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Our April auction of Decorative Arts and Ceramics comprised half a millennium of production from across the world but, despite some strong prices for `home grown` wares, the day’s top honours came from the Far East.
A little memento of the post-War conference at Yalta came in the form of a Bovey Pottery figure of Stalin (who would once have been accompanied by figures of Churchill and Roosevelt). The 20cm high figure depicted the Russian leader standing with his arms crossed: its strong Russian spirit pushed the price to £3170. Two consecutive lots of Derby plates dated from c.1790 and were finely decorated with botanical specimens in glorious colour. The 24 items realised £8900. A French ale or cider ewer, possibly Normandy 18th Century, had wheel-engraved foliate decoration and the vendor may drink something stronger than ale or cider to toast its success at £1340. A Clichy paperweight with 16 canes on a skilfully entwined latticino ground was bid to £700.
Three strong prices were paid for Chinese ceramics: a floor vase, 58cm high, took £5850 and set the tone for two further surprises that far exceeded expectations. A set of six silk embroidered screens, each 142 x 51cm, depicting mountain and lake scenes and set in hardwood frames decorated with mother of pearl, attracted a host of bidders who took the price to £122000. But the week’s top price was paid for a pair of Chinese vases in Daoguang style, decorated in the `famille rose` palette with scenes of maidens dancing , each vase being 27cm high. Considered to be too badly damaged to display in the home of their Somerset owners, the vases were kept out of sight but have given the sellers a very pleasant surprise. Despite the damages, which are usually very offputting to an Asian collector, once again considerable interest from China saw the hammer fall at just over £175000.
Lawrences' jewellery sales tend to be dominated by spectacular prices for spectacular diamonds - such is the special allure of that stone - but the April auction of nearly 400 lots offered plenty of variety elsewhere and the day's top honours will have made the disappointed underbidder green with envy.
Amongst a wide selection of gemstones of all shapes and sizes, two Rolex watches performed well: a steel `Oyster Perpetual` wristwatch from c.1950 made £2300 and a military watch by the same maker tripled hopes to take £2560.
A Victorian diamond three stone ring set with old brilliant-cut stones doubled its estimate to make £6830 but the sale's top three prices showed some further variation in colour: a Victorian diamond closed crescent brooch combined elegance of design with fine quality brilliant-cut stones and made £19500. A late Victorian sapphire and diamond ring, set with a beautifully clear oval light blue sapphire, made £14640. The undoubted highlight was an emerald and diamond ring: the central octagonal 3.1 carat Colombian emerald was of stunning clarity and it was appealingly coloured. Surrounded by single-cut and circular-cut diamonds, the ring attracted spirited bidding and it took persistence for the buyer to secure it for a remarkable £42700.
Pictures and prints from the 16th Century to the present day were in demand at our April auction and some strong bidding, particularly from bidders on the internet, ensured that the vast majority sold very well.
A faded but still lively subject of the York racecourse at Knavesmire by celebrated Georgian satirist Thomas Rowlandson made £4140. Two exceptionally fine works by the Italian Orientalist artist Giulio Rosati, showing carpet traders in an Arab square, made £19500. The appeal was their freshness to the market, their flawless condition, their commercial subject matter and the scarcity of good works by him at auction in Britain.
An atmospheric late 18th Century Welsh landscape ascribed to Joseph Wright of Derby and with 50 years’ of provenance in a Derbyshire collection was bought for £4600 and a dashing portrait of an unknown gentleman in mid-late 17th century dress was attributed to John Michael Wright; this made £5600. A bright and summery 1940’s oil painting by George Charlton of people and boats the waterfront at Cowes made the 4th highest price for the artist at £2130. Two further hints of summer also did well: a small oil of beach huts by celebrated Welsh artist Donald McIntyre raced to £4140 and a sun-soaked oil painting of boats in the harbour at Cannes by William Lee Hankey came from a Somerset private collection and was chased to £5360.
