Auction
CLASSICAL ARTS
RARE ASHANTI DIGNITARY NECKLACE


Aguttes will present, on Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a rare Ashanti necklace, a testament to the ancient African goldsmithing of the Gold Coast. Coming notably from the Julien Chappée Collection, this set equals the rare Ashanti goldsmithing pieces preserved in British museums.

"Artworks of this size rarely survive the centuries. Often, they are seized by melters during wars, economic crises, or fluctuations in gold prices. The preciousness and provenance of this necklace make it an exceptional testimony. An African piece dating back to before 1874 is a rarity both in the art market and for museums."
Grégoire de Thoury, expert

An ancestral know-how
This exquisite gold necklace represents a rare testament to the ancient goldsmithing of the Gold Coast in the royal court of the Asantehene - Ashanti Empire, in present-day Ghana. Likely belonging to a high dignitary or a powerful and glorious war chief, this significant adornment is among the very few Ashanti gold objects in private hands. All Ashanti necklaces documented to date appear to originate from an auction held at Cape Coast Castle (present-day Ghana). Two months later, in April 1874, another auction organized by the crown jewelers Garrard's offered six necklaces.

Julien Chappée, an illustrious provenance
This necklace, after being part of Lady Lyons' Collection, born Helen Julia Hardwick (1873-1963), belonged to the collector Julien Chappée (1862-1957), a great lover of art objects and a generous donor to numerous institutions. The associated documentation, namely an autographed letter from Lady Lyons as well as two letters and an autographed envelope from Julien Chappée, accompanies this set, preserved in private hands for over a century. Collected before 1874, passed from one collection to another, this piece is now offered for public viewing. Particularly during the public exhibition, at Aguttes, on June 17th, 18th, and 19th, 2024.

The Louvre Museum has acquired several major works that passed through the hands of Julien Chappée, including the Shrine of the Holy Innocents [OA 10406] and the Crozier known as that of Jean de Chanlay [OA 10407]. Julien Chappée held this necklace in particular esteem, estimated at 20,000 / 30,000 €. The preservation of its integrity bears witness to the remarkable craftsmanship and the glory of the Ashanti people.

Comprising 120 elements in sand-cast yellow gold: two lion teeth forming the clasp; 13 long pendulous shells from the turritellidae family; 13 stylized bird head-shaped pendants; 15 four-pointed stars; 46 small elbows; and 31 rings.
Kumasi, Ghana, 19th century. Pre-1874.
Length: 36 cm - Total gross weight: 116 g.
(Red sand trace and original casting defects, reassembly on posterior thread, beads and clasp added)
Attached is the accompanying documentation: an autograph letter from Lady Lyons (1873-1963) as well as two letters and an autograph envelope from Julien Chappée (1862-1957).
Estimation : 20 000 – 30 000 €

PROVENANCE
- British acquisition prior to 1874.
- Presumed acquired in April 1874 in London via Garrard's, the Crown Jewellers.
- Collection of Lady Lyons, born Helen Julia Hardwick (1873-1963) [autograph letter].
- Acquired on March 25, 1914, for 800 francs by the collector Julien Chappée (1862-1957) from the Widow Simon.
- Collection of Julien Chappée (1862-1957) [autograph letter], then by descent.


A museum-quality piece
The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge holds an Ashanti gold ornament [MAA 1918.83] featuring similar turritellidae shells as pendants, while today, through successive donations and acquisitions, the bulk of the Ashanti treasure has found its place among the collections of the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Wallace Collection in London.


"By descent from Jules Chappée, this set has been entrusted to us. Initially appraised by Aguttes' 'Jewelry' department, this necklace, due to all the documentation regarding its provenance, underwent a second appraisal by the 'Furniture - Objets d'art' department. It represents a rare testament to Ashanti culture and craftsmanship."
Grégoire de Thoury, expert


Upcoming Classical arts auction
Thursday 20 June 2024, 2.30pm

For more information and include lots in the upcoming auction, please contact
Grégoire de Thoury, Expert and Head of Furniture, Sculpture & Objects of Art Department
+33 1 41 92 06 46 - thoury@aguttes.com