Pick of the week
Now that March is here, it would be churlish not to include this charming 2¾in-high Bow porcelain model of a hare scratching its ear, which dates from about 1760. Despite a little restoration on the ears, it sold for £5,308 at Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury at the end of last month.
more than the First World War was to end all wars.
The two steadfast nurses were indeed remembered in Hong Kong and their graves are still tended, although the stainedglass window erected to honour them in St John’s Cathedral was destroyed during the Second World War. Sister Frances’s Plague Medal
(Fig 1), one of only about 40 struck in gold, was sold for £24,780 last month by Catherine Southon in her auction at the Farleigh Court Golf Club, Surrey. It had descended in the family of her sister. Estimated to £8,000, it provoked quite a bidding battle, so the Sisters are not yet forgotten.
Where, one wonders, is Sister Gertrude’s medal?
A more dramatic estimate upset came in a February sale at Fellows in Edgbaston, when a large Chinese porcelain wu-cai, or five-colour, bowl painted with golden carp, lotus blossoms and grasses (Fig 2) estimated to £1,800 made the largest price in the firm’s 141-year history.
The number five was auspicious and this enamel decoration was developed particularly during the reign of Jiajing (1522– 66), but the cataloguers offered no suggestion as to date, other than that the base had ‘a borderless six-character mark (pseudoJiajing)’. They were aware of precedents for a high prices, but felt that this bowl, consigned through a Chinese client, was a little less sophisticated.
However, the views were well attended and many bidders then came to the sale in person, including a collector from Japan, with many more online and on the telephone. Bidding started at £1,000 and finished at £810,000 hammer—£913,200 in total— going to a Chinese telephone bidder.
A lot in a Colchester sale held by Reeman Dansie took me back more than 30 years to when we were furnishing a kitchen. We could not afford a customdesigned one, even if we had wanted it, preferring an old farmhouse look. We achieved it by searching country and other sales and antique shops and adapting or cannibalising damaged pieces. In this way, we created a quite successful dresser.
In those days, stripped pine was all the fashion, even if the wood had never been intended to be seen, and we probably could not have afforded this very handsome early-19th-century oak high dresser (Fig 3). Now, however, £843 seems really rather a reasonable price, especially as it was ‘in good condition, commensurate with age’.
Another lot in this sale was an illustration of hubris. It was a 10in by 187∕8in watercolour by James Danby (1816–75), son of the better-known Francis, showing the celebrations for the coming of age of the Marquess of Chandos at Stowe in 1844
(Fig 4). Only four years later, thanks to the Marquess’s father, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, known as ‘the Greatest Debtor in the World’, most of the land and many of the contents of the house had been sold and Stowe’s great gardens had to be maintained by a staff of four rather than 40. The £3,100 achieved by this watercolour might have been handy.
Next week CADA at the Palace
Fig 4: The celebrations for the coming of age of the Marquess of Chandos at Stowe in 1844 painted by James Danby. £3,100
Fig 3: Early-19th-century oak high dresser. £843