Press Release  December 3, 2019

Sotheby's Showcases the Art of Travel

Courtesy Sotheby's

LONDON – This December, Sotheby’s will host Art of Travel, a new themed auction exploring the enduring allure of travel. In the 19th century, art and society were transformed by the possibilities offered by ever more affordable and convenient travel and transport. Views by artist-travelers of inspiring destinations around Europe and further afield, from Marrakech to Venice, and Paris to Istanbul, will lead the sale. For the first time at Sotheby’s these will be presented together with a diverse selection of photographs, maps, and luxury travel collectibles, including Louis Vuitton vintage luggage. This online sale will launch with a selection of highlights on view at Belmond Cadogan Hotel on 2 December, and will remain open for bidding until the 12. Highlights will also be on public view in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries from 7 to 11 December.

Richard Lowkes, Sotheby’s 19th Century European Paintings Specialist, in charge of the sale, commented: “Our sale Art of Travel offers an eclectic selection of property from across nine collecting categories, designed to appeal to the 21st century traveler. The sale’s title can be read in several ways – not least, it is the title of Norman Parkinson’s iconic 1951 photograph, which is included in the sale. The early 20th -century Louis Vuitton luggage on offer evokes this same spirit of travel at its most refined and elegant. At the same time, the sale is rich in art inspired by travel – from Jacques Majorelle’s scenes of Marrakech or West Africa to Lucien Levy-Dhurmer’s Symbolist vision of Venice. The maps and atlases, some from the 17th century, bring to life an earlier age of travel and exploration. With estimates ranging from £600 to £60,000, the sale offers opportunities for collectors at every level.”

Courtesy Sotheby's

A Louis Vuitton Cocktail Bar and Humidor Customised Trunk, early 20th century, customization, early 21st century. Estimate £40,000-50,000.


The Louis Vuitton trunks in the sale are a testimony to the firm’s reputation for excellence and expertise and to its founder’s desire to elevate travel to an art. The craftmanship of Louis Vuitton trunks is rooted in their founder’s origins. At the age of 16, Vuitton (1821-1892) arrived in Paris and started apprenticing for the French layetier Monsieur Maréchal. In a time when trains and steamships transformed transportation in the mid-19th century, a new breed of travellers called upon French craftsmen named layetier to pack and protect their individual objects. The trunks in which their valuables were stored and protected became highly treasured by their owners. In 1854, Vuitton opened his own trunk-making firm in Paris and with the familiar ‘LV’ monogram introduced in the late19th century, his trunks spread in France and around the world. With a crucial understanding of the art of travel, Louis Vuitton, his brand and trunks thus acted as the new authority on glamour and luxury.

Stroma Yole, Bee, 1904, Scotland. Estimate £10,000-15,000.

Bee is one of the last remaining examples of the original Stroma Yoles, a style of boat that is a legacy from the days when Vikings lived and ruled in the North of Scotland. Strongly constructed using larch planking, oak frames and copper fastenings, Bee is larger than most yoles. According to the Registry of Fishing Boats in Scotland, Bee was built by the Banks brothers at Harrow near Mey in 1904. She was registered in the port of Wick on the 5th of May 1912 and was given the registration number WK 378. Her method of propulsion was fore and aft sprit sails with lines as the mode of fishing. The entry for name of owner was ‘David Sinclair and other residents of Stroma’, the other owners were Hugh Simpson, James Robertson, Matthew Dundas and Sinclair Bremner – all were crofters on the island who required a boat to carry livestock to and from the mainland, across one of the roughest stretches of sea in Europe. Bee is fully seaworthy and has a complete Marine Survey Report carried out recently by a Naval Architect. She is currently owned by a charity, The Berwickshire Maritime Trust, who have used her to teach traditional sailing skills to young people. Sale proceeds will benefit the charity.

Courtesy Sotheby's

Elephant Bird Egg. An intact and complete elephant bird egg [Madagascar, 17th century or earlier]. Estimate £20,000-30,000.

The elephant bird was a ratite (or flightless bird) of the genus Aepyornis, which comprised a number of species (possibly seven), of which the term most commonly refers to the Aepyornis maximus. Indigenous to the island of Madagascar, the elephant bird typically grew to a height of about three metres tall and usually weighed some 450kg. For reasons that remain unclear, but may include hunting by European settlers and the loss of habitat due to deforestation and/or climate change, the elephant bird became extinct possibly as early as the 13th century and certainly by the end of the 17th century. Elephant birds’ eggs became sought-after rarities and curiosities during the late nineteenth century–especially intact examples–and the interest in them continues to the present day.

Belmond is proud to present this unique experience at Belmond le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Created by celebrated chef Raymond Blanc OBE, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is one of the UK’s most cherished manor house hotels. Tucked into the Oxfordshire countryside, and housed in a 15th -century manor, the hotel has held two Michelin stars since 1984. The winning bidder, together with their guest, will spend two nights in a Junior Suite. On both nights, they will dine in Raymond Blanc’s 2 Michelin starred restaurant, choosing from any of the dinner menus, accompanied by a selected wine flight. They will enjoy a full breakfast on both mornings, take part in one full-day hands-on course in The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, and meet with Raymond Blanc, either for an aperitif before dinner or during the day. This lot is topped off with a signed and dedicated collection of Raymond’s cookery books to take home as an enduring memento.

courtesy sotheby's

Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons Experience for Two Guests. Estimate £4,000-5,000.

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