Signed French antique furniture an auction rarity

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 11th February, 2018

One of the best collections of signed antique French furniture to go to auction in Australia – featuring famous cabinetmakers such as Henry Dasson, Mathieu Befort Jeune, Hippolyte-Edme Pretot and Paul Sormani – will be the highlight of Christian McCann Auctions first sale for 2018 from noon Sunday February 11 at 426 Burnley Street, Richmond in Melbourne.

Henry Dasson (1825-1896) was a renowned 19th century Parisian maker of gilt-bronze mounted furniture.

Unlike other cabinetmakers of the era, Dasson began his career as a bronze sculptor, which is reflected particularly in the quality of the bronze chiselling of all his furniture pieces.

Specialising in the production of Louis XIV, XV and XVI style furniture, he exhibited examples of these at the 1878 and 1889 Paris Expositions Universelles along with his own modified 18th century design.

The English Lord Dudley purchased one of his creations, a gilt bronze table, at the first expo.

Born in Venice in 1817, 50 years later Paul Sormani established a highly successful business in the heart of Paris.

His firm produced a variety of furniture styles including Louis XV and XVI and he exhibited at all the major exhibitions of the time, in 1849 winning a bronze medal and six years later a médaille de première classe.

After his death in 1877, the firm was taken over by his wife and son and continued operating until 1934.

Napoleon III’s wife Empress Eugénie decorated her palaces with Sormani furniture and, popular with affluent Parisians, he created many of the finest and most important furnishings of the period.

 Descended from a family of renowned ébonistés, Mathieu Befort Jeune worked in Paris from 1836 until his death in 1880.

He was the son of Jean-Baptiste Befort, known as Befort Père, renowned for supplying furniture to the Duc d’Orléans apartments.

Both father and son are noted for their interpretations of André-Charles Boulle furniture and the creation of venis martin and porcelain mounted pieces.

After receiving a medal at the 1844 Expostion de l’Industrie Française, Befort Jeune became purveyor to Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie.

Hippolyte-Edme Pretot (1812-1855) also specialised in Boulle furniture for which he won a medal at the 1851 Great Exposition of London.

Auctioneer Christian McCann said the auction contains the best collection of 18th and 19th Sevres porcelain seen in Melbourne for 10 years – along with KPM panels, 18th century Derby, Chelsea and Japanese Satsuma.

“There also is an important pair of palatial cast iron maiden figures from the Gasne foundry and an antique marble figure signed by Florence’s P. Bazzanti,” he said.

Other items of note include 18th century English furniture such as a lacquered cabinet on silver gilt stand and a George III secretaire bookcase, and a rare 19th century Irish Killarney davenport.

There also are a collection of 18th and 19th century English and French timepieces including boulle bracket clocks, ormolu clock sets and salon clocks and 10-tube longcase clocks.

Australian and European art features works by such artists as Ernest Buckmaster, David Boyd and Hugh Sawrey and a rare collection of Charles Rowbotham.

Unusual is part two in the sale of Canberra collector Ashley Miskelly’s array of about 30 antique oil lamps. 

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