120,000; a Poinsettia lamp with a lighted turtleback base, estimated at $40,000-$60,000; and a Tiffany Studios Dichroic Curtain Border floor lamp, estimated at $60,000-$80,000.
Highlights among the American paintings include an oil on paper by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), titled A View of the High Sierras. It appears in the database being compiled for a forthcoming catalogue raisonne of the artist’s work and was acquired from William Hailes of Rochester, N.Y. in the 1930’s by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Crumpston, also of Rochester.
Several works on offer from the collection of Dr. Robert McGann include an oil on canvas street scene by Edouard-Leon Cortes (French, 1882-1969), estimated at $10,000-$15,000; and a diminutive pair of watercolor and gouache works by Eugene Galien-Laloue (French, 1854-1941) depicting the Moulin Rouge and Palace de Bastille, estimated at $5,000-$8,000.
Asian items will be led by an Imperial Chinese parcel gilt bronze censer, mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795). Fashioned from bronze with gilding, the circular censer is bombe form with a splayed foot, a Qingqing six character mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum) and celestial elephant handles. It comes from a Buffalo, New York estate and is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.
Americana choices will include a Federal satinwood and mahogany bow-front chest of drawers, signed and dated Saco, Maine, 1812 and estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
From the estate of Joseph R. Eger of Buffalo, New York comes a Native American treasure: a 19th-century Northwest Coast feast bowl from the Haida or Tlingit tribe, featuring kerfed and painted wood with stylized figures and opercula shells. Its estimate is $5,000-$8,000.
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