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Articles

The following articles have recently been written by our fine art experts. We intend to keep these articles online for reference. As our archive grows, you will be able to search for them by topic and author.

A Victorian Claret Jug decorated with fairies, insects and flowers, London 1873.

The Silver Claret Jug

By Martin McIlroy (1st March 2017)

Martin McIlroy, Head of the Silver Department, charts the rise in popularity of the silver claret jug from Queen Victoria to the Art Deco movement. He also traces the English love of claret from the 12th Century to modern times.

A lustrous Cambrian cow creamer from 1810.

Best in Show - A Potted History of Cow Creamers

By Nic Saintey (10th May 2016)

Nic Saintey writes about cow creamers, covering their introduction in the first half of the Eighteenth Century through to their fall from grace, implicated in the cholera epidemics that affected Sunderland and East London from the early 1830s.

A Tang Dynasty funerary statue of Lokopala, defender of tombs.

Grave Concerns About Death

By Nic Saintey (24th February 2016)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, looks at three thousand years of Chinese funerary statues from the Shang Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty and explores how these ceramics evolved over time.

A diving helment from the Tony and Yvonne Pardoe Collection, which will be auctioned
        in June 2016. We have used the Internet and social media to generate considerable
        interest from a global audience in this niche collection months before it is due
        to be sold.

Digital Age Auctioneers

By Brian Goodison-Blanks (12th February 2016)

Brian Goodison-Blanks reflects on how the Internet is changing the fundamental dynamics of the auction market. While there is no doubt that online technologies have been highly disruptive, the auctioneer has not fallen in the digital age. Indeed, by embracing the new technologies, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are reaching many more buyers world-wide, often for items with very niche appeal.

A cottage interior with a woman peeling vegetables (FS29/424) (oil on canvas, 30.5cm x 41cm)
        by Johann Bernard de Hood (1867-1943), which sold in January 2016 for £780.

The Art of the Narrative

By Daniel Goddard (24th January 2016)

Daniel Goddard, Head of the Pictures Department, discusses the art of the narrative by looking at two exponents of the genre: the 19th century Dutch artist Johann Bernard de Hoog (1867-1943) and the English painter George Goodwin Kilburn (1839-1924) of the same period.

A wider French Palissy Ware dish signed and dated Boch 1892.

French Palissy Ware - Rustic Pottery inspired by the Natural World

By Nic Saintey (4th December 2015)

Nic Saintey looks at the rustic pottery of French Huguenot Bernard Palissy (1510-1589) and the rebirth of Palissy Ware in the mid 19th century in Tours in the Loire Valley, which saw rivals spring up in Paris and influenced the Majolica Wares of those such as Minton and George Jones.

A Blanc de Chine censer, with rare Kangxi reign marks.

Hidden in Plain View - The Enigma of Blanc de Chine Porcelain

By Nic Saintey (26th October 2015)

Nic Saintey ponders the enigma of Blanc de Chine porcelain and concludes that while produced in huge quantities, the daily use of the ceramics fired in the Dehua kilns made this genre of porcelain almost invisible, essentially hidden in plain view.

Breitling: A gentleman's gold plated 'Navitimer' wristwatch.

Wristwatches

By Brian Goodison-Blanks (29th September 2015)

Brian Goodison-Blanks takes the time to look at wristwatches from their early appearance at the Court of Elizabeth I through watches used to co-ordinate military operations to those of modern times, looking at classics from well-known watchmakers such as Rolex and Omega. He decides he will shun the most recent technological innovations for his trusty wristwatch.

A Corgi James Bond (007) Aston Martin DB5.

Toying with the Past

By Brian Goodison-Blanks (5th August 2015)

Brian Goodison-Blanks, an expert in collectables, toys with the past as he recalls British toys made in the mid-20th century, recollecting such names as Britain's, Lesney, Corgi and Matchbox. He nostalgically remembers how enthralling they were then in his childhood as they are to him now today.

An impressively large pair of Canton vases nearly 80cm high.

Canton Porcelain - The Rose Medallion family 1840-1880

By Nic Saintey (16th June 2015)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, writes about Canton Porcelain and its decoration as well as the export economics that shaped its development.

A pearlware plate attributed to Liverpool showing a typical candy stripe bridge.

Blue and White Painted Pearlware and Creamware

By Nic Saintey (1st May 2015)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, turns his attention to blue and white painted pearlware and creamware, which he likes for its somewhat varied and quirky qualities that lend naive charm to such pieces which is often lacking in porcelain.

A Staunton pattern chess set (FS10/484) in the usual boxwood and ebony.

Chess Sets

By Martin McIlroy (16th February 2015)

Martin McIlory, Head of the Works of Art Department, discusses the evolution of chess sets and the various patterns commonly found from various parts of the World.

A Chinese porcelain plate painted with The Three Friends.

