Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers

The Old Cinema,
Chatsworth Street,
Co. Killkenny,
R95 XV05,

PSRA Registration No: 001687

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Tel: +353 (0)56 4441229
Fax: +353 (0)56 4441627

Lot 1551/0318

SOLD Hammer price: €3200, Estimate: €3000-4000

An important early 18th Century miniature Dutch Museum in a Bottle, depicting the ‘Felix Meritis’ Building in Amsterdam, a three storey red brick classical building with stacked roof, crested triangular centre surrounded by balustrades, the front with five bay windows over three floors, the centre set with domed windows and half classical columns, with typical fanlight door, and with figures gathered outside in period attire. All contained inside a glass bottle, approx. 33cms (13″) high. (1)Note: It was built according to a winning design by the architect Jacob Otten Husly for the new society called Felix Meritis established in 1776 for Music, Drawing, Physics, Commerce and Literature in the modern neo-classical style. Husly had won a similar design contest for the city hall of Groningen in the previous year. The building itself was meant to exemplify the Enlightenment ideals the society stood for. The classical temple fa‡ade with its colossal Corinthian pilasters and pediment represent the society’s five departments with five sculptures representing the visual arts and architecture, literature, trade, natural sciences and music. The interior includes original 18th-century features such as the central staircase, the oval concert hall (renowned for its acoustics) and the domed roof – underneath which there used to be an astronomical observatory.On 31 October 1788 the building of the same name opened its doors. The society focused on the promotion of arts and sciences in a broader sense than the artists’ collectives popular at the time. Husly was himself a board member of the Amsterdam City Drawing Academy Stadstekenacademie, that had close contacts with the Oeconomischen Tak van de Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (economics branch of the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, which met in the Trippenhuis). The society was abolished in 1888.Felix Meritis’ oval concert hall was the main music hall in Amsterdam until late into the 19th century and enjoyed a great international reputation. Many famous musicians performed there, including Robert and Clara Schumann, Camille Saint-Sa‰ns, Johannes Brahms and Julius R”ntgen. The orchestra of Felix Meritis was regarded as the best of the Netherlands and accompanied many Dutch premieres, directed by conductors such as Johannes Bernardus van Bree. Thus, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique had their Dutch premiere in the concert hall of Felix Meritis. The small hall of the Concertgebouw is a replica of this concert hall.

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