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Letter from London

Ian McKay | February 16th, 2014

Ian McKay,

Few sales had taken place in London by the time this report had to be written and sent off for editorial scrutiny, so I have taken the opportunity to sweep away the last remnants of my 2013 files. The resulting cull did, however, leave me with an early Swiss tapestry snapped up, at some cost, by the Met in New York; a medieval ivory Virgin and Child; two stone leopards; a powerful bronze bust; a pair of idiosyncratic firedogs; Venus and Lucretia in the pink; a record-breaking Fragonard “Fantasie”; some very special Indian ivory furniture; Gainsborough’s mystery woman; a King Charles spaniel that emerged from a dump to find fame and fortune; and a display of Bohemian glass.

Bid to $1.97 million—way in excess of estimate—by New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, this Swiss or Upper Rhineland tapestry of 1480-1500 was sold at Sotheby’s in London on December 3.

Swiss Tapestry Bound for the Metropolitan

Acquired at Sotheby’s on December 3, 2013, by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, this wool and metal-thread tapestry is, on the basis of its distinctive design elements, believed to date from 1480 to 1500 and to have been woven either in the Upper Rhine region or in Switzerland. At that time, both Strasbourg and Basel were important centres for the production of tapestries.

Measuring 8'7" x 6'7" overall, it is made up of two joined horizontal panels which, on a foliate background, depict standing figures in relief of church fathers, saints, and philosophers. In the top panel we see, from the left, Job, Cato, and Seneca, while the lower panel features Saints Thomas, Bernard, and Augustine—all of them identified in the narrative scrolls above their heads and in further Gothic inscriptions within the cartouche-shaped banderoles.

Two very similar and comparable panels are in the collections of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, and such wall-hangings may have been used as backcloths behind benches, as table and cushion covers or coverlets, or perhaps in churches as altar frontals. These particular panels, the auctioneers suggested, were probably used as the background for mystery plays, liturgical and other ceremonies.

Once part of the collections formed in the 19th century by Baron Arthur de Schickler of Chateau Martinvast in France, the tapestry was valued at $60,000/90,000, but others, the Metropolitan Museum of Art among them, thought differently, for the New York City museum was obviously prepared to go much, much higher. In fact, the Metropolitan ended up paying a seven-figure sum, $1,970,240, to add this example to its already major collections.

The pair of Taynton stone leopards, or “Kyng’s Beestes,” that sold at Sotheby’s for $141,645.

The ivory Virgin and Child group of 1250-60 that in the 19th century helped fund a nuns’ pension and at Sotheby’s on December 4 made $4.17 million.

The Virgin and the Leopards

Carved in ivory in the mid-13th century, when it would also have been painted and gilded, the little ivory figure of the Virgin and Child enthroned was cherished and protected from confiscation for at least three centuries by monks and nuns before, in the mid-19th century, it was finally surrendered in part-exchange for an annual pension. For the following 100 years, it was in English aristocratic hands, and for a few years, 1867-73, was exhibited on loan in London. Thereafter it effectively disappeared, but it is now clear that in 1949 it was sold to a Dutch collector, one of whose descendants returned it to London for sale at Sotheby’s on December 4, 2013, where it doubled the high estimate to sell at $4,169,890.

A little over 9¼" high and of either Mosan or northern French origin—the term Mosan here referring to the valley of the River Meuse—this very detailed carving once belonged to the Bridgettines* of the 15th-century Syon monastery. A community of nuns and monks founded at Isleworth, near London, in the early 15th century, the monastery enjoyed many rich endowments and prospered greatly, but the order inevitably suffered during the Reformation in England and was suppressed in 1559.

The Bridgettines kept this and other works of art from the grasp of Henry VIII, from hostile Calvinists in the Netherlands following their departure from England, and from angry mobs and plundering mercenaries in Rouen in northern France, before they found safety in Roman Catholic Portugal in 1594. All was quiet for the next 200 years—saving, that is, a devastating fire of 1651 and the Lisbon earthquake of 1755—but in 1809, a perceived threat of invasion and assault by Napoleon’s forces saw a small group of ten nuns sail for England, taking with them crates containing some of the order’s prized works of art.

