Purchase Story

Letter from London, November 2017

Ian McKay, <[email protected]>

With the new London season still moving slowly into action, only two of the auctions featured in this month’s selection are very recent. However, one of them saw a fairly modern, but already famous pocket watch sold for a staggering sum. The other new season sale covered here, and profusely illustrated, is one of the now traditional “Oak Interior” sales held in their Knightsbridge rooms by Bonhams.

Backing up are a few more treasures and high spots from the summer sales: Venetian pictures by Canaletto and Guardi; a fish market scene by Wtewael that left a modest estimate far, far behind; a diplomatic gift of great value and beauty; a rare example of the sculptural talents of John Deare; and a pair of silver ewers from Downton Abbey.


Space Traveller's Watch Enters New $4.319 Million Saleroom Orbit

“When you are on your package tour to Mars, you need a watch like this,” said George Daniels of his celebrated “Space Traveller’s Watch,” a gold cased chronograph completed in 1982.

Daniels (1926-2011), has been described as the greatest watchmaker since Abraham-Louis Breguet, who died almost 200 years ago, and, as I have noted in earlier features in M.A.D., a man who undoubtedly ranks as one of the most influential watchmakers of this or any other age.

The watch that features here is his masterpiece. It is one that incorporates his revolutionary independent double-wheel escapement and separate calculations for each train to indicate both mean-solar time—the 24-hour day we all know and love—and sidereal time. The latter is used by astronomers to correctly aim their telescopes at the stars and is based on the Earth’s rate of rotation relative to a fixed star, which is roughly 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds.


The record-breaking Daniels “Space Travellers’ Watch” of 1982 was sold this summer for $4.319 million.


Two interior views of the “Space Travellers’ Watch,” which, even when not set up specially for photography, proudly displays its complex mechanism by means of the glazed back.


A simple guide to the functions of the complex “Space Travellers’ Watch.”

This remarkable watch, which also features age and phase of the moon and equation of time indicators, owed its creation to Daniels’ regret at having sold an earlier version of 1974 to a Swiss jewellery and watch collector, Theodor Beyer. Coming to regard that sale as a personal, if not financial, loss, he started work on another, even more complex watch.

In 1988 Sotheby’s sold that first watch in Geneva for 220,000 Swiss francs, but the more complex one that Daniels made and retained for his own enjoyment, and which he often wore about his person, doubled its estimate to sell to a collector at $2,124,530 when, following Daniels’ death, it was offered at Sotheby’s in November 2012.

Now, five years on, the record books must again be rewritten, for on September 19 of this year, that beloved watch came back to Sotheby’s. There, in the same New Bond Street rooms, it doubled expectations and proved as sound an investment as it is a timekeeper. The price this time was $4,319,190.

This famous gold chronograph watch, as already noted, boasts Daniels’ independent double-wheel escapement, mean-solar and sidereal time, age and phase of the moon, and equation of time indications. However, rather than make any further clumsy, amateur observations on the watch and its significance, I intend to turn—as did Sotheby’s in their sale catalogue—to the words of Roger Smith.

This is a man who first met Daniels whilst studying at the Manchester (England) School of Horology and who later worked with him in producing the “Daniels Millennium” series of fine watches. Daniels bequeathed his Isle of Man workshops to Smith, who has for many years run his own watchmaking business there—making just ten watches each year.

Of the “Space Travellers’ Watch,” Smith wrote: “This piece holds special memories for me, for this was more often than not George’s dress watch of choice….

“In 2012 I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to refresh the piece, which resulted in a complete strip down of the mechanism. It was whilst working on the piece that my view of George changed dramatically, for the mechanism was like no other that I have seen before, or since.

“The level of creativity throughout is out of this world, and you can see how George circumvented a potential design issue with simplistic brilliance. One of the stand-out features for me are the two escape wheels, which drive the common balance. This is George’s unique double-wheeled escapement, but with this piece the Sidereal train has an escape wheel of fourteen teeth, whereas the Solar train has just thirteen. The geometric difficulties that this feature creates are mind boggling and I am sure the very idea would have stopped most makers in their tracks. For George, however, it was simply another challenge that had to be overcome.

“Another interesting feature is the chronograph mechanism which allows the user to switch between recording solar or sidereal seconds. In order to achieve this, the maker developed a clutch system which was the genesis for his unique compact chronograph mechanism which would feature in two further watches.

