19/12/2019 Chiswick Curates
Asian Art continued to go from strength to strength in 2019 with particularly strong sales results at the end of the year. Starting early on Monday 11th November, the delightful painting Magpies by Yu Feian sold for £237,500 in the Fine Chinese Painting sale, all before 10am. The Asian Art sale saw a rare imperial text in the critically endangered Manchurian language, selling for £162,500 later in the day. Then day two finished on a high with the beautiful Kakiemon figure of a Bijin selling for £25,000 in the Japanese Art sale.
With the only dedicated Autographs & Memorabilia department in London, headed up by our amazing specialist Valentina Borghi, we saw some exceptional results in the field this year. Valentina’s top results included a photograph by Dorothy Wilding featuring George VI and Queen Elizabeth with their daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, signed by all sitters. The photograph sold for £3,500 in May, proving the enduring popularity of Her Majesty The Queen. The October sale highlight was a series of rare letters by the prominent American businessman and multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor, who tragically died in the sinking of the Titanic. The set of letters walked out the door for £25,000. And there is already a buzz around Valentina’s 2020 sales with handwritten letters by Linda McCartney discussing her relationship with Paul McCartney going under the hammer in January.
Our crowning jewel this year came in the form of a 10.51 carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring which sailed past its pre-sale estimate bringing in a cool £462,500 this September. The ring set a new house record for the most expensive item sold at Chiswick. Jewellery’s sparkling success didn’t finish there with a diamond, padparadscha and fancy-coloured sapphire bracelet, selling for £18,750 in September and a pair of late 18th/early 19th century emerald bead necklaces, possibly from Jaipur, selling for £31,250 in November.
George Nakashima (1905-1990). A chest of drawers, designed and executed circa 1955
Our beloved monthly Interior & Antiques sale continued to prove popular with buyers and sellers, achieving an average sell through rate of 70%. Top pieces included a chest of drawers, designed and executed by George Nakashima which sold for £12,500, showcasing the buoyant market for mid-century furniture. Jumping back to the Georgian era, a Chinoiserie kneehole desk sold for £6,375 in March, highlighting the wide range of styles available in this sale. Exciting times are ahead for the Interiors & Antiques department with the team expanding in 2020 allowing for more valuation days and a bigger Modern Design offering.
The only artist on the Fine Art department’s mind this year was John Constable, after a local Chiswick resident brought in a dusty cardboard box filled with drawings in unprepossessing 1950’s frames. The drawings belonged to the late playwright Christopher Fry and had been discovered by his son when clearing out and selling the family home. Amongst the drawings were two small pen and ink sketches which were identified as small compositional designs by Constable relating to a scene from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The drawings were included the sale of British and European Fine Art in March and sold for a combined £115,000. Three works from the private collection of the late art historian Ronald Brymer Beckett performed outstandingly in the June British and European Fine Art sale with a pencil sketch of Constable’s wife Maria Bicknell selling for £10,625 and the oil of Constable’s uncle Abram Constable selling for £37,500. However, it was a small landscape drawing that showed the continual demand for Constable, selling for a staggering £87,500.
Something magical was in the air for the September Books & Works on Paper sale, when a First Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for £27,500, while the Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah by Sir Richard Francis Burton (one of the most important works by a European on the Middle East to be published) sold for £11,875 at the start of the year in February.
Designer handbags continue to prove popular with healthy sale results throughout the year. May saw a Hermès Feu Niloticus Crocodile Kelly Pochette going under the hammer for £15,000. While in September the much coveted Christian Dior Blue Canvas Saddle Bag, sold for £3,750 to a prominent U.K. museum.
Austin Farahar, Head of Photographica rounded off his first year at Chiswick by breaking records and bringing in rare consignments. May saw a record set for most expensive lens sold at a U.K. auction house with a Ross London 2" f/1.9. Lens selling for £32,500. November’s consignments included the second earliest pre series black paint Leica M3 which sold privately for a new record for Leica M - cameras in the U.K.
European Works of Art & Clocks continues to tick away to success with an exceptionally rare and fine mid-19th century English quarter striking clock with original travelling case and key by Grohe, London, NO.9799 selling for £22,500 in March. Cartier proved its continual appeal with a stunning rock crystal and Kingfisher feather desk clock, no. 1679 in its original box, selling for £21,250 in June.
