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A number of fine pieces of furniture, ranging from classic Georgian items to quirky "Mouseman" pieces, will feature strongly in Lawrences' auction in Crewkerne next month. An elegant Irish George III mahogany centre table is estimated at £5000-5500 and six mahogany chairs with the desirable stamp of Gillows of Lancaster should make £2000-2500.
A George I walnut card table (£8000-12000), a walnut bureau bookcase from the same era (£8000-10000) and a George IV amboyna centre table (£10000-15000) continue the English highlights whilst a pair of early 19th Century Italian walnut and marquestry commodes are guided at £15000-20000 (see illustration) and a provincial Louis XV mahogany commode is expected to make £3000-5000.
Following terrific success with the works of Robert "Mouseman" Thompson (1876-1955) in the October 2010 auction, Lawrences are optimistic about the market for an oak sideboard (£2500-3000), a pair of corner cabinets (£4000-5000), a dining table (£2500-3000), a suite of eight dining chairs (£3500-4000) and smaller lots such as a tea trolley (£400-500), a book trough (£250-350), a pair of bookends (£150-200) and a stool (£250-350). Each item bears the small carved mouse that was Robert Thompson's distinctive signature and such solidly constructed, serviceable pieces are still made by the Thompson workshop in Kilburn, Yorkshire today.
The remarkably vigorous market for Chinese ceramics and works of art goes from strength to strength almost day by day and carved jade seems to be the most desirable medium for works of art. Traditionally, jade is given as a gift with the intention of closing a business deal or as a gesture of gratitude. Lawrences in Crewkerne are quietly optimistic about the prospects for a number of pieces of jade in their forthcoming sale. A highlight will be a "boulder mountain", carved in exquisite detail in the late 18th or early 19th century, and measuring just over 6 inches (16cm) high. The jade is delicately pierced with buildings and trees and there is a solitary figure amongst the grottoes on the front. The piece is expected to realise £6000-7000 on January 20th.
In the same sale, a jade bowl with cover and stand in the same "mutton fat" hue is guided at £4500-5000, a mottled white jade figure of a buffalo with a herdsman dates from the 17th Century and may make £2500 whilst a celadon jade figure of a crane amidst lotus foliage is expected to make £3000. Further items of a similar nature include a spinach jade vase in the form of a leaping carp (£1500-2000), a white jade brush washer (£2500-3000), a brush rest in a grey-white jade depicting a bat upon a fungus branch (£1500-2000) and a white jade square seal just 1.5 in (3cm) wide, carved with a sinuous dragon (£1200-1500). The selection forms part of the firm's 2500-lot Winter Fine Art sale.
They were made by the colourfully-named Quebec artist Marc Aurele de Foy Suzor-Cote (1869-1937) in 1912-1914 and depict "le vieux pionnier canadien" and his wife. Hugely popular in Canada, Suzor-Cote's paintings and bronzes often featured subjects from Canada's pioneer tradition and so caught the eye of Harold Fortington, a British financier with business links with Canada in the 1920's. He brought the pair home to his house in Aberdeenshire. Mrs N. A. J. Moulton-Barrett, his daughter, died earlier this year and her longstanding associations with Anthony Kilroy at Lawrences resulted in the bronzes coming down to Crewkerne for sale. Each one measures about 17 inches in length and has the rich warm brown patina that collectors so admire. "Suzor-Cote had studied art under the distinguished painter Leon Bonnat in Paris," explains Anthony. "His style blends Canadian subject matter with a highly accomplished sculpting technique learnt in Europe. These bronzes have great character and charm and have survived in remarkably good condition down the years. We hope that the pair will attract keen attention from Canada and we have advertised them there already." The estimate for the pair is £9000-12000.
A remarkable cache of jewellery, the property of a West Country family who had no idea of its value, has been discovered in a bank vault and will be offered at auction at Lawrences in January.
