George I japanned bureaucabinet in the manner of John Belchier – £55,000 at Bonhams.

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Offered at Bonhams(27.5/26% buyer’s premium) New Bond Street rooms on December 6, they featured in the 226 lots from The Old Rectory in Chilton Foliat.

The Queen Anne house became a restoration project for the late Alan and Tara Elliot when they bought it in 1971 from author and journalist Auberon Waugh. Their fine furniture and art from top London dealers were enjoyed by thousands of house guests over the years as the Elliots returned the property to its former grandeur.

Global demand

The Old Rectory’s contents were also appreciated at the December 6 sale by interior decorators, dealers and private buyers from 22 different countries. More than 95% of the 226 lots got away to a hammer total approaching £650,000.

Paintings took the highest bids and good English furniture prices ranged from three to five figures.

Topping the furniture was the dark green and gilt japanned bureau cabinet with all-over chinoiserie decoration.

Japanned furniture (more usually red or black than green) was hugely fashionable in the early 18th century and English cabinetmakers, drawing on Stalker and Parker’s 1688 Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing, rushed to supply the demand from wealthy clients.

After comparing similarities to a red and gilt bureau cabinet in the National Trust’s Erddig House near Wrexham and to a black lacquer cabinet sold at Christies in 2000, the Old Rectory cabinet was described as in the manner of John Belchier. It sold comfortably above estimate at £55,000.


One of a pair of George III carved giltwood girandoles – £48,000 at Bonhams.

As with the bureau cabinet, the c.1765-70 girandoles had been bought from Mayfair dealer Ronald Phillips. They were catalogued as in the manner of William France and John Bradburn who worked on all the Dundas family’s properties under the direction of Robert Adam.

Similar to a pair supplied for Sir Lawrence Dundas’ London home and now in Aske Hall, Yorkshire, these stood 2ft 10in (88cm) high and featured heart-shaped plates surmounted by foliate anthemion crests. Pitched at £12,000-18,000, the pair sold at £48,000.