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Lawrences’ recent auction of furniture and clocks in Crewkerne witnessed a host of strong prices but the sale’s top honours were awarded to a pair of chairs.
A fine mahogany regulator by R. J. Waylett of Oxford Street was bought for £7560, twice the expectations; a set of eight boxes of plaster seals derived from Classical sculpture in distinguished Italian museums and bound in to eight `volumes` also raced away to make £3170; and an album of sixteen Chinese pith paintings of exotic birds, signed by Yung Qua, was bid to £3400.
A comfortable, well-proportioned and well made Howard sofa took £6830 and three complementary Howard armchairs made a total of £9880. A Bavarian wood bear, naturalistically carved and a full metre high, caught many eyes before the hammer fell at £3170. However, a pair of late George II Irish mahogany library armchairs, consigned for sale by a descendant of the Lecky-Pike family of County Carlow, provided an example of gracious design, superb craftsmanship in the fine carved details, strong provenance back to c.1760 and the unquantifiable appeal of `market freshness`: these were bought for £21900.
Lawrences recent auction of pictures and prints in Crewkerne established high prices for lots spanning five centuries – but, once again, it was portraits that yielded the highest prices.
Strong prices in the selection of prints included £2440 for an etching of the artist Muirhead Bone made by his brother in law Francis Dodd in 1908. The print had been sent from Australia to the owner’s sister with the instruction that it be given to a charity shop unless it had any value. A lithograph of a wood pigeon by Dame Elisabeth Frink (1967) fluttered up to £1890 and a rare complete set of Sir Peter Blake’s eight screenprints for `Alice through the Looking Glass` (1970) made a good impression at £6580.
Three very different watercolours performed well. A watercolour of a lady reclining with a tambourine, by Adam Buck (c.1810) made £2800; a 1920’s watercolour of a railway by night by the scarce German artist Reinhold Nagele came from a Taunton vendor and doubled expectations to make £5360 whilst a large and sumptuous work by the acclaimed modern artist Alexander Goudie entitled `Venetian Lunch` went back to Scotland at £12200.
Two strong prices for modern oils - £5000 for a still life by Frederick Gore and a near record price of £6830 for an acrylic by celebrated Welsh artist Donald McIntyre – were nonetheless overshadowed by demand for a run of portraits. A small pair of portraits on copper after Sir Godfrey Kneller depicted King William III and Queen Mary and made £5600; a handsome portrait of the 1st Marquess of Buckingham in the style of Robert Hunter (c.1787) was bought for £10700 by Stowe school where the picture had originally hung; and a large portrait of an unknown lady in `masque` (or cavalcade) costume by John Michael Wright (c. 1675) made just over £20000.
The day’s top price was paid for a stunning portrait by a 17th Century artist similar to William Larkin, probably of Lady Arabella Stuart (1575-1615) wearing a fine dress decorated with carnations and pea pods. The 113 x 82cm panel had come from a local house, having been bought at auction for £400 in the early 1960’s. Fifty years later, it attracted eight telephone bidders and was contested to £47500.
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