Silver hunting flask

The silver hunting flask taken from the Summer Palace.

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Summer Palace flask sale on hold

A silver hunting flask taken from the Summer Palace when it was sacked by British troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War has now been withdrawn from auction after Chinese government intervention.

Following a letter sent by the office of Yuanming Yuan (The Old Summer Palace) in Beijing to Alastair Gibson Auctions (ATG No 2550) and a subsequent meeting at the Chinese embassy in London, the flask was withdrawn from the auction ahead of the July 6 sale.

Gibson said he is “sympathetic to the Chinese government position on cultural objects taken from the Yuanming Yuan” (The Old Summer Palace) and has now taken the “decision to withdraw the flask from auction”.

But he could not comment on whether the flask would be sold privately in future.

The 10in (24cm) high silver flask was estimated at £60,000-80,000 and the vendor is a small UK military museum.

It had been given to the London Scottish Volunteers by Colonel Archibald Augustus Anson (1835-77), the third son of the 1st Earl of Litchfield, who was a career soldier and present at the sacking of the palace.

Seoul traders: Frieze in Korea

Frieze Seoul

Frieze Seoul will take place on September 2-5. 

Frieze is launching a Korean art fair and has signed up 110 galleries for the event scheduled for September 2-5.

As well as Contemporary art galleries the event will also include a section dedicated to Frieze Masters (managed by director Nathan Clements-Gillespie) that will show art from throughout history.

The 18 dealers in this section will include Daniel Crouch Rare Books, Les Enluminures, Annely Juda Fine Art, Richard Nagy, Skarstedt and Axel Vervoordt.

Frieze Seoul will take place at the Coex convention and exhibition centre in the Gangnam-gu district and will be led by director Patrick Lee.

Saleroom supports Curwen art centre

John Bellany print

A John Bellany print from the Curwen archive that will be offered as a reward for donations.

Sworders is supporting and promoting a fundraising effort for a local arts centre.

The auction house in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, is working with Curwen Print Study Centre which has recently relocated to Great Thurlow in Suffolk and hopes to raise more than £20,000 to keep its archive free to access to the public.

The Curwen Press was established in 1863 by the Rev John Curwen (1816-80) in Plaistow, east London, and The Curwen Studio opened in November 1958. Over the past 50 years the studio has worked with artists including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, John Piper, Elizabeth Frink, Mary Fedden and more recently Paula Rego.

Its archive, which includes prints, letters and vast supporting documentation relating to the lithographic print process, requires ongoing cataloguing and conservation. Once complete it will be available to the public for the first time. However, the Curwen still needs backing to enable the free access.

It is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for donations. As a thank you donors will have the opportunity to choose from a range of rewards, including limited-edition fine art prints from artists including John Bellany, Nicholas Charles Williams, David Borrington and Yoshishge Furukawa.

De Pury launches online auctions

Simon de Pury

Simon de Pury.

Auctioneer Simon de Pury, who has previously run Phillips and worked as an art adviser, has launched with auctions planned for next month.

The firm will hold a series of sales with the first called WOMEN – Art in Times of Chaos. An exhibition of the artworks will run from August 5 online with the auction taking place on August 25.

It will offer artworks by women that have been created over the last two and a half years and require buyers to commit to not reselling the artwork for a period of three years.

Instead of taking to the rostrum de Pury will host the auction online – as a digital avatar.

De Pury said the auction format also differs to other sales in a number of ways, including that 100% of the hammer price will go to the artist and the gallery that represents them and 3% of the hammer price will be deducted from the buyer’s premium and paid to charity UN Women.

The identity of the successful buyers as well as the identities of the under-bidders for each work will be shared with the artist and the gallery representing them.

An 18% buyer’s premium will be charged on top of the hammer price.

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In Numbers


The number of lots from the contents of Hôtel Lambert, owned by the Qatari Al Thani royal family, to be offered in a series of auctions at Sotheby’s in Paris beginning this autumn.