ART MARKET / Up for sale

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The Independent Culture
THE Recamier furnishings are not the only sensational works of art billed for auction in Paris on 15 December. The auctioneers Ader Tajan are also offering a magnificent painting by Canaletto of the Ascension day festival during which Venice marries the sea. It has a presale estimate of pounds 2m- pounds 3m. Their rivals Oger Dumont have 50 pieces from a porcelain dinner service ordered by Marie Antoinette in 1783 and valued at pounds 70,000- pounds 80,000. It is the 200th anniversary of her death this year; she went to the guillotine on 16 October 1793.

The Canaletto (above) is titled The Return of the Bucentaur on Ascension Day. The Bucentaur was the famous boat in which the Doge put out to sea and dropped a ceremonial ring into the lagoon, repeating in Latin 'We wed thee, sea'. In the painting the Bucentaur has returned to the quay beside St Mark's while the waters around it are alive with gondolas full of merrymakers.

The painting belonged to the Fremantle family in Kent until the turn of the century, and is said to be coming to Paris for sale from a foreign collector. It has not been exhibited in public since 1947. Marie Antoinette's dinner service (a plate is shown above) was made by the royal porcelain factory at Sevres with a central vignette of flowers and a flowered border heavily embellished with gold. All the best known painters employed by the Sevres factory worked on the service. It turned out that the Queen had to wait a considerable time for it since King Gustave of Sweden made a visit to Paris in 1784 and Louis XVI, wanting to give him the traditional present of a Sevres service, handed over the one that had been prepared for the Queen.

There are still 110 pieces in

the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The service that was finally delivered to the Queen contained another 239 pieces. Aside from the 50 now coming for sale in Paris from Switzerland, only a very few have survived.