To be up for sale in November, the Faberge pieces are a part of Harry Woolf’s private collection
October 11, 2021: Christie’s has announced the sale of an iconic private collection of Fabergé masterpieces from the collection of Mr. Harry Woolf, which will take place live at Christie’s London, on November 29, 2021, during the Autumn Russian Art sales season. Comprising of 86 pieces, they come from Mr. Woolf’s extraordinary Fabergé collection, which he personally composed over a period of nearly five decades, from the 1970s until 2019.
There are outstanding examples of objet d’art from the House of Fabergé amongst the exquisite pieces - from jewelled hard stone animals and decorative photograph frames, to pill boxes, scent, silver pieces and jewellery. With particular reference to the collection of hard stone animals, A Selection of Fabergé Masterpieces from the Collection of Harry Woolf is considered to be one of the very finest private collections. Mr. Woolf is recognised for having collected only the very finest examples of their type - all of which exemplify the extraordinary craftsmanship and design of Fabergé and its master craftsmen of the time.
Harry Woolf was already a successful businessman and owner of the London-based pharmaceutical company, Underwoods the Chemists, when he began to collect Fabergé in the early 1970s. He solely relied on his own instinct and finely attuned eye in the pursuit of the pieces that he purchased.
These pieces have been highly prized as loans to major Fabergé exhibitions around the world, taking place at important museums and institutions, due to the quality, rarity and breadth of Mr. Woolf’s collection. Mr. Woolf wished to showcase pieces from his revered collection throughout his lifetime, becoming a regular and generous lender to Fabergé exhibitions.
There are also more than ten rare pieces from Mr. Woolf’s prestigious collection, which are not included in the Christie’s London collection sale, which are included in the forthcoming pivotal exhibition taking place at the V&A in London, opening on November 20, titled ‘Fabergé: From Romance to Revolution’.
The Masterpieces from the Harry Woolf Collection comprises four main groups of works: hard stone animals; functional works of art; Japonisme inspired pieces; and Russian styled pieces. Mr. Woolf had a particular penchant for hard stone animals, and they comprise one of the most whimsical groups of diminutive carved creatures and represent a rare group of works. The impeccable craftsmanship of Fabergé also lay in his genius to create objects seen as ‘everyday’ into individual works of art such as scent bottles, cigarette cases, bell pushes and cigarette lighters.
A small number of objects from the Woolf collection have a distinctive Japanese style, inspired by Japanese art known as Japonisme. Some of them are almost exact replicas of netsuke carvings (a frog and a cricket) and others were made in homage to Japanese design. A large group of objects have a distinctive Russian style which was driven by a renewed interest in its own national heritage at the turn of the last century.
The collection also notably includes examples of works by many famous Fabergé masters including Alma Phil, Julius Rappoport, Henrik Wigström, Mikhail Perkhin, Fyodor Rückert, Victor Aarne, Alfred Tillmann, Friedrich Koehli, Anna Ringe, August Holming and Vladimir Finikov.
The highlights of the sale include a large jewelled gold-mounted agate model of a capercailzie, circa 1900, estimated at £50,000 to £70,000; a jewelled and enamel gold bonbonnière in the form of a doge’s hat, 1899-1904, estimated at £80,000 to £120,000; a jewelled agate model of a cat, circa 1900, with rose-cut diamond-set eyes, estimated at £15,000 to £25,000; a jewelled and guilloché enamel three-colour gold photograph frame in the form of an easel, estimated at £80,000 to £120,000; a gold table lighter in the form of a miniature samovar by Fabergé, work master Henrik Wigström 1908-1917, estimated at £60,000 to £90,000; a jewelled three-colour gold and moss agate photograph frame, circa 1890, estimated at £80,000 to £120,000; a gem-set silver-mounted ceramic kovsh, circa 1900, estimated at £70,000 to £90,000; an imported jewelled gold and platinum mosaic brooch, circa 1913, estimated at £70,000 to £90,000; and a rare example of a jewelled gold-mounted composite hard stone model of a blue tit, circa 1900, estimated at £50,000 to £70,000.