Looking at the stats – 1049 lots offered, 86% selling to a hammer total of £1.46m – one can see why.
“There was a real buzz in the room over the two days with consistently strong prices being achieved throughout,” said Pattison.
Furniture was not the main focus although there was the usual triannual feast for admirers of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson. No fewer than 87 pieces from the Kilburn workshops were led by a 4ft (1.22m) wide and tall open bookcase. A 1930s work, made for an Anglican neo-monastic women’s community in Whitby, it quadrupled the top estimate, going to a UK dealer at £6000.
By contrast to such homespun material, the headline-stealers were three ceramic lots from Russia and China.
A set of three Imperial Porcelain Factory St Petersburg Oyster Dishes from the Raphael Service sold online to Russia at £18,000.
Topping the sale was a ‘Hong’ punch bowl, painted in enamels to the exterior with European factories on the Canton waterfront and their national flags. Painters began adding the Stars and Stripes to these pieces in the late 1780s, which assisted the dating of this 14¼in (36cm) diameter bowl to c.1790.
Such bowls generally command high prices and Tennants estimated this one, which had a hairline crack, at £15,000-20,000. It sold to a UK specialist dealer at £70,000, considered a strong price.
A Ming Dynasty Guan-type hexafoil form dish with all-over pale blue crackle design, 6in (15.5cm) diameter was estimated at £2000-3000 and sold to a Chinese buyer in the room at £48,000.
It had a provenance back to the 1965 sale of the Frank Caro Collection in New York and by descent to the vendor.
A single collection formed the bulk of 27 Art Deco bronze and ivory figures which sold steadily to (with one exception) UK collectors.
Prices were much as expected and provided a quick check on the market. All the models stood on marble and onyx bases which are included in the heights of the pieces given here.
The Preiss is right
Two of the four figures signed by the German leader of the genre, Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943), led the field.
His Girl Tennis Player, Model 1180, standing 11in (28cm) tall, went to a UK collector just short of the top estimate at £14,000. Lighter Than Air, a c.1925 silvered figure of the actress Ada May holding a ball, sold to a Brazilian collector above estimate at £9500.
Among the Austrian producers of these once highly fashionable bronze and ivory figures, Josef Lorenzl (1892-1950) is probably the most familiar name.
At Leyburn his 8½in (22cm) c.1925 model of a young woman with her hands in her trouser pockets was signed in the cast and went well over estimate at £1800.
Lorenzl can make a lot more but here he was outsold by his fellow countryman Theodor Ullmann. Dated c.1925, Ullmann’s 10in (26cm) tall jewelled figure of a semi-nude dancer with a fan skirt was signed and carried the AR foundry mark for Arthur Rubinstein of Vienna. It doubled the mid-estimate at £3200.
France produced a number of artists in the lucrative 1920s-’30s field, among whom Paul Philippe (1870-1930) is one of the betterknown names. A large c.1925 example of his work offered at Tennants was the 17in (42cm) Russian Dancer. Signed to the waisted base, it took a mid-estimate £3200.
A less familiar French name is Marcel-André Bouraine (1886-1948), whose signed c.1925 bronze nude Girl with Hoop lacked any ivory content. The 12in (30.5cm) figure was one of the few surprises in the section taking £3500 against a £700-1000 estimate.
Four signed figures by Romanian Demetre Chiparus also went around estimates, led by his 11½in (29cm) tall c.1925, figure Ayouta portraying a young dancer in a headdress and pleated skirt. It sold at £7000.
A mention should be made of the Ukrainian sculptor Bruno Zach (1981-1945), best known as the creator of The Riding Crop and other erotically-charged creations.
By comparison his c.1920 group of a male and female ballet dancer, both en pointe, was positively chaste. Signed in the cast and standing 17in (43cm) tall, it sold a shade below top estimate at £2900.
Bronze and ivory featured in two other highlights from the sale. A bronze of a bear in a trough signed by French animalier Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875) and inscribed F Barbedienne Fondeur was quite small at 5in (13.5cm) long, and the £1000-1500 estimate correspondingly diminutive. Entitled Ours Dans Son Auge, it had some typical ware to the patination but sold to a collector at £10,000.
The ivory star was created four centuries before the current controversy about its use.
A 12in (30cm) figure of Christ Crucified was the work of Giovanni Antonio Gualterio (Rome, act.1582-1620) and was monogrammed with the date 1613.
On a later cross and with saints on a reliquary base, it was similar to works in museums and private collections in Madrid, Paris and Dresden.
The Tennants example, estimated at £4000-6000, sold to a Spanish buyer at £11,000.