Islamic & Indian Art grew throughout the year but a stellar sale in October saw some incredible results including a Maghribi Qur'an manuscript from North-West Africa from the 12th to 14th century selling for £56,250. Asian and Islamic Art collided with a set of three porcelain bowls and saucers with 'famille rose' decoration from the Qajar Prince Mas'ud Mirza Zill Al-Sultan's service selling for £23,750. While Head of Islamic & Indian Art, Beatrice Campi whose speciality in Islamic Art is metalware was particularly happy with the sale of a large Safavid brass bowl with Armenian inscription, going for £5,000.
Our Modern & British Post-War Art department wins the award for the most heartwarming story of the year with the work ‘Sketch of Goldie’ by Freud, consigned by Sister Mary Joy Langdon of Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. When Freud started painting there, Sister Mary Joy didn’t recognise the famous painter and offered him a book about painting horses. Freud painted a number of the horses at the Pony Centre and developed a friendship with Sister Mary Joy. On Freud’s eventual departure from the stables, he left behind many of his professional accoutrements and the ‘Sketch of Goldie’. The painting sold for £50,000 and all proceeds went to Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre Charity. Other fantastic achievements include the famous Bloomsbury member, Roger Eliot Fry’s portrait of Lalla Vanderveld, Fry’s great friend and much speculated lover, which sold for a new international auction house record for the artist at £37,500.
The Old Masters department saw an increasing demand for Old Master Drawings in 2019. Works on paper in the March, June and November sales totalled £115,738 – the strongest result in this category to date, and one which we are keen to grow. A buoyant market interest in Northern European Paintings saw strong results for Nicolaes Maes work, Portrait of a gentleman, in a brocaded silk Japonse Rok three-quarter-length, on the terrace of a garden at sunset, selling at £18,200 and An imaginary view of the interior of Antwerp cathedral from the Circle of Hendrick Van Steenwijck the Elder selling at £30,000. Works from the collection of Lord John Kerr also attracted strong bidding, led by a pair of portraits by William Aikman that sold for the combined total of £21,710. Italian paintings and watercolours saw results in the classical landscapes genre with the sale of A capriccio of classical ruins by the studio of Giovanni Paolo Panini, which sold for £19,500 in June.
What do you get the person who has everything? A George VI 18 carat gold fruit bowl by Northern Goldsmiths Company. Ours walked out the door for an affordable £26,875 in March. Traditional silver items continue to perform well including a Charles I Tankard in the March sale, going £4,250. The October Silver & Object of Vertu sale saw an extremely rare Charles II sterling silver livery or alms badge go under the hammer. This example is distinctly interesting both because of its great state of preservation and the prominent and sculptural detailing of the Saracen’s head crest; the piece was knocked down for £4,750.
Head of Watches, Tomas Aznar provided us with decadent luxury, including the sale of a lady’s 18k white gold with diamond wristwatch from Chopard, selling for £31,875 and some intriguing historical treasures. Who remembers the moon landing in 1969 that changed the world? It also transformed watch-making. The Omega Pre-Moon Speedmaster was the only watch qualified by NASA for extravehicular activity use at the time and was made famous by Edward White, the American NASA astronaut who wore it during his spacewalk. An Omega Pre-Moon Speedmaster sold for £16,250 in our November auction.
We may have sold the world’s most expensive round of beer this year at Chiswick, with two cans of Felinfoel Brewery Pale Ale canned around 1936 going for £2,375 in our Wine & Spirits sale in September. Head of Department Sam Hellyer is looking forward to his second year at Chiswick Auctions, keep an eye out for an exciting auction in the first half of the year...more details to come soon.
Head of Urban & Contemporary Art, Penelope Sonder took on the department in March consigning established urban artists like Banksy, Invader, Kaws and contemporary stars such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin with exceptional results including an unsigned Girl with Balloon by Banksy selling for £45,000. With a background in urban artists and project management, Penelope’s sales have focused on both established names and the curation of young upcoming artists setting the department apart from other auction houses.
If you are interested in consigning to any of our sales in 2020, please contact the relevant specialists via the Departments page.
All prices include buyer's premium.