There is still a magical Ali Baba cave in Paris, and it is called Galerie Kugel ! Every year, Nicolas and Alexis Kugel, who represent the fifth generation of these Russian antique dealers, surprise us with yet another theme for their precious objects : this year it is automat clocks with animals, and suddenly, on the half hour, they were all ringing!
Whether in gold bronze or in clay, these lions, elephants, monkeys or bears, were offered as diplomatic presents to Chinese emperors or European kings and were made mostly in the Free Imperial city of Augsburg, Germany, between 1580 and 1640. These exceptional pieces form a collection of precious animals, which is unique in the world, and they are all for sale.
When Jacques Kugel emigrated to France in 1924, he brought with him silver and jewelry, collected by his parents and little by little, the antique dealer started buying paintings and furniture.
The Kugels try to concentrate on exceptional pieces with a royal or princely provenance, and they keep their collections in warehouses, bringing them out only when they have a large group of treasures to show together. I don’t know how long it took them to assemble the thirty or so automats, but when you enter the salon of quai Anatole France, you have a shock ! the quality of the staging and each individual piece, are staggering.
What I like most about this place is that even though I will never be able to afford the 250 000€ clocks, I am welcomed with a big smile. At the opening, many pieces were already sold and everyone seemed happy ! Including the charming ladies who patiently inform you about what you see.
On the second floor, I discovered an 18 th century painting made of hard stones « le Jeu de billard » which enchanted me. In the staircase hung a tapestry of Fables de la Fontaine, 1725, from the Gobelins, which had belonged to Gustave and Elie de Rothschild. Animals again are the theme…
Everything in the house is exceptional and entrance is free until November 5 th, from 10.30 am to 7 pm. It is a fabulous experience, don’t miss it.
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