Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Parquet de Versailles at Christie's

Above: Christie's Amsterdam 7 May 08 Lot 2, c100 panels of probably 19th century pegged oak parquet de Versailles

Amsterdam, Holland - CHRISTIE'S are selling 100 panels of oak pegged parquet de Versailles in Amsterdam on 7th May 2008. The lot is described as 18th or 19th century, each panel 100cm square and formerly the property of Axel Vervoordt, the Belgian decorator who, like dada dealer Raymaekers (yes, he is still going! - see him slightly younger in SalvoNEWS 1993? 'An interview without Raymaekers') at Queen of the South in Genk, is the kind of upmarket designer/dealer typically found in this region of Europe, of whom a prime example is Bernard Steinitz.

Patrick Snitselaar, a French expert in parquet, said that it was difficult to assess the age of the parquet from a photo, especially without seeing the backs of the panels, but his best guess would be nineteenth century. Older parquet, normally predating the introduction of the metre on 10th December 1799 (19th Frimaire 8, French metric time), was usually in panels just under 98cm square which measured three old French feet or pieds du Roi which measures 32.48cms, compared to an English foot which measures 30.48cms.

The lot is estimated at €20k-€40k. The catalogue note reads, The large diagonal squares known as parquet de Versailles were introduced there in 1684, as parquet de menuiserie ('woodwork parquet'), to replace the marble flooring that required constant washing, which tended to rot the joists beneath the floors. Such parquets en lozenge were noted by the Swedish architect Daniel Cronström at Versailles and at the Grand Trianon in 1693.

Footnote: PS says that after the storms in France in the 1990s (was it 1999?), which resulted in masses of fallen oak trees and a boom in oak availability, much of the wood was attacked by woodworm and what is now left the Chinese are buying with a vengeance.

Before the sale, the quantity available was reduced from 100 panels to thirty-nine complete panels (circa 96 cm. x 96 cm. per panel) and thirty-two incomplete panels, the panel sizes were changed from 100cm square to 96cm square which indicated that the panels were more likely to be 18th century than 19th as mentioned by Patrick Snitselaar above, and the estimate was reduced from €20k-€40k to €10k-€15k. The lot sold for €19,450 (£15,420 $30,132 ) giving an average of £220 per panel for all 71 panels.

Christie's Amsterdam 7 May 08 Lot 2, c100 panels
Patrick Snitselaar's Antic Floors
Queen of the South
Axel Vervoordt

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