“This watch was the culmination of thirteen years of making highly original one-off pieces and went on to be the catalyst for many future developments.”

There have been other Daniels timekeepers at auction in London this summer, among them a gold twin-barrel, one minute tourbillon watch with spring detent chronometer escapement and retrograde hour hand.

Dated 1970, this was one of eight such watches that he made early in his career—in this instance for Edward Hornby. A friend who had been collecting since the 1930s, Hornby sold his collection at Sotheby’s in 1978, but kept the Daniels watch. It was not until 1999 that it first came to auction but remained unsold at that time.

On July 6 of this year, as part of Sotheby’s fourth in an ongoing series of sales called “A Celebration of the English Watch,” it was bid to $601,610.


The Daniels tourbillon watch of 1970 and its movement, an early example of his horological mastery, sold for $601,610.


Fish Market Drawing Sheds New Light on the Work of Wtewael

In the same July 5 sale that saw a record $3.41 million paid at Sotheby’s for a Canaletto drawing—see “The Glory of Venice…” in this month’s “Letter”—a previously unrecorded drawing of A Fish Market by the early 17th-century Dutch artist Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael of Utrecht (1566-1638), saw competition between collectors, dealers, and museums raise the bidding to $1,127,780—almost 30 times its pre-sale, low-estimate figure.

However, in preparing the catalogue entry, the saleroom had noted that “this excitingly drawn, fully signed depiction…[adds] an entirely new dimension to our understanding of his draughtsmanship.”

Only a very small number of drawings by the artist are recorded, but he has “long been recognised as one of the most individual and gifted Netherlandish painters of the first quarter of the 17th century,” said Sotheby’s.

Opinions vary as to the proportion of drawings associated with his name that can legitimately be considered autograph, rather than copies or studio replicas, but most modern scholars, it appears, reckon a maximum of around 30 drawings to be original.

This signed drawing adds to that group but, more significantly, say Sotheby’s, “it is compositionally unique within the artist’s corpus of known works, painted or drawn, adding an entirely new dimension to our understanding of his draughtsmanship.”

The drawing shows figures in both the foreground and the background handling and preparing fish in all sorts of different ways and fits into a tradition of market scenes that began at least half a century earlier.

Wtewael, say Sotheby’s, occasionally painted scenes of this type, but, following the examples of the work of Aertsen and Beuckelaer, almost always placed a smaller representation of a religious scene—the “real” subject of his painting—in the background, “in the established tradition of Mannerist inversion.”

Only a handful of Wtewael’s paintings depict such market or kitchen scenes in isolation, and whether a drawing such as this was made as the design for a painting or print, or as an independent work of art, remains unclear.

Stijn Alsteens, writing in the catalogue of a recent Wtewael exhibition* says that without a greater understanding than we currently have of the artist’s working method, these questions are likely to remain unanswered.

Executed in brown and black ink and black and grey wash, heightened with white, the signed Wtewael drawing sold by Sotheby’s measures roughly 7¾" x 12½".

*Stijn Alsteens’s essay, “Wtewael as Draftsman,” in the catalogue produced for an exhibition called Pleasure and Piety: The Art of Joachim Wtewael that was seen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht in the years 2015-16 was the first attempt, said the saleroom, at a full account of the artist’s drawings since the 1929 publication in Utrecht of a monograph by C.M.A.A. Lindemann.


Sold for a far, far higher than predicted $1.127 million at Sotheby’s on July 5 was this unrecorded drawing of A Fish Market by Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael of Utrecht.


The Glory of Venice Celebrated in the Hands of Canaletto and Guardi

Executed in brown ink and three shades of grey wash, and heightened with touches of white over black chalk, a Canaletto drawing of The Coronation of the Doge on the Scala dei Giganti seen at Sotheby’s on July 5 was sold to London dealer Jean Luc Baroni for $3,403,360—a low-estimate sum but a record for any work on paper by the artist.

Measuring roughly 15¼" x 22¾", this exceptionally well-preserved drawing, described by the auctioneers as “brilliantly accomplished in its virtuosic lighting and handling of the media,” and as one of the greatest the artist ever produced, was originally part of a series of a dozen such drawings of Venetian ceremonies and festivals, the “Feste Ducali,” that were made specifically to be engraved.

