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Bidding soars as Morris’s Clouds carpet comes back on the market at £78,000

27 May 2005Written by ATG Reporter

AFTER the mixed response to the Christopher Dresser material offered at Lyon & Turnbull (Buyers Premium 17.5%), it was left to the catalogue of decorative arts, consigned by various vendors, to provide the auctioneers with their biggest number of the day.

A telephone bid of £78,000 came on this superb c.1889-94 William Morris Hammersmith hand-knotted carpet, right.

The carpets produced at Hammersmith, and then Merton, in the 1880s and '90s are the largest objects the firm produced - this example measured 16ft 3in x 11ft 6in (4.91x 3.51m). They were also extremely expensive to produce, costing around £4 a square yard.

Only a few named designs are known (no day books are available) and, as a consequence, they tend to be named after the houses for which they were made or after the patron who commissioned them.

With its all-over design of flowering branches on a fine tendril field to indigo ground and a red ground border of meandering parrot tulips, it has strong stylistic characteristics of both the Holland Park (1883) and the Clouds (1887) carpets.

It carried the same provenance as the deer fox and rabbits tapestry sold in these rooms to London dealer Peter Petrou at £180,000 in April 2004, once forming part of the furnishings of Clouds, near Salisbury, the largest and most expensive house designed by Philip Webb.

When the contents were sold at auction in June 1930, the carpet was bought back by Morris & Co.

It was then purchased in the late 'Thirties by New Zealand-born patron Mrs Lucius Gubbins, who chose to decorate the family house on the Blackwater Road, Eastbourne, using William Morris furnishings.

Mrs Gubbins died in 1955, but the carpet offered here, in generally good condition overall with very little fading, has remained in her family since then. It was, for the record, estimated at £40,000-60,000.
Written by

ATG Reporter

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