One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales,
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales
Quality, rarity and condition seemed to be in great demand in Lawrences’ recent auction of furniture and works of art.
A highlight early on in the sale was a walnut and floral marquetry mantel clock with later movement which made £13420. An exquisitely carved pair of 17th Century Indo-Portuguese ivory panels, each about the size of a piece of A4 paper, met keen international interest to make £16100. These were selected from a consignment delivered to the general saleroom and put aside for further research by an eagle-eyed valuer who was impressed by their exceptional craftsmanship.
Within the furniture section itself, £6100 was paid for a 2.2m wide low oak cupboard and a pair of early George III mahogany corner armchairs from Sydenham House in Devon were bid to a similar amount. A finely carved mahogany tripod table with an octagonal top attracted keen bidding and made £3410 and a large Heriz carpet doubled expectations to make £1700.
The day’s top price – and, indeed, the top price from a highly successful week of auctions in Crewkerne – was paid for a George III serpentine commode that has passed down in the family of the Marquesses of Zetland from Aske Hall, near Richmond in Yorkshire. Sir Lawrence Dundas had commissioned important items of furniture from Thomas Chippendale and careful research allowed the auctioneers to ascribe this piece to Chippendale too. The commode has blind fret carved outset corners and four drawers and the highly desirable combination of unbroken provenance, fine quality, good condition and an estimate of £30000-40000 (which reflected the experts’ belief in its importance) ensured that the lot was bid to just over £56000.
Nearly 300 lots of pictures were sold at Lawrences in Crewkerne on January 16th and enthusiasm was keen across the sale with scores of internet bidders, bidders on the telephone and, of course, in the room.
“Contrary to some people’s expectations, January is a dependably busy time of year for us,” says Lawrence’s specialist, Richard Kay. “Our series of Winter Fine Art sales are always popular and prices are consistently strong, regardless of the weather or collectors’ budgets after Christmas.”
Some highlights in the selection of prints included £2920 for a group of twelve copper engraving plates by John Buckland Wright, made in 1939 to illustrate his `Vigil of Venus`. The owner had expected these to go into a general sale until their importance was spotted. Two strong prices amongst the drawings and watercolours were paid for a 1907 drawing by Walter Sickert of an entertainer on a Paris stage (£6460) and £6580 for a pastel by Simon Bussy of the bizarre `Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise` from 1929. A wonderfully fresh watercolour of a hay barge on a river by David Cox, c.1828, found in an assorted folio of drawings in a Somerset house, made £4020.
Amongst the oil paintings, an enormous (90” high) portrait of an unidentified Earl by Michael Dahl, c.1710, made £8780; an impressive marine painting of the HMS Caledonia off Cadiz by Thomas Buttersworth, c.1810, sailed to £12,200; and a head study of a Moroccan man, painted in 1887 probably by Robert Alexander, made £6100. A sunlit view of the Grand Canal in Venice by Rafael Senet, c.1900, made £6580 for its Welsh vendor. The day’s top price was paid for a finely detailed view in North Wales by Benjamin W. Leader. Rediscovered by Lawrences in a Somerset house, the picture was identified as a Royal Academy exhibit from 1864. It was referred to the Leader expert, Ruth Wood, who assisted with the cataloguing and it doubled its mid estimate to make £30,500. The total for the sale exceeded £270,000 with only about 13% unsold.
Lawrence’s Ceramics and Decorative Arts auction comprise items from across the globe spanning many centuries of production. In their recent sale, over five centuries of worldwide skill went under the hammer and prices were buoyant throughout.
The Oriental ceramics included a Chinese famille rose bowl and cover (£2440) and a Cantonese enamel plaque of seated European figures making music in a pavilion (£5850) whilst a 12.5cm (5”) gilt bronze Buddha was bid to £4270. An interesting selection of glassware included £650 for a single wine glass; 530 for a Baccarat paperweight; and £1120 for a pair of Bohemian green and white lustres. Two similar Derby pottery figures of cherubs upon a goat and a leopard made £1700.
In a popular section of more modern decorative arts, a Lalique vase in the Bellecour design made £950; a Wedgwood `Fairyland` lustre bowl with the `Leapfrogging Elves` design leapt nimbly to £1120; a Royal Worcester vase decorated with a stork by Walter Powell flew to £910; and a pottery bowl by James Tower attracted many bids to make £950. A Heals and Son `Chartwell` chair, originally designed for Sir Winston Churchill but then produced more widely in the firm’s catalogue, was of appropriately sturdy and straightforward British construction: it was bid eagerly (and with bulldog determination) to £870.
There was plenty of variety in Lawrence’s recent jewellery auction with over 550 lots on offer, but the day’s top prices focused upon more unusual items. Highlights included an elegant gold cigarette box by Cartier (£2440); a German silver pocket watch by Glashutte (£1460); an Irish gold pocket watch by Delahoyde of Dublin (£2070, image 1089); and a carved pink tourmaline suite of jewellery (£5120). An exceptional Art Deco jade, diamond and black onyx brooch (the jade carved in the form of a fish) wriggled up to £4300. Animals lovers had plenty to choose from: an amber elephant (2” high) made £190; a brooch adorned with paste-set swallows took £230; some enamel pendants depicting St. George and the dragon made £170 apiece; a white gold dachshund brooch leapt to £360; a gold and gem set squirrel brooch made £580; a jade, gold and pearl insect brooch scuttled up to £140; an 18ct gold cat brooch was bought for £400; an enamel and gold salmon brooch was sold with an enamel and gold tortoise brooch for £240; a diamond set frog brooch made £170; and a Victorian diamond bee brooch created a buzz at £2680.
Predictably, fine gemstones dominated the higher prices with a diamond three stone ring taking £5120; another similar making £3290; a diamond cluster making £2440; and a 2.1 carat solitaire ring taking the top honours at £14000.
Lawrences in Crewkerne kicked off a busy week of auctions with nearly 800 lots of silver and vertu on January 13th. The sale was eagerly viewed by dealers and private buyers alike and keen international interest from the internet and telephone bidders ensured that most lots found buyers.
The day’s top prices were paid for items that had interest beyond our shores: A Turkish hanging lamp made £1520; a Maltese sugar bowl and cover, c.1780, made £1700 and another similar (c.1805) made £2190; a Japanese tray, cocktail shaker and six beakers by Samukai Shokai of Yokohama made £1460; and an 18th Century Chinese fan took £2190. Irish pieces proved popular with a 3” (7.5cm) freedom box, made in Dublin in 1753 but presented in 1786, making £5120. A large two-handled cup, made by Joseph Johns in Limerick in about 1750 exceeded its estimate of £1500-2000 to make £3780
Two exquisite vinaigrettes made by master silversmith Nathaniel Mills of Birmingham, 1840-1844, met predictable interest: one cast in high relief with an image of St. Paul’s cathedral took £3290 whilst another, showing York Minster, was bid to £5000. Neither exceeded 2” (5cm) in length. It has been said that vanity finds only one true admirer but an Art Nouveau dressing table set disproved that when it attracted a host of determined bidders. Made by Liberty and Co, 1903 and decorated in the popular `Cymric` design, the selection of eight brushes, mirrors, pots and trays appealed sufficiently to take £4880. The day’s total was almost exactly £250,000.