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Purchase Story

Letter from London, February 2017

Ian McKay | January 27th, 2017

Ian McKay, <[email protected]>

Antiquities are very much in evidence in this “Letter” and not all of them confined to the principal piece on “Antiquities….” Look out also for an Egyptian funeral boat and a well-documented but still mysterious Roman intaglio ring that made a huge sum.

A revolver that recalls an infamous French literary spat; Jane Austen’s party trick; an unlikely naked harvester; colourful successes and shattering failures in the glass market; a Japanese shaggy dog story; and two little owls and more besides make up this month’s bill of fare.


One-Way Tickets Only--A Voyage into the Afterlife

Boats such as that illustrated here were an integral part of everyday ancient Egyptian life along the Nile and, as such, were considered necessary for the voyage into the afterlife. To this end, two model boats were produced for each tomb—one depicting the vessel sailing south with the prevailing wind, the other with the crew rowing as it made its way north.

Models were made from papyrus or wood, as were the real things, and the example seen here is a 51" long, painted wooden example of the Middle Kingdom period, 2133-1797 B.C.

Ten sailors, or oarsmen, are lined up in pairs, while another faces them—perhaps setting the pace at which they must pull on the oars—and at the stern is seen the helmsman.


The Egyptian model of a boat, a burial object, which made $200,900 at Bonhams.

Sent for sale in a Bonhams antiquities auction of November 30, 2016, from a Scottish collection, it had been acquired in Egypt (possibly Luxor) in the early years of the last century by Australian-born Esmond Sinauer (d. 1946).

In the early 1900s Sinauer had been sent to England to be educated at St. Paul’s and then trained as an army officer at the Woolwich Armament School in London, passing out as the top cadet of his intake.

It was while serving with the Royal Engineers in Egypt and the Sudan that he acquired this and other antiquities, among them a bronze figure of Osiris that he mounted on his Rolls-Royce car in place of the usual and very familiar “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot. The car’s number plate was inscribed on the bottom of the Osiris figure.

The funeral boat sold at a much higher than expected $200,900.


Where Have All the Flowers Gone…?

It was the title of the white marble figure seen here that intrigued me. A near life-size figure by Victorien Antoine Bastet, signed and dated 1905, it is called Fleurs des Champs (Flowers of the Field).


Fleurs des Champs sold for $53,760 at Bonhams.

Now, the young woman does hold a posy of flowers in her left hand, but she has a staff braced across her back and, said the cataloguer, the scarf which covers her hair suggests that she is a harvester rather than an idealised maiden, “…reflecting not only Bastet’s interest in the female form but also his background in agriculture.”

Bastet had indeed been born into a farming family in Bollene in the Vaucluse region of southeastern France, but when he took up sculpture it was the female form, not farming, that became his preferred subject. And I doubt that this was standard farm labouring costume, even in the more liberal and free-thinking departments of France.

There are other oddities in the catalogue description, where the figure’s creator is variously named as Bastet, Bostet, and Baschet—though the latter may refer to Ludovic Baschet, the author of a catalogue for the 1905 Salon of the Société des Artistes Français at which it was first exhibited.

Sadly, its creator, who had endured ill health for some years, died a few days before the show opened, but Fleurs des Champs was well received—as it was in Bonhams’ “Home & Interiors” sale of October 18 and 19, 2016, where it sold for $53,760.


The Gun that Ended a Tempestuous Literary Affaire

An unusual firearm makes its way into this month’s “Letter.” I have no idea what the market value of a standard 7 mm Lefaucheux revolver might be, but it was association that mattered in a Christie’s Paris sale of November 30, 2016, when the example pictured here sold for $463,865.

Described in one news report as “one of the most famous guns in French literary history,” this is the weapon that the poet Paul Verlaine bought when, one day in July 1873, he decided to put an end to a tempestuous two-year relationship with his teenage lover and fellow poet, Arthur Rimbaud, and to return to his wife and young son.

