1. Cartier watch
Cartier dress watches are the antithesis of the rugged ‘tool’ watches that have ridden the crest of a market wave for several years. Typically made with Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, white enamel dials and 18ct gold cases rather than stainless steel, these are more the stuff of Jermyn Street suits and briefcases rather than racetracks and regattas. They are timeless classics rather than the height of collecting fashion.
However, the market is not unchanging. Watches of Knightsbridge says that interest levels for vintage and second-hand Cartier watches have been rising as buyers look for ‘value’ in the market.
A record bid of £96,000 was received on May 22 for this rare octagonal watch from 1976. This is from a range of timekeepers made for and retailed by Cartier London in the 1970s with this gent’s size watch made in very small numbers. Surviving in excellent all-original condition, it sold well above hopes of £18,000-26,000.
2. Pablo Picasso watch
The silvered dial to this 1960s stainless steel bracelet watch gives a clue to its former owner. In place of the hour markers are the 12 letters spelling Pablo Picasso.
The father of modern art was a well-known watch wearer and was photographed with a Rolex GMT Master, a Jaeger-LeCoultre triple calendar moon phase and this bespoke watch with a movement by the little-known Swiss watch producer Michael Z Berger and a case signed MT Co of Hong Kong.
This watch is visible in many images of Picasso including the famous series taken by Cecil Beaton in the 60s. According to the vendor, it was a gift from Picasso to the Greek sculptor Lela Kanellopoulou. She met Picasso at the Cahiers d'Art, having collaborated with Christian Zervos, publisher of the important Cahiers d'Art magazine and of the catalogue raisoné of the works of Picasso. She was someone of intrigue for Picasso who gave her the pet name 'La Belle Helene' as a reference to her beauty, Greek nationality and background in archaeology. One day in the 1960s, Picasso took the watch off his wrist and gave it to her.
Only two other named dial watches like this are known and as both are owned by the Picasso Foundation it is unlikely another will come for sale.
At Bonhams Paris on May 20 it was guided at Euro12,000-18,000 but in fact sold for €175,000.
3. Poppies picture
John William Godward’s sumptuous 1898 oil on canvas Poppies came for sale at Lyon & Turnbull’s Five Centuries sale in Edinburgh on May 20 from the estate of Dr Helen EC Cargill Thompson (1933-2020).
A truly public spirited Glaswegian who gifted her collection of contemporary art to Strathclyde University and a contemporary silver collection to The Glasgow School of Art, the proceeds from at the sale will form an endowment fund at Strathclyde.
Cargill-Thompson’s had owned this important Victorian picture for many years. Signed and dated ’98 it was painted by Godward - the High Victorian Dreamer’ at the peak of his powers. It depicts the model Miss Ethel Warwick (who was 16 when she posed for this picture) dressed in classical attire and framed by marble columns against a meticulously painted backdrop of lavender and red poppies. Attracting a range of international bidders at the guide of £100,000-150,000, it was sold at £360,000.
Lyon & Turnbull specialist Nick Curnow commented: “It is an exquisite painting and has been much admired since it initially came in for sale. In very good condition, we are pleased it has found a new home with a UK-based private buyer.”
4. Pig picture
Richard Whitford’s (c.1821-90) first career as an excise officer was cut short in 1848 when he was dismissed for alleged embezzlement. He and his family returned to his native Evesham where he decided to become a painter, producing typical scenes of prized livestock for local farmers. Although Whitford’s business card describes him as a ‘Portrait and Animal Painter’, no portrait is known, save those when the subject may appear atop a horse or as a shepherd with his flock. Cattle and sheep were his most common subjects with pigs a little scarcer – all of them popular in the current market.
This fine example, depicting three prize winning porkers in landscape is signed and dated 1860 and titled, 1st Prize at Canterbury, 7 months and 3 weeks old, 1860. It came for sale at Philip Serrel in Malvern, Worcestershire on May 20 where it sold for £8500.
5. Silver jug
Beer jug or wine jug? The expect purpose of Georgian silver pear-shaped jugs is sometimes unclear. However, we can say with some confidence that this piece, marked for Thomas Heming, London 1765, was for wine as the cast and chased decoration includes swags of fruiting vines. Interestingly, Thomas Heming’s trade card from the 1760s to 1770s, a copy of which is held in the British Museum collection, depicts a jug with the same distinctive ornament. This example came for sale at Tennants on May 22 with a provenance to Charles William Grenfell (1823-1861) whose family owned Taplow Court in Buckinghamshire. It improved significantly on the estimate of £3000-5000 to sell at £20,000.