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The exquisitely carved ivory tablet measures 5 by 9 inches and depicts the dead Christ surrounded by attendant angels. It is set into an ebonised frame and is in remarkably good condition for its 190 years - particularly if one takes its history into account. "An accompanying silver plaque tells a tale that is at odds with the tragic serenity of the subject," observes Lawrences' specialist Anthony Kilroy. "It relates how the relief was bought by Admiral Fleeming in Jamaica in 1827 or 1828 at a sale of loot captured from a pirate ship in the West Indies that included clothing, crucifixes and other items. These had belonged to a Spanish bishop. The unlucky bishop was murdered by pirates on his way to Chile. Later on, the plaque had a more respectable existence as it was given by Fleeming's grandson to the chapel in Chatham Royal Naval Barracks. It was returned to the family when the barracks was closed in 1986 and is now being sold by a titled lady who is a descendant of Admiral Fleeming." The relief, with its plaque, is expected to realise £300-400 in Lawrences' auction on July 3rd.
Lawrences' auction next Tuesday will be held at Cothelstone Manor, a fine old Somerset home dating from the reign of Henry VIII.
A marquee in the grounds of the house near Taunton will contain nearly 900 lots of art and antiques with prices to suit every pocket.
Variety is the key: the sale will include a platinum and diamond solitaire ring (£1500-1700); white gold and diamond cluster earrings (£1800-2200); an unusual domino case in the form of a shoe, filled with tiny dominoes (£80-120) and a silver pin cushion in the form of a tiny hedgehog (£80-120).
There is a handsome inter-war Lalique car mascot in the form of an eagle's head (£500-700) and a menu holder from the same distinctive maker at just £50-80. A pretty Chinese porcelain punch bowl from c.1700 is guided at £600-800, whilst seven items from the Troika pottery range from £40 to £350.
A Moorcroft "Carp Pattern" vase will be expected to make £800-1200 and there are also items by Bernard Leach (£100-200), Clarice Cliff (£200-300), Charlotte Rhead (£100-200) and Martin Brothers (£300-400).
A skipping doll by Simon and Halbig is guided at £200-300 and, in the picture section, there are prints by Marie Laurencin (£60-100) and Pierre Bonnard (£200-300), drawings and watercolours by William Wyllie (£300-500), Charles Simpson (£200-300) and Henry Stacy Marks (£150-200) as well as oils by Oliver Clare (£2000-3000) and his brother Vincent (£600-800).
A Rolex Oyster Precision wristwatch is estimated at £400-600, a fine brass repeating carriage clock at £600-800 and two longcase clocks made by Elias Hobbs of Dulverton (£300-400) and by J. Spiller of Wellington (£500-800) amongst a good selection.
There is a bronze by Karl Mobius of a soldier on horseback (£900-1000), an Art Nouveau bronze of a personification of Industry by Edouard Drouot (£1000-1500) and a hare coursing powder horn engraved by the celebrated Victorian scrimshaw artist Charlie Wood (£600-800).
In the furniture section, a 19th Century French walnut bureau is guided at £1200-1800 and a marquetry cylinder bureau from Northern Italy, dating from about 1780, is tipped to make £6000 (see illustration). This piece was owned by the songwriter Jimmy Kennedy who wrote "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" and "The Hokey Cokey". A Victorian mahogany cabinet, its 18 slim drawers filled with scores of neatly mounted butterflies collected by Ernest Laxon, is on offer at £200-400 and a good quality 19th Century mahogany secretaire abattant, possibly of German origin, stands over seven feet high and is likely to realise £2500-3500.
With summer on its way, forty two lots of garden statuary include stoneware urns and planters, cast iron benches, wall fountains, plaques, figures of classical maidens and cast iron garden urns with estimates from £60 to £1500. The sale is on view on Friday (9-5pm), Saturday (10-4pm) and Monday (10-5pm). Admission by catalogue only (£10 admits two).
The linocuts, made in the same simple way that schoolchildren cut images out of tiles of linoleum, were made by three members of the Grosvenor School of Art in the 1930's and comprise some of the most striking and iconic images in all British printmaking.
Cyril Power's print of a rowing eight under Hammersmith Bridge, made in 1930, is expected to make £10,000-15,000 (see illustration) whilst his colleague Sybil Andrews's energetic print of three speedway motorbikers from 1934 is estimated a t £12,000-£18,000.
"To have one of these prints in a sale would be a rare thrill for me," says Lawrences' specialist Richard Kay. "But to have six is almost unbelievable." The lucky owner's father was a London solicitor who possibly took the prints in lieu of fees in the early 1950's. She had no idea of their value until she saw a similar one on The Antiques Roadshow valued at thousands of pounds. The prints were simply framed twenty years ago and so are in good condition despite being printed on tissue-thin paper. "I have been in touch with collectors in Britain and Canada already," comments Richard. "Sybil Andrews emigrated in 1947 and there is a huge market for her work over there. I have already had some very keen expressions of interest and the sale is still a month away."
For collectors who want a chance to buy these colourful, energetic, geometric prints but cannot run to five figures, then Walter Greengrass's "Rugby" depicts a vigorous struggle on the pitch (£1500-2000) and Sybil Andrews's print of windswept figures in a gale is expected to make £4000-6000. "This one was worth barely £400 just fifteen years ago. Who knows how good an investment it could be for its new owner?" speculates Richard. In addition, "Bringing in the Boat" and "Steeplechasing" by Andrews are estimated at £7000-10,000 and £4000-6000 respectively.
The prints will be a highlight of the Crewkerne firm's huge Summer Fine Art auction which also includes pictures by Walter Sickert and eight large watercolours by Thomas Bush Hardy amongst the 1500 lots on offer.