Sold for a record $130,000 (£99,235) in an Arader Galleries (22% buyer’s premium) sale of October 28 was a copy in a handsome contemporary binding of crimson morocco gilt.
Until quite recent times little was known about Brookshaw, but in a 1991 issue of the arts magazine Apollo there appeared an intriguingly titled article by Lucy Wood, ‘The Case of the Vanishing Cabinet-Maker’.
It revealed that Brookshaw had been first a successful cabinetmaker – noted for over-painted decoration, especially floral scenes. Brookshaw attracted royal and society patronage but his furniture-making career seems to have ended suddenly in the 1790s.
Wood speculated that a financial or sexual scandal may have forced him to take up a new career under a new name, and suggested that A New Treatise of Flower Painting, first published anonymously in 1797, was in fact Brookshaw’s work.
If Wood’s hypothesis is correct, the lavishly produced Pomona Britannica saw Brookshaw reverting for the first time to work under his real name. However, though it took 10 years to produce, this great undertaking did not find much favour at the time and at his death in 1823 Brookshaw had only £100 in his bank account. To put that in context, subscribers to the first edition had been charged almost £60.
Hogg and Bull
The Herefordshire Pomona, published in two volumes in 1876-85, is a natural for the Leominster saleroom of Brightwells (20% buyer’s premium).
It was the work of Robert Hogg, a distinguished figure in the Royal Horticultural Society, and Henry G Bull, a local doctor and former president of the Woolhope Naturalist’s Field Club. It was at the latter’s instigation that the work was produced as a record of the varieties of “the most esteemed kinds of apples and pears” to be found in local orchards.
The originals for the 77 chromolitho plates plates were the work of the Misses Alice Ellis and Edith Bull, the latter being Dr Bull’s daughter.
On October 25 the latest two volume copy of this well-known work to pass through the hands of the Herefordshire auctioneers sold at £4400.