A French enamel mantel clock by Japy Freres struck a high note at £2370 and a modern (1981) carriage timepiece by Thomas Mercer for Garrards proved the demand for quality craftsmanship as it made £3660. A fine quality Victorian marine chronometer by Richard Hornby of Liverpool, vital for mariners to determine their exact longitude, was bid to £5000. A good selection of garden statuary and furniture, removed from Socknersh Manor in Sussex for sale in Somerset, all sold: a modern bronze sculpture of a fishing pixie upon a toadstool, 160cm high, hooked bids of £2070. and a pair of hardwood benches in the style of Edwin Lutyens helped the £29000 selection further by taking £1950.
A small marble model of Roman ruins from the `Grand Tour`, 35cm high, attracted antiquarian collectors to take £2680 and four good prices in the furniture section give a glimpse of the variety that was on offer: six elm-seated kitchen chairs cooked up bids of £4140, a French kingwood vitrine (display cabinet) appealed to many before making £3170, a George II walnut kneehole desk made £1950 and an inlaid Victorian rosewood circular table made £3530.
Our first sale in our week of Spring Fine Art auctions comprised silver and objects of vertu and, with brisk bidding online as well as in the room, the vast majority of the 475 lots found eager buyers. There were many strong results to delight vendors, too.
An early success was for a rare Irish provincial `hook end` soup ladle by George Moore of Limerick. Of elegant dimensions (37cm long) and with a swirl-fluted bowl, this easily exceeded its estimate to make £3900. A George IV hot water jug by the celebrated Regency silversmith Paul Storr dated from 1823 and was bid to £2130 whilst those who prefer a stronger brew favoured a George II beer jug by Edward Pocock. The solid but well-proportioned design attracted bids to £4140. Smaller scale workmanship proved popular, too, as a miniature tea pot, milk jug and sugar basin by John Whelpley of Cork (c.1800) raced to £2920. The teapot stood just 6cm high and would have held only a single small cup of tea but the appeal lay in the Irish origin and the exquisite high Georgian design. Another mixed lot of small novelty items included a tiny chandelier (6.5cm high), and toy baskets, scent bottles and chamber sticks. The price was far from miniscule: £2800. Two small plain ivory tickets or passes for Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, c.1808, offered an evocative glimpse of London society from the early 19th Century and made £1220 whilst a novelty Edwardian butt marker for the sophisticated shooting sportsman was in the form of small (3.4cm) cylindrical canister containing engraved ivory discs. The price shot up and bidders were flushed out at £4390. A small but well executed portrait miniature of Charles Edward Stuart (`Bonnie Prince Charlie`) derived from an original by Pompeo Batoni found keen Jacobite collectors who took it to £1830 but the day’s top price went to a 19.5cm wide cloisonné enamel and silver rose bowl by Wang Hing of Hong Hong. Beautifully worked and finely finished, this elegant piece from c.1900 made £8780.
Whether you want to sell (or buy) diamonds and daggers, Meissen and mezzotints or toy trains and tribal art you will find that our specialists at Lawrences in the glorious West Country know just how to put the action into auctions. Using the latest marketing technology, we achieve the best prices.
With over 300 years of combined expertise, much of it learned in the London auction rooms, we make it our business to know lots about your lots.
With over 300 years of combined experience, our Specialist Valuers will be available to value your antiques at our Head Office and Salerooms in CREWKERNE, EVERY MONDAY - 9.30am - 12.30pm.
Simon Jones (General Valuations & Collectors Items) and one of our Jewellery Specialists, will be available to value your items EVERY FRIDAY - 9.00am - 11.30am at The Castle Hotel, Castle Green, TAUNTON.
FREE HOME VISITS - Chris Flower will be in MINEHEAD on the LAST THURSDAY OF EACH MONTH to value your antiques. Complete house contents and attic clearances arranged. Please call to make an appointment. Tel: 01460 73041.