An Australian auction collection fit for a diplomat

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 18th February, 2022

During his lifetime Robert (Bob) Robertson served in many ambassadorial roles for the Australian Government.

A career diplomat with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he and his wife Isabelle travelled the world meeting important national leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and former United States President George W. Bush, along with many other foreign dignitaries.

Bob’s last post before retirement was as Australian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and it was during this time that Isabelle developed a passion for antiques while living in Buenos Aires – or the Paris of the South as it became known.

On retirement, the couple lived at their Mount Eliza mansion ‘Baeuregard’ at 53 Williams Road, until Bob died last year aged 91.

Now their collection of rare and fine quality antiques, art, books and timepieces is part of Christian McCann Auctions first live auction for the year on site from 12pm Sunday February 20.

Typical of the items is an exhibition quality pair of 19th century French Sevres vases (lot 24) and a pair of 19th century French marble and ormolu mounted castolettes (lot 107).

A 19th century French bronze figure group of a maiden and gent with child signed by Clodion (lot 32) is among the more valuable sculptures.

Clodion, whose real name was Claude Michel (1738-1814), was a French sculptor in the Rococo style, particularly noted for his terracotta works.

Among the art on offer is Arthur Boyd’s (1920-1999) Person In Wimmera (lot 23) and several Pro Hart (1928-2006) paintings including City Scene (lot 11).

A rare and early 19th century Scottish flame mahogany long case clock (lot 37) signed by George Jones of Glasgow is one of the more appealing timepieces, while an exhibition quality 19th century French kingwood fold over card table (lot 64) in the manner of Francois Linke (1855-1946) is a standout furniture piece.

A leading Parisian ebeniste in the late 19th and early 20th century, Linke was born in the Czech Republic and served his cabinetmaker apprenticeship under the master Neumann. He arrived in 1875 in Paris and, working for more established cabinetmakers, acquired a reputation for excellence through various international exhibitions and world fairs.

By the 1900 Paris Fair, Linke and colleague Leon Message had set about creating ambitious Louis XV Rococo furniture incorporating contemporary and progressive art nouveau lines, which became enormously successful and resulted in the largest single furniture commission ever recorded for Alexandria’s Ras El Tin Palace belonging to Egypt’s King Fuad.

Other quality furniture pieces include a 19th century French kingwood centre table (lot 95) and a 19th century French boulle work table (lot 98).

Unusual is the 19th century French folding fire screen (lot 111) along with the French bronze and gilt Empire candelabra on marble bases (lot 154).

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