A Glittering Start To 2012
EWBANK CLARKE GAMMON WELLERS AUCTION
A GLITTERING START TO 2012
A BRIEF REVIEW OF OUR SPRING AUCTION
A BIDDING BATTLE SAW THE PRICE OF PRINCESS LOUISE’S ‘LOST’ HONEYMOON PICTURES SOAR as two London galleries fought over ownership of an album of sketches by Queen Victoria’s daughter, which raised three times the sale estimate. A bidding battle between two London galleries left a price of £27,000 when the hammer fell on the 74 watercolours, ink sketches and pencil drawings in the album, which had been hidden for years in a house in Hampshire.
Research by the auctioneer had revealed that the album was a long-lost pictorial record of places visited on the honeymoon of Princess Louise (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, and her husband, the Marquis of Lorne, later Duke of Argyll. By comparing the handwritten annotations on many of the sketches with details in the most recent biography of Princess Louise, auctioneer Chris Ewbank concluded they must have been drawn and painted as the couple toured Europe and spent the summer of 1872 in the Scottish Highlands.
Princess Louise is widely regarded as the most artistically talented of Queen Victoria's daughters. As well as being an able actress, pianist and dancer, she was a prolific artist and sculptress. However, very few paintings by the Princess have been on the open market in recent times.
Her engagement to John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne and heir to the Duke of Argyll was announced in 1870 and they were wed the following year at Windsor Castle. Following the ceremony, the couple left for Italy. The paintings and sketches trace their journey via Germany to Lake Como and Spezia, Verona, Padua, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and Pisa. Interspersed with well-drawn and painted landscapes, there are sketches of street scenes, drawings of people in costume and of some of the villas where they stayed, notably that belonging to Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, formerly the residence of Lorenzo de Medici, in Frisoli, Florence. A pencil landscape, titled “Inverary, Homecoming 1871”, was done on the occasion of the couple’s first visit to Scotland and the accompanying festivities held to celebrate the return of the Duke of Argyll's heir and his new bride. It shows the harbour and assembled boats, while other Scottish views included Iona; a view from the Drawing Room window at Balmoral; Inverary from the castle; and various other Highland scenes.
BOOKS; A journey of a much more arduous nature than Princess Louise’s honeymoon was recorded by Scottish sealer, naturalist and geographer James Weddell (1787-1834) in his book “A Voyage Towards the South Pole in the Years 1822-24”. In addition to a rare autographed first edition copy of it, the book was sold with two of Weddell’s original watercolours, subsequently used as illustrations in the book, painted during his heroic attempts at Antarctic exploration. The Weddell Sea, near the South Pole; Weddell Island off the Falklands and a then new species of seal (Leptonychotes weddelli) are all named after him.Weddell sailed on three expeditions to the Antarctic between 1821 and 1824, undertaking brave adventures in an area renowned for bad weather and where ships often foundered. The third expedition aboard the Jane with the Beaufoy as tender, set off on December 30 1822 and reached latitude 74°15' S and longitude 34°16'45’ W, a record that remained unbroken for almost 100 years. However Weddell’s claims were greeted with scepticism on his return, so he decided to write a narrative of his discoveries, using his own sketches as illustrations. The watercolours in the Ewbank sale showed the Jane and the Beaufoy dwarfed by icebergs, passing through “Ice Islands” on their way to the Weddell Sea.
Found in a family archive, the book contained engraved maps and charts, tinted panoramic coastal views, one of which had several views of Cape Horn; the author’s hand-written corrections and two inscriptions to his cousins. It was purchased by a Lincolnshire collector who paid £3,000 to secure it against an estimate of £1,000-2,000.
PAINTINGS; were generally well received in the sale, the most valuable single work being a townscape of Amersfoort, an oil on canvas by the Dutch artist Hendrik Jan Wolter, (1873-1952). Sent for sale by an Ashtead vendor, the painting was purchased by a Netherlands gallery for £10,000 against an estimate of £3,000-5,000.
JEWELLERY; one of the top lots in an area which has seen strong demand throughout 2011 was a single graduated pearl necklace with old cut diamond clasp which received a £4,000 bid from a Hatton Street dealer for, which substantially outpaced its pre-sale estimate.
The same London dealer also paid a three-times estimate £750 for a lady’s diamond-set bar brooch set with a single bouton-shaped pearl of approximately 8mm set in platinum, while he also paid £1,400 for a sapphire and diamond cluster ring, the central oval-facetted sapphire weighing approximately 3.5cts, also set in platinum which came in for sale from a Guildford client.
WATCHES; The vendor of a good lady’s two-tone Rolex Oyster perpetual date adjust wristwatch hailed from somewhat farther afield: Albufeira on the holiday island of Portugal. He was rewarded with a winning bid of £1,100, which was above the auctioneer’s pre-sale high estimate. The buyer was a private local buyer from Surrey. In addition a good collection of gold pocket watches were in good demand including an early 20th century 18ct gold repeating chime pocket watch with enamelled dial and subsidiary seconds hand, which was purchased by a Kent buyer for £900, while from a slightly earlier period, an 18ct gold pocket chronograph pocket watch by Liverpool maker J.H. Hargreaves & Co from a Wimbledon home sold to a Surrey buyer for £1,150.
