Modern art and design in demand at Chorley’s

Edmund de Waal and John Ward, furniture by visionary designers Philippe Starck and Gordon Russell and paintings by Elizabeth Blackadder, Charles Gere and John Piper achieved £161,530 at Chorley’s most recent auction in October.

Postponed from April due to the national lockdown, Chorley’s auction of Modern Art & Design proved that the demand for contemporary art and classic design is as popular as ever.

The Hoyland Collection of Gordon Russell furniture was keenly anticipated by collectors of the early 20th Century designer. Russell’s designs were ahead of their time, encapsulating the modernism of Scandinavian furniture that became popular some 30 years later. The Gordon Russell furniture in the sale was commissioned by Geoffrey Hoyland in the 1920s for his own house. Hoyland was very instrumental in helping Russell establish his reputation and was an old-fashioned ‘patron’ of the fledgling company.

A set of seven oak dining chairs designed by W R Lethaby, for Morris & Co or Liberty, circa 1900, immaculately reupholstered in stunning blue and green peacock design fabric, also attracted strong bids.

Studio Pottery continues to perform well, with collectors jumping at the chance to bid for a good selection of top flight names, including a stunning John Ward bowl, two works by John Maltby, six Edmund de Waal beakers and eight items by Lucie Rie.

Two porcelain beakers by Edmund de Waal
Two porcelain beakers by Edmund de Waal

The diverse paintings in the sale included works by Elizabeth Blackadder, Charles Gere, Fred Cuming, Elisabeth Frink and John Piper.

Chorley’s Director and Auctioneer Catrin Hampton, said: “The lockdown this year has brought a new awareness of how easy it is to take part in auctions online. The extraordinary prices achieved at this week’s auction show that demand for 20th Century art and design is stronger than ever and we are keen to hear from clients with similar items to sell.”

Japanese Plate with Fruit Dame Elizabeth Blackadder
Japanese Plate with Fruit Dame Elizabeth Blackadder

Hampton added: “It’s easier than ever to bid, sell and take part in auctions online and when in person bidding isn’t feasible, we offer bidders the opportunity to take part in our auctions through our own bidding platform at www.chorleys.com and for no additional live bidding fee.“

Key highlights from October’s auction included:

  • Portrait of Charles Harold St John Hornby by Sir William Coldstream CBE (1908-1987), half length, seated, wearing suit and tie, signed lower right, oil on canvas, 90cm x 70cm. Charles Harold St John Hornby (1867-1946) was a founding partner of the newsagents and stationers WHSmith, deputy vice-chairman of the NSPCC and founder and owner of the Ashendene Press. Sold for £6,500 (original estimate: £4,000 – £6,000).
  • Japanese Plate with Fruit by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder (born 1931), signed, oil on canvas, 44.5cm x 54.5cm. Painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2012. Sold for £3,800 (original estimate: £4,000 – £6,000).
  • A Quarry in the Cotswolds painted in 1932 by Arts & Crafts painter Charles March Gere signed and dated lower right Charles Gere 1932, oil on canvas, 76.25cm x 61cm. Seen from the foreground view of workers quarrying limestone from the hills above Cheltenham, the eye is drawn to the distant Malvern hills and mackerel sky above. Painted in 1932, it was purchased directly from the artist by Geoffrey Hoyland, around the same time as his Gordon Russell furniture mentioned above. Sold for £3,500 (original estimate: £2,500 – £3,500).
  • Attributed to W R Lethaby (1857-1931) for Morris & Co or Liberty, British circa 1900, a set of seven Arts & Crafts oak dining chairs to a Lethaby design, with moulded dowelled splats to back and shaped carved finials to upright supports, the upholstered drop-in seats on square legs joined by carved shaped stretcher, six singles and one armchair (7)/Provenance: Liberty receipt for five singles and the armchair dated 25.5.06; the other matched single purchased at a later date/Note: both Morris & Co. and Liberty’s sold versions of this chair; Lethaby was an influential 19th-century architectural historian who worked as an assistant to Richard Norman Shaw from 1879-90. Sold for £3,500 (original estimate: £1,500 -£2,500).
  • A framed montage including autographs of all four Beatles, photographs and a copy of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, total size including gilt frame 84.5cm x 115cm. Provenance: Christie’s 10th July 2008 Lot 145. Sold for £3,200 (original estimate: £1,500 – £2,000).
  • Goods Yard, Chatham by Fred Cuming RA (born 1930), signed, oil on board, 25cm x 38cm, New Grafton Gallery label verso. Sold for £2,800 (original estimate: £200-300)
  • Terns on a Rocky Beach by Keith Shackleton (1923-2015), signed and dated ’69, oil on board, 60cm x 45cm. Sold for £2,600 (original estimate: £600-800)
  • A large stoneware vessel by John Ward (born 1938), mottled cream glaze and scraffito decoration on a gently ribbed body, impressed JW seal, 19.5cm high, 32cm diameter. Sold for £2,500 (original estimate: £2,500 – £3,500)
  • Two porcelain beakers by Edmund de Waal (born 1964), 1995, pale celadon glaze with delicate crackle, tapering conical form with two raised ribs, impressed maker’s mark, 10.8cm and 10.5cm high. Sold for £2,000 (original estimate: £1,800 -£2,200)
  • A stoneware pouring vessel by Lucie Rie (1902-1995) , oatmeal glaze with manganese exterior, seal mark to base, 11.5cm high. Sold for £1,800 (original estimate: £1,500 – £2,500)

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