Pick of the week

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

Matthew Bar­ton’s wide-rang­ing May sale of Euro­pean and Asi­atic works of art at the 25 Blythe Road auc­tion hub in­cluded one of the high­est price-over­es­ti­mate lots of the year so far. This was a 3½in-long sil­ver snuff box (right) marked for 1854 by Hil­liard & Thoma­son of Birm­ing­ham. It was es­ti­mated to be­tween £800 and £1,200, al­ready quite high for such a thing, but the prove­nance and en­graved lid as­sured strong com­pe­ti­tion and a fi­nal price of £48,800.

The in­te­rior bore the crest of Sir Moses Mon­te­fiore, 1st Bt, the no­table fi­nancier and phi­lan­thropist, and the ex­te­rior showed East Cliff Lodge, the Rams­gate house that he rented in 1822 and bought in 1830. It is based on a wa­ter­colour by Turner, from his 1797 tour in Kent. The Mon­te­fiore con­nec­tion jus­ti­fied the price, but ob­vi­ously not Turner’s ear­lier in­ter­est in the place.

In 1797, it was brand new, built for Ben­jamin Bond Hop­kins, who had died in 1794 be­fore it was com­pleted. He had been ‘lifted out of ob­scu­rity’ by a legacy from a dis­tant cousin known as ‘Vul­ture’ Hop­kins and be­came an MP, ‘but left no mark on Par­lia­ment’. His money went to his daugh­ter, but his landed prop­erty, in­clud­ing the ‘ex­pen­sive and large house’, to an il­le­git­i­mate son, who seems to have sold fairly quickly.

Queen Caro­line took it for the sum­mer in 1803. Per­haps Turner was pro­vid­ing an es­tate agent’s ad­ver­tise­ment?

A pair of Sh­effield plate dish­warm­ers with a more dis­tant Mon­te­fiore con­nec­tion sold for £3,050 over a £500 es­ti­mate.

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