Masterpieces From Collection of Most Powerful Family in France at Bonhams Classics Week Sales

London – Louis XV was the absolute ruler of France from when he attained his majority in 1723 until his death in 1774, but for many years it was a woman who reigned supreme at his Court. Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) was Louis's maitresse en titre a hugely influential political role not only as the king's mistress but also one of his closest advisers. It was through her and not the King's wife, Marie Leczinska who devoted herself to family life and the arts, that petitioners could reach the monarch. De Pompadour's brother Marquis de Marigny was also a great power in the land, holding the key position of Director General of the King's buildings. Three wonderful pieces in Bonhams Classics Week sales in London unite the two siblings. A Vincennes bleu-céleste ground ewer (broc 'Roussel') bought by Madame de Pompadour in 1754 features in the 500 Years of European Ceramics sale on Thursday 7 July estimated at £40,000-60,000. A pair of remarkable Gobelins tapestries from the Don Quixote series, to be offered in the Decorative Arts Through The Ages sale on Wednesday 13 July, were commissioned by de Marigny and are estimated at £100.000-150,000.

Curator of Classics Week and Bonhams Head of Continental Ceramics, Nette Megens, said: "Madame de Pompadour and her brother were among the most powerful individuals in France during the middle years of the 18th century. It's very rare to find objects with such similar provenance for sale – Marquis de Marigny inherited his sister's property on her death – let alone during the same sale season. They are absolute masterpieces and I am anticipating a lot of interest from collectors."

The ewer is very probably the one Madame de Pompadour purchased in 1754 with its basin (broc Roussel et jatte bord de relief) through Lazare Duvaux for the Château de Bellevue at a cost of 600 livres. Duvaux submitted his invoice on 23 June, but due to her daughter's death on 15 June 1754 it seems likely he was charging her for pieces she had chosen earlier, as kiln records show her purchases were fired between April and June 1754. Madame de Pompadour used her position as maitresse en titre to become a major patron of the arts and a driving force for the porcelain production at Vincennes and Sèvres. The ewer features in the newly published book Everyday Rococo, Mme de Pompadour and Sevres Porcelain by Dame Rosalind Savill (2021).

The Don Quixote series is regarded at the masterpiece of Gobelins' production during the 18th century. This magnificent and highly prized series consisting of 28 tapestries designed by Charles Antoin Coypel was woven nine times, from 1714 to 1794 with six different borders. This phenomenal output resulted in approximately 200 panels over the course of 80 years. Made between 1757-1764, the two tapestries in the sale are part of the sixth weaving and are signed by Michel Audran and Pierre-Francois Cozette. They illustrate episodes from Cervantes' celebrated novel; 'The False Princess Micomicon asking Don Quixote to Restore her to her Throne,' and 'Don Quixote made a Knight by the Inn Keeper.'

5 July


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