George Romney drawing smashes estimate

A pen and ink drawing by 18th-century artist, George Romney (1734 – 1802), led the recent three-day Fine Sale at Cheffins in Cambridgeshire when it achieved £42,000 against an estimate of £4,000 – £6,000.

Sold to a UK-based trade buyer, the picture was a part of Romney’s famous John Howard series and achieved the fourth highest price for a single drawing by the artist ever sold at auction.

This was closely followed by an unexpected £40,000 for a group of portrait miniatures of the Bedfordshire-based Orlebar family, against an estimate of £600-£800. Sold to a US-based private buyer, this result goes to show the burgeoning market for portrait miniatures. Other high prices in the pictures section of the sale included £18,000 for a 16th-century portrait of John Curzon of Kedleston which was attributed to Robert Peake (c.1551–1619), and £15,000 for portraits of Lord Henry Howard, later 6th  Duke of Norfolk, and his first wife, Lady Anne Somerset, attributed to John Michael Wright (1617–1694).


Elsewhere, the Frank Herrmann collection of hundreds of pieces of antique tableware realised over £50,000 in total, when it sold to a series of private collectors and the trade, with one of the highlights being a Spode ‘Aesop’s Fables’ dinner service from circa 1840 which achieved £1,300. Meanwhile, a marble bust of Lord Nelson, after Franz Thaller and Matthias Ranson from the 19th century sold for £22,000 and a George III carved giltwood and gesso wall mirror sold for £3,200, while a 19th-century Chinese blue and white porcelain figure of Guanyin, Qing Dynasty, achieved £11,000.

The furniture section also saw some strong prices realised, with £2,800 paid for a Chinese export lacquer and gilt cabinet on stand and £1,800 for an Italian marquetry fruitwood bureau. With many of the items consigned from a significant country house, Heydon Grange, near Aylsham in Norfolk, traditional English pieces were sought after, such as an 18th-century oak refectory table which achieved £2,400 while carriage clocks, a Dunhill humidor, decanter boxes, a telescope and a pair of reconstituted stone lions all saw strong prices, alongside sporting art which came directly from the estate.

The final day of the sale saw the wine and spirits section, offering consignments from some of the most revered private and institutional collections throughout the region. A single bottle of Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru from 1990 sold for £2,200 while six bottles of Bollinger from 1989 achieved £600. Among the red wines, two bottles of Vosne-Romanee Les Bruleers 1er Cru Domaine Rene Engel from 1990 made £750 and two bottles of Hermitage Chave 1985 sold for £600. Port was also sought after, with a single bottle of Quinta Da Noval Nacional from 2017 making £700 while six bottles of Fonseco’s 1977 Finest Vintage Port sold for £650.

Charles Ashton, Director, Cheffins, commented: “The results of this sale go to show the continued demand for country house collections and items which have good, solid provenance. Results across all of the Cheffins auctions this year have shown that quality, rarity and provenance continue to set the bar for values and there is consistent demand for the best in class of antiques and works of art from buyers of all ages as people seek out individual and original pieces, while also subscribing to the sustainability credentials of buying at auction.”