As the year reaches a close there is still a huge amount of activity in the auction world and a successful sale at Chorley’s on 10th December 2009 typified this.
The sale contained a group of Old Master Paintings with an interesting provenance. A Mr R W Pettigrew of Penarth, South Wales, was a connoisseur who hoarded an amazing collection of paintings until he and his wife were able to live in just a few rooms of their house. In 1929 Christie, Manson and Woods sold part of the collection. He left the remainder of the collection to his neighbour, Miss Millicent Hope Bovey, and the pictures sold by Chorley’s in this sale came from this source. The group, included works attributed to Frans Snyders, Pieter van Bloemen and Bonaventura Peeters but the star of the show was Lot 160, a still life attributed to Osias Beert. This oil on panel was in rather dry condition but looked as if it would clean up well. Estimated at £2,500-3,500 it was soon contested by phone and in the room to a pleasing £19,000.
From the old to the new: a limited edition Dennis China Works vase made in 2002 and decorated with snow leopards raced to £1,800. Dennis China Works was founded by Sally Tuffin and Richard Dennis in 1993 – she had previously been the design director at Moorcroft. Having achieved some incredibly strong prices for Moorcroft in 2009 Chorley’s have noticed that the prices for modern signed limited edition Moorcroft have improved dramatically. Dennis China Works concentrate on high quality, decorative items which are often produced in strictly limited editions. This approach means that, despite the relative modernity of the items, they are already sought after at auction.
The 21st century has seen the rising influence of the Chinese economy on the art market. As collectors seek to buy back their heritage, auction prices have gone through the roof. The decision by Chorley’s to include an Oriental works of art section in their monthly catalogues has reaped dividends. A Chinese 17th century blue and white jar was hotly contested between no fewer than seven telephone bidders as well as those in the room and eventually the hammer fell at £2,000. A collection of small jade carvings also performed well at £6,000.
It is well-known that the gold market has boomed in recent years. A collection of bullion coins performed incredibly strongly with the top lot being 13 $50 Canadian maple leaf 10oz coins fetching £7,200. With buyer’s premium added, some of the prices were above actual gold values and this is a reflection of a continued willingness to gamble that the gold market will improve into 2010.
Selling a collection of toys is always a joy just before Christmas as it gives an opportunity to buy a really special gift for old or young. Collections of Dinky and Corgi cars and Hornby 0 gauge trains and accessories all sold well. Good prices were also seen for dolls and teddy bears.
Rather less festive was an Austrian cold painted figure of an Arab horseman wrestling a woman away from her husband. This was of good quality and bore the mark of the most famous artist working in this way, Franz Bergmann. While the subject matter would not be to everybody’s taste, it was certainly a dramatic conversation piece and found a buyer at £3,100 against a £1,000-1,500 estimate.
Clocks have not always performed well of late but quality will always attract the buyers and a handsome George III bracket clock realised £4,000, while a minute repeating hunter chronograph in a gold case saw £2,200. Furniture has also polarised with the more interesting lots becoming increasingly sought after. Lot 654, a small 17th century oak chest, was a nice size, in good overall condition and had a lovely rich colour – these factors helped it to £2,400. Similarly, a George III burr elm bureau had the combination of quality and attractiveness that encouraged bidding up to £3,000, a rare price for a bureau these days.
Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire, GL4 8EX
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Chorley’s next sale is on Thursday 21st January 2010.