Pre-Sale Report - 1st and 2nd October Sale

22/09/22

ONE MAN'S LIFETIME COLLECTION OF BRONZES GOES UNDER THE HAMMER

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One man’s lifetime collection of 19th century European bronzes is expected to sell for more than £20,000 in the October 1st-2nd Fine Art and Antique Sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries. The discerning collector had an eye for pieces by some of the leading sculptors of the day and filled his homes in Kent and Yorkshire with his purchases. He was an avid buyer from both auctions and dealers and was a frequent bidder in the saleroom where his collection will be dispersed. It is being sold on behalf of his family.

The pick of just short of 100 lots in the collection is a lost wax work by Aimé-Jules Dalou (1838-1902), titled "La Verité Méconnue" (Truth Denied), which is signed and bears the foundry mark "Susse Fres Edt Paris Cire Perdue". It stands 5.5ins high and is estimated at £1,200-1,600. Dalou was born in Paris and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, exhibiting for the first time at the Salon in 1861 and subsequently producing decorative sculptures of Paris’s grand properties. He spent eight years in London, during which time he was commissioned by Queen Victoria to create a monument to her two young granddaughters for her private chapel at Windsor. He returned to France in 1879, and in 1889, he was awarded the Grand Prix of the Exposition Universelle (1889), and made a commander of the Legion of Honor. He was one of the founders of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and first president of its sculpture section.

Franz Bergmann (1861-1936) inherited a foundry in Vienna from his father, producing cold-painted bronzes, notably of oriental subjects, animals and humorous trinkets modelled by a number of sculptors. Particularly sought after today are his erotic works, which are signed “Namgreb” – his name backwards – a device he used to disguise his identity to avoid upsetting his more reserved clients. The collection includes a figure of an exotic dancer, her skirt lifting to expose her charms. She stands on a polished marble base, 5.5ins high, and is estimated at £800-1200, as is a novelty 3.5-inch figure of an owl which transforms into a figure of a naked woman, kneeling on a book.

Dimitri Chiparus (1886-1947) is another significant Beaux Arts sculptor, represented in the sale by “Invocation”, a naked female standing with up-stretched arms on a polished and signed marble base. The figure is 9ins high and is estimated at £500-700.  The collector also favoured the work of Emmanuel Villanis (1858-1914). Among more than 30 examples is a brown patinated bust of a young woman, titled “Thais”, which stands 22ins high and is estimated at £800-1,000. Other examples by the sculptor have estimates starting at £80.

Of note among a strong selection of paintings is an intimate portrait of civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, painted by John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903), his brother-in-law, Brunel having married Horsley’s elder sister, Elizabeth. The oil on canvas, 36ins x 28ins, in a gilt frame, reveals a very different man from the familiar image of Brunel in a stove-pipe hat in front of massive chains. Instead of the faintly swaggering pose of that famous photograph, the painting reveals a calm but intense individual, as ever hard at work.

It is reputed that Brunel sat for the painting at Horsley’s home, Orestone Lodge, now Orestone Manor, near Torquay. Brunel fell in love with the English Riviera while he worked on the Great Western Railway, later buying a plot and starting to design Brunel Manor on the outskirts of the resort where, before his untimely death, he planned to retire.

Horsley, who designed the first Christmas card, painted a near-identical portrait of Brunel in 1857, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, as well as four copies. Three are in public institutions, but the present example, painted in 1885, remained in private ownership by long family descent, firstly from Brunel’s nephew to Brunel’s granddaughter, Celia, of Fleet House, Weymouth, then directly through her family to the current vendor. It had been in the collection of Celia’s son, Sir Humphrey Brunel Noble, and exhibited at The Victorian Era Exhibition in 1897. The portrait is estimated to sell for £10,00-15,000.

A group of early Worcester soft paste porcelain dominates the ceramics section, the most valuable of which is likely to be a rare quatrelobed coffee cup, circa 1753-54, decorated in black with flowering branches and a moth, while the interior has flowers picked out in gilt. This unusual decoration is possibly based on a Chinese prototype and it has been suggested that the cups did not have matching saucers, but were intended to be passed around on silver trays. The cup is estimated at £1,500-2000, while a similarly rare Lord Henry Thynne Pattern plate, circa 1778-80, the centre enamelled in colours with the fable of the Ass and Fox is estimated at £1,200-1,600. Both were consigned for sale by a visitor to one of the saleroom’s free Friday valuation mornings.

Among a strong entry of valuable pre-owned jewellery is a lot which includes a 14ct gold brooch that might fail to attract attention except for the fact that it was made by Cartier and is monogrammed for Wallis Simpson, wife of the Duke of Windsor, the former Edward VIII. Reputedly gifted to the vendor’s aunt by the duchess, the brooch will be sold with a Dupont cigarette lighter decorated with a coronet motif, and another by Gucci, the three pieces estimated at £300-400.

For deeper pockets, a Cartier Pink Tank Americain, quartz wristwatch with diamond-encrusted case, cream dial and pink leather strap with gold flip lock clasp, complete with its original box and papers, and estimated at £6,000-8,000, while for him, a Breguet automatic wristwatch with power meter, the skeleton movement front and back set in a white gold case, estimated at 10,000-12,000.  It too retains its alligator strap, original wooden box, outer box and has full instructions and paperwork.

Horology at its finest, however, is evident in an important early 19th century longcase regulator, by Barwise of London - Chronometer, Watch and Clock Makers to the Dukes of York, Kent, Cumberland and Gloucester. John Barwise was the son of a clockmaker from Cockermouth. He is recorded as working in London from circa 1790, and in 1805 was one of 15 watchmakers selected by the Board of Longitude to adjudicate in the dispute between Thomas Earnshaw and John Arnold over the division of an award for their respective improvements to time-keepers.

Barwise’s sons, John II and Weston, joined the firm and between 1819 and 1823 shortly before the award of a Royal Warrant as watchmakers to King George IV. Barwise Senior died in 1820. The business continued in the partnership of his sons, but Weston died in 1826, leaving it in the hands of his brother alone.

The 73ins tall clock has a 12ins diameter silvered dial with Roman and Arabic numerals, central seconds over hour dials within the outer minute track and blued steel hands to the eight-day, single train movement. Six heavy turned pillars support the back plate with end stops and jewelled palettes, while the metal rod pendulum has a mercury compensated bob and single brass-cased weight, contained in a figured mahogany case inlaid with ebony stringings, with arched hood, glazed trunk door, and panelled base on a plinth support. It is estimated at £6,500-7.500.

The 900-plus lot sale will be available for public viewing on Wednesday September 28th (12.00 to 17.00), Thursday September 29th (12.00 to 19.00) and Friday September 30th (12.00 to 17.00),  with no viewing or public attendance on sale days.

The sale will be conducted online only, with auctioneers on the rostrum executing absentee bids and taking other bids from registered bidders on the telephone and over the internet in real-time, starting at 10am. Printed catalogues are available from the auctioneer and can also be seen online at thegalleries.live (www.thegalleries.live), the saleroom’s own free to use in-house bidding platform and at www.thecanterburyauctiongalleries.com.

For further information, please contact the auctioneers, telephone 01227 763337.

 

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