Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The total was enhanced by the trade bid of £65,000 for the pair of c.1740 (and later) marble-topped ‘eagle’ console tables estimated at £1000-1500 and illustrated in ATG No 2337. But it was backed up by some positive bidding elsewhere in the sale held at Donnington Priory on March 28.

Best of English design

Estimated at £8000-12,000, a 3ft 1in (95cm) gilt and gesso table illustrated right was another UK trade buy at £19,000.

It reflected the best of English design c.1720 combining elements borrowed from both Dutch and Irish cabinetmaking. The caryatid supports in particular relate to late 17th century stands which Dutch craftsmen supplied for Oriental cabinets imported at that time.

Bookcases or chests of drawers need to fill the right criteria. “Today these can sell well, but it is vital that they are high quality, in very good original condition and of pleasing and practical design,” said Brown.

At Donnington Priory, a c.1780 mahogany breakfront library bookcase standing 8ft tall x 12ft wide (2.45 x 3.66m) sold to a private buyer at £12,000. It had a pendant cornice above four glazed doors and four panelled doors enclosing fitted drawers. Two later examples, one c.1835 and another c.1890, went at £6500 and £4000 respectively.

Two c.1690 oyster-veneered and marquetry chests of drawers performed well. A walnut example, with two short and two long drawers, was holly banded throughout with the top featuring a design of concentric circles framed by a scrolling surround. It sold at £7500 to a UK private buyer.

The other, of olivewood decorated throughout with marquetry reserves of scrolling foliage in holly, walnut and cedar, went to the trade at £4500.

Plain but honest, a c.1780 mahogany serpentine chest of four long graduated drawers doubled expectations, selling to an American bidder at £2800.

French contribution


One of a pair of Linke clothes presses – £10,000.

Prices for 19th century French furniture in 18th century styles have been less affected by the vagaries of fashion. Making a major contribution to the Berkshire results sheet was a pair of breakfront tulipwood, kingwood and marquetry commodes.

The marble-topped pair, each 3ft 10in (1.16m) wide, were profusely decorated with scrolling branches to the friezes, parquetry designs to the drawers and central oval reserves. Carrying hopes of £12,000-18,000, the pair was fought for by Continental bidders but finally went to a UK private buyer at £26,000.

Perhaps it was a little disappointing to see a pair of Louis XVI-style mahogany clothes presses by François Linke selling at a lower-estimate £10,000.

Finely decorated and with gilt-bronze mounts, the 5ft 4in (1.62m) tall presses were typical of the highly esteemed 19th-20th century Paris maker. However, they were bedroom pieces, meaning they tend to sell at a discount. Pembroke tables have fallen from favour in recent years. However, the example sold here at £5800 was a black lacquer and gilt Chinese export piece with an oval reserve to the top painted with a river landscape.

Appealing to a wider buying audience, it sold to a UK dealer at close to twice its top estimate.