The drunken drama was played out in a Brussels hotel room. One of the bullets fired by the distraught Verlaine hit Rimbaud in the wrist, but only grazed him, while a second hit a wall and ricocheted into the fireplace.

Verlaine, for whom drink and drugs were to be a lifelong problem, pulled out the revolver again when the two men emerged onto the street and in what sounds like an almost farcical situation, both were arrested by a passing policeman.

They were subsequently charged with “moral indecency” and Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour, where, much to Rimbaud’s fury, he embraced Catholicism.

In prison Verlaine wrote 32 poems that would later appear in some of his best-known collections, while Rimbaud moved back in with his domineering mother and finished Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell), a work now regarded as a pioneering exercise in symbolist literature.

The consignor, Jacques Ruth, a Belgian firearms enthusiast, had kept the revolver in a cupboard for 20 years, unaware of its literary significance, and only thought to have it checked out when he noticed an identical model being used in Total Eclipse, a 1995 movie about the two poets’ intense relationship that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud and David Thewlis as Verlaine.

Ruth first contacted historian Bernard Bousmanne, who had curated an exhibition about the two men in Brussels in 2004, and then took the gun to experts at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels. They not only confirmed that it was the same model but, on checking the serial number with the old records of a local gunsmith, identified it as the very gun that Verlaine had bought and used.


The revolver with which Paul Verlaine tried to shoot his young lover, Arthur Rimbaud, was sold for $463,865 by Christie’s Paris.


Mysterious but Well-Known Gem Shatters Expectations at $507,570

Not an easy object to photograph or reproduce in print, the 1st century B.C. Roman intaglio set in a 17th-century enameled gold pendant mount also posed problems regarding the subject matter. But, said Sotheby’s, “Regardless of the elusive subject identification, this is one of the most beautifully executed intaglios to have been offered at auction in many years.”

Their point was proved and their very modest valuation demolished when this gem, the intaglio itself just over 1¼" high, sold on December 6, 2016, not for the suggested $10,000/15,000 but for a little over half a million—$507,570 to be precise. The buyer was the J. Paul Getty Museum.


The restituted Roman intaglio sold for $507,570 at Sotheby’s.

Executed in yellow sard, a form of chalcedony, it depicts a standing youth talking to a seated maiden, and since the 18th century, when it is thought to have been acquired in France for Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, its subject has challenged experts and collectors alike.

Sotheby’s note that in 1963 it was attributed by one scholar to Aulos, who signed an amethyst intaglio now in the British Museum. Another scholar identified the jewel as representing Paris and Oenone, though throughout its long and distinguished history the subject has been given multiple other descriptions.

“Phaon and Sappho,” “Muse and Comic Poet,” “Adonis and Aphrodite,” and “Venus and Anchises” are just a few of them, and it has also been suggested that the male could represent Apollo and that the tablet held by the maiden could provide her identity.

The intaglio remained at Blenheim Palace and in the family until 1899, when the 3rd Duke of Marlborough’s collection of “Works in Cameo and Intaglio” was sold at Christie’s.

By 1920 it was in the collections of Kurt Walter Bachstitz of Den Haag in the Netherlands, but in the summer of 1941 it was “purchased” for 6000 guilders by Dr. Hans Posse of Berlin and found itself among those treasures destined for Hitler’s proposed “Fuhrer Museum” in Linz, Austria.

Recovered in Altaussee, Austria by the so-called “Monuments Men” in 1945, it was six years later transferred first to the Geldmuseum in Utrecht, then to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

In 2016, however, it was restituted to the heirs of Kurt Walter Bachstitz, who consigned it for sale at Sotheby’s.


When Cigarettes Still Had a Place at the Dining Table

A novelty smoking set for the aviation enthusiast, this nickel-plated brass aeroplane by J.A. Henckels, a company nowadays better known for cookware and tableware, was made in Germany circa 1925 and is stamped DRGM.

