DORCHESTER auctioneers Duke’s sale of the contents of Melplash Court, near Bridport, became one of the highest grossing sales ever conducted by a provincial auctioneer thanks to the phenomenal strength of the Chinese market.
Mid-way through the third and final day of the mammoth onsite
sale from September 22-24, Duke's sale total was already over £3m
(plus 19.5% premium). And undoubtedly what set this sale apart from
others was the large quantity of Asian works of art collected by
the Canadian Timothy Lewis (1937-2004) and his wife Fran, who
purchased the picturesque Dorset manor house in 1984.
Sandwiched between two days selling typical country house
chattels was a separate hardback catalogue sale titled
Reflections of the Orient on Thursday, September 23. This
426-lot catalogue of jades, wood carvings, ceramics and works of
art reflected the Lewis' connections throughout the Far East: Tim
Lewis supplied aircraft engines and helicopters to South East Asia
and made many purchases in the region.
Predictably, bidding was dominated by a handful of determined
Chinese phone bidders - one of whom booked a phone line for the
entire sale and spent nearly £1m - and a dozen Chinese agents in
Slowly, but consistently, they pushed prices well over estimate.
The gruelling sale did not finish until 7pm (with 94 lots sold in
the first three hours) but £2.5m was the reward.
The front cover lot, a Chinese Qianlong period hardwood carving
of a lohan seated on a lion, sold for £320,000 (estimate
£30,000-50,000) but there were also multiple estimate prices for
jade carvings including a crouching Buddhistic lion, for which a
Yuan or early Ming date has been proposed, sold over a £2000-4000
estimate for £180,000.
This was also the first time that Duke's had used live online
bidding via www.the-saleroom.com
and Guy Schwinge, director and auctioneer, was pleased with the
"fantastic" results including a pair of Yongzheng or early Qianlong
period blue and white candlesticks sold for £86,000 (estimate
Wednesday's 'warm up' sale of glass, ceramics, clocks, Russian
icons, silver and other general chattels realised £350,000, while
the final day's sale of Modern, Impressionist and Old Master
paintings, furniture and outside effects was well underway at the
time ATG went to press.
An oil on panel of a wedding by the Flemish Baroque painter Abel
Grimmer (c.1570-c.1619), acquired by the Lewis family in 1977, had
Although the largest sale conducted by a regional auctioneer
will stay firmly with Woolley & Wallis (who posted just shy of
£7.4m for their two-day sale of Asian art in May), Melplash Court
could prove the highest-grossing 'on the premises' sale held by a
By Anna Brady
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