Their fears were not realised and the decision to flee Lisbon proved both misguided and disastrous for this little group. They were not recognised by the Holy See, thereby losing their income and the possibility of attracting new members. They had to be harboured and supported in England by a succession of Catholic sympathisers, and by 1836, with some of the nuns having joined other orders or died, only two elderly Bridgettines remained, and the ivory Virgin was among the treasures handed over to the 16th Earl of Waterford of Alton Towers in Staffordshire, in exchange for a £30 yearly pension.

In 1857, the ivory figure was offered at Christie’s as part of the contents of Alton Towers, but then withdrawn, and it remained in the family for another 100 years until somehow ending up with the London dealer Hermann Baer, from whom it was acquired by the forebear of the consignor.

Sold for a much more modest $141,645 in the same “Arts of Europe” sale at Sotheby’s was the pair of heraldic royal beasts, or “Kyng’s Beestes.”

They are in fact 46" high representations of snarling leopards—despite sporting tufted tails of leonine form—and it has been argued that they may have been made for Henry VIII’s palace at Dartford in Kent, where a pair of elaborate heraldic beasts is certainly recorded as having once flanked the main staircase. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that they could have been made for Hampton Court or the now lost Nonsuch Palace.

Henry was certainly keen on mythical beasts, which served as heraldic devices to convey an appropriate sense of monarchical power in his palaces, and at Hampton Court he filled the Privy Orchard with carved, painted, and gilt wooden beasts, both mythical and real. Weight is also lent to a royal provenance by the fact that these leopards are carved from Taynton stone, which came from a quarry in Oxfordshire and was frequently used by Henry’s craftsmen.

By 1985, they had ended up outside an inn at Worcester Park in Surrey, after which they departed for France, where they were acquired by the Sotheby’s consignor in 2009.

* The Bridgettine Order was founded by the Swedish mystic Saint Bridget (1303-1373).

Part of Danny Katz’s “Defining Taste” stock sale at Sotheby’s last November, this bronze bust of a scholar (or cleric), catalogued as Italian and of late 16th-/early 17th-century date, sold at $214,380.

Danny and the Scholar

On two previous outings, in 1910 and 1986, the 19½" high bronze bust seen here was catalogued as a Flemish piece, and on the latter occasion linked with the work of Hendrik de Keyser (1565-1621). However, when offered at Sotheby’s on November 12, 2013, as part of “Defining Taste,” a sale of works from the stock of Danny Katz, it was suggested that its origins lay in warmer climes.

The London-based works of art dealer has moved from his Bond Street gallery to new premises in Hill Street, off Berkeley Square, and in his foreword to the catalogue explained, “I have traded from galleries in Jermyn Street and Old Bond Street and as the fashion houses with their deep pockets seek to have pre-eminence in Bond Street, we have decided to move to a wonderful townhouse….”

The move, it seems, will also facilitate a desire to focus more closely on a smaller range of works of art and allow time to develop other interests. Katz was a professional dancer before moving into dealing and is presently working in TV, co-producing four documentaries on 20th-century British art for BBC-TV with the art historian and regular TV presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon.

Sculptures, and in particular bronze sculptures, are something with which Katz’s name has long been closely linked, and in his stock-thinning sale of some 280 lots, which raised over $7.7 million, the bronze bust in question was the star turn. This time it was described not as Flemish, but as a late 16th-/early 17th-century Italian bust and as comparable to Venetian portrait busts of the period, notably those of Danese Cattaneo and Alessandro Vittoria.

It was also suggested that as the bust has no original structural support and has holes in the back of the shoulders, it seems likely that it was once mounted into a niche within a larger monument, perhaps a tomb. The plain cloak worn by the subject is also said to indicate that the man was either a scholar or cleric.

And as such it made a much better than predicted $214,380.

A rare pair of reptilian firedogs, one signed and dated “R.W. Martin London 11-1876,” the year before the Martin brothers (Robert Wallace and Charles Douglas) opened their successful pottery in Southall, Middlesex, which sold for $40,425 at Bonhams last November.

Reptilian Firedogs Are a Martinware Rarity

Grotesque avian figures, the “Wally Birds” as they are sometimes known, are the most instantly recognisable products of the Martin brothers’ factory at Southall, but while several examples of the birds, and indeed other fantastical Martinware creations, have appeared in these pages over the years, this pair of firedogs are a first, and a very early and curious one at that.

Dated 1876 and therefore predating the avian masterpieces, these just over 9½" high stoneware firedogs are each modelled as a pair of humanised reptiles, shackled back to back around the waist. One is spotted in blue, while the other has incised scales in a cream glaze.