A little under 9½" long, it incorporates two detachable “wing” cigarette cases, four ashtrays, a match striker compartment, and removable wheels—the latter, I suppose, for ease of takeoff or ease of delivery when smoking at the dinner table was still socially acceptable.

In a Christie’s South Kensington “Interiors” sale of November 23, 2016, it sold at $4650.


Antiquities from Ancient Greece and Rome, but with the Emphasis Very Much on Ancient Egypt

Antiquities sales at the year’s end saw a November 30, 2016, sale at Bonhams, followed on December 6 by two separate auctions at Christie’s—a general sale and the “The Resandro Collection.” The latter presented 61 lots from what was billed as one of the world’s most renowned private collections of ancient Egyptian works of art.

Exceptional bronzes were a key aspect of that collection—none more so than a 17¼" high figure of Isis and Horus (A), originally dated by the auctioneers to the 25th Dynasty but later judged to date from a few hundred years later, the Ptolemaic period (332-30 B.C.).


(A) Isis and the infant Horus, the star turn of the Resandro sale at Christie’s, sold for $1,382,290.

Clad in a tightly fitted sheath, the goddess is seated with her feet resting on a low integral plinth, her wig and vulture headdress crowned with a rearing cobra, supporting cow horns that frame a sun-disk. Isis offers her left breast to her divine son, Horus, who is seated on her lap.

Acquired by a German collector at a 1929 Paris sale of the Cairo collection of Omar Pacha Sultan, it passed into the Resandro collection in 1976 and at Christie’s it was bid to $1,382,290.

Also part of at least two German collections before being acquired at a Christie’s sale of 1987 was a 16½" high figure of Wadjet-Bast (B) dating from the “Late Period,” 664-332 B.C., that sold for $266,265.

(B) The 16½" high figure of Wadjet-Bast sold for $266,265 in the Resandro sale.

Numerous lion-headed deities are to be found in the ancient Egyptian pantheon and, without an inscription, it can be difficult to determine which one is represented. In this example the elaborate headdress is characterised by a rearing cobra, representing the goddess Wadjet, traditionally the protective deity of Lower Egypt, but in the Late Period she becomes associated with the feline-headed Bastet, becoming a lion-headed deity wearing a headdress with sun-disk and rearing cobra, called Wadjet-Bast.

Representations of Egyptian deities standing in front of an obelisk are rare and limited to solar deities such as Atum, Osiris, and the lion-headed goddesses Sekhmet and Wadjet-Bast. In this remarkably fine and large example, the goddess is depicted wearing the sun-disk headdress, reinforcing the connection with the solar cult.

Only 1¾" high, a red glass head of a man probably of royal lineage (C) that dates from the late 18th or early 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, 1319-1213 B.C., was sold for $235,690.


(C) This red glass head of a man sold for $235,690 as part of the Resandro collection.

The eyes, brows and chin strap are recessed for inlays, while the lobes show shallow drill holes, indicating earrings, and a drilled hole on the underside of the chin would have served to secure a separately made beard. As usual with these rare composite statuettes, the scalp area was not part of the face and would have been fitted with a separate crown or headdress made in another material.

It had been acquired for the Resandro collection at Sotheby’s in 1978.

The earliest of my selections from the Resandro collection sale is a 5" long wooden cosmetic bowl (D), deeply recessed and sloping to a narrow foot, that is dated to the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, 1550-1292 B.C.


(D) The wooden cosmetic bowl from the Resandro property sold for $63,700.

Sold for $63,700, rather than the suggested $7500/10,000, it bears a collection label linking it with Léon de Laborde (1807-1869), a French archaeologist and diplomat who, having travelled extensively in Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, was made conservator of the Musée de Louvre in 1847, and director-general of the archives of the French Empire in 1857.

The bowl was last seen at auction at Christie’s in 1993.

