At a sale not short of five-figure stars a half-forgotten British artist appeared in a new light while a massive 8ft (2.43m) high gilt and lacquered brass chandelier outshone everything.
How the status of Russian émigré Boris Vasilyevich Anrep (1883-1969) rose when one of his concrete mosaics took a 15-times estimate £15,000 from a UK dealer at Dreweatts’ (26/25% buyer’s premium) March 29-30 auction was discussed in the news pages of ATG No 2589.
Castle Howard connection
As for the multiple-estimate sale of the chandelier, it was partly a result of detective work at the Newbury saleroom.
With its distinctive tiered corona, the design has traditionally been attributed to London designer William Collins (fl. 1808-52).
Dreweatts’ head of sculpture, works of art and lighting Silas Leigh- Wood made a connection with Castle Howard, the Yorkshire seat of the Earls of Carlisle, and six chandeliers designed by Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842) that were illustrated in his 1806 book Designs for Ornamental Plate. The Dreweatts offering was catalogued accordingly.
Some elements were later – perhaps made when the chandelier was converted from colza oil to electricity – while the central column, with graduated tiers of lotus leaves and stylised eagles, was a late 20th steel replacement.
However, provenanced to ‘an important collection from a Cadogan Square house’, the hugely decorative piece was estimated at £15,000- 20,000 but sold to an online UK private buyer at £75,000.
From the same source was a near set of Louis XV ormolu bras de lumière in the manner of French royal goldsmith, bronze-founder and decorative designer Jean-Claude Duplessis (1699-1774).
Very similar to a pair in the Met, the 2ft 11in (88cm) high, three-branch wall lights inspired by the human form had been re-gilded and undergone some old repairs. The set sold just above top estimate to an overseas buyer at £13,000.
Like lighting pieces, mirrors survived the great furniture slump relatively unscathed and provided a major contribution to the £1.6m total of the March 29-30 sale at which 80% of the 780 lots got away.
The best-seller was a pair of monumental 19th century carved giltwood pier glasses.
In the Chinese Chippendale style, much copied from the master’s Director, the 8ft 4in (2.55m) high mirrors featured ho-ho birds and rococo scrolls and rocaille.
Pitched at £20,000-30,000, the pair sold to the UK trade at £33,000.
A bigger surprise was a 19th century Continental, possibly Baltic, composition and giltwood mirror with dark blue glass panels. Provenanced to the Earls of Hailsham since 1924 and consigned by the family, condition problems influenced a £1000-1800 estimate but it sold to a UK dealer at £14,000.
Another Continental five-figure prize was a carved giltwood Régence mirror inscribed E Caris, Faugeais, Chab and dated 1719.
The name appears not to have appeared previously at UK auctions and the plates of 6ft 11in tall x 3ft 10in wide (2.1 x 1.17m) mirror were, largely if not perhaps entirely, old replacements.
Against a wide £5000-10,000 estimate, the mirror went to a UK private at £15,000.
Régence material from Cadogan Square topped the furniture at Newbury – a set of four giltwood fauteuils à la reine.
Standing 3ft 6in (1.06m) tall and re-upholstered in cut velvet, they more than doubled the top estimate when it went to an overseas bidder at £32,000.
From the same source came an early 18th century Louis XIV brass-inlaid ebony armoire which also sold to an overseas bidder at a double-estimate £14,000.
Of ‘chapeau de gendarme’ form, the 8ft tall 6ft 3in wide (2.44 x 1.9m) armoire with glazed and fabric lined doors enclosing shelves had the usual age problems to be expected – knocks and scratches, old chips and splits.
The ormolu mounts to the fluted angles, the escutcheons, and the mask mount were old but probably replacements and one was missing.
There was particular interest in a late 19th/early 20th century, pedestal table with a 3ft 2in (98cm) diameter removable inlaid marble top.
The top had some reglued sections, the stem had some filler disguising old losses and elements of the base had been glued together. Key to its popularity were the engraved letters, not all discernible, to the side edge of the top DA MA N Malta.
Although there was no direct Maltese bidding, the table tripled the mid estimate when it sold to a UK private buyer at £12,000.
The first lot on day one was a c.1690 rosewood, kingwood and olivewood oyster veneered cabinet on stand.
