Two of the reticulated vases by Royal Worcester’s near-legendary craftsman George Owen (1845-1912) led a wide-ranging sale at Gloucestershire auction house Kinghams (23% buyer’s premium).
Such double-walled porcelain first appeared during the Southern Song dynasty (c.1127-1279), with every stage of production so complex that it was dubbed ‘the devil’s work’.
Sèvres began manufacturing reticulated pieces in the early 19th century under Hyacinthe Régnier but the technique developed later by Owen – so secretive he would not even let his son watch him work – brought the art to new heights.
The pieces took months in the making and were always expensive.
Today they still are, as witnessed when two examples were offered at the May 19-20 sale in Moreton-in-Marsh.
One, a 10in (25.5cm) tall twin-handled pedestal vase and cover dated 1911 with an incised signature, featured a central band of pierced scarab motifs on a hexagonal honeycomb trellis ground, raised gilt jewels and a swagged foliate band of milled gilding with gold marks 1957.
Estimated at £5000-8000, it sold to a collector at £17,000.
The other was a very similar signed work, smaller at 8in (20.5cm) tall, dated 1919 and bearing gold marks 2042. Pitched at £6000-8000, it went to another collector at £14,500.
Fine art and antiques across the range contributed to the 840-lot sale’s £311,000 hammer total.
Best of the silver was the 4¾in (12cm) diameter Liberty’s Cymric piqué-à-jour enamelled bowl. Dated for Birmingham 1902, the rounded ogee bowl on four cabriole strap legs had eight floral panels in transparent blue, yellow and green enamel. It doubled top estimate selling online to an Oxford collector at £5000.
Tripling top expectations, the top-selling clock was a George III musical bracket clock signed Spencer & Perkins, London to the enamel dial and the double fusee musical movement striking on bells. The 2ft 11in (65cm) tall mahogany caddy-top case with side handles and fretwork sound grilles featured gilt-metal urn finials and mounts.
Complete with winding key and pendulum, the clock went to a Midlands collector at £6000.
Among the furniture, the eye-catchers came among the mid-20th century material, the appeal of which now spreads to the Far East judging by the best example being bought by ‘a Japan-based connoisseur’.
This was a 17in (44cm) high birch and bentwood three-legged stool designed by Alvar Aalto for Finmar, c.1933, and made in c.1940. The Model 60 painted stool bearing the original maker’s plaque had apparently been destined for the skip but tripled top hopes, selling at £1200.
Also going well above expectations was a pair of 1960s rosewood bar stools designed by Erik Buch for Dyrlund. Bearing Dyrlund labels, the 2ft 11in (89cm) tall stools had low lumbar supports, black leather-padded seats and slender legs united by stretchers and sold at £650.