Pick of the week

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

In my youth­ful days on the front counter at Christie’s, when we hap­pily ac­cepted all sorts of won­der­ful things for sale that would never be con­sid­ered (or per­haps even iden­ti­fied) by our mod­ern-day equiv­a­lents, com­pany pol­icy was that we would not of­fer Ja­panese shunga prints or in­deed most other types of erot­ica. If mem­ory serves, pocket watches con­ceal­ing naughty au­tom­ata and snuff­boxes with hid­den amorous scenes were some­times in­cluded in auc­tions, but lit­tle else. Now, of course, erot­ica (like Hi­laire Bel­loc’s Miss Charm­ing) is ac­cepted ev­ery­where. Blooms­bury Auc­tions has re­cently held its first spe­cialised ses­sion and al­though there does not seem to have been an orgy of bid­ding, a good time was had by all. The ma­jor­ity of the lots were books, prints and draw­ings, with oc­ca­sional ex­am­ples of shunga, two el­e­gant if some­what boast­ful (proud, in­deed) dil­dos and a cou­ple of risqué boxes. The sale’s cli­max was a price of £8,680 for a French cir­cu­lar tor­toise­shell-and-gold snuff­box of about 1780 (left), which con­tained an in­ner paint­ing of a lady and her con­fes­sor caught in fla­grante by her hus­band.

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