1. Fabergé elephant table lighter – £21,000
Tennants’ Fine Jewellery, Watches and Silver sale included a much-coveted Fabergé silver table lighter in the form of a walking Indian elephant. Naturalistically modelled, the head is hinged to reveal a well for fluid and the trunk hollow to take a wick. Fabergé produced a menagerie of zoomorphic table-lighters, many (like this one assayed to the tail and an ear) carrying the mark of the St Petersburg workmaster Julius Rappoport. The lighter was once in the collection of Stanley Elliott (1892-1956), a mine owner and property landlord from Wakefield who was a lifelong pipe and cigar smoker.
Relatively little paperwork survives in the family archives for the works of art and chattels he bought to furnish Ingle Court, the house he built in Lepton, near Huddesfield in 1932. However, an invoice dated May 2, 1935, for various items from Old Russia Antiques and Jewellery of St Catherine Street West, Montreal may include its purchase.
Other comparable silver animal lighters made by Roppoport for Fabergé sold in recent years include: a chimpanzee (£38,000) at Sotheby's, London, December 2020); a frog (£20,000 at Christie's, London, June 2018); a reclining bear (£28,000 at Christie's, London, November 2013); and a rhinoceros (£38,000 at Sotheby's, London, June 2019).
Tennants’ pachyderm, guided at £6000-9000 at the auction on March 18, sold at £21,000.
2. Flight Worcester oval platter – £750
The latest Collections sale at Bonhams in London included more than 70 lots of Regency porcelain from the collection of the Conservative party politician Howard Emerson Flight.
Lord Flight is a direct descendant of Thomas Flight (1726-1800) who purchased the Worcester Porcelain Company in 1783 for his sons, and a pride in the family connection prompted his collecting instincts. Pictured here is one of the highlights from the sale – a Flight Worcester oval platter from the Hope Service c.1790.
The neoclassical Hope service, painted by John Pennington with monochrome maidens gazing out to sea representing Hope, had represented a considerable couple for the factory when it was commissioned by William Henry, Duke of Clarence, later Willian IV.
After battling off the competition of Chamberlain and Derby, who were invited to submit specimen plates, Flight's factory was chosen to complete the work. John Flight wrote in his diary in January 1790: ‘We used our two best painters last week to make some very fine designs for the Duke of Clarence, we have already completed 3 plates and I have sent them to London. One is a gold arabesque design, another the figure of Hope, the other of Patience.’
A few days later on 24 January John Flight added: ‘Apart from the two plates mentioned... we have made two others with figures, Peace and Plenty. HRH Duke of Clarence has decided on the Hope design with the decoration that we put on the Peace plate, he has ordered a table service that will amount to more than £700 sterling. He has given us a year in which to complete it.’
This dish, one of the larger serving pieces at 21in (53cm) across had some condition issues so would not match the £4000 achieved for a similar dish Bonhams sold for the same vendor in November 2022.
Instead, offered at the auction on March 21, it sold at £750 (estimate £800-1200). A single soup plate from the service, also damaged and restored, made £280, again just under the estimate.
3. Nancy Delouis painting
French artist Nancy Delouis (b.1941) was born into an artistic family – her father coming from a long line of artists and artisans dating back many centuries and her mother being an art teacher. Her grandfather was Auguste Rodin’s cousin. Her work was influenced by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) in particular and she produced a range of interior scenes and landscapes as well as depictions of women.
Something of a combination of all three emerged at Olympia Auctions in West London on March 22. Titled Vieilles, the 2ft 4in x 2ft 11in (71 x 89cm) oil on canvas was a colourful depiction of two old ladies seated in a garden. It had previously appeared in an exhibition held by dealer Messum's in 2012.
Estimated at £500-700, it was knocked down at £3500 – the second highest sum at auction for the artist according to Artprice, only behind the £12,000 for the larger painting En Fin de Journee that sold at Dreweatts in March 2021.
4. Silver claret jugs
This pair of silver mounted frosted glass claret jugs, set to the handles, feet and neck with elaborate fruiting vine mounts, have marks for James Samuel Hunt and London, 1844 and an inscription indicating they were retailed by Hunt & Roskell Late Storr, Mortimer and Hunt.
Pairs of this famous type in silver or silver gilt feature in many reference books and important collections. However, this duo, offered by Dore & Rees at Frome, Somerset on March 22, are remarkable for two reasons. They come with matching stands and also carry the coronet finials and the crest of George Augustus Chichester, 2nd Marquess of Donegall (1769-1844). The Anglo-Irish nobleman and politician was a famously profligate and a lifelong gambler (he even married the daughter a moneylender and owner of a gambling boss as part of an agreement to resolve some debts) and was seriously in arrears when he died in 1844 at his home at Ormeau, County Down.
As these splendid claret jugs are hallmarked that same year, one must wonder if Hunt & Roskell were ever paid by their esteemed client.
Estimated at £8000-12,000, they sold at £11,000.
Mortimer & Hunt and their successors Hunt & Roskell had many European customers and are known to have exported extensively during this period. A pair of similar jugs in silver gilt with the coronet of a Continental noble family sold for £22,000 at Sotheby’s in 2011.
5. Arrowsmith’s London atlas – £36,000
The County Durham-born cartographer John Arrowsmith (1790-1873) was responsible for one of the first ‘modern’ atlases of the 19th century – The London Atlas of Universal Geography Exhibiting the Physical and Political Divisions of the various countries of the World.
Admired for its understated elegance and clarity, it was first issued in 1834 but ran to many different versions until 1858.
It is famously difficult to accurately designate 'editions' of this atlas. Although for the entire life of the atlas the Contents page remained unchanged, from the 1838 issue, Arrowsmith often customised production, replacing and adding in extra plates to the original 50. Contrary to the norm, it is sometimes the later ‘editions’ of the atlas that are the most valuable as they contain a great variety and number of plates. In the case of Australia, the atlas began with three plates with later copies offering as many as eight maps.
The copy of the Arrowsmith atlas offered by Anderson & Garland in Newcastle upon Tyne on March 22 came in a full-calf binding with gilt inscription The London Atlas 1861.
Numbering 120 double-page maps in large folio format, it included some important later additions such as a map of Texas that includes the region of the upper Rio Grande within its borders. This influential map was published with varying differences between 1841 and 1858 (the date of this copy) and on its own is highly desirable. Here, as part of the atlas estimated to bring £2000-3000, it took £36,000.
6. Duncan Grant still life
This classic Bloomsbury School still life of apples in a comport and a tea pot, cup and saucer on a lacquer tray is by Duncan Grant (1885-1978). It was bought in 1977 from the John Gage Gallery by the vendor’s parents who had a deep appreciation of Bloomsbury artists and had met the artist on a number of occasions late in his life. Living in Devon they had become friends with the owner of the Lewes Gallery who sold Grant’s work and introduced the couple to him. Since 1978, the vendor’s mother was a ‘friend’ of Charleston House, having attended the first open day at the property.
The 44 x 58cm oil on canvas titled Still life with Compotier and signed and indistinctly dated 28 to the lower right, came for sale at Honiton firm Chilcotts on March 25. The best of half a dozen Bloomsbury School works, it was guided at £10,000-12,000 but sold at £42,000.