Offered by Bonhams on November 26, 2013, they were acquired by the consignor’s grandfather, a successful builder, around 1930, but exactly where and from whom they were acquired is not known. However, given that this was in Norfolk, the auctioneers speculate that the firedogs—which, they say, must surely have been a special commission—could have been ordered by a member of the East Anglian Barnard or Bishop families. The proprietors of a Norwich-based ironworks, Barnard, Bishop & Barnard, were supporters of the innovative ceramic art movements of the time and regularly incorporated Morris & Co. and William De Morgan tiles into their fireplaces. They are also known to have used Martin Brothers tiles in the late 19th century.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the firedogs were certainly rare and appealing and sold pretty much as the salesroom had predicted at $40,425.

Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1537 version of Venus and Cupid Stealing Honey sold for $3.62 million at Bonhams on December 4…

…and his circular miniature of Lucretia (center), circa 1525, was sold for $1.67 million by Sotheby’s on the same day.

The larger and earlier oil on panel of Lucretia  was sold for $5.12 million at Sotheby’s New York in January 2012.

Concerning Venus, Lucretia and Some Bees

December 4, 2013, was a good day in London for Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), with both Bonhams and Sotheby’s recording seven-figure bids for a couple of his naked lovelies—Venus and Lucretia.

The theme of Venus and Cupid was one that Cranach first tackled in 1527, but in subsequent years he and his workshop turned out at least 26 other versions. That seen at Bonhams, the 20" x 14¼" panel, dated 1537, that is reproduced at left, is however a recent discovery, albeit a picture that has been in the owner’s family since the early 20th century. It sold for $3,619,690.

In this panel, Cranach takes as his theme a then-popular story, “The Honey Thief,” in which Cupid complains to his mother about being stung by bees as he attempts to steal a honeycomb—symbolising human inclinations and delivering the moral lesson that pleasure does us harm and is mixed with pain. However, as one scholar, Pablo Perez d’Ors, observes, the picture is above all designed for the viewer to focus on Venus as an object of desire, its eroticism serving to enhance the moral lesson it carries.

The inscription at top left is unusual, being taken from the Enchiridion…, a much reprinted work of instruction for church musicians by Georg Rhau that was first published in 1518. Rhau, a musician and musical theorist, was dismissed from his post of cantor of the Thomasschüle in Leipzig (a post later famously filled by J.S. Bach) owing to his Lutheran sympathies. He moved to Wittenberg, where he established himself as a printer and became a crucial figure in the dissemination of Reformation ideas by publishing the writings of his friend Martin Luther, and Philipp Melanchthon.

The status of Wittenberg had been raised by Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, to become a centre of the Reformation. A university was founded there in 1502, and Cranach, like Dürer before him, had been attracted there. Cranach became a city councillor and mayor, and accrued great wealth as a landowner and the owner of apothecary monopolies, as well his work as a painter, printmaker, and publisher.

However, to get back to the picture in question, Pablo Perez d’Ors once again has an explanation, based on Cranach’s contacts with the city’s significant community of scholars: Cranach “…created objects of a sensuous, refined and complex elegance which appealed to those interested in classics and antiquarianism as well as having a moral and religious dimension dear in those same scholarly circles” and used the honey-thief theme “…to convey a moral and religious meaning parallel with the archaeological, literary and pedagogical interests of some of his contemporaries.”

The layers of symbolism and meaning in early paintings are sometimes difficult to grasp, or they are at least for your correspondent, so I had better stop before I get even more confused, but just one more thing before moving on. The stag may represent keen hearing and a supposed ability to sniff out snakes, but it is more likely used to symbolise prudence and virtue defeating vice.

The coat-of-arms seen at lower right of the picture has not yet been fully identified.

The circular oil on panel of Lucretia, effectively a miniature of just under 6" diameter, was also acquired in the early 20th century, by the consignor’s grandfather, but in this instance it is a picture that can be traced back to the collections of the Dukes of Parma and, from the later 19th century, to the important collections of Count Grigory Stroganoff (1829-1910), a member of a St. Petersburg family of art patrons and collectors who spent much of his life in Paris and Rome.

Fewer than a dozen such miniatures are recorded, all of them circular and much the same size, and strong stylistic similarities have led to a suggestion that all may have been painted within a short space of time, 1525-27, perhaps as a special commission. Six of them feature religious, historical or mythological subjects, and the remainder are portraits, but once again Cranach’s liking for the nude is evident in four of them.

