The sale of lots from Barnwell Manor, the Northamptonshire base of the dealership Windsor House Antiques since 1999, comprised a large selection of furniture, sculpture, ceramics, garden ornaments and works of art – all fields in which the firm specialises.
Offered on September 7-8, the smaller number of picture lots included an Orientalist scene by the Belgian painter Jean-François Portaels (1818-95).
Depicting a group of figures carrying the body of a warrior on a camel’s back, the 4ft 4in x 6ft 2in (1.33 x 1.89m) signed oil on canvas was titled The Procession.
An impressively scaled and striking picture, these kind of monumental subjects tend to draw less demand than the artist’s portraits of alluring female sitters but, as Portaels was the first Belgian artist to paint exotic and Orientalist subjects at first hand, they often still command interest.
This example was pitched at £3000-5000, perhaps on account of its less than favourable condition. It had two holes in the canvas as well as a tear to the sky and another to the waist of the woman on the right. It also had some further paint loss and some significant retouching.
Nevetheless, this failed to deter a number of bidders who carried it well beyond its attractive estimate. It took £23,000 from a private buyer.
While Portaels’ portraits have sold for over twice this level on a number of occasions, this was the one of the higher sums recorded for one of his busier figurative compositions.
A couple of British portraits also attracted attention at the Windsor House Antiques sale.
A portrait of Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one), the wife of Alexander Montgomerie of Annick Lodge (1766-1839), drew competition against a £2000-3000 pitch.
The 4ft 7in x 3ft 6in (1.41 x 1.06m) oil on canvas was signed by the artist Reuben Sayers (1815-88). However, the fact that it was inscribed and dated 1861 to the lower left suggested it was either painted posthumously or was copied from an earlier portrait – perhaps one done for the couple’s marriage in 1784.
Works by Sayers, a portrait and genre painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1841-67, do not often emerge at auction – Artprice records only around a dozen pictures. This example, which surpassed a £2000-3000 estimate and sold at £6000 to a private buyer, posted the highest price so far.
Also bringing demand was a bust-length portrait of a gentleman wearing a brown coat and with a landscape beyond. Although unascribed (it was catalogued as ‘English School, 19th century’), it had a certain swagger that appealed to a number of interested parties.
Again, a few condition issues did not dampen the demand too much (it had some areas of paint loss and a large restored area to the sky). Estimated at £800-1200, it was knocked down at £2600.