ANN ARBOR, MI – Rare art from a prominent Ann Arbor collector is up for auction this weekend, giving people a shot at everything from original Auguste Rodin sculptures to art glass and sterling silver.
The collection belongs to Bob Schweizer, the fourth-generation former owner of Schweizer’s Restaurant, a Detroit institution from 1862 to 1991. It is up for auction beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, followed by auctions at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and noon Sunday, Dec. 15, at DuMouchelle Art Galleries, 409 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit.
Schweizer accumulated the rare art collection over five decades, DuMouchelle’s General Manager Bob DuMouchelle said. It is comprised of more than 700 items from his personal, including three original sculptures from Rodin, a French artist who was an originator of modern sculpture in the later half of the 19th century.
“There are many offered on the market, but to get a hold of originals – they aren’t coming up as often,” DuMouchelle said of Schweizer’s collection of Rodin originals. “This was a long-term pursuit for (Schweizer) to have three of them in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. It took quite an effort.”
Due to his age and health, Schweizer was not available for comment.
Rodin’s “A Burgher of Calais (Jean D’aire)” and “Le Désespéré” are two of the most unique finds in his collection, and were cast at Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris. A larger version of the former is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, while a marble sculpture of the latter title is an identical subject in the collection of the St. Louis Art Museum.
“A Burgher of Calais (Jean D’aire)” is of particular value, DuMouchelle said, fetching anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 at auction. The sculpture was commissioned by Rodin in 1884, who designed the figure as one of six colossal statues forming a monument to a group of 14-century citizens of the northern French town of Calais.
The six men had offered themselves as hostages to induce the English to lift a siege and spare their starving city.
“This is part of a series (Rodin) did, and it was based on part of history where the English had Calais under seige and offered, if the wealthiest, most prominent people came out and offered the keys,” DuMouchelle said. “They came out humbly dressed, sacrificing themselves so that the rest of the city wouldn’t be destroyed. They came out, offered the keys and then were beheaded.”
DuMouchelle’s President Joan Walker called the collection one of the most exceptional to be auctioned off this decade.
Schweizer’s father and grandfather were customers of DuMouchelle’s since its founding in 1927, Walker said, purchasing paintings and sculptures to adorn their restaurant and homes.
DuMouchelle’s sold Schweizer’s collection that was on display at the restaurant when it closed in 1991. However, they were surprised at what was in Schweizer’s personal collection.
“We didn’t expect to find the Rodins or the wide-ranging variety of rare objects across so many categories including art glass by L. C. Tiffany, Murano, Lalique, and Steuben, sterling silver by Georg Jensen and Gorham and many other fine art pieces.