Ten of the original drawings survive to this day—four of them in the British Museum in London and two in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

It is over 40 years since another drawing from this important series, executed towards the end of Canaletto’s life, was seen at auction—again at Sotheby’s, in 1974, when two from the collections of Eva, Countess of Rosebery were offered—and though this one was making a second auction appearance, the previous outing was way back in 1883.

The drawing sold this summer, the third in Canaletto’s “Feste Ducali” series, is first recorded as part of a bulk purchase—probably from Lodovico Furlanetto, who had published the prints in the 1760s—made by Sir Richard Colt Hoare. A well-travelled antiquarian, archaeologist, local historian, banker, and collector, Hoare’s many claims to fame also include involvement in the first serious excavation of one of the world’s more famous ancient monuments, Stonehenge.

Hoare, it seems, bought ten drawings from Furlanetto and they remained at Stourhead, his Palladian mansion in Wiltshire (now managed by the National Trust), until the late 19th century, when they formed part of a “Stourhead Heirlooms” sale at Christie’s. On that occasion, this and one other view were purchased by another member of the Hoare family and then passed on by descent in the family until 2005, when the two drawings were acquired by the Sotheby’s consignor.

The drawing sold this summer shows the Doge being crowned at the top of the Scala dei Giganti staircase, so-named for the huge figures of Mars and Neptune that flank the top of the staircase, but it is the buildings and the artist’s treatment of them as much as the ceremony that make this such a striking composition.


Canaletto’s ink drawing of The Coronation of the Doge on the Scala dei Giganti was sold by Sotheby’s for $3,403,360.

Dramatic shadows are cast by the wing of the building to the left, and the façade itself is broken up by an array of windows and shutters, open and closed, along with other architectural details. Perhaps most important, said Sotheby’s, “…the whole scene is populated with a massive crowd of onlookers, brilliantly rendered with minimalist penstrokes and vibrant highlights, whose motion the artist has hardly managed to arrest.

“You can almost hear the hubbub of excited conversation,” said the inspired cataloguer. “On the roof of the building to the left, figures crane perilously forward to catch a glimpse of the action while below in the courtyard the guards, their rifles and hats emphasised with deft touches of darker ink wash, resolutely try to hold back the throng.”

It was at Christie’s on the following day, however, that big Venetian money changed hands, when the Francesco Guardi oil painting of The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, seen middle right, was finally pushed by two telephone bidders to $33,921,800. Once again, however, the saleroom had been hoping for something a little higher.


Francesco Guardi’s oil of The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi was bid to $33.92 million at Christie’s this summer, and below, what may be its companion piece, The Rialto Bridge, looking north, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, was sold by Sotheby’s in 2011 at $42.787 million.

This grand view, getting on for 7' wide, was bought in Venice around 1768 by Chaloner Arcedeckne (apparently pronounced Archdeacon) of Glevering Hall in Suffolk. It remained in his family until the end of the 19th century, when, along with what has long been regarded as a companion view, The Rialto Bridge, looking north, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, it was sold to Sir Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Baronet and, later, 1st Earl Iveagh, and has remained in the extensive collections of that well-known family ever since.

Brokered by the London dealers Agnews and Christie’s, the purchase price for the pair in 1891 was a sum that at today’s exchange rates would be about $5000. These celebrated views were painted in the mid-1760s and are regarded by some as the most accomplished works of the period that marks Guardi’s “…early maturity as a view painter.”

In July 2011, that companion Rialto view …from the Fondamenta del Carbon in the Guinness collections was sold—at a time when U.K./U.S. exchange rates were somewhat different—for $42,787,400.


Forget-Me-Not, a Diplomatic Parting Gift

Presented by Frederick Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, to Christian Sehestedt Juul, a young Danish envoy to his Dresden court, the gold and hardstone-decorated snuffbox pictured here was a generous ambassadorial gift. What it would have cost around 1770, when the gift was made, I cannot tell, but entered for sale by one of his descendants in a Sotheby’s “Treasures” sale of July 5 it sold for a double-estimate $1,313,850.


A memento of diplomatic service in Dresden, this handsome snuffbox sold for $1.31 million.

