A cornucopia of French high-style furniture, Old Master paintings, decorative arts and porcelain from the collection of the late Elizabeth Stafford will go under the hammer at Christie’s New York on November 1. Monet, Ingres and Pissarro are among the highlights of A Love Affair with France: The Elizabeth Stafford Collection, which follows this year’s auction of the Stafford estate’s La Jeune Fille Sophistiquée by Constantin Brancusi that sold for a record $71m.
Elizabeth “Mimi” Stafford lived a colourful life in New Orleans, Paris and New York where she was a benefactor to the Frick Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library and the Metropolitan Opera. Her exquisite Avenue Foch apartment was a cabinet for the finest 18th-century French furnishings and art, and her expansive collections were often opened to the public or loaned to cultural institutions such as the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Many of the treasures among the 291 lots reveal Stafford’s love of gold, filigree and floral motifs, including a Louis XV Chinese porcelain floral mantle clock ($40,000 to $60,000) signed by Alexandre Brochet c1745; and an ormolu-mounted Vincennes porcelain Bleu Celeste oval bottle cooler ($50,000 to $80,000) from the first service delivered to Louis XV.
The fine selection of furniture includes a pair of giltwood armchairs ($120,000 to $180,000) with cartouche backs and serpentine seats upholstered in yellow silk brocade, which are stamped by the maker Jean-Baptiste Tilliard; and a Louis XV Bonheur du Jour writing table ($60,000 to $100,000) crafted in citronnier, tulipwood and amaranth .
Important artworks from the collection will be on view in New York from October 27-31, and several of the pieces will also appear in Christie’s autumn art sales. Landscape with Cows ($150,000 to $250,000) by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, for example, will feature in the European Art sale on October 31, while one of the stars of the collection – Claude Monet’s Effet de Neige à Giverny ($5m to $8m) – will appear at the Impressionist & Modern Art evening sale on November 11.