A mixed-owner antiquities sale held by Christie’s on the same day was led by a couple of Roman lots.

Sold at $110,950—ten times the high estimate—was a marble Acroterion fragment (E), an architectural ornament placed on a flat base called the acroter, or plinth, and mounted at the apex of the pediment of a building in the classical style. It was dated to the 2nd to 3rd century A.D.


(E) This Acroterion fragment sold for a much higher than expected $110,950 in the general antiquities sale at Christie’s

Bid to $118,875 was a 9½" high marble portrait bust of Julia Mamaea (F), one of the most powerful women of the Severan dynasty. Mother to the emperor Severus Alexander, she was an effective and admired regent during her son’s minority and continued to exert considerable influence during his reign.


(F) Sold for $118,875 as part of the general antiquities sale at Christie’s was this marble portrait bust of Julia Mamaea.

Julia’s manifest strengths and capabilities could not, however, protect her from the sort of grisly end that was visited on quite a few members of the imperial household. Following a lacklustre expedition against the Persians in A.D. 232, Julia and Severus Alexander travelled north to repel a German attack, but their failure to win over the Rhine legions led to the disaffected troops’ proclamation of Maximus as emperor in 235.

Soldiers were then dispatched to assassinate the deposed emperor, and sources claim that he was found clinging to his mother in a tent. Both were butchered, marking not only the end of the Severan dynasty but the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire.

The damnatio memoriae, which saw portraits and inscriptions commemorating Julia Mamaea destroyed at the new emperor’s behest, means that likenesses are rare, but her characteristic coiffure and averted gaze point clearly to the subject’s identity.

Catalogued simply as a “Greek bronze Chalcidian” helmet and, from 1967 to 1994, part of the “C.F. collection” in Switzerland, an ancient Greek helmet (G) sold for $63,400 in the general antiquities sale at Christie’s.


(G) The “Chalcidian” helmet sold for $63,400 as part of the general antiquities sale at Christie’s.

Uncertain as to just where Chalcidia might be found, I went to Wikipedia and found that Chalcidice, or Chalkidiki, as it is now called, is “a peninsula and regional unit of Greece, part of Central Macedonia,” but then I found an entry for Chalcidian helmets and discovered that as a general term it refers to helmets made of bronze and worn by ancient warriors of the Hellenic world, especially popular in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.

However, just to confuse matters, this description was qualified by the following: “The helmet is so-called because it was first, and is most commonly, depicted on pottery once thought to derive from the Euboean city of Chalcis. In fact, it is not known whether the helmet actually originated in Chalcis; indeed, it is not known whether the pottery in question was actually Chalcidian.”

Given its almost comic appearance, something that I found irresistible in that same King Street sale was a Carthaginian glass pendant in the form of the head of a bearded man (H). It dates from the 5th to 4th century B.C. and sold at $7925.


(H) This Carthaginian glass pendant of a bearded man sold for $7925 at Christie’s.

A model funeral boat that sold for $200,900 as part of the Bonhams antiquities sale of November 30, 2016, is featured elsewhere in these reports under the heading “One-Way Tickets…,” but also part of that New Bond Street sale were an Egyptian bronze cat and a fragmentary Roman marble mask of a woman—both of which brought bids that were well in excess of estimates.

The cat (I), just over 7¾" high, is a hollow-cast figure of the Late Period, 664-30 B.C., which sold for $170,950.


(I) This Egyptian bronze cat, 664-30 B.C., sold for $170,950 at Bonhams.

The Egyptians are thought to have been one of the first cultures to domesticate cats, and the animals eventually became widely worshipped through association with the cult of the cat-headed Bastet, goddess of warfare as well as a protector against contagious diseases and evil spirits. Cats were also, more prosaically, valued for their pest control abilities.

A cat’s head from the Resandro property at Christie’s that sold for $135,360 is also illustrated (J). Another Late Period/Ptolemaic piece, it is 4¾" high, has an alert expression, pierced upright ears, and a scarab incised on its forehead.


