For decades, a grand Parisian townhouse facing the Musee d’Orsay has housed the equally lavish collection of Hubert Guerrand-Hermès, a descendant of fashion house founder Thierry Hermès. This December, fans of French royalty, whimsical furnishings and contemporary artwork can bid for a chance to own a piece of the residence’s decor as it hits the auction block at Sotheby’s.
Estimated to fetch up to 15 million euros ($15.9 million), the collection will be sold during four live and online auctions. Its 1,000 lots range from modern works and rare book collections to 19th-century paintings and furniture passed down by royal families. “It is rare to find a collector with an equal passion and appreciation for classical arts, Old Masters, royal French furniture, cutting-edge design and the contemporary output of the likes of Lucio Fontana, Anselm Kiefer, Pierre Soulages,” said Mario Tavella, president of Sotheby’s France, in a statement.
The eclectic collection of Guerrand-Hermès, who died in 2016 at age 75, reflects his wide-ranging spectrum of passions. In addition to joining the management team of Hermès after studying at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce, he was a foreign trade advisor to the French government and president of the World Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit focused on the restoration of artistic monuments. He was also an avid hunter and wrote a 1995 book on the sport that is still considered a reference for the field, according to Sotheby’s.
A member of a fashion dynasty himself, Guerrand-Hermès was interested in the historical collections of aristocrats from France and beyond. He was particularly fascinated by Marie-Caroline de Bourbon, Duchess of Berry and the daughter-in-law of French king Charles X. A rebellious arts patron who died in the late 19th Century, her possessions could be found in every room of Guerrand-Hermès’ Parisian home and will make up around 500 lots at the Sotheby’s sales. In addition to a porcelain set, portraits and even her handkerchiefs, Guerrand-Hermès collected 200 books of fiction, travel, history and science previously owned by the Duchess. In 2007, he loaned numerous works to an exhibition dedicated to her and organized by the Musee de L’Ile-de-France.
An opulent chair commissioned by Marie Antoinette
Guerrand-Hermès’ admiration for French royalty wasn’t limited to the Duchess. The Sotheby’s auction will additionally include a pink and gold chair commissioned by Marie Antoinette for her personal apartments at the Palace of Versailles. Created around 1784, the item is expected to fetch between 300,000 euros ($319,000) and 500,000 euros ($532,000). Other monarchy-linked items include a commode commissioned by the Marquise de Pompadour, the mistress of French king Louis XV, and an urn previously owned by the Russian noble Stroganov family.
A selection of contemporary art pieces beloved by Guerrand-Hermès will also be sold by Sotheby’s. Two Francois-Xavier Lalanne sculptures depicting a pair of monkeys and wild boars are estimated to fetch up to 2 million euros ($2.1 million) and 150,000 euros ($160,000) respectively, while a 1977 painting by Soulages has a high estimate of 1 million euros ($1.1 million). Artwork by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Anish Kapoor will also be offered throughout the sales, as will an assortment of Old Master and 19th-century paintings.
The auctions will take place at Sotheby’s Paris between Dec. 13 and Dec. 19, following a public exhibition of the lots at Guerrand-Hermès’ former home.