Early English and Continental furniture and works of art were a particular feature of the Doyle (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) November 19 Special Collections sale in New York, courtesy of two of its designated consignments.
Around 120 of the 294 lots in this auction comprised items from the estates of WR Appleby and Elinor Appleby that had furnished their Upper East Side home and a further 67 comprised items from a New York private collection.
In these properties items of English vernacular furniture and objects, early metalwork and English and Continental tin-glazed earthenwares were much in evidence.
The Applebys were avid collectors of early English and Continental furniture and works of art, an enthusiasm acquired when living in London. Elinor was a keen attender of auctions, where most of the pieces were purchased.
They also collected Asian art, some of which was sold by Doyle in September this year (they were also long-time donors to the Asian department of the Metropolitan Museum).
Estimates for the Applebys’ property appeared to be pretty conservatively pitched reflecting a now softer market in these traditional collecting areas. Many of the items sold as predicted for three- or low four-figure sums but there were some that outstripped those levels.
Topping the list was a small early 17th century Brussels tapestry panel measuring 2ft 4in x 2ft 3in (71 x 70cm). Purchased by the Applebys from the specialist London dealer Mayorcas in 1989, this almost square panel woven with a scene of The Triumph of Bacchus had an earlier provenance to the Collection of King Sigismund III of Poland (1566-1632), Wawel Castle, Krakow.
The estimate of $2500-3500 proved conservative as the bidding reached $17,500 (£13,460).
Also in demand was a Near Eastern textile, a 17th century Ottoman velvet panel from Istanbul/Bursa in Anatolia measuring 5ft 2in x 4ft 4in (1.57 x 1.32m) and worked in metal thread with a design of circular floral medallions divided by rosettes and paired tulip motifs. This ended up selling for $13,000 (£10,000) against a $1500-2000 guide.
Small oak tables, joint stools, chairs, chests, spice and mural cupboards and panels proliferated among the Appleby’s furniture and carved wooden decorative pieces. A few failed to get away and much sold for modest sums, such as a joint stool that found a buyer at $550 (£385).
Exceptions included a group of four English oak panels 13in (33cm) square that were formerly cupboard doors, carved with mythical beasts and, in three cases, inscriptions. These were guided at $400-600 but ended up making $2400 (£1845).
Another lot that was sought out was a 16 x 11in (41 x 28cm) Flemish carved walnut panel dated to the 16th century depicting Christ carrying the cross flanked by several figures including Veronica and based on a woodcut by Hans Schaufrelein (c.1480 -c.1540). This outstripped its $600-900 guide to sell for $4600 (£3540).
The ceramics from the Appleby property were mostly forms of tin-glazed earthenwares, either English or Dutch Delft, German faience or Italian maiolica
The most expensive was a large 15¾in (40cm) diameter dish not ascribed to any country, catalogued as possibly 17th century and guided at $800-1200. The decoration featured a central medallion painted with St John the Baptist in a surround of scrolling foliage and grotesques. This ended up selling for $4200 (£3230).
A group of four chargers, three of them English delft (Lambeth), the largest measuring 13½in (34cm), and the fourth probably Spanish faience, were also in demand, making $3100 (£2385).
One notable result among the early metalwares was the $5250 (£4040) paid for a 12in (30cm) wide German dome-lidded iron coffer dated to the early 16th century with traces of scrolling foliate decoration to the exterior and buttressed corners.
Strong on treen
The group of works from the New York collection was strong on treen – both English and Scandinavian – and early metalwares and included a 10½ x 10¼in (27 x 26cm) English lignum vitae wassail bowl dated to the 17th century that proved particularly sought-after,
It made $5250 (£4040) against an estimate of $400-600.
£1 = $1.30