(J) This cat’s head from the Resandro property at Christie’s sold for $135,360.

The 7" high mask from the Bonhams sale (K) is dated to the 1st century A.D. and sold for $127,900. It may represent Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete who was put in charge of the famous labyrinth, or perhaps a Maenad, a follower of Dionysus.


(K) The Roman theatrical mask sold in the Bonhams auction for $127,900.

Similar theatre masks on short plinths, said Bonhams, can be seen on oscilla, those small figures, most commonly masks or faces, that were hung up as offerings to various deities in connection with festivals and other ceremonies. They cite an example in the Musei Capitolini in Rome, but this one was once part of the collections formed in the latter decades of the 20th century by Eugene Chesrow of Chicago.

Bonhams also note that the closest stylistic parallels appear to be masks from the theatrical frieze of the Propylon, or monumental gateway, of the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, a small but ancient Greek city in what is now western Anatolia, Turkey.


Colourful Glass: Success Stories and a Shattering Failure

The first two portions of a large collection of Bohemian glass offered in recent times by Bonhams produced good results (see reports in the March 2014 and January 2016 issues of M.A.D.), so I was astonished when, on downloading the results of the “Masterpieces of Bohemian Glass: Part III” sale of October 26, 2016, I found that only five of the 101 lots had sold. Between them, they raised something a little short of $6000!

On asking why, I received the following diplomatic observation by John Sandon, the Bonhams specialist: “The owner of the collection felt encouraged by the success of the first two sales and the estimates this time were set perhaps too ambitiously.”

However, Sandon was also keen to point out that the glass section of a sale held only a week later in the Knightsbridge salerooms—a November 3 auction that offered both glass and ceramics—showed the strength of the market in early glass and the demand for high-quality 19th-century glass by named makers and artists.

“Most items in that sale,” he added, “came from well-known collections, proving once again the importance of a good provenance.”

A number of items from the November sale are illustrated and described here.


Dated 1592 in white, this 12" tall Bohemian enamelled stangenglas, or pole glass, was sold by Bonhams for $31,285. The coloured enamel decoration depicts three blue donkeys standing on the upper branches of a tree, while three birds are seen either on the ground, or, in the case of an owl, on a lower branch. A spray of lily-of-the valley is also seen, and the white lettered inscription translates as “Wonder…,” or perhaps “Miracle upon Miracle, the donkeys on the tree and the birds underneath.”


This German or Swiss blue-tinted Krautstrunk, or cabbage stalk, beaker dates from the second quarter of the 16th century. Unusual in its rich blue colour and applied with four flat prunts melted onto the surface, it is just 3" high. It sold for $43,800.


The most successful of a small group of façon de Venise reverse-painted glass pictures, this example of 1560-70 was made in Hall-in-Tyrol, or perhaps Innsbruck. Painted with a scene showing The Lamentation of Christ, it is set in a velvet frame, the visible part of the glass image measuring roughly 12¼" x 7¼". It sold at $50,060.


Sold for $85,115 by Bonhams was this 11" tall Silesian Hochschnitt, or high-relief carved, goblet and cover by Friedrich Winter of Hermsdorf. Dated to around 1700, it is carved with the Schaffgotsch arms, and one of the three reserved cartouches features a pine tree device associated with the family and the motto “Aucun temps ne le Change” (Untouched by Time”). The other two cartouches are engraved with a dragon curled around a tree and a palm tree and an oak tree standing together. A number of goblets of this same basic form are recorded, all bearing the Schaffgotsch arms, but each has different decoration and the carving within the reserves varies considerably.

In 1687 Count Christoph Leopold von Schaffgotsch granted Friedrich Winter a special privilege or patent to set up a water-powered glass-cutting workshop that specialised in Hochschnitt decoration that could give to glass the appearance of highly valued rock crystal.


