Traditional & Modern: Encouraging results for traditional antiques mix with strong demand for Modern

Tennants’ Spring Fine Art Sale on 24th and 25th March showed good all-round results, with each department contributing to a buoyant sale in which traditional art and antiques proved equally in demand as modern and contemporary art. A busy saleroom, over 1200 bidders registered online, and telephone lines at capacity led to a total hammer price of £1,460,950, with 85.5% of the lots sold. Managing Director Jeremy Pattison said of the sale ‘There was a real buzz in the saleroom over the two days, with consistently strong prices being achieved throughout’.
The sale opened with British and European Ceramics, a market in which auction houses have seen a slowing in recent times; however, this sale saw the strongest results for several years, as good examples by traditional potteries such as Derby, Minton, Coalport and Wedgewood sold well above estimate. A set of three Imperial Porcelain Factory St Petersburg Oyster Dishes from the Raphael Service, which sold online to Russia for £18,000, provided the top lot of the section.

A Chinese Porcelain “Hong” Punch Bowl, c.1790 – Sold for £70,000 (plus buyers’ premium)
Two fine examples of Chinese ceramics were two of the top lots in the sale: selling for £70,000 against an estimate of £15,000-20,000 was a Chinese Porcelain ‘Hong’ Punch Bowl c.1790. Hong bowls appear infrequently at auction, and this fine example sold to a domestic trade buyer after competitive bidding. Selling well above its £2,000-3,000 estimate was a Guan Type, Ming Dynasty dish with a strong provenance; with a delicate pale blue hue and artful crackle design, it was sold to a Chinese buyer in the saleroom for £48,000.
Pretty and unusual antique and period jewellery caught the eye of both private and trade buyers, along with classic diamond rings. Of particular note was an unusual 1.5m long Victorian gold-link chain, which sold well reaching £5,500 against an estimate of £1,000-1,500, and an intricate Arts and Crafts opal and garnet bracelet by Zoltan White and Co. which made £1,600 against an estimate of £250-350. A three-stone old-cut diamond ring in the form of a clover sold well too, achieving a hammer price of £10,000.
Elsewhere amongst the traditional lots of offer, solid results were achieved for silver, with the top lot going to a 19th century German tankard, which sold for £7,200 against an estimate of £4,500-5,500. Clocks showed similar buoyancy, with a pretty oval brass porcelain carriage clock signed W. Schonberger, Wien 1890 making £5,500 against an estimate of £1,200-1,800. Both wrist and pocket watches by Patek Philippe continue to make good prices – with an 18ct yellow gold example reaching a price of £7,500. However, one of the most eagerly fought over lot of the sale was a small bronze figure of a bear in a trough, by Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1796-1875); this was a good cast by a highly regarded Animalia sculptor which made £10,000 against an estimate of £1,000-1,500.
Traditional furniture demonstrated encouraging results, with a good sold rate and solid prices being achieved. Of note was a late 17th Century Spanish dining table that reached £3,000 against an estimate of £1,500-2000, and a Victorian figured walnut and marquetry inlaid circular dining table, c.1860, made £2,900 against an estimate of £1,000-1,500. An upturn, too, was noted in rugs, with steady results achieved throughout.

Graham Sutherland OM (1903-1980) ‘The Captive, Animal Form’ – Sold for £8,500 (plus buyers’ premium)
The picture section, too, showed strong results across both traditional and modern lots and achieved a 90% sold rate. Several good, private collections attracted new buyers, and demonstrated that provenance is key. Amongst the traditional paintings on offer was a watercolour by Arthur Melville, a captivating artist whose work rarely comes up for sale at auction. This example displayed his skill, with an atmospheric rendition of a Middle Eastern scene, which garnered much interest before selling for £35,000. A good private collection of pictures by the Weatherill family and other Yorkshire artists depicting scenes around Whitby and the Yorkshire Coast caught the attention of both trade buyers, and private buyers from Yorkshire. The top lot was a collection of works by George Haydock Dodgson (1811-1880), depicting Whitby and its environs, which sold for £6,500 against an estimate of £600-900. A watercolour of ‘Whitby Harbour Entrance with Shipping’ by Sara Ellen Weatherill (1836-1920) made £2,500 against an estimate of £1,200-1,800, and a picture of Whitby Furniture maker George Varley in his workshop made £4,200 against an estimate of £400-600. 
The second tranche of works by Grosvenor School artists from the estate of Edith Lawrence sold strongly – with the top lot going to ‘Corner of the Garden’ by Australian artist Dorrit Black (1891-1951) that sold for £8,500 against an estimate of £3,000-5,000. Modern British art also performed well, with works by Graham Sutherland, John Northcote Nash, and Michael Ayrton selling above estimate. Irish artists Markey Robinson, William Crozier, Tony O’Malley and Sean McSweeney attracted interest, and ‘Singapore Girl on a Swing’ by Sydney Harpley RA (1927-1992) made a new world record price for the artist having reached a hammer price of £26,000.
The Decorative Art and Modern Design section saw consistently strong results for the furniture and furnishings of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson – always a favourite in a Yorkshire saleroom. However, it was collection of Art Deco bronze and ivory figures, largely from one vendor, that caused a stir in the saleroom. The top lot was a graceful figure of a female tennis player by Johann Philipp Ferdinand Preiss (German, 1882-1943) that sold for £14,000 against an estimate of £10,000-15,000. Further figures by Demetre H Chiparus, Josef Lorenzl and Marcel-Andre Bouraine again exceeded their estimates.
The sale resulted in a total Hammer Price of £1,460,950, with 85.5% of the 1049 lots sold.
On 3rd & 4th April, Tennants are holding a Fine Art and Antiques Valuation event in The Auction Centre, Leyburn. We are currently accepting lots for the Summer Fine Art Sale on 14th & 15th July, please contact us on 01969 623780 or for details.