BILLED as the largest and most important country house auction of the year, Christie's three-day sale at Cowdray Park in West Sussex, netted £6.4m hammer against a £5m top estimate.
The George V silver table, above, from the Mexican Silver Suite
at Cowdray Park, was one of object actually commissioned by the
family to appear in the 1256-lot sale.
Based on the celebrated set of Stuart period silver furniture in
the King's Room at Knole in Kent, it was almost certainly ordered
by Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Pearson (1856-1927), who acquired
many pieces included in this auction. The 2ft 10½in (87.6cm) wide
table, elaborately decorated with a scene of Pan and Apollo engaged
in a musical contest and with a C cipher below a viscount's
coronet, sold for £68,000 - over four times its lower estimate. A
pair of mirrors also based on the Stuart silver in the King's Room
at Knole sold for a combined £135,000.
The sale, which aimed to sell off much of the furniture and
works of art from the home of Michael Pearson, the 4th Viscount
Cowdray, prior to the house itself being disposed of, included the
contents of Dunecht House in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, home to Lord
Cowdray's brother, Charles Pearson. Christie's sold 93 per cent of
the lots, with a rate of 96 per cent by value. With attractively
pitched estimates ranging from £50 to over £500,000, the sale also
included a diverse selection of lots, from British pictures,
furniture and works of art, silver, arms and armour and tapestries,
to firemen's helmets and a jukebox.
The top price was for an English School portrait of a lady,
c.1595-1605, traditionally identified as Queen Elizabeth I, but
more probably Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham, which
enjoyed plenty of pre-sale attention.
It sold towards the lower end of its estimate for £270,000.
Three paintings by James Ferrier Pryde (1866-1941) broke the
auction record price for the artist on three occasions, led by The
Red Ruin, 1910, which sold for £75,000.
In July a selection of nine works of art from Cowdray Park were
sold at Christie's King Street, which included Thomas
Gainsborough's full-length portrait of Mrs William Villebois, which
took £5.8m, a record for the artist at auction.
A full report of the Cowdray Sale will appear in next week's
By Gabriel Berner