There is another Venus and Cupid, in which Venus is once again dressed only in one of those splendid hats, but in the picture reproduced at center, Lucretia uses her long braided tresses almost as ornament or continuation of her headdress, and although the picture is intended to depict the suicide of the Roman matron following rape at the hands of Sextus, there seems little tension or drama evident in this portrayal. As with Venus and Cupid, this was a popular Cranach theme, with over 30 versions by the artist and/or his workshop recorded, and in each case she is seen, as here, at the moment of death, often clothed but sometimes, as here, naked.

The little Sotheby’s picture doubled its estimate to sell at $1,674,340, but in January 2012 at Sotheby’s New York, one of the earliest of Cranach’s Lucretia pictures, a larger, 22½" x 18¼" oil on panel dating to 1509-10, seen at right, reached $5,122,500.

Seats of Ivory and Empire—the Begum’s Gift

The two pairs of chairs and the settee pictured here form part of a celebrated suite of ivory furniture made in the Murshidabad, West Bengal, in the second half of the 18th century. Commissioned by Mani Begum, the widow of Mir Jafar, Nawab of Murshidabad, the chairs and settee were among the gifts made to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal, both whilst he was in India and after his return to England. A letter that Hastings wrote to his wife indicates that there once were two couches, eight chairs, and two footstools. Four oval tables—one now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and another that sold at Christie’s in June 2006—were also once to be found among the furnishings of Hastings’ country estate, Daylesford in Gloucestershire.

An 1834 inventory at Daylesford lists “in The Best Drawing Room a suite of solid ivory furniture consisting of two sofas, eight armchairs (‘the 9th broke & up at the Stables’) and two fire screens,” while an 1853 sale at Daylesford listed, amongst other items, two sofas, three pairs of chairs, and three single chairs. The items seen at Sotheby’s on December 4, 2013, as part of “A Connoisseur’s Collection,” are two of the pairs of the chairs and one of the sofas that were purchased at the time by the 2nd Earl of Lonsdale, and it was from the family’s Lowther Castle estate that they were sold by the 6th Earl in 1947.

Offered in three lots, these remnants of the suite raised almost $1.9 million—the two pairs of chairs selling at $711,495 and $790,095, and the settee reaching $397,095.

Fragonard’s portrait of François-Henri, 5th Duc d’Harcourt, sold for a record $27.98 million at Bonhams last December.

Fragonard Paints and Points the Way to Impressionism

The highest price paid at auction for an old master painting (anywhere in the world) in 2013 was recorded at Bonhams at the year’s end, on December 5. More than trebling the previous record, set in 1999, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s portrait of François-Henri, 5th Duc d’Harcourt was bid to $27,984,200 as one of the pictures and sculptures from the magnificent collections of a remarkable German collector and philanthropist, the late Dr. Gustav Rau*

The painting is one of Fragonard’s famous group of “Portraits de Fantasie,” mostly half-length figures in fancy dress, executed 1767-72. Of these pictures, which are nowadays widely regarded as the artist’s finest achievement and unlike anything else in 18th-century French art, nine now hang in the Louvre, five are in other museums, three are known only from a recently discovered drawing, and just two have remained to this day in private hands—and this was without any doubt the most significant of his paintings to have come onto the market in many years.

Fragonard was a master of genre painting and a leading exponent of the rococo style, The Swing of 1767, now in the Wallace Collection in England, being perhaps the most famous example of this style. These fantasy portraits, however, which often depict friends and acquaintances, exhibit bold, free, and exuberant brushwork that may be seen as anticipating the works of the Impressionists, and this proto-impressionist style was referred to by some contemporaries as the artist’s “swordplay of the brush.”

At the time, Fragonard’s daring work was seen as a handicap, wrote Andrew McKenzie of Bonhams in the salesroom’s house journal, and viewed as hampering an artist who might otherwise have obtained the highest of accolades in French academic life. McKenzie cites an anonymous but contemporary critic who wrote: “Monsieur Fragonard, who was born with a supply of genius enough for several artists, does not seem to me to have fulfilled his obligations towards nature. Instead of following the sublime career of his chosen calling, where he was guaranteed the greatest success, he has turned off that to follow little obscure byways and he has created a type of painting which is more prone to the excesses of the imagination than the exact truth.”

