Monday 18th June, 2018
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A fine Georgian portrait of an Earl is expected to attracted keen interest at Lawrences in Crewkerne next month.

It depicts Frederick Howard, the 5th Earl of Carlisle, painted when he was in his mid forties in about 1794. Research has identified the portrait as being by Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (1769-1830) with contributions from his studio and was painted when Lawrence was still a young man in his mid twenties. It is believed that the face is by the master and the robes are finished with the help of his busy assistants.

By the time this 30” by 25” portrait was executed, the 5th Earl (who had succeeded to the title aged just ten in 1758) had already been painted twice by Sir Joshua Reynolds and had held the posts of Treasurer of the Household, First Lord of Trade, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Steward of the Household and Lord Privy Seal. He died in 1825 at Castle Howard in Yorkshire and is buried there.

“The portrait has been consigned for sale by a direct descendant of the sitter in the Howard family,” says Lawrence’s specialist, Richard Kay. “It is most unusual to find a portrait of this quality that is unrecorded, that has come to auction from a descendant of the sitter and that is in such good and original condition. It is even in its original frame. It is a refined and aristocratic work, with a lavish attention to silks, satins and fine velvets. As is usual with Lawrence’s most ambitious portraits, the face is strongly lit and vigorously painted with his usual rich and buttery brushwork showing great accomplishment of technique. The Earl looks serene and thoughtful as befits his nobility and his senior diplomatic position. This is a marvellous find and an important addition to the portraits of the Earl as well as being a fascinating new discovery for scholars of Lawrence and his able studio.”

The auctioneers are hoping that the portrait will make £15000-20000 at auction on October 17th. Further details from (01460) 73041


Lawrences forthcoming sale of jewellery in Crewkerne contains 470 lots. Estimates range from as little as £100 to £15000. An ancient Baltic amber necklace is expected to make £700-1000 and there are over 25 other lots of amber, much of it in the warm honey colour that collectors desire most of all. These ancient stones, often embedded with insects and plants preserved for eternity within the clear golden beads, have become hugely popular in recent years and Lawrences has achieved some impressive five-figure sums at auction. An 8.5cm section of amber with insects is guided at £2000-3000. A Georgian topaz and gold riviere necklace has the typical setting of the era with foil backs and closed settings. This is estimated to make £800-1200 whilst a more modern Art Deco emerald and diamond brooch by Cartier carries hopes of £2000-3000. A magnificent sapphire and diamond pendant with a polished, unfaceted `cabochon` sapphire of 11 carats is expected to make £5000-6000 the sale's top honours are to be found in a Belle Epoque black opal and diamond brooch. The very fine black opals have an unusual depth of colour and the elegant design complements these superb stones to yield an estimate of £10000-15000.


Lawrences’ forthcoming auction in Crewkerne on October 14th-17th will comprise over 2500 lots. Many of the lots demonstrate remarkable ingenuity of design, especially within the clocks and furniture on offer.

There are five skeleton clocks from the turn of the last century on offer with estimates ranging from £200-300 for an example in `Gothic` style, 36cm high, up to £750-1000 for a more unusual `scissors` skeleton clock, 42cm high. In this latter example, scissor blades are incorporated inventively into all aspects of the design. Each of the clocks has the distinctive and intriguing open design that allows the working of the movement to be seen  from all angles. “Most of the earliest clocks that still survive in this country make a virtue of showing their movements,” says specialist, Richard Gold. “The `tidy` appearance of clock cases, to demonstrate cabinet makers’ skills as well as to conceal the movements from dust and damage, was not introduced until the 17th Century so many skeleton clocks from the 19th- and 20th-Centuries are imitating clocks from the `Gothic` era, which explains their retrospectively historical design.” Skeleton clocks have a particular appeal amongst collectors and other examples in the sale are expected to make £400-900 each.

The practicalities of furniture design, requiring robust construction and ease of use, are demonstrated brilliantly in a bizarre pair of late George II/early George III mahogany `campaign` chairs. These chairs, c.1760 in date, look like conventional dining chairs and each back is crisply carved with feathery foliage and scrolls in a style that typifies the best design of the period. However, the easy removal of the drop-in seat pads allows the sides of the chairs to fold on hidden hinges so that they may be stacked almost flat. “Senior officers in the Army or the Navy turned their living quarters into comfortably furnished adaptations of their domestic drawing rooms at home,” explains Richard Gold. “There are records of sea captains cluttering their cabins with hundreds of books so as to afford a few of the home comforts of a library whilst at sea. Practical dining chairs were seen as an advantage for easy living, too. However, a suite of four or more could take up considerable space in cramped conditions, so the ease with which these could be folded made them much more convenient to transport, stack and store. The pair, offered for sale by a client in Bruton, offer a  delightful glimpse into the way of life sought by soldiers or sailors in the mid-late 18th Century and `campaign` furniture of this type is popular at auction nowadays. These chairs are guided at £200-400.” Enquiries to the auctioneers on (01460) 73041