On Monday 18th March, Chorley’s have the privilege of handling the sale of several Chinese items with impeccable provenance. The boom in the market for Chinese artworks has been well publicised and Chorley’s have been
in the vanguard of provincial salerooms when it comes to sales of such items. Chinese buyers are particularly keen to buy from salerooms that handle privately sourced items with a good provenance dating to the pre World War II period.
The sale is led by Lot 265, a jade marriage bowl from the collection of the late Commander Paul Bridgeman of Dowdeswell Manor, near Cheltenham. The collection was sourced from the best London dealers of the late 19th and
early 20th Century including Bluett & Sons, whose label appears on the underside of this bowl. Tragically the bulk of the Bridgeman collection was destroyed by fire at the Pantechnicon in London on 8th October 1939; the
remaining items are offered in this sale. The bowl is of a type popular at the Imperial Qing court, the ring handles suspended from auspicious phoenix masks are typical of the form and the jade is of a pale celadon colour prized by the carvers of that era. Estimated at £200,000-250,000,this sale emphasises Chorley’s importance in the Gloucestershire auction scene.
The sale includes a large number of other fine Chinese jades, ceramics and ivories but perhaps the most unusual piece is a large documentary screen of the Kangxi period, Lot 372. These screens typically have 12 panels
with a landscape or palace scene to one side, and script to the other. It is rare to find a screen that is both dated and bears the names of specific individuals. This screen is dated to 1687 and carved with scenes quite probably taken from the novel ‘A Bed Full of Tablets’, showing the
famous military General Guo Ziyi seated in a palace surrounded by attendants. The extensive palace and grounds are placed within a border carved with auspicious objects while the reverse of the screen is filled with script.
This script congratulates Shang Jihou, who held the rank of ‘zhen tai’ Commander under the Emperor Kangxi, upon his birthday and includes a tribute to his character. This accolade is signed by Zhang Xiong, a scholar and politician, and is followed by a list of over seventy names and a greeting. This rare screen is not only of historical importance but is also an impressive size and highly decorative. Estimated at £40,000-60,000 it is sure to attract interest from Chinese buyers as an academic as well as a decorative piece. Again it has an important provenance, being from the Collection of Robert and Evelyn Benson who are believed to have purchased the screen on a visit to the Far East in the late 19th Century.
Among a large selection of ceramics comes another piece with a sound provenance. Lot 325, a 19th Century Getype vase is of archaistic bronze vessel form and with a crazed dark celadon glaze, estimated to realised £8,000- 12,000. Formerly in the collection of diplomat Christian William Lawrence, who visited the Far East in the late 19th Century, it was inherited by Stephanie Evans-Lawrence of Whittington Court, Gloucestershire and has passed by descent to the current vendor.
As well as Oriental works of art, the sale includes strong sections of furniture, paintings and clocks. An incredibly rare watercolour by the 18th Century English artist Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) depicts the interior of Exeter Cathedral, Lot 140. This is one of the largest known watercolours by Girtin and was made during his 1797 trip to Devon. It clearly shows his interest in the sublimity of the Gothic Architecture and is a rare example of an interior by this artist. Having been fully authenticated as his work by Susan Morris it carries an estimate of £10,000-15,000.
Among the oil paintings in the sale, a picture by Daniel Maclise (1806-1870), the Irish painter and illustrator, stands out. Famous for his ethereal paintings of fairies and goblins, he was also well known and admired for his
narrative and historical genre paintings. He was a prolific illustrator for such authors as Shakespeare, Dickens and Goldsmith. Lot 169 is a narrative painting which illustrates the scene ‘Fitting out Moses for the Fair’
from The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith. It depicts the son of the vicar being fitted up before his illadvised trip to the fair in which he sells the horse and is conned out of the proceeds by sharps who sell him a ‘gross of green spectacles’ which he believes to have silver rims but which in fact are plated. This vibrant oil is typical of Maclise’s work and asks £20,000-30,000.
A striking selection of clocks adds to the eclectic nature of this important sale with many interesting examples. Lot 102, a mid 19th Century French mantel clock has local connections as it is surmounted by a figure of the Gloucestershire legend Dick Whittington. With silk suspension, it stands on an oval musical box base playing two airs and is expected to realise £800-1200.
Several 19th Century bracket clocks chiming the quarters and striking
the hours are estimated between £600 and £1800 and Lot 92, a longcase clock, the movement by William Webster, chiming the quarters on eight bells, shows good value for money with an estimate of £800-1200.
The furniture section includes a fine Regency secretaire breakfront bookcase (Lot 20, estimate £3,000-4,000), a mahogany writing table in the manner of Gillows (Lot 50, estimate £1,000-1,500), a good mid-18th Century
concertina action card table on cabriole legs (Lot 55, estimate £400-600) and a Dutch marquetry inlaid roll-top desk profusely decorated with flowers and birds (Lot 28, estimate £2,000-2,500).
Friday 15th March 9am-5pm
Saturday 16th March 10am-4pm
Sunday 17th March 10am-4pm
Monday 18th March 8.30am-10.30am
Source: IONA PR