Offered in one catalogue, British Art pottery was the main thrust of two sales held by Woolley & Wallis staged at the end of last year.
William De Morgan featured strongly in the December 5 auction in
which 46 lots of the great man's work were included among the 162
lots of late 19th and early 20th century ceramics.
The star of the offering was an 18 x 12in (46 x 30cm) framed
six-tile panel from his Merton Abbey period (1882-1888). Rare but
well documented, it was painted with an owl on carnation stems over
a crescent moon, against a deep blue ground, and was one of only
three known versions of this design.
One, donated by retired dealer Alan Green, is in the Birmingham
City Museum, while the other, which has a blue crescent moon, is in
a private London collection.
However, two original designs are in the De Morgan archive at
the V&A and are illustrated in Martin Greenwood's The
Designs of William de Morgan (Richard Dennis
The panel had remained unsold at vendor Richard Dennis's show at
his Kensington Church Street Gallery in 2004 when it had a price
tag of £15,000.
Woolley & Wallis's 20th century decorative arts specialist
Michael Jeffrey was conscious that De Morgan tile fans had already
been treated to the second part of the dispersal of Peter
Creffield's mammoth collection at Bonhams in London, on September
Accordingly he gave the panel a broad £10,000-15,000
When it sold to an anonymous buyer at £11,000, Mr Dennis said he
was "delighted" that the William De Morgan market had been upheld,
since the buyer's premium took the final price to £13,261.
Meanwhile, Woolley & Wallis' 585-lot sale on November 21
sale was led by a terracotta Minton cloisonné ware moonflask vase
designed by Christopher Dresser.
Date coded 1867, the 6in (15.5cm) high vase showing a stylised
peacock holding an olive branch, was consigned to Salisbury by a
London collector, and was something of an unknown quantity in terms
of auction precedent.
The only other surviving example of this short-lived pattern
(replaced by the better known stylised butterfly design) has a
turquoise rather than a yellow ground and is in a large private
However, the design is well documented, surviving in the Doulton
Minton Archive in Stoke-on-Trent and illustrated in Widar Halen's
Christopher Dresser (Phaidon, 1994, pl.128).
It was a design in which Dresser fully embraced the influence of
flattened Japanese cloisonné pilgrim bottles which he saw at the
International Exhibition of 1862 - the show which impressed so many
A few minor rim chips were reflected in the £1000-1500 estimate
at Salisbury but they were of little consequence for such a rare
Considerable pre-sale interest from the UK and America meant
bidding started at £4000 and it quickly sold to an anonymous
British buyer at £5000.
The buyer's premium was 17.5%.