Renaissance plaquette of the Entombment attributed to Galeazzo Mondella – $5000 (£4150) at Bonhams Skinner.

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Come October, when Christie’s sells the Ann & Gordon Getty Collection in New York, English and Continental furnishings will receive a welcome moment in the sun.

More than 1500 lots, including masterpieces of furniture by Vile, Chippendale and Grendey, will be dispersed in a series of live and online sales. As the global rich compete to own a slice of US collecting aristocracy, all will appear right with the market.

Of course, the real world is quite different. Sales of Old World ‘country house’ chattels are now few and far between and generally much lower key affairs, struggling to compete with other collecting disciplines (such as wristwatches – see facing page) for the oxygen of publicity or the attention of big-bucks spenders.

But they have not completely fallen off the radar.

Attractive pitches

The European Décor and Design auction at Bonhams Skinner (25% buyer’s premium) in Marlborough, Massachusetts – an online event that ran from July 24 to August 3 – offered a decent array of market-fresh material. Attractive pricing ensured relatively little was unsold.

A particular draw was the inclusion of a group of Renaissance and Mannerist bronzes deaccessioned by the Hood Museum of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire – among the oldest and largest university collections in North America.

What is controversial in the UK is the norm in the US. These were mainly ‘attributed to’ ‘workshop of’ ‘in the manner of’ pieces that were not on display and lay outside the museum’s current scope. So why not raise funds to improve the core collection?

As all lots were guided below $500 – not bad at all for what were decent if not outstanding examples of their type – and some went well above estimate.

Top performer here was a Renaissance plaquette of the Entombment attributed to the Verona-born silversmith and medallist Galeazzo Mondella (1467-1528). The scene of the dead Christ being lifted from his coffinby the Virgin and St John, titled below Pietas Ad Omnia, is known in several surviving examples, this one cast in an elaborate architectural frame standing 6½in (16cm) high. Estimated at $300-500, it took $5000 (£4150).


Pair of figural candlesticks from workshop of Giuseppe de Levis – $3250 (£2710) at Bonhams Skinner.

A pair of candlesticks, each modelled with a child supporting a cornucopia set atop three figures were typical workshop productions of Giuseppe de Levis (1552-1611).

The Veronese family foundry specialised in functional ornamental wares such as bells, mortars, inkstands and door knockers (some of which were clearly signed and dated).

This pair of figural candlesticks sold at $3250 (£2710).

The same bid bought a lot comprising two 16th century Italian bronzes, one of a recumbent lion, the other modelled as a siren with curling mermaid tail, while a 16th or 17th century model of Bacchus leaning on a pedestal took $4000 (£3350).

The sale was topped overall by two 19th century Italian marble groups from other sources.

The 3ft 8in (1.1m high) statue Flora by Anton Werres (1830-1900) is believed to be one of only a handful of allegorical figures created by the German sculptor when working in Rome between 1858-67. He later returned to his native Cologne.

Flora, which is inscribed Werres Roma, was known through photographs but thought to have been lost. Research shows that it was once housed alongside a companion piece in Cologne’s botanical garden; probably in the Flora Temple which was demolished after the Second World War. Estimated at $10,000- 15,000, it took $47,500 (£39,600).

A 3ft 5in (1.04m) Carrara marble sculpture carved as a child reaching for its mother’s locket was titled to the base L’Education du Coeur and indistinctly signed G Mon Roma and dated 1877. It remained unattributed but sold on its good looks and appealing size for $15,000 (£12,500).