Art Mar­ket

Some 400 canes and sticks am­bled out of the sale­room last month, per­haps put to use vis­it­ing 40-plus gal­leries at Lon­don Art Week

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Huon Mal­lalieu

Sticks and canes won’t break the bank, finds Huon Mal­lalieu

ONE must salute the re­mark­able achieve­ment of Roy Moore, who de­voted two years to hunt­ing down the best walk­ing sticks he could find in Bri­tain, on the Con­ti­nent and in the USA. He cap­tured more than 400 ex­traor­di­nar­ily var­ied sticks, which were sold for him in 207 lots (to­gether with a few ref­er­ence books and just one stick stand) at Chiswick Auc­tions on June 21. It would be in­ter­est­ing to know what the whole ven­ture cost him and whether he turned a profit. The ma­jor­ity of the buy­ers were from abroad, par­tic­u­larly the USA, and they were on the tele­phone and in­ter­net.

Many of the sticks had an­other or sev­eral func­tions, in­clud­ing opera glasses, tele­scopes, knives, swords, an ice axe, horse-mea­sur­ing sticks, dog whis­tles, corkscrews, smok­ers’ com­pendi­ums, opium and other pipes and a mil­i­tary flute. When not straight­for­wardly carved, the han­dles were made from as great a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als. The cheap­est was one of the sim­plest, a bam­boo walk­ing cane with a shep­herd’s-crook han­dle, yel­low-metal col­lar and brass fer­rule, which made £48.

Some 10 sticks sold in the thou­sands and many in the hun­dreds. Most ex­pen­sive, at £4,560, was a pos­si­bly Rus­sian neph­rite-han­dled cane, with the grip carved as a ser­pent’s head with ruby eyes, and it had a plaited-sil­ver-wire col­lar and a malacca shaft ( Fig 4).

This was fol­lowed, at £3,480, by what was pos­si­bly one of the ear­li­est on of­fer: a gold-topped rope-twist malacca cane made by Wil­liam Collins, Lon­don, in about 1749 ( Fig 3). The crown of the gold mush­room-shaped knob was chased and en­graved with a crest and motto and the sides dec­o­rated with Com­me­dia del’ Arte scenes of a doc­tor catch­ing his daugh­ter with a suitor.

This had been bought at Bon­hams in 2014, when the crest was iden­ti­fied as that of Comp­ton of Glouces­ter­shire and the in­spi­ra­tion for the scene as an en­grav­ing by Charles Ni­co­las Cochin after An­toine Wat­teau.

Among the sticks with con­cealed weapons was a sil­verand-rose­wood knife cane by Brigg of Lon­don. The or­nate sil­ver crop was marked T. W. D., prob­a­bly Thomas Wil­liam Daniels, a late19th-cen­tury stick mounter who worked around Clerken­well near Brigg’s Is­ling­ton premises. The knife had a highly dec­o­rated steel blade. This sold for £1,020.

Fol­low­ing this col­lec­tion, Chiswick Auc­tions of­fered a num­ber

of works from the col­lec­tion of the art his­to­rian and sculp­ture spe­cial­ist Charles Avery. They were mostly small-scale bronze or mar­ble ver­sions of ad­mired Clas­si­cal or Re­nais­sance pieces, such as a bronze Apollino after the Medici Apollo by the Ro­man Gi­a­como Zof­foli (1731– 85), which sold for £4,800 ( Fig 1), or a 9in by 51 ⁄ 4in mar­ble re­lief of Venus with a dol­phin at­trib­uted to ei­ther Joseph Nollekens or John Ba­con, which made £3,840 ( Fig 2).

Both of these were 18th-cen­tury favourites and they were fre­quently copied in var­i­ous me­dia. The Venus is after a ter­ra­cotta then be­lieved to be by Michelan­gelo, but now given to Gi­ambologna, which be­longed to Nollekens (1737–1823).

At £5,280, the top lot was a bronze In­fant Bac­chus (or Au­tumn) by An­drea di Bar­tolomeo di Alessan­dri (1530– 69), a sculp­tor-foundry­man of­ten called rather more man­age­ably An­drea dai Bronzi— or, from his birth­place, ‘il Bres­ciano’—but whose real name was re­cently es­tab­lished by Dr Avery and his daugh­ter Vic­to­ria of the Fitzwilliam. The Avery lots also in­cluded a 1973 Pop Art plas­tic ele­phant by Sir Ed­uardo Paolozzi, which sold for £780.

Many peo­ple at­tend­ing Lon­don Art Week would have been grate­ful for one of Mr Moore’s walk­ing sticks if they tried to get around more than a few of the 46 West End gal­leries, not to men­tion three auc­tion houses, be­tween them of­fer­ing an ar­ray of art that went far beyond the pre-con­tem­po­rary paintings, sculp­ture and draw­ings of pre­vi­ous years. Visi­tors were at­tracted from as far as Aus­tralia, Chile, China, In­dia and Rus­sia and cu­ra­tors from more than 40 lead­ing mu­se­ums were spot­ted on shop­ping trips.

Gallery prices ranged from un­der £1,000 or less to more than £1 mil­lion and sat­is­fac­tory sales to both mu­se­ums and pri­vate col­lec­tors were made from the out­set.

Among the par­tic­i­pants was Lon­don’s new­est gallery, Lullo Pam­poulides, which has opened on the first floor of 33, Cork Street, W1. Re­ports of the demise of Cork Street as a cen­tre of the art trade due to de­vel­op­ment, some of them by me, turn out to have been much ex­ag­ger­ated, like those of Mark Twain’s death. David Mes­sum is par­tic­u­larly anxious that he should not be thought to have left the street and the ar­rival of Lullo Pam­poulides is a wel­come con­fir­ma­tion.

An­drea Lullo is a third-gen­er­a­tion dealer and, like An­drea dai Bronzi, from Bres­cia, and An­dreas Pam­poulides joins him from Christie’s and Coll & Cortes. Their open­ing show, ‘Clas­si­cism Reimag­ined’, was a se­lec­tion of paintings and sculp­ture from 1700 to 1950 and they re­ported four sales and four re­serves in the four- to six-fig­ure range, as well as an al­bu­men print of the Lao­coön by Robert Macpher­son (1814–72) with an ask­ing price of £2,500 ( Fig 5).

An­tiq­ui­ties fea­tured strongly this year and, in Hill Street, W1, where it shares a build­ing with Daniel Katz, the Ari­adne Gal­leries of­fered an ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled ‘Art and Adorn­ment: Trea­sures of Com­bat’. Among the items sold was a Phoeni­cian gold fen­es­trated axe-head from the Mid­dle Bronze Age, which was pur­chased by a pri­vate client for a six-fig­ure sum ( Fig 7).

An­other ma­jor suc­cess was the stained-glass ex­hi­bi­tion at Sam Fogg in Clif­ford Street, W1, where about half the ex­hibits sold, at prices run­ning from £1,000 to £40,000 ( Fig 6).

Fig 1 above left: Bronze Apollino by Gi­a­como Zof­foli. £4,800. Fig 2 above right: Venus with a dol­phin in mar­ble re­lief. £ 3,840

Fig 3 right: Gold­topped malacca cane. £ 3,480. Fig 4 far right: Ser­pent-headed cane with ruby eyes. £4,560

Fig 5 above: Al­bu­men print of the Lao­coön. £ 2,500

Fig 6 right: Cana stained glass, An­twerp (about 1550). In the re­gion of £ 35,000

Fig 7: Phoeni­cian axe-head. Sold for a six-fig­ure sum

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.