Setting a new house record for Holloways of Banbury, this enigmatic alabaster urn shot to £170,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium) on October 18.
The massive 3ft 2in (95cm) urn - probably late 16th or early
17th century Italian, but possibly from ancient Rome - was sold on
the instructions of the rector and churchwardens of St James's
Church, Edgcote, Northamptonshire. It has been in the church since
about 1960, prior to which it was part of the furnishings of the
adjacent property, Edgcote House. Edgcote was built by William
Jones (to the designs of William Smith of Warwick) between 1747 and
1752 for Richard Chauncey before it passed by inheritance to the
Cartwright family (of Aynho) in 1847. It seems likely that the urn
was acquired by either a Chauncey or a Cartwright family member on
the Grand Tour, although it appears to have escaped the house
contents sale in 1920 or failed to sell and was simply left in the
otherwise empty house.
Bidding for the urn - and the 25 fragments that comprised the
entwined serpent handles - proved a largely two-way content between
a British agent and a dealer from France who was ultimately
successful. The estimate had been £15,000-20,000.
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