In its day the oil painting of the Piazza San Marco – St Mark’s Square – would have been a prized memento for an intrepid Victorian holiday traveller to Venice to be brought home as a reminder of the magic of that most romantic city. Following a sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, the painting by Austrian artist Antonietta Brandeis will be going on another journey, home to the Austrian buyer who was determined to make it his.
Estimated at £1,200-1,600, the painting attracted enormous presale interest which translated into a bidding battle, won with a closing bid of £8,800. The view of the square looking towards St Mark’s Cathedral was painted on a panel measuring just 5 by 5.8 inches and signed in black in a deep gilt moulded swept frame. It came from a local deceased estate.
The artist, who was born in Miskowitz, Austria, in 1849, studied in Prague before moving to Venice to become a pupil at the Academy there. She was one among an influx of artists who capitalised on the demand for paintings of Venice when tourism took off in the late 19th century. She painted its famous landmarks, capturing their splendour in intricate, photographic detail. She also painted in Rome and Florence, but it is her depictions of Venice that are most sought after.
The painting attracted the highest bid of the Two Day sale, challenged only by the £8,100 paid for a modern suite of 18 carat white gold and diamond-set jewellery. It comprised a rivière set with 107 stones with a gross weight of 33.6 grammes; a matching tennis bracelet set with 51 stones (11.4 grammes) and a pair of diamond set pendant earrings set with 17 smaller stones. From a local private source, it sold to an Essex telephone bidder.
An Internet bid from Australia secured another highly valued piece of jewellery: a modern platinum-mounted all diamond-set dress ring, the central brilliant cut stone weighing almost 2 carats, surrounded by a halo of 27 smaller and six further stones to either shoulder. It sold for £5,000.
Sent for sale by a private collector from East Sussex who was moving to a smaller home, was a collection of more than 40 antique snuff boxes, which was expected to raise a total of around £6,000. It sold for a total of £9,250. The collection was formed in the late 1960s and contained pieces not seen on the market for more than 40 years.
Most valuable was a George IV example by Birmingham silversmith Nathaniel Mills known as a “castle top” snuff box by collectors, its name derived from the practice of decorating the lid with views of landmark buildings. Assayed in 1827, weighing just two ounces and decorated with a view of Windsor Castle, it sold to a Buckinghamshire telephone bidder for £1,550 against an estimate of £700-900.
An American bidder on the Internet beat off strong competition for one of the most coveted clocks in the sale, which overturned its £150-200 estimate to sell for £860. Bearing a plaque engraved "Presented to Mr T. Vickery by Members of the Folkestone Baptist Church February 1904", the elaborate late 19th or early 20th century gilt brass cased "Four Glass" mantle clock will be returning home. It was made by the Ansonia Clock Company of Connecticut and New York and had an eight-day two-train movement striking on a gong.
Most poignant item in the sale, however, was a group of three George V First World War medals awarded to Whitehaven, Cumbria, woman "Nurse Isabella Thompson, Auxiliary Hospital Unit, Antwerp". The group comprised the 1914 Star; War Medal and Victory Medals; Royal Red Cross silver and enamel cross (second class); a gilt metal Serbian Red Cross Medal and a Serbian Samaritan's Medal, worn as a breast badge.
The medals were sold complete with a copy of Miss Thompson’s passport dated 18th August 1914, and her 18 carat gold wristwatch with presentation inscription to reverse which read: "Nurse Isabella Thompson from the Borough of Whitehaven, May 1919". The collection sold to a local specialist dealer for £2,800 against an estimate of £500-700.
Specialists from The Canterbury Auction Galleries will be offering Kent residents the opportunity to learn the value of antiques or works of art they own with a series of valuation mornings, the first of which is on Saturday March 9.
Consultants Alastair Gibson (Chinese and Asian works of art) and Nicholas Shaw (Indian and Islamic works of art) will be in attendance, together with a general valuer from 9.30am to 1pm by appointment to give free saleroom valuations on objects taken to the saleroom at 40 Station Road West, Canterbury. Appointments can be made by telephoning Chris Wacker at the saleroom on 01227 763337. If objects are too heavy or numerous to carry, appointments can be made for home visits. The valuation sessions are free and without obligation but people are sometimes so surprised by the value of what they own, they are often keen to leave them for sale.