Andrew Brown or Broun (c.1651- 1712), whose name appeared to a longcase offered for sale at Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) in Edinburgh was apprenticed to Humphrey Milne in 1665 and became a freeman of the Hammermen’s Incorporation a decade later.
Although recorded as a highly capable maker, he apparently died penniless, with his son applying to the Incorporation for financial assistance on his father’s death.
John Smith, author of Old Scottish Clockmakers from 1453 to 1850, states “In view of the long time he was in business, 35 years, it is remarkable how exceedingly scarce are specimens of his art. Only three have come under our notice: one being the splendid clock in the lobby of the Advocates Library, another that was exposed for sale in the window of a dealer in Queen Street Edinburgh, both these two having cases of beautiful and chaste marquetry; and the third one in possession of a private party in Linlithgow.”
It was the second of those three clocks that was offered for sale as part of the September 1-2 Five Centuries sale at L&T. As well as its ebony, rosewood and marquetry cases, it had a month-going five pillar movement with five trains, anchor escapement, and outside count-wheel hour strike. Estimated at £8000-12,000, it tempted a buyer at £36,000.
A note to the back of a 23in (58cm) polychrome stucco figure group of the Madonna and Child pictured on the front cover of the catalogue states it was identified by a ‘Professor Pollack’ as coming from ‘the workshop of Jacopo della Guercia circa 1450’.
It adds that the group had been a gift to a member of the vendor’s family from D’Arcy Osborne, the 12th Duke of Leeds (1884-1964) who served as ambassador to the Holy See from 1936-47.
‘Professor Pollack’ in Rome at this period must mean the connoisseur-dealer Lodovico Pollak, author of the deluxe Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Barsanti Collection, Rome, 1922.
Scholarship has evolved and when offered as part of the Five Centuries sale it was attributed to the workshop of an artist from the next generation of Florentine sculptors. Cataloguer Dr Charles Avery, former sculpture specialist at the V&A, suggested a close link to Antonio Rossellino (1427-79). Several of his Madonnas have survived in marble: the fact that this sculpture is made of plaster implies the existence of an ’original’ in terracotta or marble, perhaps now lost.
Estimated at £10,000-15,000, it found a buyer at the top estimate.