Home Interior Design $20 million worth of Rothschild dynasty treasures head for first-of-its-kind auction

$20 million worth of Rothschild dynasty treasures head for first-of-its-kind auction

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A trove of some 600 objects collected by the French branch of the famous Rothschild banking family – including paintings, furniture, enamels, majolica, Renaissance jewelry and silver – will go on sale at Christie’s this autumn. North America’s first auction of items hoarded by the family, whose name is synonymous with wealth and luxury, is expected to fetch more than $20 million.

The sale will take place in October at the headquarters of the Rockefeller Plaza auction house. Highlights from the sale are currently on a world tour, having just been viewed in Hong Kong and then heading to London, where they will be on display from July 1-7.

Suiveur de Rembrandt, <em>The Triumph of David</em> (late 17th century).  Estimate: $1.5 million.  Courtesy of Christie’s.” width=”917″ height=”775″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/rothschild-rembrandt-panels-2. jpg 917w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/rothschild-rembrandt-panels-2-300×254.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news- upload/2023/05/rothschild-rembrandt-panels-2-50×42.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 917px) 100vw, 917px”/></p>
<p id=Follower of Rembrandt, The Triumph of David (late 17th century). Estimate: $1.5 million. Courtesy of Christie’s.

“Throughout the 19th century, the Rothschild family collection was legendary,” Jonathan Rendell, vice president of Christie’s Americas, told Artnet News. “They combined superb paintings and artwork into interiors in what is now known as the Rothschild taste (Rothschild taste).”

He explained that the sale will include objects from the Kunstkammer, including nautilus shell cups, Renaissance-style jewellery, important Urbino, Gubbio and Hispano-Moorish ceramics and porcelain from Sèvres, as well as Dutch paintings and Italian pietra dura cabinets. A highlight is a series of gilt leather panels depicting the Triumph of David, attributed to a follower of Rembrandt and estimated at $1.5 million. “Unseen for 150 years,” he added, “Rothschild masterpieces are already causing a stir in the marketplace.”

Highlights from the Rothschild sale.  Courtesy of Christie's.

Highlights from the Rothschild Masterpieces Sale. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Christie’s defines ‘Rothschild taste’ as ‘lavish familiarity’ and points out that it had a great influence on wealthy American collecting families such as the Vanderbilts, Astors and Rockefellers.

The items were purchased, largely during the late 19th century, by Baron James Mayer of Rothschild and his wife Betty, as well as their son Baron Alphonse and his wife Leonora, to furnish their castle of Ferrières, near Paris, and their houses in the city. In 1862, they hosted Napoleon III at a gala opening of the lavish Maison Ferrières, designed by architect Joseph Paxton, perhaps best known for London’s Crystal Palace, designed for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Great hall inside the Chateau de Ferrières near Paris (circa 2002), gifted to France by the Rothschilds in 1975. (Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Great hall inside the Chateau de Ferrières (pictured circa 2002), which the Rothschilds donated to France in 1975. (Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images)

A Franco-German banker, Baron James was the founder of the French branch of the family and a major figure in the financing of the railroads and mining activities that made France an industrial power after the Napoleonic Wars. Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres painted a portrait of Betty which remains in the family collection. Alphonse, in addition to banking, operated a vineyard and owned and bred racehorses, among other pursuits.

Pierre Courteys, after Giulio Romano, Limoges enamel charger depicting the punishment of Niobe by Diana and Apollo (late 16th century). Estimate: $200,000. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Christie’s has handled countless items from the Rothschild family for over 100 years. A July 2019 sale in London totaled $29.4 million, some 280% above the low estimate.

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