News & Insights


28th February 2019.

Rare works of art are coming under the hammer in Tennants Auctioneers’ Spring Fine Art Sale on 23rd March. An Imperial Chinese Porcelain Dish, a rare 17th Century Quillwork Shadowbox and an impressive 17th Century Ivory Chalice are amongst nearly 700 lots of fine art and antiques alongside consignments from Private Estates.

One of the top lots of the sale is a Chinese porcelain green and aubergine Dragon Dish, marked and dating from the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) and estimated at £10,000-15,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The dish is painted with a dragon chasing the flaming pearl, and a similar example is held in the Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm. During the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, the regulations of the Palace of the Qing Dynasty specified which designs were allowed for use by Imperial household members, and dishes with green ground and aubergine dragons, as in the present lot, were assigned for use by the Fifth Rank Concubine.

A beautiful and intricate Quillwork Diorama dating from circa 1670 is also on offer with an estimate of £3,000-5,000 (plus buyer’s premium). Intricately worked in scrolls of coloured and gilded paper, the little scene depicts a castle flanked by two miniature portraits (possibly James II and Mary of Modena). Quillwork, quilling or paper filigree was first seen in religious images made in French and Italian convents in the 16th Century. The practice spread across Europe throughout the 17th Century, becoming a favourite pastime for aristocratic ladies until the Regency period.

An impressive white marble bust of Napoleon as Mars Pacificus, by the School of Antonio Canova (1757-1822) is to be sold with an estimate of £5,000-7,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The bust is derived from the colossal marble statue of Napoleon as Mars Pacificus, currently in Apsley House, London, which was rejected by Napoleon because of the statue’s nudity. Canova then produced a bust derived from the full-length original which is now in Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.  Subsequently, Canova's Roman studio produced marble versions of the bust and Napoleon's sister Elisa Boneparte Baciocchi, the Duchess of Lucca, established a workshop at the quarries in Carrara that specialised in the reproduction of Imperial marble portraits by sculptors such as Lorenzo Bartolini, Antoine Denis Chaudet and Baron François Bosto.  It is recorded that between 1808 and 1842 Carrara workshop marbles of Canova's bust of Napoleon in colossal and life-size scale were received for sale in Paris and it is possible that the present lot is one of these examples.

An Ivory Pedestal Cup and Cover made in South Germany during the second half of the 17th century is entered with an estimate of £5,000-10,000 (plus buyer’s premium). A gift to the vendor’s father from his uncle, the ivory cup was turned on a lathe to create the lobed, sculptural form. The lathe had been used since ancient times for producing simple turned, decorative items and sections for furniture and other items.  However, innovations to lathe technology in the 16th century allow much more sculptural forms to be produced, often impossible to replicate by hand.  Examples produced in ivory were particularly prized and courts throughout Central Europe installed lathes and employed master turners to instruct princes and aristocrats in their use. The present example, with its distinctive hemispheres on the cover and foot, would seem to be unusual.  A similar example with its original puzzle ball finial is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Also up for sale are a good selection of fine art, including a watercolour by one of the most sought-after of the Victorian Fairy Painters. 'The Fairies Under The Chained Dog' by John Anster Fitzgerald (1832-1906) is being sold with an estimate of £3,000-5,000 (plus buyer's premium). Influenced by the style of the Pre-Raphaelites, 'Fairy Fitzgerald' specialised in imaginative, and often nightmarish visions of ghouls, fairies, and animals. Their often-hallucinatory quality is said to be a reference to the vivid dreams experienced by those who frequented opium dens. Further paintings of note include a Portrait of a Noble Family in a Landscape by the Circle of Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670) (estimate: £15,000-25,000 plus buyer’s premium), a Circle of Nicholas Baudesson still life with a basket of flowers and fruit on a stone ledge (estimate: £6,000-8,000 plus buyer’s premium), a Venetian Canal Scene by Antoine Bouvard Senior (estimate: £5,000-7,000 plus buyer’s premium), and a depiction of The Holy Family with a Little Bird after Bartolome Esteban Murillo (estimate: £3,000-5,000 plus buyer’s premium).

The sale will also include fine art and antiques from private estates, including The Contents of Bilton Hall, Bilton-in-Ainsty, as instructed by Mr and Mrs Owen James and The Estate of the late Drs. Kamal and Margaret el Shamy. Highlights of which include 19th and 20th century paintings by the likes of Sir Frank Brangwyn, Eliot Hodgkin and Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, and good period furniture including pieces by Gillows of Lancaster, such as a library table estimated at £1,000-1,500 (plus buyer’s premium). Also from the estate is a significant collection of jewellery by the likes of Andrew Grima, Van Cleef & Arples, Boucheron, Tiffany and Cartier.

View Sale Details:

Part 1 (To include Silver and Objects of Vertu, Watches, Jewellery and Pictures)

Part 2 (To include Glass and Ceramics, Works of Art, Clocks, Barometers, Carpets and Furniture)

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