French Faïence: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection

French Faïence: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection

01/17/2024     General, English & Continental Furniture & Decorations, General Furniture & Decorative Arts

GALLERY TALK & SPARKLING BAR | Saturday, January 20 at 1pm
Join us for a Gallery Talk by Ceramics Expert Jodie Wilkie on Saturday, January 20 at 1pm. Learn about the development of French faïence and the significance of the pieces in the Sidney R. Knafel Collection. Then enjoy our Sparkling Bar until 3pm. The talk will take place at Doyle, 175 East 87th Street. Free and open to the public.

NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle is honored to auction French faïence from the Estate of Sidney R. Knafel sold to benefit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Over the course of fifty years, Mr. Knafel assembled the most important private collection of 16th through 18th century French faïence. The upcoming auction on January 25, 2024 features a special offering of exceptional examples from his storied collection. Each of the thirteen lots on offer is illustrated in the landmark 2016 reference book, French Faience: The Sidney R. Knafel Collection (Éditions Mare & Martin: Paris).

Tin-glazed earthenware, French faïence was introduced into Lyon by immigrant Italian artisans in the second half of the 16th century -- its name derives from the Italian town of Faenza. Production gradually expanded across the provinces of France. The forms of its platters, bowls, tureens and ewers are informed mostly by contemporary examples of European ceramics and silver, while its colorful decoration is inspired by Italian maiolica, Asian porcelain and popular engravings.

Mr. Knafel built an encyclopedic collection with outstanding examples of Lyon, Nevers, Rouen, Moustiers, Moulins and Marseilles production spanning two centuries from 1580 to 1780. The quality of the pieces in the collection almost obscures the fact that French faïence was essentially a provincial art, largely patronized and commissioned by a local aristocracy and made far from the cultural centers of Versailles and Paris.

A native New Yorker, Sidney R. Knafel (1930-2021) had a successful career spanning investment banking, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. He worked at Lazard Freres and later established the private investment firm, SRK Management, where he was founder and Chairman of Vision Communications, Inc. and Insight Communications, Inc. Educated at Phillips Academy, Harvard College, and Harvard Business School, Mr. Knafel's philanthropic affiliations include roles as Charter Trustee Emeritus at Phillips Academy, Chairman of The Addison Gallery of American Art's Board of Governors, Chairman of The Rogosin Institute of New York Presbyterian Hospital, and active involvement in various Harvard University committees. He served on the Board of Trustees of such prestigious institutions as The Frick Collection, Wellesley College and The Juilliard School, among other philanthropic commitments.

Mr. Knafel generously bequeathed portions of his extensive collection to several distinguished institutions, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wellesley College and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University. In 2018 The Frick Collection organized ‘Masterpieces of French Faïence: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection,’ an exhibition of seventy-five pieces from his collection, all promised gifts to the museum.


English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts

Auction Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 10am
Exhibition January 20 - 22

Featured in the January 25 auction are thirteen lots of French faïence from the Estate of Sidney R. Knafel sold to benefit the Detroit Institute of Arts.

View Property from the Estate of Sidney R. Knafel



Jenny Pitman

Jenny Pitman

Senior Vice President, Director of Regions