Stand by Me

By Nic Saintey (23rd January 2015)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, considers the so-called Three Friends of Bamboo, Pine and Prunus that often appear painted in Blue on White on Chinese porcelain.

A very dubious Samson copy of a Plymouth porcelain mug.

Forging Ahead with Mr Samson - Edme Samson Misunderstood or Just a Dodgy Faker?

By Nic Saintey (5th January 2015)

Ceramics expert Nic Saintey writes about Samson, Edme et Cie of Paris whose reproduction pieces (including some rather nefarious pieces) are now faked themselves.

A set of Enid Bliyton Books.

First Editions

By Richard Bearne (19th December 2014)

Richard Bearne, Chairman and Head of the Book Department, not only writes about First Editions and what can make them very valuable, but also reflects on how they can give further insight into the author's lives.

An Arts and Crafts Secretaire Cabinet (FS24/868) by celebrated cabinet maker Peter Waals (1870-1937), which fetched £34,000 in October 2014.

Arts and Crafts Furniture

By Chris Hampton (28th November 2014)

Chris Hampton, Managing Director and Head of the Furniture Department, writes about Arts and Craft Movement furniture and its celebrated designers, particularly those from the Cotswold School.

A 'High Society' 1960s Swivel Armchair After the Design by Peter Cutts (FS24/861).

Antiques in the Brave New World?

By Brian Goodison-Blanks (30th October 2014)

Brian Goodison-Blanks reflects on whether antiques have a place in the brave new world and observes how some traditional staples of the saleroom have declined and been surplanted by mid-20th century space age design.

A pair of dragons amongst clouds competing for a pearl.

The Dragon, friend or foe?

By Nic Saintey (30th September 2014)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics and Glass Department, wonders why the dragon is such a popular motif on Chinese porcelain.

A CH Brannam Barnstaple pottery candlestick after a Cantagalli original.

A Return to Devon Pottery - The Artistic Influences of the Barnstaple Potteries

By Nic Saintey (14th August 2014)

Nic Saintey discusses the artistic influences of the Barnstaple Potteries and another case of artistic plagiarism.

A Watcombe terracotta bust of Alexandra Princess of Wales.

Is Imitation the Greatest Form of Flattery?

By Nic Saintey (16th June 2014)

Nic Saintey discusses an enigmatic piece of Torquay Pottery depicting Alexandra, Princess of Wales (who was the longest serving Princess of Wales). Was it a pretentious start for a provincial pottery or a risky strategy by a fledgling business?

The Making of a Garden by the Newyln artist Samuel John Lamorna Birch (1869-1955).

Artist and Fly-Fisherman - Samuel John Lamorna Birch

By Daniel Goddard (23rd May 2014)

Daniel Goddard writes about the Newlyn artist Samuel John Lamorna Birch (1869-1955), who was both a passionate painter and fly fisherman. He became the leader of the second generation of Newlyn artists and adopted the name 'Lamorna' to distinguish himself from fellow artist Lionel Birch.

A pate sur pate plate signed by Frederick Alfred Rhead.

English Pate sur Pate Porcelain

By Nic Saintey (12th March 2014)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, writes about the pate sur pate decorative technique used in England with porcelain from the mid 1850s onwards.

Eduard Stellmacher Amphora vases.

Amphora - An Often Overlooked Art Pottery

By Nic Saintey (4th November 2013)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, writes about Amphora, an art pottery that was responsible for a real diversity of output during its 25 years or so of existence, ranging from the neo rococo and Secessionist to the strikingly abstract.

A Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre vase in the Castle on a Road pattern.

A Flight of Fancy, Daisy Makeig Jones and Wedgwood's Fairyland Lustre

By Nic Saintey (10th October 2013)

Nic Saintey, Head of the Ceramics Department, discusses Wedgwood painter Daisy Makeig-Jones, who introduced the fabled Fairy Lustre porcelain.

A Cornish Fishing Village by William Web Ellis (1862-1903) (FS18/379).

Two Centuries of Painters painting the West Country

By Daniel Goddary (25th June 2013)

Daniel Goddard, Head of the Picture Department, writes about two centuries of artists painting in the West Country, from Joseph Mallord William Turner to Ben Nicholson.

A late 18th century Russian silver casket of melon form, raised on floral decorated feet, made in St Petersburg in 1785.

Russian Silver

By Martin McIlroy (10th May 2013)

Martin McIlory, Head of the Silver Department, writes about the more common pieces of Russian silver that pass through the major provincial auction houses such as Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood.

A Late Victorian/Edwardian Oak Wardrobe in the Art Nouveau Taste by Shapland and
            Petter (FS18/856) offered in our Two Day Fine Art Sale, starting on 24th April 2013
            at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon.

