Cheltenham auctioneers, Mallams, reported strong bidding and highly contested lots during its recent Country House Sale this month, with just over 80% of bidding online.
Paintings performed particularly well in the sale, and some Old Master artworks from Long Court, Randwick, Gloucestershire caused much excitement amongst bidders. The top price was achieved by a striking oil painting from the circle of Guido Reni (Bologna, 1575-1642), estimated at £1,000-£2,000 and eventually selling for £6,500. It depicts the head of Queen Deianira, a figure from Greek mythology whose name translated as “man destroyer”. She was the wife of Heracles and according to late classical accounts, his unwitting murderer.
Artworks by Richard Wilson (1714-1782) also proved popular in the sale, with an oil on canvas entitled ‘Tower and Bastion by the Sea’, achieving £5,000 against a top estimate of £3,000.
Another piece by the same artist, this time a pencil drawing of ‘Ponte Vigo at Chioggia’, also performed well, selling for £4,600 against an estimate of £1,500-£2,000. An interesting provenance for this lot, as it was originally owned by William Lock, who met the artist during his Grand Tour. Wilson travelled with Lock in his carriage from Venice to Rome late in 1751 and Lock kept many of the drawings that Wilson made along the way, including this pencil drawing of Chioggia (located approximately 16 miles south of Venice). It was also exhibited at the Tate Gallery as part of a Richard Wilson Exhibition from 1982-1983.
Interest in 19th-century oil paintings, saw several lots soaring well above estimates. Attributed to Nathaniel Dawson (19th century, British School) a painting entitled ‘Butcher buying the great Farnley Ox, 1802‘ sold for £1,900, and an English School portrait of a young naval officer saw many eager bidders pushing the hammer price to £1,600. A similar story with an English School harbour scene dated 1887, which also achieved £1,600 against an estimate of £200-£300.
Aside from paintings, with the price of silver increasing in recent months, silverware saw renewed interest at the auction, such as a matched Georgian and later silver, part canteen of King’s pattern cutlery, which achieved £3,100.
Elsewhere, furniture sales included an 18th-century, elm and ash Windsor chair, which created a great deal of interest as bidders pushed the hammer price to £1,600 against a £300-£400 estimate. A late 18th/early 19th-century French armchair and stool, estimated at £200-£300, sold for £1,200; and a William and Mary walnut bureau from Philip Duncan Ltd 1969, achieved £1,000 against its £200-£400 estimate.
Some good ceramic lots were included in the sale, such as an Italian, Doccia porcelain tea canister, dating from circa 1750, which sold for £420 against an estimate of £300-£500.
The sale also featured some more contemporary items, including a collection of ladies fashion ranging from a Christian Dior black dress, and a Loewe coat, to a Maxime Simoens dress, a Shanghai Tang velvet jacket and a Joseph black dress. This proved popular and sold for £1,200 against a conservative £60-£100 estimate.
An original, pen and ink cartoon, signed by the artist, Carl Giles (1916-1995), depicted a bewigged judge and the words ”These things are sent to try us”. It sailed above its £100-£200 estimate, with the hammer falling at £1,600. A contemporary, Japanese, four-fold screen painted with birds and blossom on a gold background, estimated at £50-£100, was also high contested and eventually sold for £450.