From Antiquity to Art Nouveau the exceptional Bernard De Leye Collection

Highly important Kunstkammer objects

L’ Orfèvrerie, the art of the goldsmiths and silversmiths, has been the passion of Bernard De Leye throughout his life; a field for which he is considered a leading connoisseur, collector and art dealer worldwide. Lempertz is delighted to announce the sale of his exquisite personal collection, gathered across decades with dedication and knowledge, in a special auction in Cologne on 15 July 2021.

The sale will include around 220 artworks: objects of vertu, silver works, paintings and sculpture, among which are items of the highest museum quality and of stupendous beauty — pieces commissioned by kings and high-ranking nobility, created by the most versatile artists, and passed from generation to generation among distinguished collectors. Antiques in this formidable wealth, quality and importance have not been offered on the German market for decades – to which an elaborately designed catalogue is now dedicated.

The elegant French culture of the 18th century has certainly been the subject of Bernard De Leye’s most intense passion. With a sharp eye of a connoisseur, however, he was also able to acquire exceptional pieces of Gothic and Baroque sculpture from Italy and Flanders, and even artworks from antiquity such as a rare Roman silver dish from the 2nd/3rd century A. D. His wide interest in all things beautiful and sophisticated drew his attention towards the art of Symbolism and Art Nouveau - modern movements of his native Belgium, which reveal the origins of his unique taste.

Alongside the finest sculpture of the 13th-18th centuries, the collection includes in particular highly important silver objects of the 17th-19th centuries and exceedingly rare kunstkammer objects.

Shining out amongst the highlights of the auction are the following exquisite objects:

At the pinnacle of the offer with an estimate of 1–1.2 million euro is a very finely chased, silver gilt ewer and matching basin worked in Paris in 1770 by Jean-Baptiste-François Chéret for the Marquis and Marquise de Montmelas and accompanied by the silversmith’s design drawings.

Also from Paris is the highly important silver and gilt bronze writing set made by François-Thomas Germain in 1753 for the imperial minister Jean-Baptiste de Machault d‘Arnouville, Chateau de Thoiry, with an estimate of € 700/800,000.

A unique Art Nouveau gold cup “Les Vendanges” by Jules-Paul Brateau with superb enamels was also produced in Paris, by Paul Grandhomme in 1893 (€ 120/130,000).

A very significant monumental silver and lapis lazuli hourglass has been valued at € 400/450,000. Created in Rome in 1589, Pope Sixtus V presented this exceptional sandglass to Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany on the occasion of his marriage to Christine von Lothringen. With an estimate of € 250/300,000, a basin with the coat of arms of Madame de Pompadour is a museum rarity (Paris, François-Thomas Germain, 1762).

Another work of great importance is an extraordinary drinking horn made of ivory, antlers, vermeil, enamel, precious and semi-precious stones by Andreas von Thüngen in around 1550 – 1565. The horn has a catalogue price of €600/700,000. A very finely worked amber altar was formerly in the Einsiedeln Monastery in Gdansk. Attributed to Christoph Maucher, the altar was made in around 1690 of light, dark and translucent amber as well as ivory (€280/300,000). Highpoints also include a 32 cm high precious dinking vessel by Hans Caspar Gyger in Zurich. In the shape of a rearing stag, it has an estimate of €250/280,000.

A small ivory relief featuring the flaying of Marsyas is attributed to François van Bossuit (1635–1692) has an estimate of €160/180,000.

Standing out amongst the numerous sculptures is a large, 75 cm-high ivory Corpus Christi, attributed to the master Mattheus van Beveren (1630–1690), with a catalogue price of €180/200,000.


Preview:         Brussels          15–19 June 2021

                        Cologne          05–14 July 2021

The auction will take place on 15 July at Kunsthaus Lempertz in Cologne.