In this auction we are favoured with two local instructions; the selected contents of Coton Hall near Bridgnorth and a Shropshire gentleman’s collection of clocks and fine furniture. In the Coton Hall collection, there are many interesting pieces to choose from, and, although not the original contents of the Lee family, these furnishings are typical of an English country house style. Peculiar perhaps to this rural idyll, are one or two French and Italian examples of furniture reflecting the Grand Tour travels of the country’s landed class. Here Lot 530, a Louis XV style kingwood and inlaid serpentine commode looked distinctly at home in the drawing room at Coton Hall and would sit well in any English country house interior. This commode sat below a fine picture in the manner of Claude Joseph Vernet (Lot 101) and with a classical marble bust, the ‘look’ was complete.
There are many examples of the ‘country house style’ in this auction and not all from Coton Hall. Here we are privileged to disperse the property of a Shropshire gentleman who also had an eye for Grand Tour ‘chic’. In 17th and 18th century England, gentlemen of a certain stature completed their education by heading for classical Florence, Venice and Rome and brought back with them statuary, bronzes and other classical souvenirs. Lot 383 is an excellent example of the genre, a bronze of Silenus carrying the infant Bacchus after the original sculpture discovered in Rome and thought to have been originally carved by Praxiteles in the 4th Century BC. Or how about Lot 389, a French bronze figure of Diana of Gabii, after the antique marble sculpture originally discovered by Gavin Hamilton in the palazzo of Prince Borghese at Gabii near Rome in 1792. To leaf through the catalogue of this auction, one could be forgiven for thinking that a Grand Tourist’s luggage has been misplaced!
If you are a clock or scientific instruments collector, then this auction is probably the best that you have witnessed at Halls for over a decade. There are over fifty clocks and timepieces to choose from and a particularly rare George III mahogany angle barometer (Lot 410) by John Whitehurst of Derby and dated 1775. Whitehurst is known to have made 25 angle barometers of which only eleven are dated making this a rare beast indeed and with an estimate to match (£7,000/10,000+fees).
The sale is not all about Europe and there is a decent Asian Art section with some uncommon offerings. Lot 276 is an Indian parcel gilt and silver enamelled peacock, meenakari work, Varanasi, 19th century and a charity shop find now with expectations of £300/500 + fees. A little later on there is a fine Japanese ivory netsuke carving of a tiger by Hogen Rantei (Lot 301) at £600/900 + fees and Lot 318 is an interesting early thangka of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri estimated at £300/500 + fees. What caught my eye was a fascinating collection of Chinese domestic black and white photographs (Lot 351) from the Republic period (1912-1949) given to May Myott who was a nun and missionary travelling in the Far East at that time. The photographs provide a rare glimpse into Chinese life in the 1920s and 1930s with scenes of hospitals, farming, temples, kitchens, macaroni making and porcelain manufacture in a lot for £300/500 + fees. Should fly!
Finally, perhaps the most impressive furniture lot in the auction Lot 505, a fine French Louis XVI style marble top commode in the manner of Henry Dasson (1825-1896) after the original by Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806). This is a superb piece of cabinet making and impressive in any setting. As commodes go, this is the ‘daddy’ of them all and a great buy at £10,000/15,000+ fees.
For more information, contact Jeremy Lamond
Furniture and Asian Art Specialist
Phone: 01743 450 700