Aladdin's Cave of treasures for auction at Elsternwick mansion

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 13th October, 2014

A prominent Melbourne family involved in Australia’s jewellery industry is auctioning its large collection of antique furniture, porcelain, silver and collectibles through auctioneer Phillip Caldwell from 11am Sunday October 19 at 13 Gladstone Parade, Elsternwick.

Mr Caldwell first met the family about two years ago when asked to value the contents of its magnificent period home, which has now been sold.

He was immediately impressed with the quality of the furniture and collectibles, much of which had been collected during regular trips to New York, Europe and Asia.

Family tastes ranged from flamboyant French to art deco – illustrated by a Ruhlmann (renowned French designer of the period) cabinet bought from Christie’s in Melbourne – and several other excellent furniture and sculpture pieces.

One of the major highlights is a French Boulle pietra dura mounted centre table, which Mr Caldwell describes as the best he has ever seen.

“Another is the 16-seat French walnut dining table and the two massive Mary Gregory exhibition vases from New York,” he said.

One of the more appealing pieces is the after Riesener palace-size early 19th century marble top marquetry fruitwood and satinwood commode, which perfectly enhances the expensive wallpaper, drapes and ornate tapestry friezes of the home.

Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806) was the French royal ébéniste – the greatest of the Louis XVI period whose work exemplified the early neoclassical style of the era – and one of two favourite cabinet-makers to Marie-Antoinette.

In 1774, he delivered a commode – now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle – for Louis XVI’s bedroom at Versailles. An even richer version (now at the Musée Condé in Chantilly) replaced it the following year.

For music lovers, the auction features a magnificent Steinbach grand piano – while art enthusiasts can choose from traditional and contemporary European and Australian art works including a large John Olsen entitled Waterbird in Landscape, Charles Blackman’s Man in the moon and Girl in the stars, David Boyd’s widely exhibited early work The sacrifice and paintings by Tim Maguire, Pro Hart, David Bromley, Arthur Boyd, Cumbrae Stewart and Hugh Sawrey.

The auction also contains museum quality Asian and Egyptian antiquities including a large pottery Northern Qi dynasty warhorse from 550AD, 18th century Sino-Tibetan gilded bronze Guanyin/Kwanyin and an Egyptian faience blue glazed ushbati from about 300BC.

There are several important clocks including a bronze mounted Empire specimen, Regence marquetry bracket clock and an impressive William IV chiming grandfather clock.

Porcelain includes exquisite KPM panels, massive French Sevres vases, Royal Vienna, Meissen, Dresden and signed Royal Worcester.

One of the more appealing sculptures is an art nouveau alabaster marble dancer, along with a girl with doves, children near a pond and a nude lamp.

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