The work of Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808), one of the more creative artist-craftsmen patronised by the court, this little oval box is just a touch over 3" wide and is inset to the gold-framed lid with a portrait on ivory of the donor that is attributed to court miniaturist Christian Gottlieb Doist.

The ground, sides, and base are inlaid with a trellis-work of striped grey or red Schlottwitz agate on a carnelian ground. The borders are garlanded with double and single forget-me-not flowers and laurel, and encircling the miniature are flowers bound with white ribbons. The gold rims are engraved with interlacing ribbons and rosettes, the borders with chevron designs.

Juul (1741-1788) had been named after a Danish foreign minister and diplomat who had no children of his own but whose widow, Charlotte Amalie, had entailed her own and her husband’s estates for the benefit of the children and descendants of her niece and foster-daughter, Sophie Hedwig Frijs, and her husband, Ove Juul.

Their eldest son had first followed his father into the army but then entered the Danish foreign service, following in the steps of his deceased patron, and in 1768, aged just 27, had been appointed envoyé extraordinaire to the court at Dresden where Frederick Augustus, on achieving his majority, was about to take over the reins of government of Saxony from his regent uncle. It was considered to be a very agreeable posting.

In the words of one of Juul’s diplomatic contemporaries, Colonel Robert Murray Keith, the British envoy, the city was “light, straight, white, tidy” and the work far from onerous. At ten o’clock, he wrote, “Business of Europe—with a little music now and then, pour égayer les affaires, at twelve, Devoirs, at one or other of the Courts (for we have three or four). From thence, to fine ladies, toilettes and tender things.”

One assumes that he also found the time and inclination to gather any information about the local situation, politics, or opinions circulating at court which might be of diplomatic interest back home.

It is presumed that following courtly tradition, this box was given to Juul on his departure from Dresden to take up a new post in Madrid, just as the abovementioned Keith, when he moved on, was given a porcelain service by the Elector and “a very handsome snuff-box of Saxon stones with her picture” by the Dowager Electress.

The Juul box sold by Sotheby’s, said the cataloguer, “uses a woven trellis to suggest the idea of a basket and emphasises the forget-me-not flowers with double clusters as well as the more usual single flower garlands.”

The English name of forget-me-not for the Myosotis flower comes from the medieval German name Vergessmein-
nicht
, and the flower’s associated legends would have been very familiar in Dresden—among them the story of how, when God was naming the flowers, one tiny plant cried out, “Forget me not, oh Lord,” to which God replied, “That shall be your name.”

Perhaps more often associated with parting lovers, the flower, symbolic of faithfulness and loyalty, may also have served as a delicate reminder to the departing foreign envoy that he should not forget the Elector and his service in Dresden.


Settle Down and Admire the Contents of an "Oak Interior"

American and Far East auctions have made most of the running where new season sales are concerned, with Chinese works and contemporary art very much to the fore. London traditionally takes a longer time to get up and running, and offering some 565 lots, an “Oak Interior” sale held by Bonhams on September 20 was among the first and more significant early season sales in the U.K.

It went well. The $1.49 million overall total made it their most successful to date for these twice yearly “Oak” specials.

They contain much more than oak, of course, as demonstrated by the selection of 14 lots from the auction that are featured here. They range from the large and solid pieces of furniture that define these sales to a needlework drawstring purse of circa 1620 (sold for $7610).

Some of the highlights, those that made the big money or items that simply caught my eye, are briefly described and illustrated.


Dated to the mid-19th century, this somewhat primitive piece of ash furniture is a shoemaker’s bench, with his seat at one end and a raised, compartmented working tray or gallery at the other. A little over 41" long, it sold for $3485. Surrey single-owner collection.


Some 70 lots in the Knightsbridge sale presented the pewter collection of Price Perkins Glover (1918-2001), a Virginia-born airline pilot and, in retirement, New York dealer. From the tankards, plates, and sundry other pewter wares, I have selected one of the candlesticks. Made around 1680, during the reign of Charles II, the 6" high stick has a ribbed pillar stem and cable-bordered octagonal flange, drip tray, and trumpet base. That base also boasts a single floral cast border. Formerly in the J.L. Grant and A.T. Isher collections, it sold at $18,600.


A pair of carved and painted pine supports, probably part of a table, provided the opening lot of the Knightsbridge sale and sold well at $27,055. Dated to circa 1610, the lion and the now horn-less unicorn hold shields that bear the arms of the Shelley family of Michelgrove in Sussex.