Measuring 5ft 8in tall x 3ft 6in wide (1.68 x1.08m), it had doors opening to an arrangement of drawers around a central cupboard, now and perhaps always lacking a fitted interior.
The fittings were largely original or early replacements but the stand was a later re-construction using some old elements including the drawer. Estimated at £8000-12,000, it was a private UK buy at £17,000.
A few lots, a similarly dated walnut, fruitwood, olive wood oyster veneered chest on stand went comfortably above guide at £18,000.
Incorporating floral marquetry, holly banding and stringing it is closely related to one at Christie’s sale of the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection. The stand was well-matching but a later construction using old timbers.
Condition was very much a secondary consideration to the sort of quality exemplified by a pair of c.1780 Pembroke tables. Attributed to Gillow, they were of satinwood with purple-heart and rosewood banding and had only minor signs of age with original handles, locks, keys and castors.
During the furniture boom such occasional tables with drop leaves and frieze drawers were the height of fashion. At the 2010 Nelson Rockefeller sale at Christie’s New York they took $48,000 hammer (then about £32,000). For today’s market the pair was estimated at £6000-10,000 and went to a UK private at £11,000.
Tables took most of the top bids for English material. A mid-18th century mahogany tripod table, with a turned spindle-and-oval baluster gallery to the 2ft 2in (65cm) diameter tilt top and shell and lambrequin carving round each foot.
A documented table with a similar gallery is illustrated in 18th Century Furniture, The Norman Adams Collection by Christopher Claxton Stevens and Stewart Whittington. In 2003 it sold for £150,000 at Christie’s in 2003.
The Dreweatts table, with restorations and a couple of cracks, was pitched at £8000-12,000 and went to the UK trade at £22,000.
A pair of ebonised and parcel gilt breakfront console tables in the manner of London cabinet makers William Marsh and Thomas Tatham (brother of the aforementioned Charles Heathcote Tatham) were a private buy at £19,000 (estimate £5000-8000).
Measuring 5ft (1.52m) wide, they had some slight movement but were of solid structure overall.
Topping a small horological section at Dreweatts was a c.1830 ormolu and porcelain mantel architectural mantel clock.
In fine original condition, the 21½in (54.5cm) high case inset with painted panels of neoclassical motifs was attributed to Jean Francois Deniere (1774−1866), supplier of clocks and bronzes to Versailles and European royalty.
The eight-day two train bell striking movement with visible pin-wheel deadbeat escapement was stamped to the backplate Bourdin A Paris and the silvered two-piece dial engraved Bourdin H’r. du Roi, Rue De La Paix.
Pitched at £5000-8000, the clock sold at £13,000.
Best of a small number of ceramics at Dreweatts was a near pair of Paris porcelain floral plaques.
The 11½x 10in (29.5 x 25cm) one above was signed E Girband 1857. The other slightly smaller at 10½ x 8½in (26.5 x 22cm) was unsigned.
With only minor surface dirt marks, the plaques were in 20th century carved wood frames which needed some attention to minor cracks and gilding.
The £6000-8000 estimate reflected premium-inclusive €8750 (then about £7200) the plaques made in 2012 at Christie’s Paris. At Dreweatts, against French interest, they went to Japan at £20,000.
Consigned to Dreweatts from the same private collection at Blaisdon Hall, Gloucestershire, was a very near pair of KPM porcelain vases painted with roses.
One was fractionally taller than the other at 16in (41cm) but neither had any real issue and, against a £6000-8000 estimate, they went back to Germany at £10,000.
The oldest offering at Dreweatts’ sale was an Egyptian limestone stele fragment dating from the Middle Kingdom period c.2050-1950BC.
Carved in shallow relief, it showed a hieroglyphic inscription from the Book of the Dead, a seated man drinking, with the hand of his wife or mother on his left shoulder, a woman in front of him and three men bearing offerings. On the right the man sits with his daughter and his son holding an incense burner in front of him.
The 20in x 2ft 4in (51 x 72cm) fragment appeared to have been assembled from three parts with the breaks reworked in plaster.
There was no accompanying paperwork but it had been previously sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1985 and again in 2004, Bonhams London in 2006 and Dreweatts in 2015.
That appears to have reassured bidders that it could leave the country. Pitched at £10,000-15,000, it sold to an overseas buyer at £18,000.