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  • Archive for July, 2011


    Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

    Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath made £22,441,250 at Christie's.

    A racehorse famous in the 18th century is still winning in the 21st.  Gimcrack (a word defined as a cheap and showy object) belied his name and proved his worth at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale in London on July 5 by making £22,441,250.

    Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey by George Stubbs (1724-1806) depicts one of the most popular and admired of all 18th century racehorses. The estimate was £20/30 million.  As a result of this sale Stubbs now joins Rubens, Rembrandt, Turner and Pontormo as the only Old Master artists whose paintings have sold for more than £20 million at auction.

    This Michelangelo drawing of a male nude made £3,177,250.

    The Evening Sale of Old Master & British Paintings realised £49,766,050. It sold  67% by lot and 83% by value. The evening’s top price was paid for Gimcrack, a  masterpiece of both British art and sporting painting.  Bought by Piers Davies Fine Art on behalf of a client it  is the third most valuable Old Master painting ever sold at auction.  It was last sold at auction in 1951 when it realized £12,600.

    A view of the saleroom. (Click on image to enlarge)

    There was a world record price for Thomas Gainsborough when his Portait of Mrs. William Villebois made £6,537,250.  A  male nude drawing by Michaelangelo made £3,177,250 against an estimate of £3/5 million.

    Christie’s reported that  there was a noticeable demand from private clients.  There was a particularly high level of interest and bidding from new clients, including a significant number from Asia.  Another change in the market for Old Masters is the amount of collectors who buy across a range of categories, driven by quality.  These collectors are, they say, adding a new energy to certain sectors of this field.

    (See posts for May 31 and April 6).


    Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

    Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) Hutiles trabajos (Useful work) made £2,281,250. © Christie’s Images Limited 2011 (click on image to enlarge)

    The top lot at Christie’s day sale of Old Master and Early British Drawing and Watercolours sale in London on July 5 was this brush and indian ink and wash, with scraping, brush and black ink framing lines, on ivory laid paper by Goya.

    It sold for £2,281,250 against an estimate of £2/3 million. Altogether 130 lots were sold in an auction that brought in £6,309,788.  It was  71% sold by lot and 95% sold by value.

    From a private collection in France it had passed by descent to the artist’s son, Javier Goya y Bayeu (1784-1854), and by descent to his son Mariano Goya y Goicoechea, after 1854.

    London’s Master Paintings Week is now in full swing.  This is a collaboration between twenty-three leading galleries and three auction houses. It runs until July 8.


    Monday, July 4th, 2011

    An interiors and collectibles sale at James Adam in Dublin on July 12 will feature more than 650 varied lots.  There is furniture, silver, books of Irish historical interest,  arms, medals, militaria,  art, glass and toys.  The entire catalogue is on-line at

    Here is a small selection from the catalogue:

    A large George IV giltwood girandole convex mirror is estimated at 6,000-10,000. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Sir Frederic William Burton RHA, Portrait of Mary Florence Vanderbyl, dated August 5, 1870 (2,000-4,000) UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,200

    This William IV rosewood breakfast table is estimated at 2,000-3,000. UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,000

    A Victorian display cabinet with a large collection of stuffed birds and butterflies estimated at 800-1,200. UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,300

    An Edwardian painted and inlaid occasional table estimated at 400-600. UPDATE: THIS MADE 450

    This c1800 Irish sideboard is estimated at 2,000-3,000. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

    The Linnell overmantle mirror.

    THIS English mirror conceived as a Chinese landscape (see post for June 30) features at the Masterpiece Fair in London until July 5.  It is being offered by Apter-Fredericks Ltd., who sell fine 18th century English furniture from their shop at Fulham Road, London SW3.

    It was made c1755 by John Linnell, possibly commissioned by Thomas Thynne, 3rd Viscount Weymouth and 1st Marquess of Bath (d. 1796) for his London house in Hill Street, Berkeley Square. It first appears in an 1896 inventory at 48 Berkeley Square following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bath.
    Sold at Sotheby’s in 1940 it became a prized possession of the celebrated Virginian hostess Nancy Tree, later Lancaster, famous for her taste as a London decorator through ownership of Sybil Colefax Ltd. and her partnership with John Fowler.

    The mirror at the tapestry drawing room in Ditchley Park. (Click to enlarge).

    It was following the Trees’ 1933 acquisition of the Georgian mansion of Ditchley Park, Oxford that the mirror was purchased for Mrs Tree’s Sitting Room, where it appeared in a watercolour made by Alexandre Serbriakoff. It travelled to New York with Ronald Tree (d.1976) and his second wife Marietta (d. 1991) and featured in the latter’s New York apartment illustrated in Arthur Schlesinger, Junior’s profile of her as ‘Chair’ of the Citizens Committee for New York City published in the Architectural Digest of March 1984.


    Friday, July 1st, 2011

    An Irish longcase clock by Heroman of Dublin (8,500-9,500). UPDATE: UNSOLD AT THE AUCTION, UNDER ACTIVE NEGOTIATION AFTERWARDS.

    Mealy’s two day fine and decorative art sale takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday July 5-6 at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.  There is decorative art, furniture, carpets, art, garden furniture, light fittings, glassware and militaria.
    Here is a small selection of some of the lots on offer.  The entire catalogue is on-line at
    UPDATE:  The sale brought in 300,000 at hammer.  It was 80 per cent sold on day one, 65 per cent sold on day two giving an overall sell rate of 72 per cent.  Mealy’s used lived internet bidding for the first time at this sale and found it spectacularly successful.  There were 500 registered internet bidders from 57 countries.  About 15 per cent of the entire auction went to internet bidders.
    See post for June 27.

    A 19th century Italian fruit walnut and marquetry commode at Mealy's. It is estimated at 3,000-5,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,800

    A c1900 card table in the style of E.W. Godwin (400-600). (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 380

    One of a pair of carved giltwood girandoles. (1,500-2,500). UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,400.

    A pair of brass mounted walnut and rosewood encoignure (3,500-5,500). UPDATE: THESE WERE UNSOLD.

    A kingwood and ormolu mounted gueridon (800-1,500). UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,700.