João Julio Teixeira has already written about the English silver put up for sale by the heirs of the Conde da Póvoa at Christie’s London, sale coming up on November 27th and 28th.
Many things have been sold this year with the same provenance in Lisbon and Paris, of which I would definitely highlight the set of 4 Roman Emperors busts once in the Palácio do Calhariz. This is the main seat of the Duke of Palmela, of whom the Conde da Póvoa was son.
Now, from the Póvoa collection, will sell at Christie’s London a wonderful “Portrait of an Artist” by Fra Galgario (1655-1743), painting recorded at the Calhariz in 1851. It was exhibited at the 2001 outstanding exhibition at Casa-Museu Anastácio Gonçalves curated by Maria Holstein Campilho and Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos.
Also exhibited there was the pair of Chinese reverse painted mirrors that will be up for sale at The European Connoisseur – 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe at Christie’s in early December, with their frames catalogued as Danish. The catalogue had them as French, but I would not be surprised if they were actually English, done around 1790/1800, the same time as carvers like Sefferin Nelson or Jean Prusserot were working in London in that same style at Carlton House.
But the highlight of this group is definitely the Florentine pietra dura marble on a possible Portuguese giltwood base. The marble has the corners with the Duke of Palmela coat-of-arms, but with the main figurative groups adapted from a former casket. Unfortunately, I will not be able to travel to London to view the base, as it is truly rare to find grand Portuguese giltwood furniture of that period – based in Roman models in this case – and done for an aristocratic setting.
These consecutive sales are just another step in the complete dispersion of the Palmela collection, dispersion that started many decades ago. Thankfully, we will always have Campilho’s catalogue as a substantial, but not complete, record of what was not only the best private collection in Portugal, but one of the very few in this country built over many generations on an international context.