On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Cambi Auction House brings back to the rooms of Castello Mackenzie in Genoa the art of mise en place dedicated to the pleasures of conviviality: it’s the Art de la Table, a now traditional event of the maison, which “dresses” its historic venue with tables richly set with objects in precious materials and refined workmanship.
“Fine porcelain, silverware and precious glassware, finely embroidered tablecloths, everything you need to create elegant and refined tables,” comments the maison, “A way of celebrating festive moments, a hymn to conviviality and the refinement of mise en place. In this auction entirely dedicated to the art of the table you will find fine services, the result of the mastery of the most important European Manufactures, antique and contemporary silverware, as well as very fine examples of artistic glassware.”
The art and culture of table setting originated in Ancient Rome, Republican age. Even then on the table of aristocrats one could find cups of various materials, tankards and some rudimentary cutlery. It was not until the early fifteenth century that cutlery was for the first time given a precise order according to the type of course for which it was designed. Table linen, on the other hand, was already present in the Middle Ages. The term “Mise En Place,” of French origin, means “to put in place,” and is more than just setting the table. It is an art, a preparation that brings to life a table that reflects elegance and sophistication.
Among the 447 lots in the auction is the colorful Marqueterie de Pierres dures d’Orient et d’Occident service by Hermès (estimate: €8,000-€12,000), designed in 1989 and decorated with a wide variety of motifs, from flowers and birds to fruits and pearl necklaces, inspired by gemstone working during the Renaissance in Florence.
An 8-person service from the Manifattura Ginori with the decoration-already introduced in the factory’s first decade of activity-in “red countries” and “cut eggs” framing on a blue band and golden vitalba garland (estimate: €12,000 – €24,000).
Alongside the porcelain services we find fine silverware such as the embossed, cast and chiseled silver coffee pot from c. 1770 by silversmith Zanobi-Biagioni (estimate: €6,000 – €7,000) and the centerpiece with tray by Argenteria artistica Stancampiano of Palermo (estimate: €6,000 – €7,000).
Prominent among the tablecloths, however, is a large linen tablecloth embroidered in Burano lace with rocailles and floral motifs, accompanied by 12 napkins (estimate: €2,800-€3,800).
A section of the catalog is devoted to crystalware, such as a service of mouth-blown, carved and hand-engraved Thistle Gold chalices from the Saint Louis Manufacture, awarded the title of Verrerie Royale in 1767 by King Louis XV (estimate: €4,000-€6. 000), and a rare Murano chalice service made for Queen Margaret of Savoy on the occasion of the 1942 exhibition that never took place: 14 mouth-blown and hand-crafted chalices with a polychrome enamel decoration featuring nymphs or vestals from classical antiquity among dense rocaille ramages (estimate: €5,800 – €8,000).
Absolute top lot of the auction is the 20th-century Meissen porcelain 12-piece service with Kakiemon-style decoration: the motif draws from their 18th-century patterns influenced by Japanese Arita porcelain in the Kakiemon style, already in use in the 1730s (estimate: €16,000 – €28,000).