Bringing a strong year to a close, Lyon & Turnbull’s (25% buyer’s premium) Design department dispersed 300 lots from the Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan on November 30.
The sale, on view at the NoHo Studios in London before a live online auction in Edinburgh, was over 90% sold with the total close to twice the mid estimate at £464,000.
Rose and Gallichan were pioneering collectors of Victorian fine and decorative arts. The collection was begun in the 1950s when they were living in an attic flat over an antique shop in Hampstead.
At the time Victorian art was the butt of jokes, the Festival of Britain was fresh in the memory and BADA members were not permitted to trade in anything post-1820.
When in 1965 these founder members of the Decorative Arts Society moved to 1 Montpelier Villas in Brighton, works by named artists and designers from the major design movements of the later 19th century were available and relatively cheap.
They kept detailed records of their acquisitions with every piece given an inventory card, a photo and details of where it was purchased and the price.
The couple took the decision to ultimately disperse the collection shortly before Gallichan died in 2001.
Bequests were accepted by museums including The British Museum and The Ashmolean, with the proceeds from this sale – and the £2.1m event at Christie’s on September 30 last year – funding the establishment of the Albert Dawson Educational Trust to support study and scholarship of 19th century fine and decorative art. The name of the trust reflects Rose and Gallichan’s middle names.
While Christie’s sale had included the collection’s most valuable elements (including Henry Scott Tuke’s Bathing Group (Noonday Heat) sold at £110,000), plenty was left to be sold. In essence, from groups of French faience vases by the Montigny-Sur-Long factory to panels of English stained glass, this was multiple collections within a collection.
Numerous pieces from the Doulton Lambeth studios included 12 lots (some of them multiples) by Mark Marshall and 10 by George Tinworth.
Marshall, the son of a stonemason who trained with the Martin Brothers, worked at Doulton from 1878-1912, sometimes producing the grotesques that delve into the darker side of the Victorian psyche.
Occasionally he gives his mentor Robert Wallace Martin a good run for his money.
His grotesque fish and wave jug, c.1885, is one of his best creations and sold here at £3800 (Keys of Aylsham took £3600 for another in March 2020) while there was good competition for The Yawn, a 7in (18cm) glazed stoneware figure of a zoomorphic rabbit that took £3400 (estimate £500-800).
Tinworth’s output for Doulton was immense. He produced many religious panels throughout his career, including a trio of 5½ x 12½in (14cm x 32cm) terracotta reliefs with New Testament scenes titled Salome demanding the head of John the Baptist, A Word to the Shepherd and The Release of Peter sold at £3600.
However, from the 1880s onwards, Tinworth began to produce the smaller-scale and more playful sculptures of zoomorphic mice and frogs that have become the Lambeth factory’s most commercial fodder.
Typically, they were produced in small numbers from moulds designed by Tinworth, then hand-assembled by his assistants before the maestro added some final touches.
His surrealist 4½in (12cm) high figure The Bicyclist featuring a frog riding a penny farthing sold here at £4200 (Bonhams sold two for £3800 and £5000 in August 2020).
Two rarer Albert Embankment ‘park bench’ groups of frogs and mice in conversation, one titled Music & Literature, the other Art & Agriculture, sold at £5500 each. Ten more Tinworth mice groups had been offered at Christie’s as two group lots.
Arts & Crafts author
Rose was among the first late 20th century authors to write about Tinworth (his book on the Tinworth holdings in the Harriman-Judd Collection was published in 1982).
He also wrote one of the first collecting articles on WAS Benson in 1985, championing him as a pioneer of Arts & Crafts lighting design.
The best of Benson’s work was made in the early 1900s in collaboration with Harry Powell of James Powell & Sons, the provider of ‘Venetian’ style hand-blown glass shades in a range of simple, elegant forms. Rose and Gallichan owned many examples including the pieces sold at Christie’s in 12 lots.
They were topped by a pair of 11in (27cm) gilt copper and ‘harnessed’ glass amphora-shaped vases sold at Christie’s for a multi-estimate £19,000. At least one of these had been exhibited at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901 (one vase shown on a cabinet on the Benson stand in the Art Journal) and again at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1903.
The Edinburgh selection included a 2ft 10in (79cm) high hanging ceiling lantern worked in copper and brass with opalescent glass (£3800) and a scarce 22in (54cm) silvered metal table light with a cut glass shade and beaded fringe (£3000).
Another less frequently seen model (although one was pictured in Ian Hamerton’s WAS Benson: Arts and Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design, 2005) was a 9in (22cm) vase with Art Nouveau style copper and brass mounts and green glass inserts, presumably by Powell. A near pair offered here took £2000.
Sold at £4200 was a pair of copper and brass wall sconces of similar size with arched reflectors worked with an embossed foliate design.
De Morgan delights
William De Morgan was another designer that the couple particularly admired: De Morgan pottery adorned many rooms in their home with a bathroom devoted to a remarkable display of the Persian revival style.
More than 30 lustre tile panels, vases and dishes sold in a dozen at Christie’s were followed in Edinburgh by 14 lots. Some of these sold way beyond what were undoubtedly modest expectations, including a group of six ruby lustre animal tiles, c.1885, and a cobalt blue, green and turquoise floral panel, c.1890, which took £6000.
As pictured in Martin Greenwood’s The Designs of William De Morgan (2007), a polychrome bowl decorated with mythical beasts by lead decorator Charles Passenger brought £5000 while a red lustre Two Dragons plate, also by Passenger, sold at £4800.
The epitome of the Aesthetic Movement that the collectors so admired was a large 19½in (49cm) pottery charger decorated by William Stephen Coleman for the Mintons Art Pottery Studios at Kensington Gore, c.1875. It had its original ebonised and gilt wood frame.
In a case of art imitating life, this particular scene depicted a young lady in exotic attire painting pottery vessels in a studio. Like a number of pieces in the collection the latter had been pictured in Brian Coleman’s The Best of British Arts & Crafts (2004). It became the top lot of the day when it sold for £11,000.
The price was way above the £500-800 estimate but there are precedents: in May, Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury sold a similar Coleman plaque titled The Butterfly Collector for £13,000.