This Stevens & Williams silver-mounted, cranberry-stained, and deep ruby claret jug by John Orchard, dated “Christmas 1891,” made $34,045. The body is deeply cut in rock crystal style with panels of acanthus leaves and rococo scrollwork, and though it bears Birmingham hallmarks, it also incorporates American silver mounts by Gorham.


The Thomas Webb & Sons vase in rock crystal style with cameo decoration sold for $54,165. Designed by Lionel Pearce, circa 1880, this 13¾" tall vase has straw-tinted clear glass overlaying a thin opalescent layer and is finely carved and partly colour-padded in pink, ruby, pale green, yellow, and white with flowering plants growing by shimmering water. The neck features chinoiserie trelliswork and insects in flight. It was last seen at auction in October 2006, when it made $114,085 at Sotheby’s.


A lengthy diamond-point inscription exhibiting an unconventional form of Latin is found on this early 18th-century “onion” form serving bottle. It begins with the line “Ego, Diaconos Celer…,” which could be translated literally as “I Deacon Swift,”* and as the satirist and author of Gulliver’s Travels is known to have played around with Latin words in something he called “Latino-Anglicus,” it is tempting to think that the inscription might be some form of Swiftian jest. David Burton, in his 2015 book Antique Sealed Bottles 1640-1900: and the Families Who Owned Them, records examples owned by Jonathan Swift and his brother, Thomas, and notes discussions on the use of wine bottles in Swift’s later writings. The bottle sold at $15,475.

*Swift had been ordained as a deacon of the Irish Church by the Bishop of Kildare in 1694, so this is a title he is likely to have used during the early part of the 18th century.


Little Owls Prove a Wise Investment


Reckoned to date from around 1600 and to be of either Italian or Bohemian origin, in which case either Milan or Prague are likely candidates for the artist’s workshop, the owl cameo mounted within an 18th-century gold ring, seen right, was sold by Sotheby’s on December 6, 2016, for $50,915—eight times the high estimate.

The cameo is executed in rock crystal and purple and red agate, ingeniously carved not only to incorporate the thin red layer of the stone to describe the face, but also the pupils of the eyes.

The level of skill required to execute such a design, said the cataloguer, indicates that the gem was carved by a first-rate lapidary, perhaps a member of the Miseroni or Saracchi workshops.


he sleeping owl netsuke pictured right, its wings tightly drawn in as it perches on a tree stump, was part of a netsuke collection formed by American concert pianist and teacher Julius Katchen and his wife, Arlette, that came to auction at Bonhams on November 8, 2016.*

A 19th-century netsuke, signed by Ohara Mitsuhiro (1810-1875), it was another unexpected owlish success, selling at $54,235—eight to nine times its estimate.

*See also “A Shaggy Dog Tale…” (below) for the star entry in that New Bond Street sale of the Katchen netsuke.


A Shaggy Dog Tale from the World of Netsuke

Two and a half inches high, the netsuke of a shaggy dog and its pup seen here was very much the star attraction when, on November 8, 2016, Bonhams sold the first portion of a fine netsuke collection formed by American concert pianist and music teacher Julius Katchen and his wife, Arlette.


This ivory netsuke of a shaggy dog and its pup made $273,965 as part of the Katchen collection at Bonhams.

This celebrated netsuke, one upon which many attributions to its maker, Gechu, have been based, was in June 1969 offered as part of the last auction of the celebrated M.T. Hindson collection. It was much admired by Julius Katchen and he was determined to purchase it but, sadly, he died a few months before the sale. Instead, his widow, Arlette, bid for and bought it in his memory.

Described in the 1960s by one netsuke expert, Frederick Meinertzhagen, as a “curious and grotesque figure of a Bitch with stylised treatment of the hair, sitting up and playing with her pup,” it is signed under the left leg and is dated to the late 18th or early19th century.

