Feb 27-March 2: “The rare, the unique, the exquisite …” the Antonio and Liliane Mariani collection

Fine arts and antiques auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to announce it will offer property from the collections of Antonio and Liliane Mariani, owners of the well-respected Antonio’s Antiques, in a single-owner 400-lot auction to be held in its San Francisco salesrooms on Monday, March 2, 2009. Strong international collector interest is expected as the Mariani’s firm boasted a “Who’s Who” of clients and the Bonhams’ sale will comprise a selection of highly desirable 17th, 18th and 19th century pieces.

“Antonio’s Antiques,” according to Bonhams & Butterfields Vice President Jeffrey Smith, “was one of the driving forces that established San Francisco’s Jackson Square as a destination for antiques collectors and interior designers from across the country and the globe. This sale will offer some of the finest highlights of the Antonio’s collection reflecting rarity, connoisseurship, and centuries of beautiful design.

Antonio Mariani arrived in San Francisco from Italy in the late 1950s. He was 20 years old and had, since the age of five, been trained in restoring antiques by his father, a cabinetmaker who ran a shop in the small Southern Italian town of Taranto. Mr. Mariani, who passed away in 2007, first worked as a restorer at the de Young Museum and soon established his own restoration business in San Francisco. Early in his career, the daughter of winemaker Julio Gallo commissioned him to refurnish the Gallo estate with period antiques.

Within a short time Antonio began a meteoritic rise to become one of the most respected antique dealers and restorers in the world and an irreplaceable part of San Francisco’s creative community. Liliane and Antonio traveled extensively throughout the world, personally finding wonderful examples of period furnishings and were seen together bidding at the major international auction houses as well as the regional auction houses in Europe and the United States. Italian furniture and decorative arts were always their true passion but they were equally excited by other European decorative arts and the Italian examples stood side by side with great French, English and Continental pieces in their collection. By the late 1960s they were employing some of the most talented restorers, glass blowers, gilders, master carvers, textile restorers and conservators.

By the mid-1980s, Antonio’s Antiques maintained a multi-million dollar inventory and a stellar client list, with multiple locations in the city. The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Social Scene” column on Feb. 2, 1985, was dedicated to reporting on the launch party for Antonio’s new three-story Bryant Street warehouse.

The collection will open for preview at Bonhams & Butterfields on Feb. 27, continuing through March 2, the day of the auction. Collectors, connoisseurs and designers will have the unique opportunity to bid on exquisite pieces from the Mariani Collection.

Highlights include a superb late 17th century Brussels garden tapestry (estimate $30,000-$45,000); a pair of George III terrestrial and celestial globes (estimate $15,000-$25,000); an unusual George III giltwood wall clock (estimate $10,000-$15,000); very fine early 19th century Russian gilt bronze chandelier (estimate $35,000-$50,000); and an early 18th century Louis XIV boullework marquetry commode (estimate $70,000-$90,000).

The superb Italian offerings stem from Northern Italy to Sicily, including: a Sicilian 18th century engraved mirror depicting a masqued ball figure, as well as a Venetian engraved mirror depicting Apollo and Roman emperors (estimates for each $35,000-$50,000); a suite of Italian rococo seating furniture with Spreckels family provenance (estimate $18,000-$25,000); a Venetian rococo cabinet, mid 18th century, with the Barberini family provenance (estimate $60,000-$80,000); a marvelous Spanish Renaissance figure of the Madonna, 16th century, deaccessioned from the Metropolitan Museum; a set of eight northern Italian rococo giltwood armchairs (estimate $60,000-$80,000); a rare 16th century apothecary jar (estimate $8,000-$12,000); and of special interest to collectors, a pair of George III giltwood candelabra (estimate $6,000-$8,000).

The illustrated auction catalog will be online at www.bonhams.com/us.

Click here to discuss this story and more in the AntiqueTrader.com message boards.