The Janssen Collection at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s is delighted to offer an elegant and stylish collection of arts and antiques in the Autumn of 2003. Formed over a period of 50 years by the Amsterdam couple the late Mr. and Mrs. Janssen, the collection reflects especially the lady’s sophisticated collecting taste and will be offered as “A Lady’s Taste”. There are highlights in every category of the fine and divers works of art. The collection was assembled mainly between 1950 and 1980, thus adding a further desirable quality: freshness to the market.

Mrs. and Mr. Janssen were keen travelers and they bought widely and well. Mrs. Janssen (1920-2002) grew up in an environment that was filled with art. In the 1930s, her father, a flourishing shipbuilder of Frisian origin, moved his business and his fast growing family to Amsterdam.

They were very close with other Dutch merchant families such as Vroom, Dreesmann, Brenninkmeyer and Peek. Mrs. and Mr. Janssen married in 1948 and settled in Amsterdam. In the early years of their marriage, they made their first forays into art collecting, which developed into a passionate pursuit resulting in a remarkable collection. Although they found great pleasure in buying art and antiques together, it was the lady’s taste that was predominant. In the 1950s and 1960s they frequented the well-known Amsterdam auction house Mak van Waay and acquired many of their possessions there. It is therefore appropriate that many of these fine works, which have not been on the market for decades, will now be offered at Sotheby’s, the international auction house that bought Mak van Waay in 1974.

The collection now on offer is cosmopolitan in style and European in flavor. Collected with a strong aesthetic sense, the style and beauty of the pieces reflect a lady’s taste. Mr. and Mrs. Janssen were avid collectors who went to art fairs and auctions and enjoyed the shared experience of securing pieces for their residences in the Netherlands and France. Once they had set their eye on a specific item, nothing could stop them. Not even a major traffic jam could prevent the lady from arriving at an auction just in time to place the winning bid for a painting of her choice, a Church interior by Bosboom. Apart from her enthusiasm for the painting itself, she enjoyed the participatory process of acquiring it.

Paintings. Among the highlights of the fine arts are an exceptional Female Nude Reading by Isaac Israels (oil on canvas, 56.5 by 81 cm €100,000-150,000) and a number of highly attractive outdoor scenes by Old and Modern masters, executed in oil, watercolor and pen and ink. Colors and textures dominate to create a group that is highly pleasing to the eye. Also of interest is a charming early self portrait etching by Rembrandt. The strong selection of modern sculpture by Dalou and Daumier complement the striking visual appeal of the fine arts in the collection.

The select group of Silver is rich in quality and focuses on Dutch pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. A cooler by Isacq Samuel Bussard, 1765 (€60,000-80,000) and a casket by Hendrik Barents, 1648 (€70,000-100,000) are among the key pieces.

Of international significance is a silver-gilt beaker from circa 1600, made by Christoph Jamnitzer, the Nuremberg master whose work is in great demand (€90,000-120,000).

Furniture is not restricted to a specific period or country but offers an attractive range of styles, forms and materials. The selection of Italian, Dutch and French pieces span a period of circa 300 years.

The stamped French furniture is fascinating. Many of the names of the best ébénistes are recorded in the collection, such as Avril, Boudin, Cresson, Lacroix, Meunier, Roussel and Tilliard. A coherent group of Régence furniture, amongst which a bureau plat in the manner of Noel Gerard, decorated the library of the collector’s home (pictured).

The collection is rich in neo-classical furniture, including a pair of encoignures by Leonard Boudin of the most restrained goût grec style, showing a striking composition of geometric motifs (€30,000-50,000). A fine petit table attributed to Montigny was bought in Sotheby’s historic house sale at Mentmore Towers more than 25 years ago (€20,000-30,000). It is perhaps the smallest, almost fragile piece of furniture that will attract the most attention: a delightful fruitwood and green stainwood sycamore center table en chiffonière by Roger van der Cruse, named Lacroix, who was one of the most important furniture makers of the Louis XVI period. Its condition, proportions, quality and almost naive striped decoration is mesmerizing (€120,000-180,000).

Other highlights are a sober Tuscan walnut Renaissance credenza from circa 1600, with its lovely patina well preserved (€20,000-30,000) and a colorful scagliola panel attributed to the 18th century master Pietro Antonio Paolini, with a central panel depicting a mythological scene, reflect the flamboyance of the Baroque period (€25,000-40,000).

A set of four Venetian girandole mirrors reflect the fantasy of the Venetian Rococo carvers; they incorporate the signs of the Zodiac of Scorpio, Gemini, Sagittarius and Capricorn possibly representing the four season (€40,000-50,000).

The good selection of clocks is also varied in period and country. From a fine South German Renaissance gilt and engraved copper lantern clock €35,000-50,000, pictured), through elegantly understated English timepieces, including a musical chiming table clock signed Roger Dunster, London (€25,000-35,000), to some marvelously lavish 18th and 19th century French pieces, such as a fine Louis XVI sculptural calendar mantel clock depicting a putto by an obelisk, signed J. Chambon (€20,000-30,000).

These highlights are supplemented by a selection of attractive lady’s jewels, Oriental and European porcelain, Japanese works of art, Russian icons and 20th century glass, making this a truly exceptional broad-based collection.

To present these divers works of art in the original context, the entire collection will be exhibited in Amsterdam on 19, 20 and 21 September 2003. Simultaneously, the viewing days of the Estate of HRH the late Princess Lilian of Belgium will take place, which will offer the viewer the unique opportunity to enjoy two special “Lady’s Collections”.

Because of the diversity of the collection, and in order that each piece can be best presented to the most appropriate audience, the various elements of the collection will be offered in a number of different sales during the Autumn season at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam, London, Paris and New York.

Published in: on June 18, 2003 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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