Gechu is a somewhat enigmatic carver of netsuke, in that little is known of him, not even with any certainty where he lived and worked. For many years, it was thought that he might have lived in Osaka, mainly based upon the similarity of his work to that of Risuke Garaku, but it has recently been suggested by Alain Ducros that he may have been domiciled in Satsuma Province on the island of Kyushu.

In the Bonhams sale this was an “estimate on request” lot and on the day it sold at $273,965.

Another netsuke from the Katchen collection may be found in the “Little Owls…” story featured above in this “Letter.”


Jane Was a Dab Hand at Cup-and-Ball

In his 1869 A Memoir of Jane Austen, her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote that Jane was “…successful in everything that she attempted with her fingers. None of us could throw spilikins in so perfect a circle, or take them off with so steady a hand. Her performances with cup and ball were marvellous. The one used at Chawton was an easy one, and she has been known to catch it on the point above a hundred times in succession, till her hand was weary.”

What was believed to be that very ivory cup-and-ball, or “bilbocatch,” game, one that was played with by successive generations of children and has remained in Jane’s family ever since, was offered in a December 13, 2016, book sale at Sotheby’s, but against an estimate of $25,000/37,500 it failed to sell.


Shedding a Little Candlelight on Opulence

Bid to a far higher than expected $516,250 in a Christie’s sale of November 29, 2016, that was simply titled “Opulence” was the George III period two-light candelabrum seen below. Bearing the 1810 London hallmarks of John Wakelin and Robert Garrard, the candelabrum stands 17¼" high, weighs in at just over 90 ounces, and bears the engraved crest of Thomas Dawson, 1st Baron Cremorne.


The Cremorne candelabrum was sold for $516,250 by Christie’s as part of their “Opulence” sale in November.

Thomas Dawson inherited great wealth from his banker father, Richard Dawson, and was able to pursue a long political career, acquire a number of titles, and commission houses in Ireland and London.

A patron of the architect James Wyatt and the artists Thomas Lawrence and Johann Zoffany, Dawson was the Member of Parliament for County Monaghan in Ireland and was raised to the Irish House of Lords as Baron Dartrey of Dawson’s Grove in 1770 and made Viscount Cremorne in 1785.

Cremorne enlarged his Chelsea (London) villa, Cremorne House, employing Wyatt once again and the landscape gardener and surveyor Nathaniel Richmond (1723-1784). It was here and at his Mayfair house that he was visited by King George III, Queen Charlotte, and the Prince of Wales on numerous occasions.

The death of his first wife must have greatly affected him as he also commissioned James Wyatt to raise a magnificent mausoleum in her memory, but Lord Cremorne did take a second wife, Philadelphia, a granddaughter of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and a lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

Lord Uxbridge, who commissioned a set of four matching candelabra in 1792, may have admired Cremorne’s pair of candelabra at a dinner or soirée at Cremorne House, as the entry for his set in the silversmiths’ ledgers describe them as being “like Cremornes.”

Sold for $471,250 in the same “Opulence” sale was the set of four George II period silver candlesticks seen above left. Each 8¾" tall and having a combined weight of almost 108 ounces, they bear the 1755 London marks of Edward Wakelin.


The set of four candlesticks by Edward Wakelin sold at $471,250 in the same sale.


A One-Off Table to Seat the Many

Modern pieces of furniture, and in this case almost brand new, are not something that I would normally select for these pages, but for the starkly simple prototype “Surface Table” seen here I felt I had to make an exception.

Constructed of “lacquered undirectional carbon fibre” and steel to a design by Terence Woodgate and John Barnard and produced by Established & Sons of London, it is close on 20' long.

Only two prototypes were made and the first was discarded by the manufacturer, so this example, which was exhibited at the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena, Italy for three months in 2012, is unique.

In a special “Design” sale held by Sotheby’s on November 15, 2016, it sold for around five times the suggested sum, at $294,930.


Originally published in the February 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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