Shapland and Petter - Great Value

By Christoper Hampton (3rd April 2013)

The overwhelming support for the opening of a new modern furniture store in Exeter prompts Chris Hampton, Managing Director and Head of the Furniture department, to reflect on the lack of enthuisiasm shown at the time in keeping North Devon's leading furniture makers, Shapland and Petter, in business as he considers one of their late Victorian/Edwardian wardrobes, which will come under the hammer in the April 2013 Fine Art auction.

Istvan Szegedi Szuts [1892-1959] - My War Book. Two Volumes of the Original Pen,
        Ink and Wash Drawings (FS18/316) offered in our Two Day Fine Art Sale starting on
        24th April 2013 at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon.

Istvan Szegedi Szuts - My War Book

By Daniel Goddard (19th March 2013)

Istvan Szuts served in the First World War and the reader assumes the drawings and the titles reflect his thoughts and experiences. The pen and ink drawings are breathtakingly simple with an economy of line reminiscent of Eric Gill and Keith Vaughan. The published book is a wonderful read and the printed images moving; but the original drawings are something else altogether! They make the hairs on the neck stand, the heart race and the eyes moisten.

A Derby Mug (FS17/62), part of the Tryhorn Collection.

Early History of Derby Porcelain

By Nic Saintey (18th January 2013)

Nic Saintey turns his attention to the early history of Derby porcelain, from its inception in circa 1756 (but possibly 1753), which is shrouded in mystery, until the start of its decline at the start of 19th century.

A Wedgwood Majolica Oyster Plate. (FS17/571).

Majolica Pottery

By Nic Saintey (8th January 2013)

Nic Saintey writes about the development of and influences on Majolica (not to be confused with maiolica) pottery, from its invention by Minton and Arnoux through its zenith in the 1860-70s to its decline in the late 19th century.

A Daisy Makeig-Jones Vase

Fairyland Lustre - Daisy Makeig-Jones

By Nic Saintey (2nd May 2012)

Nic Saintey wonders whether Devon Pixies may have had an influence on the Fairyland Lustre designs of Daisy Makeig-Jones, who initially trained at the Torquay School of Art in South Devon before joining Wedgwood in 1909.

Louis Vuitton Trunk

Furniture Trends

By Chris Hampton (12th March 2012)

In an era where much is currently made of the decline in prices for 'brown furniture', the British have yet again succeeded in what they do terribly well – that of talking things down. And yet it is not all doom and gloom – indeed far from it. There is strong demand for good English furniture from the 17th to the 20th Centuries. A good example of this was a George III mahogany serpentine fronted serving table measuring 8ft long which sold for £21,000 against a £6,000 - £8,000 estimate.

A Kangxi Wine Ewer

A Kangxi Wine Ewer

By Nic Saintey (8th March 2012)

Whilst Christian communion involves the acceptance of wine, one can't help feeling more relaxed with the Oriental concept. Chinese porcelain wine ewers, whether in their original Ming or later Kangxi form, are far more than functional objects as they were produced to pay homage to ancestors – a toast to the dead if you like.

Robert O Lenkiewicz (1941-2002): Lisa Stokes Holding A Mirror (SF16/009)

Robert O Lenkiewicz (1941-2002): A Private Collection

By Daniel Goddard (12th March 2010)

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are offering a private collection of pictures by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) for auction in Exeter on Saturday, 20th March 2010.

The collection represents an outstanding group of pictures which date from the 1950s to the last few months of the Lenkiewicz's life.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Logo

Bearne's and Hampton & Littlewood Merge

By Richard Bearne (2nd January 2009)

Richard Bearne, Chairman of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood talks about the merger of Bearne's and Hampton & Littlewood to form the largest auction house and valuation business in the West Country.

Samuel Towgood Roche (Irish 1759-1847); Miniature Portrait of Harriett Sophia Stevenson; Sold £650

The Portrait Miniature

By Daniel Goddard (2nd January 2009)

Daniel Goddard, Director and Head of the Picture Department, considers the portrait miniature, from its early origins to the more modern forms of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Troika Aztec Mask

Troika Pottery

By Nic Saintey (2nd January 2009)

Nic Saintey writes about the Troika Pottery that was formed in St Ives in Cornwall in 1963 by Benny Sirota, Leslie Ilsley and Jan Thompson.

Godolphin House in Cornwall

Godolphin House, Cornwall

By Nic Saintey (2nd January 2009)

The Godolphin House Sale was held in July 2008 at our Okehampton Street Salerooms. This article provides a brief history of the house, which is now in the hands of The National Trust.

Antique Onion Wine Bottle

Antique Wine Bottles

By Nic Saintey (2nd January 2009)

Nic Saintey, the Head of Ceramics and Glass, discusses the history of the wine bottle, which has now become very collectable.

Alfred Leyman (1856-1933); Honiton High Street; Sold £500

Honiton High Street by Alfred Leyman

By Daniel Goddard (2nd January 2009)

Daniel Goddard, the Head of the Picture Department, discusses the life of the watercolour painter Alfred Leyman (1856-1933), who lived, worked and painted in Devon.