Fragonard, in turning away from academic high art, may have had little influence on the contemporary French painting, and, falling on hard times after the Revolution, this once fashionable portrait painter to the Ancien Régime died in obscurity and poverty, but his influence on the likes of Daumier, Renoir, Manet and others is now recognised and acclaimed—a subject of wonder. In McKenzie’s view, “the extraordinary skill and technique [exhibited in this portrait] establish it as one of the great artistic achievements of all time.”

High praise indeed.

This particular portrait is also unusual in actually identifying the sitter, and this aristocratic face also became very familiar to many Londoners through featuring as the centrepiece of advertisements placed on London’s Underground system and both in and on the capital’s famous black cabs to announce the reopening of Bonhams’ Bond Street salesrooms after a $50 million redevelopment.

Dr. Rau had paid around $550,000 (at today’s exchange rates) for the picture when it was sold as part of the d’Harcourt family collections at Sotheby’s in 1971.

*A brief account of Dr. Rau’s life and collections was given in last November’s issue of M.A.D., when I reported the multi-million-dollar, sales of a medieval ivory triptych and paintings by El Greco and Monet handled by Sotheby’s during the summer months.

Dr. Rau’s impressive collections were divided by UNICEF Germany between three salesrooms, selected on the basis of their “convincing and favourable terms.”

This chalk drawing by Gainsborough sold for $2.7 million at Sotheby’s on December 4.

Gainsborough’s Mysterious Lady

Executed in black and white chalk, and perhaps a preparatory sketch for one of his paintings, this late Thomas Gainsborough drawing has changed hands several times since it was produced in 1785, or thereabouts, but at Sotheby’s on December 4, 2013, it caused quite a stir in selling for a treble estimate $2,702,690.

A charming image of a fashionably dressed young woman, sporting swathes of silk, a broad hat with ribbon, and a fur hand-muff, is one of a group of five full-length studies of elegantly dressed women in rural or woodland settings that have attracted a number of suggestions as to their original purpose.

They may have been independent works, intended to be referred to as and when required in his work—but one of the two drawings now in the British Museum shows a comparable pose to that seen in his 1785-86 portrait of Sophia Charlotte, Lady Sheffield.

At one time all five drawings were said to depict a famous beauty, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, whom Gainsborough painted several times, and another suggestion, inspired by an inscription made on the second British Museum drawing by the artist’s close friend William Pearce, indicates a connection with The Mall (now in the Frick Collection in New York City), a canvas that shows figures walking in St. James’s Park.

However, Dr. John Hayes (1929-2005), an authority on Gainsborough, preferred to connect the drawings with a never completed companion piece to The Mall in which the figures would have been seen in the setting of the Richmond Water-walk.

Aside from the two drawings in the British Museum in London, there is another in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, and a fourth is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles—leaving this 19" x 12¼" example as the only one of the five still in private hands.

The Stubbs portrait of a King Charles spaniel. Found in a rubbish tip in 1973, purchased at a modest sum by an entomologist with a good eye for paintings, and 40 years on sold for $2.34 million at Sotheby’s last December.

Dumped Spaniel Gets $2.34 Million Stamp of Approval

In the world of canine portraiture, a regular auction high spot is the annual Bonhams New York sale—held this year on February 12—but it was on December 5, 2013, at Sotheby’s in London that the oil of a King Charles spaniel seen here was sold for a sum far in excess of anything likely to be recorded among the 268 lots that made up the impressive Bonhams sale. It did not perform quite as well as had been hoped—a high of $3 million had been suggested—but this pooch did change hands at $2,335,890.

Signed and dated 1776 by an artist who for many will be more closely associated with larger quadrupeds, George Stubbs, it is a 23¼" x 28" oil on panel which only came to light 40 years ago in a provincial English sale, but a picture that became familiar to millions when selected in 1991 to be one of the five postage stamps that made up a special “Dogs. Paintings by George Stubbs” issue by the Royal Mail.

In 1776, Stubbs did show a Portrait of a Dog at the Royal Academy of Arts, but while the King Charles, or toy spaniel as it was often called, was a popular breed among the nobility and gentry in 18th-century England—even featuring in aristocratic portraits by Gainsborough and Romney—there is no contemporary documentation to suggest that this was that Stubbs Royal Academy exhibit.

