Published 23rd January 2014
The highest selling price for the quarterly fine art sale was achieved by a pair of George III carved mahogany pier tables (FS21/901) with later rectangular tops and moulded friezes. They had gadrooned aprons, centred by foliate scroll designs and were raised on moulded square chamfered legs. Having a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-£6,000, they exceeded all expectations selling for £26,500 following stiff competition from both telephone and Internet bidders from around the world.
Also within the fine furniture auction of the sale, there was the unique Penrose Irish shell cabinet (FS21/914). Made circa 1800 by Elizabeth Penrose, it is a fantasy grotto lined with sea shells collected from the beaches around Tramore and along the tidal reaches of the River Suir and fashioned into intricate patterns forming a cobbled arcaded terrace populated with glass animals and swans from the Waterford Glass Factory.
Elizabeth Penrose, who was born in 1779, was an accomplished needlewoman and around 1799 started work on an ambitious project to create a fantasy grotto - the petals of each of the flowers are made from individual shells, many hand tinted with watercolour. Family tradition has it that it took several years to construct. The mirrors were made for Elizabeth Penrose in the Waterford Glass Works. The cabinet sold for an amazing £23,000.
Another highlight of the sale was a Doccia figure of a man wearing Roman Costume (FS21/649). Dating from the 18th Century, this impressive piece sold for £21,000.
Staying with the ceramics auction of the sale, a fine Frederick Alfred Rhead (probably for Minton) pate-sur-pate porcelain vase (FS21/542) exceeded all expectations. This was one of many pieces from the estate of Richard Harry Rhead Cronin, son of Marie Elizabeth Adolphine Rhead (sister to Charlotte Rhead).
This rare vase of cylindrical form was decorated with an angel holding aloft a large bowl with text below 'And when the angel with his darker draught draws up to thee - take that and do not shrink' taken from verse 48 of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Following fierce competition in the saleroom and on the telephones, it finally went under the hammer for £17,000.
From the same estate, a fine pate-sur-pate porcelain rectangular plaque by Frederick Alfred Rhead decorated with a scene from John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress (FS21/553) realised £15,000.
In the fine picture auction of the sale, lots were selling very well indeed. The highlight within the pictures was an oil on canvas by Andrew Carrick Gow (1848-1920) entitled 'A Roman Triumph' (FS21/400). This magnificent painting by Gow depicted a Roman Triumph processing through the Arch of Titus. You could just make out the Coliseum in the background. It very pleasingly reached its top estimate at £15,000.
Other highlights within the sale included a Victorian Kings pattern flatware service by George William Adams in 1861 (FS21/61) which sold for £4,400; A pair of Regency mahogany bergere library armchairs (FS21/907) which realised £4,200; A Soloman Islands paddle (FS21/771) which fetched £4,100 and a walnut wheel barometer by John Hallifax of Barnsley (FS21/833) which sold for £13,500.