The Autumn Auction 2023

Published 30th September 2023

By Cristian Beadman View profile

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood of Exeter seem to continue to be able to winkle out treasures that have been secreted away in some of the South West’s great houses and collections for generations –as their Autumn Auction bears witness. As usual the sale carries a broad swathe of the fine and decorative arts, from Britain, Europe and from further afield and one such example of a piece from ‘east of Dover’ is lot 75, a Chinese blue and white porcelain Scholar’s bowl. An enigmatic piece, with a Chenghua mark to the underside suggestive of 15th century origin, it is more likely that the piece is of later, Kangxi make, i.e. early 18th century. From a private collection in Budleigh Salterton, this fine ceramic is estimated to make £600-900, but could very well do better.

The Continental furniture section also contains some gems, with highly esteemed makers’ names like Pogliani and Sormani sprinkled across the catalogue. An extremely sought-after Italian walnut and marquetry comodino (small cabinet), almost certainly by Giuseppe Maggiolini is one such item (lot 1034), having been consigned by a gentleman in Cornwall. The English furniture is perhaps best represented by lot 954, a George I walnut and feather banded cabinet on chest, of circa 1725. Early Georgian walnut furniture can go very well indeed at auction, if it is in a pure and untouched state. This one is entered at £2000-3000.

Amongst the works of art, lots 281-283 stand out. These late 18th century brass dog collars are quirky, very decorative and hugely collectable -with larger and inscribed examples often making high prices. Consigned by a Devon family whose forbears had Kirkland Hall in Cumberland, these are valued at between £100 and £800. The provenance clearly inscribed into the collars is hugely important in their value, although sadly the animal’s’ names don’t feature.

Also with interesting provenance is an intriguing painting in the sale depicting Sir Thomas More and his daughter, by the Victorian artist John Rogers Herbert. This fascinating piece was last offered at Christie’s in 1991, and depicts More looking out from his prison prior to his execution. There are pictures available in the auction with sale estimates to suit all pockets, but this fine oil is projected at £2000-3000. Indeed with over 1100 lots in the auction, from fine clocks to Persian rugs, there really should be something for everyone.

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