In stark contrast with the tree branch table seen on facing page, this William and Mary period barometer of circa 1695 features floral marquetry panels, walnut moulding, parcel-gilt and ebonised spiral columns, as well as an engraved brass plate and two scales. It sold for $16,065. Surrey single-owner collection.


This painted pine chest of uncertain age is decorated with advertisements for Norman’s Rock—in this sense a traditional British sweet or candy treat associated with the seaside. Here we see three young ladies who are instructed to “Eat Norman’s Rock & Grow Sweet,” while on the other long side three mob-capped, elderly and rather grim-faced women are accompanied by the slogan “Norman’s Rock Cures Sour People.” The short end not visible in this illustration is decorated with three young girls in dark blue and white clothes that look almost like Dutch national costumes.

The chest was painted by a very distinguished English artist, one known primarily for equine studies that can make millions, Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959). This fun item, however, sold at just $7100. Surrey single-owner collection.


Dated 1609 over the initials “CR,” this 5' wide, James I period joined oak coffer was made in England’s West Country, in either Somerset or Devon. Another of the sale’s most keenly contested lots, it was bid to $71,015—more than five times estimate and a sum that made it the sale’s top lot.


Believed to be of French or Swiss origin, this mid-19th-century fruitwood flask was sold at $7100. A lion and a leopard flank a raised central plinth bearing to the top the carved name “C.H. du Plessis” and at one end a heart. Surrey single-owner collection.


Painted red and bound with iron straps, this wooden coffret, or missal box, is of French origin and dates from the late 15th century. With a lockplate and hasp at the front, the 7½" wide box would have been used to hold a precious book: a liturgical text containing the prayers and texts relating to the celebration of Mass throughout the year—perhaps one with added illumination and decoration, or finely bound. The box, now empty, sold at $11,835.


Sold for $32,125, this 4½' wide Georgian box settle of circa 1800 was part of a 120-lot, single-owner collection—including folk art—built up over a period of nearly 40 years to furnish an historic brick and timber house in Surrey that the owner was gradually restoring. The gently curved, boarded and joined pollard-oak settle, the seat with hinged centre section, is of West Country origin.


Dated to around 1590 was this Elizabethan joined three-tier open buffet—the principal, or at least most distinctive decoration of which comes in the form of two shield-bearing lions. It sold for $42,270.


Sold at $37,200 was the painted oak chest of drawers seen here. The chest itself dates from the late 17th century, but the overall painted decoration, primarily in cream and red against an indigo ground and incorporating combing and marbling effects to the drawer fronts, was probably added at some time in the 18th century. Surrey single-owner collection.


With a base (stamped with the initials “BB”) formed from a tree branch and an “oyster” trunk slice as the top, this mid-19th-century occasional table from the Surrey single-owner collection is rustic simplicity itself. It sold for $12,680.


The royal coat of arms seen on this 9' wide, painted and parcel-gilt pine and elm board is that used successively by James I, Charles I and II, and Queen Anne before the Act of Union of 1707 brought Scotland into what we currently, but may not always be able to, refer to as the United Kingdom.

When it was made is not known, but it must have been some time after the end of the Commonwealth period and the restoration of the monarchy in England in 1660. Neither is it entirely clear where this armorial was hung prior to 1794, when it was gifted by Richard Edmunds to the Church of St. Michael in the settlement of Forden in the Welsh border country. However, as the timing of that gift coincides with the rebuilding of Edmunds’ family home, Edderton Hall, it is quite possible that the armorial had come from the old house.

When the church was demolished in 1860, the armorial was given to the Powysland Museum and it was still there in the 1920s, though its more recent history was not recorded in the catalogue. The selling price of $59,180 was some six times the high estimate.


Illustrated in Tobias Jellinek’s 2009 book on Early British Chairs and Seats: From 1500 to 1700, where it is described as “remarkably graceful,” this unusual James I period, joined oak panel-back open armchair bears the initials and date “W 1626 C” beneath the pierced and carved cresting rail. It sold for $47,345.


