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The final day of Lawrences’ recent Spring Fine Art auction comprised clocks, works of art, furniture and carpets. A welcome boldness and vigour amongst bidders ensured that most of the lots on offer were sold and the internet bidders added extra verve to a busy day.
Early successes included an ormolu and bronze mantel clock surmounted with a bronze figure of an African youth drinking water from a bowl, lapped up at £8840. A floral marquetry longcase clock doubled hopes to take £5130 and a walnut and ebonised stick barometer maintained the pressure with a bid of £2390. Numerous strong prices in the furniture section included a set of eleven Irish Victorian walnut hall chairs that made £4300; a paper fronted three fold screen decorated with Chinoiserie scenes made £5010; an elegant George III rococo giltwood and painted looking glass reflected rather more than the vendor’s wildest dreams when it soared to £4300 and a charming Bavarian carved wood hat stand (74 inches high) with a bear gazing up at her cub atop the stand showed its claws at £2740. A George III wine cooler got collectors overheated as they bid eagerly for the 24 inch high mahogany cellarette, its lid carved with stiff leaves and its lower section carved with Bacchus masks and fruiting vines on four hairy hoof feet. This was bought for an intoxicating £14340. A large Ushak carpet in peachy pinks and soft greens made £6930 and a boldly patterned Kazak runner raced up to £2030 despite there being a large hole in it.
Amidst these strengths and surprises, one items caught buyers’ eyes from around the globe and no fewer than a dozen phone lines were booked for it. The star lot of the sale (and, indeed, of the week) was an Indo-Portuguese hardwood table cabinet, very finely inlaid with ivory flowering lilies and other floral motifs within foliate scroll borders. The fall front revealed an arrangement of ten small drawers around a central deep drawer, the whole inlaid with equally fine ivory details in sinuous patterns. The cabinet came from the Smith-Barry family, formerly by descent in the collections of the Earls of Barrymore from Fota in County Cork. The good provenance, fine quality, decorative impact and rarity spiced up the bidding and it was bought for a remarkable £51380.
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Over 300 lots of pictures of international appeal came under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and prices were buoyant in a market that is quickly regaining general broadbased strength after a few years of relatively selective buying. Four prints of Indian interest, including a badly worn copy of Johann Zoffany’s famous image of `Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match` got the ball rolling at £1670 and three lots of remarkable life drawings and studies after the Antique by the little-known John Bathe (1849-1874) soared to £8380. An atmospheric watercolour view of Ilfracombe by John Martin dated from 1847 and was bought for £9560. A fine group of Kentish scenes by Rowland Hilder sold well against keen competition to make £12000. Depicting more distant shores, two restful views of Corfu by Spyridon Scarvelli made £3220. By complete contrast, a ghoulish pencil study of a skull by the celebrated contemporary artist Damien Hirst, given to the vendor by the artist, made £4180.
In the selection of oil paintings, a beautiful study of the Virgin and Child by Netherlandish master Otto van Veen (derived from a work by Raphael, probably seen by van Veen in Rome in the 1570’s) was bought by a private collector for £17920 and a fascinating oil of yachts off Cowes, painted in about 1845, exceeded its £1500 estimate to sail away at £4780. A Royal Academy exhibit by John William Bottomley from 1856, depicting young hunters on a foggy Scottish upland, was appearing outside the vendor’s family for the first time in 160 years and made £2390. A serene moonlit beach scene in Cornwall by Julius Olsson created waves at £3580 whilst Giorgio Lucchesi’s minutely detailed oil of grapes proved to be the pick of the bunch at £9080. The sale ended on a high note as ten lots from the Smith-Barry family (by descent in the Earls of Barrymore of Fota Island in County Cork) all found buyers, with a portrait of the 4th Earl (1667-1747) making £7400 and a wistful Victorian study of the Hon. Geraldine Smith-Barry by George Elgar Hicks leaving for a new home at £5970
Lawrences’ sale of Decorative Arts, Ceramics and Glass on April 10th comprised the usual vast array of lots from across the world and highlights came from China and – perhaps less predictably – Ireland.
A Lalique bowl in the `Perruches` pattern of parakeets was bought for £2500, a set of eight Wedgwood tiles on a sporting theme (depicting dogs and game) made £1190; and a stylish greyhound designed by Rivierre, on a cut sheet of bronze with a silvered finish, raced to £1190 too. An appealing group of three Emperor penguins by the Royal Copenhagen factory waddled up to £330 but interest focused upon two stained glass panels by Irishman Harry Clarke (1889-1931). Clarke was a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts movement and two very different examples of his work were on offer: a 10 x 5in panel showing an elegant musician in a palette of silver and yellow was bought for £10270. A circular panel 5 inches in diameter from 1915 depicted a serene study of the Madonna and Child in tones of blue and attracted intense competition before the hammer fell at £44,200.
In a selection of British and Continental ceramics, a pair of Staffordshire figures of the celebrated bare knuckle fighters Molyneux and Cribb fought their way to £3100; a KPM plaque with a finely painted portrait study of an old man after Balthasar Denner made £1170; and a single Meissen dish decorated with birds, insects and butterflies made £710.
Three very different items took the highest prices in the Oriental section. A blue and white kraak porselein dish, profusely decorated with urns of flowers and floral sprays, made £1910. This was in contrast to the quiet understatement of the undecorated pale lime green glaze of a simple Yongzheng dish that made £5970. A Chinese coat, embroidered in gilt thread with dragons on a trellis ground with clouds and foaming waves exemplified the skills of fine Chinese craftsmanship and was bought for £1900.
There were 450 lots of jewellery and watches in Lawrences’ recent auction on April 10th. Prices started at just £60 but rose into five figures, so there was something on offer for every collector.
Highlights early on included £1430 for an amber bead necklace and £2390 for a section of Columbian amber, clearly set with dozens of insects encased in resin for eternity. Dozens of mixed lots of jewellery, comprising attractive paste and semi-precious items, sold as well as ever against keen competition.
Gold was selling well, too, with a sophisticated 9ct cigarette case applied with a Viscount’s coronet making £1490 and watches were in demand as well. An 18ct open-faced pocket watch with chain and a gold match case went over estimate to take £1570, a gentleman’s 18 ct gold Omega wristwatch made £1670 and a lady’s diamond wristwatch by Cartier was bid to £7170.
A fine Georgian long guard chain with bracelets, visible being worn in a an early Victorian portrait offered the following day was bought for £7050, a pair of ruby and diamond earrings made £4180, an opal and diamond necklace made £4420 and an unusually good cameo portrait carved by Guiseppe Girometti (1779-1851) went for £2500.
Predictably, the greatest interest focused upon the rings and the day’s top prices were paid for a diamond solitaire ring with a 2.4 carat stone (£14340) and a Victorian diamond brooch set with a fancy yellow diamond of 2.94 carats surrounded by many smaller diamonds. Quality, elegance and wearability combined to push this dazzling delight to £34650.