A George III giltwood sofa made by Thomas Chippendale to designs of Robert Adam for Sir Laurence Dundas, Bt., circa 1765. Sold in conjunction with Robert Holden Ltd. from an aristocratic English family to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Services for museums
Ever since his years as an expert at Christie's, William Iselin has maintained close ties with museum curators and directors who rely on him for advice in sourcing future purchases as well as independent help in evaluating and appraising their collections.
Detail of Hippomenes and Atalanta from one of the Gobelins tapestries acquired for the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky.
Earlier this year, he collaborated with two American museums to source and acquire works: a pair of Louis XV gilt bronze-mounted Chinese porcelain vases for the Art Institute of Chicago and an Italian console table for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In both cases, the projects involved locating a large number of potential candidates in the trade and at auction and subsequently selecting the finest ones on the basis of quality, rarity and condition.
In 2018, he arranged the sale of three important 18th Century tapestries to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. In 2016 he worked with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to bring a documented Thomas Chippendale sofa to Texas directly from an English aristocratic collection.
In the past, he has sourced in the Paris trade a historical Louis XVI gilt bronze clock and a marquetry secretary by Leleu for the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation at the Dallas Museum of Art. He also located in a small Paris auction and bid on a remarkable Anglo-Indian ivory candelabrum for the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum acquired through Iselin a rococo marquetry commode by the French cabinet-maker Charles Cressent (d.1768) for their permanent collection.
Over the years, numerous American institutions and curators have called on his expertise to conduct in-depth reviews their collections, including the RISD Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Carnegie Institute of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
He also provides advice on conservation to museum curators, helping them find the appropriate professional to carry out work. Recently, he arranged for a Paris workshop to conserve the original gilding on a pair of 18th Century chairs belonging to the Toledo Museum of Art. Other similar restoration projects have included the extensive conservation of an English gilt bronze musical clock made for the Chinese market that belongs to the New Orleans Museum of Art and was damaged during Hurricane Katrina while in a local workshop. The project was handled by a London-based specialist and he oversaw all aspects of it on behalf of the museum.