CLOCKS; While no man about town would be without his pocket watch, extremely accurate timekeeping was vital at sea, when time pays such an important role in plotting and maintaining a ship’s course. The sale included a fine 19th century two-day marine chronometer by W. Plaskett, ‘Maker to the Admiralty, London’, still in its protective outer mahogany case. The clock’s 4-inch silvered dial with Roman and Arabic numerals, with subsidiary dials showing the state of wind and running seconds, was secured in its brass-bound rosewood case by a gimballed bowl mount with locking nut and safety winding key, the case bearing a plaque for 'Hayes Brothers Cardiff, Barry & Port Talbot'. Sent for sale from a Guildford home, it sold for £2,000 to a collector from Douglas, Isle of Man.
SILVER; was exceptionally well received once again following the continuing trend from 2011. Of 139 lots sold, many of them for prices above the highest estimates, only two lots failed to sell. Top of the shop was a magnificent six piece melon-shaped tea and coffee service, sent for sale from Bournemouth auctioneers Riddetts, which has an association with Ewbanks. The Mappin & Webb of Birmingham service comprised a kettle on stand, covered sugar bowl, teapot, and coffee pot with ivory knobs and a cream jug together with a matching two-handled oval tray. It dated from 1965-67 and weighed in at a massive 336 ounces. Competed for by several buyers in the room, on the telephone and on the Internet, the service sold to a Surrey collector for £5,700.
GARDEN STATUARY; included a large Compton Pottery terra-cotta jardinière which came in for sale with other contents from Pyrford Court which sold for £1,900
The Compton Pottery was founded at the end of the 19th century by Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938), wife of the Victorian painter George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) at their home, Limnerslease in the village of Compton, Surrey just down the A3 from the Auction Rooms. Its potters were based in the purpose-built Watts Gallery, dedicated to the artists’ work, and the business prospered, its red clay garden pots, a mixture of Celtic and Art Nouveau styles, selling in many London shops including Liberty & Co. The business closed in 1955 and today its products are in great demand. From another important local house Furzehill Park, Pirbright came two garden fountains a modern example in lead made £3,700, whilst a set of 12 cast iron garden urns made £4,000.
MEDALS included Great War military medals awarded to C. W. Meredith among a number of gallantry awards included in the sale, but it was as a pioneer of early motorcycle endurance riding that he won most honours, charted by his collection of rare gold and silver medals for long distance and reliability trials. The earliest of nine gold medals was for winning the 1911 race from London to Exeter and back again, which took two days on Boxing Day and December 27. Others included the six-days reliability trial around Scotland in 1912, while London to Land’s End and back in 1913 took three days. A further 14 silver medals were for hill climbs and team trials. The collection sold to a lady buyer from Leicestershire for £1,500.
The most valuable set of gallantry medals at £2,800 however was the First World War group of four awarded to Pte. James E Deakin of the Surrey Yeomanry, which included the Military Medal awarded during service in Salonica when a horse was felled, pinning its rider underneath. Deakin dragged the man out and gave him his own horse on which to ride away.
FURNITURE; has not been the most buoyant of markets for some years but there were signs of increasing demand for the lots on offer on 22nd March.
Not every home is capable of housing a dining table that’s more than 17 feet in length, but presumably the Devon buyer of the 19th century mahogany example (estimated to sell for £2,000 tops,) who shelled out £3,600 for the top price in the section had the room for it. The table had a secret: thanks to an ingenious hand-wound ratchet and cog system and a series of six removable leaves, patented by one Joseph Fitten, the table was capable of shrinking to a more manageable six feet – still capable of seating 8 diners in comfort. A more surprising price was the £2,700 paid for a 20th Century Danish tambour-fronted sideboard with fitted interior from a Surrey home,
CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART; Buyers from China, Singapore and the USA competed with UK-based dealers and collectors for a rich offering of Chinese porcelain and works of art. Pre-sale estimates were largely ignored and the price spiral for anything oriental continued ever upwards. It was a Middlesex-based dealer who won the top lot of the section, paying £5,500 – a multiple of expectations – for a blue and white vase enamelled in colours with flowers and with an underglaze blue seal mark to the base, but made all the more interesting by its two stag's head handles. The vase had been sent for sale by the vendor living in the Isle of Man.
The same buyer and seller were united by an unusual blue-and-white twin-handled cauldron-shaped porcelain pot, which was decorated with the Lions, flaming pearls and clouds. The deal cost its buyer £1,500, another multiple of the pre-sale estimate.
A London-based Chinese dealer paid £3,200 for three small white jade animals, each 1.5 inches high, one carved as a horse, the others as monkeys. They had been estimated at £400-600, while two 19th century glass snuff bottles, one painted with a cat and calligraphy, the other with a Chinese landscape, were bid to £2,600, another estimate-busting figure paid by a buyer from Singapore. Demand from Chinese collectors has not lost any of its momentum!
The sale total was £420,000.