I noticed a more frequent sale in the last 6 months of many royal items auctioned by big name houses than in any other period in the last decade, perhaps occasioned by the current liquidity crisis. For example there went under the hammer in the autumn season the desk watch of Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, the famous Wittelsbach blue diamond, or other items that belonged to the Italian royal family. Now Christie’s has scheduled for auction a cast from a model by Pierre Francqueville (or Pietro Francavilla, as he was later known, b.1548 – d.1615), dating from 17th century of Saturn resting his foot on the back of a capricorn figure; the reverse of the tree-trunk is engraved with the French Royal inventory number ‘N o 284. Depicted standing in strong contrapposto against a tree trunk, the child in his left hand and with his right foot resting on the head of a goat; on a later, cylindrical, ormolu-mounted pedestal. The statue has a dark chocolate-brown patina with lighter high areas; high: 48 x 54.5cm.’ The statue is in the property of Truesdall collection and is valued by Christie’s between $ 700,000 – 900,000, a huge sum indeed. It remains to be seen if in the actual downturn that estimate would hold. DM
N.B. I write this note on 29 January 2009 after the end of the auction in New York: The statue has not been sold! That is most probably because it did not reach the reserve price, a consequence of the actual downturn in the art market.
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