“The Art Object is in itself the ambassador of an era: it embodies its customs, its taste. To bear witness to it is the least we can do and it is one of the essential aspects of our profession.”
– Grégoire de Thoury
The Haute Epoque over time…
The Haute Epoque (Medieaval and Renaissance furniture) designates all the furniture and art objects from the Gothic Middle Ages to the 17th century through the Renaissance. This broad typological period embodies a singular taste that can be broken down as follows:
Before the 14th century, it is generally a matter of medieval art whose examples in auctions are reflected by the presence of silverware, Gothic ivories and rare large chests.
The 14th century saw the development of the Marian worship, at the heart of medieval piety, generally illustrated in our Haute Epoque sales by statues representing the Virgin Mary. These Haute Epoque Virgins can be from Champagne, Lorraine or Burgundy. The expertise preceding the auction determines the history of the sculpture as well as its value. Rare pieces of furniture also appear in this period.
The 15th century is the glory period of Gothic art, whose very emblematic furniture in “napkin folds” constitute one of the essentials of Haute Epoque auctions. Objects are still rare for this period while sculpture takes a place of choice in the catalog. It became more spacious and monumental, evolving towards the ornate style which flourished even more at the end of the 15th century. The furniture also includes chests with fenestration, dressers depicting religious scenes and stalls.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the “First Renaissance” offers the first objects that are generally found in the Haute Epoque discipline with the appearance of new typologies coming from the Italian peninsula and importing the furniture and art objects of the European courts. These novelties are reflected in the emergence of cabinets in precious wood, credenzas, Italian-style tables, and ceremonial armchairs in carved wood, all of which bear witness to the magnificence of their original owners.
The great names of the Haute Epoque
Like many artists of his time, Hugues Sabin combined many qualities that our expertise will be able to discern: carpenter, sculptor, engineer, architect, decorator, engraver. He is credited with the design of several houses in Dijon, including the Hôtel Marc Fyot, the Milsand house, the door of the Palais de Justice, a two-door cabinet in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and another piece of furniture in the Musée de la Renaissance in Ecouen. We have little information on the life of Sambin and a number of works are attributed to him but few are authenticated with certainty. Hugues Sambin, Adrouet du Cerceau, as well as Bernard Palissy and Léonard Limosin are all names of artists likely to be found in our room on the occasion of one of our sales dedicated to the Haute Epoque.
Although considered as ending in the 17th century, the Haute Epoque typology also includes in our auction catalogs art objects of religious sculpture, wooden work, under the effigy of holy figures such as those of the Virgin Mary, Saint Mary Magdalene or Saint Catherine; as well as many Christian devotional objects such as fixed coasters, gilded wood and brass picks etc.
The 19th century also saw a revival of interest in the medieval and humanist periods of the Renaissance with the troubadour and neo-medieval styles from which came an abundant production of high period copies.
Putting it up for sale, a tailor-made service
Aguttes, which has had a successful auction with the sale of Haute Epoque sculptures in wood, marble and ivory at the end of 2021, will honor this noble discipline with a specialty sale at the Hôtel Drouot in 2022 in collaboration with the Fligny firm, specialized in Haute Epoque. At the end of a few days exhibition, the first hammer blows will fall under the auctioneer’s hammer and will allow the curious of the auction, amateurs, collectors and museum institutions to be at our side in order to share our discoveries that we will be delighted to present.
A wide variety of lots are presented: French school lot, furniture (chairs, wooden art, cathedrals, dressers, chests, cassoni, two-body buffet, high period cabinet, caquetoires, chairs, armchair…) objects (chalice, toga box, candle picker, Limoge enamels, pewter, carved or turned ivory, high period reliquary, mortar, messenger box… ) and statues (virgin, Christ, saints, Roman divinities…) from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and ending at the end of the 17th century, coming from Flanders, the Low Countries, the Germanic countries, the Iberian Peninsula or Italy ….
This presentation is part of the auction dynamics of our specialty furniture objects of art. This market, which is highly prized by collectors, records more than 3 million euros of auctions passed under the auctioneer’s hammer each year and organizes numerous exhibitions and sales per year. In order to obtain the best possible bid, we develop tailor-made buying and selling strategies to best defend the interests of our seller clients on the market. A widely distributed catalog composed of descriptive academic notes, is available on all our digital communication media. The house sets up a targeted advertising in furniture objects art on many national and international communication media specialized in auction and offers buyers the opportunity to bid live.