Published 24th January 2011
The forthcoming sale has certainly shaped up to be a healthy one. The recent news of eight figures sums being paid for Chinese porcelain lead to a busy few weeks on the valuations desk and whilst we have yet to find 'the next one' the sale does have a couple of Qianlong (1736-95) mark and period pieces worthy of mention. There is a blue and white wine ewer (FS9/541) estimated at £5,000-£8,000 and a doucai alter candlestick (FS9/542) at £3,000-5,000.
Whilst summer seems a long way off the picture section offers a little sunshine in the form of a collection of St Ives pictures by Ben Nicholson, Terry Frost, Alexander Mackenzie and Alfred Wallis amongst others. The latter a retired fisherman who took to painting late in life was greatly admired for his naïve handling of form, scale and perspective - a vision untainted by an art education.
Harbour Approaches (FS9/430) is a perfect and endearing example of his work, being offered at £4,000-6,000. Off the Coast of Tarapaca (FS9/507) (with an estimate of £12,000-£18,000) however was painted by Thomas Somerscales, a formal Naval man and a drawing tutor, his work certainly shows all the benefit of an art education, but they were both broadly speaking contemporaries and both spent many years on the waves producing works largely from memory.
From exotic Chilean coasts to Africa, there is a gold presentation watch (FS9/268) with a pre-sale estimate of £2,000-£3,000 bearing the inscription "From the Royal Geographical Society to Lieut Cecil WG Murphy RA as a momento of his journey with Dr Livingstone's remains from Unyanyembe Central Africa to Zanzibar". One of the more colourful and memorable 19th century English explorers obsessed with finding the source of the Nile is now buried by the Thames - his remains interred in Westminster Abbey.
A 17th century Italian ebony and ivory veneered cabinet (FS9/796) on a stand decorated with views of Noah's Ark and multiple panels bearing pairs of animals and birds has both an exotic and homely appeal and is estimated at £3,500-£4,500.