John Deare's Short but Talented Life in Marble

Though additionally described as “bearing the signature: ROUBILLIAC. SC,” the white marble plaque of Eleanor and Edward seen here is not the work of that celebrated, French-born sculptor who died in 1762, but that of a later precious talent, John Deare, and was fully catalogued as such in the Sotheby’s “Treasures” sale of July 5. There, it sold for $507,515.


John Deare’s Eleanor and Edward marble relief sold for $507,515 at Sotheby’s.

In his relatively short life, Deare (1759-1798) gained a reputation as one of the most talented neoclassical sculptors working in Rome in the late 18th century, and such was the esteem in which some of his contemporaries held him that the prodigiously accomplished clergyman, naturalist, mineralogist, chemist, and traveler Edward Daniel Clarke remarked that had Deare not died so young, history “…might have classed him with the best sculptors of Ancient Greece.”

Trained at the Royal Academy of Arts and the youngest artist ever to be awarded their prestigious Gold Medal—with a relief depicting The Angels Surprising Satan at the Ear of Eve, inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost—he was sent by the Royal Academy to study in Rome in 1785.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, said the cataloguer, Deare refused to engage in the procurement, restoration, and copying of antiquities for Grand Tourists, regarding such trade with disdain. This must have restricted the opportunities for patronage, but such was his obvious talent that commissions were soon forthcoming from the more discerning.

Reliefs such as this form a large portion of the limited number of works he produced before he died in 1798, reputedly from having caught a chill from sleeping on a block of marble whilst in the pursuit of sculptural inspiration.

Eleanor and Edward, measuring roughly 33" x 38½", is one of Deare’s more significant works, with the model (probably the plaster) having been presented as the sculptor’s first exhibition piece at the Royal Academy in 1788—a Judgement of Jupiter of the previous year having been rejected due to its overly large size.

The subject is taken from English legend and history. When the future King Edward I went on Crusade in the early 1270s, an attempt was made on his life in Acre, where an assassin tried to stab the prince with a poisoned dagger. According to legend, Edward’s young bride, Eleanor of Castille, sucked the poison from the wound and saved his life, but while the assassination attempt is certainly recorded, Eleanor’s role as his savior is probably apocryphal. Prince Edward’s life, it seems, was more likely saved by an English physician who cut away the infected flesh.

Further tinkering with history, Deare has transported the medieval reality of the incident to ancient Greece, where Edward is given a suitably idealised and muscular appearance and Eleanor is presented as an archetypal demure Grecian maiden. The only pictorial reference to the medieval legend, say Sotheby’s, is the shield leaning against the daybed, which is emblazoned with the heraldic Lions of England.

The original plaster of Eleanor and Edward appears to have been commissioned by Henry Blundell for Ince Blundell Hall in Lancashire, where it remains to this day, but the marble seen at auction in London came most recently from the collections of the art historians and Italophiles the late Hugh Honour and John Fleming, co-authors of A World History of Art, which is still one of the standard texts for any aspiring art historian.

Deare’s first major work in marble, The Judgement of Jupiter, is now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while the prime version of his Marine Venus is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.


Diana the Huntress and the "Downton" Connection

Applied with masks of Diana, who, in addition to her more familiar role as the goddess of hunting, is remembered for bathing escapades that inspired any number of paintings and make her an appropriate figure for a water jug, the handsome silver ewers seen here were sold for $414,475 as part of the Sotheby’s “Treasures” sale of July 5.

Bearing the 1700 London hallmarks of Pierre Harache, the 12¼" high ewers are engraved to the helmet-shaped bodies with arms, mottos, and other armorial attributes of Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield—one of whose other titles added another arborial hunting link to the choice of Diana as a decorative theme. Chesterfield was for a time Warden of the Royal Forests South of the (River) Trent.


The pair of silver ewers sold for $414,475 by Sotheby’s.

The ewers’ maker, Harache, was a French-born craftsman, a member of a Rouen-based family of goldsmiths who later worked in Paris but who were among those many Huguenot craftsmen who fled their native country and settled in England to escape persecution when their Protestant beliefs were outlawed in Catholic France.

The ewers remained in the Chesterfield family collections for many years and were once to be found amongst the treasures of Highclere Castle (a location familiar to many as the setting for the enormously popular TV series Downton Abbey) but made their first auction appearance almost 30 years ago—at a 1988 Sotheby’s sale of the “Highclere Castle Collection.”


Originally published in the November 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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