The forty pieces range in value from a silver pocket watch (£80-100), through numerous rings and brooches in the £200-2000 range, to items of exceptional quality and distinction. A Georgian ruby and diamond brooch centres upon a lozenge-shaped ruby with graduated rubies and diamonds around it (£8000-10,000) and matches a pair of similar earrings (£2000-3000). An archaeological-revival gold fringe collar necklace, inspired by the designs of antiquity, comes complete in its original fitted box from John G. Jacob of Liverpool (£2000-3000) whilst the pre-eminent London jewellers, S. J. Phillips, supplied the two best items in the collection: a Victorian ruby and diamond necklace formed as twelve foliate clusters (£15,000-18,000) and a breathtaking "Belle Epoque" emerald and diamond necklace formed as fifteen graduated sections, offered with a matching pair of earrings (£20,000-30,000).
"It is remarkable that such exquisite pieces could have been left for so long in a bank," observes Lawrences' specialist, Miranda Bingham. "The market for gold and diamonds is very bouyant at present and exceptional rubies and emeralds like this will attract international attention."
**FORTHCOMING FINE ART SALE 2011**
January 17th - Books, Maps & Manuscripts
January 18th - Silver & Vertu
January 19th - Decorative Antiques
January 20th - Jewellery & Ceramics
January 21st - Pictures & Furniture
An exceptional 17th Century map of North America and Canada is expected to attract international interest when it is offered at auction in Somerset (England) in January 2011, By Lawrences of Crewkerne.
The manuscript map, meticulously coloured and remarkably well preserved on a 68 by 80 cm (27 x 31.5in) sheet of vellum, was drawn by London "plattmaker" (cartographer) John Thornton in 1699 and depicts North East America and Canada from Hudson's Straights south through Labrador and Newfoundland to New England and New York.
Map specialists at The British Library have suggested that the map might have been a special commission for a patron on account of the considerable detail given to small settlements on the Newfoundland coast, implying an interest in the local fishing business.
Its surprising appearance in a Scottish country house is explained by the business interests of the late vendor's father, Harold Fortington, who had links with Canada and North America before the Second World War. When his daughter, Mrs N. A. J. Moulton-Barrett, died in 2010 the map was found in the course of a valuation of the contents of The House of Glennie in Aberdeenshire undertaken by Lawrences for probate purposes. The map had lain on a shelf in the attics at The House of Glennie beside some water tanks but its potential significance was recognised immediately. Research by specialist Rose Sanguinetti of Lawrences books and manuscripts department followed and it is expected to realise £50,000-80,000 at auction on January 17th.
Ernest Howard Shepard is best known for his delightful illustrations to A. A. Milne's stories of Christopher Robin with studies of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. A small sketch of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet will be offered at Lawrences next month and it has a curious provenance. In the early 1950's three friends in their early twenties (a librarian, an actor and a trainee doctor) would buy inexpensive paperback copies of Milne's books and give them to friends who were not yet familiar with the charming stories. In September 1954, the actor Peter Bromilow (who later appeared in The Railway Children and many other films) wrote to Shepard and told him of the trio's attempts to broaden the popularity of the books. In return, he received a little pen and ink sketch of Pooh and Piglet offering a vote of thank you and a gracious letter.
This letter and sketch have been treasured for 56 years but, following the deaths of Peter Bromilow and the doctor, the last surviving member of the three friends has decided to sell the drawing. "These two characters are undoubtedly Shepard's most popular subjects and it is very exciting to find them both in one drawing and with such strong provenance," says Lawrences' Richard Kay. "The drawing is about the size of a playing card and it is now to be seen at auction for the first time. We hope that it will make £4000-6000."
A wonderful collection of Mouseman furniture is to be sold by Lawrences of Crewkerne.
Robert Thompson of Kilburn better known as Mouseman has been producing furniture of the highest quality from the 1920's to the present day. Living in Kilburn in Yorkshire he began to produce hand crafted furniture all made in traditional oak. He was part of the 1920's revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement which had been led by William Morris and John Ruskin.
Upon his death in 1955 the firm was continued by his decendents and still produces the highest quality furniture, all with the trademark carved mouse.
This collection of Mouseman furniture has been compiled for many years and includes a dining table, set of eight dining chairs, sideboard, pair of corner cabinets, bookends, book trough, and stool.
Lawrences Auctioneer Simon Jones said, "After the success of our October sale which included a Mouseman dining table and set of chairs, we have been inundated with enquiries. This is a lovely collection, and would enhance any room in a period property or modern house."
Estimates range from £200-£2000 and will be sold in Lawrences January Fine Art Sale. For further enquiries please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.