It was not until 1973 that the picture came to light, when it turned up in a sale held by Moore Allen & Innocent of Cirencester in Gloucestershire. An entry in Judy Egerton’s catalogue raisonné, George Stubbs, Painter (Yale, 2007), says that the picture was found amongst rubbish dumped outside a local house and reputedly sold, as the work of an unknown artist, for £400—say $650 nowadays. It was bought at the Cirencester sale by Kenneth Mackinnon Guichard (1914-2002), a noted entomologist and art connoisseur who, according to another on-line source I found, “…made his living through his flair for spotting good paintings and etchings, buying cheap and selling expensive.”

Within that same year he had entered the Stubbs for sale at Christie’s and saw it moved on at 90,000 guineas—say $150,000 at today’s exchange rates. The London firm of Edward Speelman was the buyer, and though it was, according to Egerton, stolen but later recovered, they sold it in 1978 to the Sotheby’s consignor.

Sold for a double estimate $49,240 at Bonhams was this pair of 17¾" tall goblets and covers—one of two clear glass lots of the Bohemian wares that made high prices. The bowls are finely engraved with panoramic woodland scenes in which leafy trees shelter groups of stags and deer (see detail above right).

One of several pieces that benefitted from the demand for items decorated with hunting subjects was this just over 16" high amber-stained goblet with a coronet or crown cover. The body has a panel engraved with a scene of an aristocratic party hunting deer—not in Bohemia, but in the Scottish highlands—one in which two smartly dressed figures stand by their horses and hounds as three kilted gillies display a stag that has been killed. It sold for $36,930.

Masterpieces of Bohemian Glass

This was the title given to a December 11, 2013, sale held by Bonhams, one that offered a 58-lot private collection of often very colourful, occasionally clear glass wares and raised a total of around $740,000. Decorated using a technique known as Tiefschnitt, which involves carving away layers of glass to create entire scenes in intaglio, such glass may epitomise the Biedermeier taste that flourished in central Europe in the 19th century, as the auctioneers say, but though there is no doubting the technical craftsmanship displayed in these pieces, even when few pieces can be credited to named individuals, such wares may not be to everyone’s taste.

All bar seven lots sold, many at over estimate sums, but as my Antiques Trade Gazette colleague Anne Crane wrote, this was a market that was stronger in the 1980’s and ’90’s, when Middle Eastern buyers were attracted to such wares, and prices have since levelled off. “Accordingly, an entire sale devoted to the subject represented something of a gamble,” and though examples from other consignors could, it seems, have been included, Bonhams specialist Simon Cottle told Anne that they had decided to keep the sale small and “not risk saturating the market with glass that hasn’t been as fashionable as it used to be.”

There were a few Middle Eastern buyers in evidence at the sale, but German and other European buyers, along with those from Russia and America, made up a more international clientele, according to Cottle.

The region that is now part of the Czech Republic attracted wealthy visitors to its spas during the “season,” where visitors could take the waters or, for those enjoying good health, indulge themselves by hunting in the local forests. Bohemian glass of all kinds could be purchased in gift shops established in the spa towns of northern Bohemia, but many of the exceptional pieces in this sale, said Bonhams, would have been presented as trophies by aristocratic hosts to successful hunters.

A little over 27" high overall, this ruby-stained bottle vase of 1850-60 is deeply wheel-cut and engraved to the onion-shaped body with one scene of two rutting stags and another of a resting doe and a young stag grazing. A single massive tree decorates the tall trumpet neck. It sold for $55,395 at Bonhams.

Decorated with equestrian subjects, this massive, 32" tall pair of clear glass goblets and covers of 1850-70, possibly the work of Johann F. Hoffmann of Carlsbad, reached $77,960 in the Bonhams sale. In the detail seen above right, a stallion and a mare are seen amongst the trees, while the other scenes depict a turbanned figure holding the reins of a spirited horse and an Arab on a prancing horse.


This pair of enamelled topographical goblets and covers of 1835-40 sold for $32,825. The ruby-stained bowls are set with rectangular panels painted in opaque white and richly gilded with titled views of Hamburg, which are closely related to the etched views by Anton Radl that were published around 1825. Most topographical views on Bohemian glass were cut by engravers to satisfy a thriving tourist trade, and enamelled and gilded views as seen here are rare.

Stags yet again in this pair of close to 22" tall blue and amber part-stained goblets and covers of 1850-70, which sold at $32,825.

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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