‘Robert who?’ would seem a reasonable question, but though he has never troubled the fine art records registers he is hugely admired by collectors of railway posters and shared the top spot (see below).
The bulk of the 586 lots at Edinburgh on April 3, however, were classic late- 19th early century offerings including furniture.
Joint leader on the sales list was a c.1895 mahogany occasional table designed by George Washington Jack (1855-1931) and stamped with the maker’s mark, one of his regular clients, Morris & Co/ 449 Oxford Street, W/1035.
With a shaped and moulded 2ft 6in (76cm) diameter top, the table was estimated at £2000-3000 but sold at £12,000 to a bidder from Washington Jack’s native US.
Scottish designers were well represented. A set of 13, c.1900 oak dining chairs attributed to Sir Robert Lorimer and provenanced to Kellie Castle, the Fife home of Sir Robert and his artist brother John Henry, took a mid-estimate £2600.
A 1910 stained pine and oak easel by Charles Rennie Macintosh went on lower hopes at £10,000.
From the other end of the UK, down in Barnstaple, Devon, the Arts & Crafts furniture produced at the Shapland & Petter factory is today in steady demand.
A c.1900, 5ft 5in wide x 4ft 3in high (1.64 x 1.31m) oak drawing room cabinet with twin pedestals, stained and leaded glazed door sold comfortably at £3900.
Silver from Ashbee
Best of the silver was a twin-handled porringer by one of the prime movers of the Arts & Crafts movement, Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942).
Made c.1910 – three years after the collapse of Ashbee’s pioneering establishment the Guild & School of Handicraft – it bore the retailer’s stamp for Boston-based Shreve, Crump Low & Co, one of the most prestigious jewellers and luxury goods merchants in the US.
The model is well-known – this example with its green glass liner was set to the shoulders with jade cabochon stones.
Estimated at £1500-2000, the 10½in (27cm) wide bowl went to a collector at £4000.
WAS Benson (1854-1924) was represented by 11 lots. Although more known for lighting furniture, the best of Benson at Edinburgh was a c.1910 set of brass fire implements comprising poker, coal tongs, ash shovel and a matching stand.
Standing 3ft 5in (73cm) tall and pitched at £400-600, the set sold to a private UK buyer at £3500.
Ceramics by Dresser
Estimated at a conservative £400- 600, a rare art pottery vessel signed and designed by the multi-media genius Christopher Dresser (1834- 1904) for Linthorpe took off.
Catalogued as a ‘Peruvian vessel c.1880’, the 8in (20cm) tall piece inspired by Pre-Columbian pots sold to a US bidder at £6200.
Also going above estimate to an American buyer was a late 19th-early 20th century lustre blue and green glazed earthenware bowl made by Fred Passenger for William De Morgan.
Decorated to the interior with repeated images of a bird and a griffin and to the exterior with stylised foliage and painted initials FP, the 8½in diameter x 4¾in tall (22 x 12cm) bowl was estimated at £1000-1500 and sold at £3800.
The original figure of winged Victory carrying her fanfare trumpet was cast in 1887 by Sir Alfred Gilbert (1864- 1934) to surmount the orb held by the monarch in his Jubilee Memorial to Queen Victoria at Winchester.
Gilbert, a leading figure in the New English Sculpture movement, was tremendously popular in his day and still is, as evident at L&T when a silvered bronze reduction of the statue was offered.
Standing 7in (18cm) tall and raised above an onyx sphere spacer on a patinated bronze plinth base, it was estimated at £1500-2000 and sold to an overseas buyer at £7000.
Among the 19th-20th century artists to be inspired by the New Sculpture movement was the prolific Richard Louise Garbe (1876-1957).
His emotive compositions are still admired and his 1910 bronze of a mourning woman, Elegy, topped the statuary at Edinburgh.
The figure appears from time to time at auction and one example, 2ft 2¼in (66.5cm) tall, took £16,000 at Christies in December 2016.
The bronze at L&T was a little smaller at 23in (58.5cm) tall. Standing on a marble plinth, it was estimated at £8000-12,000.
That proved accurate enough when the figure marked to base Richard Garbe 1906 sold to a UK buyer at £9000.
Frank Lloyd Wright's easel
This American pine and cast iron architect’s easel designed by the New Jersey artists’ instruments maker Keuffel & Esser and made by Peabody of Providence Rhode Island c.1875-85 is thought to have belonged to Frank Lloyd Wright.
It travelled with him to Europe in 1909 for a visit that combined study of art and architecture with the publication of the first folio of his work in Germany.As recorded in later brass labels and a faint inscription to the board it was presented during his trip to his Berlin publisher Dr Ernst Wasmuth in appreciation.
‘The Easel of Frank Lloyd Wright’ was lent in 1932 to the exhibition at the Werkbundsiedlung in the Kärntnerstrasse, Vienna, and in the 1940s was passed to Dr Hans Herzfeld in the post-war years.
However, until the mid-1980s it was in the possession of The Westfair Estate in Malibu, a Savings and Loan company who bought architectural memorabilia from Europe for display. It sold to a US bidder via thesaleroom.com for £4200 at Lyon & Turnbull on April 3.
Best by a distance of 14 posters promoting Scotland by rail offered at the Lyon & Turnbull sale was this 1932 linen-backed lithograph by Robert Bartlett.
All bar one of the group sold, generally in three figures. But the LNER Scotland by “The Night Scotsman” went to a UK collector on its lower estimate at £12,000 at the April 3 sale at Edinburgh.
Measuring 3ft 4in x 4ft 2in (1.02 x 1.27m), it was rated in B+ condition, having a 20in (51cm) expertly repaired tear and some minor flaws. Against those flaws, however, the colour was excellent.
Both the powerful Deco image and Bartlett himself are highly rated by the poster collecting and railwayana fraternities – his fine art less so.
The record for a Bartlett painting, concidentally also sold at L&T, appears to be for an acrylic scene, In the Shade of the Parasol, offered at the Edinburgh rooms in 2011. It sold at £240.