We present a selection of highlights from the auction of Fine Interiors which took place on 19th November at Moor Park Mansion, Hertfordshire.
This carved mahogany settee bears the distinctive design traits associated with the era designated as Empire in early 19th century France. Following on the heels of a more austere decorative style, Empire represented a return to grandiose richness. Napoleon’s 1798 victory in Egypt triggered interest in motifs from the region, notably, sphinxes, lotus blossom, winged lions and caryatids, and these were used in combination with other patterns from Ancient Greece and Rome. Heavy woods, such as mahogany, along with ebony, were frequently employed in furniture, with Empire style seating characterised by broad and simple lines, as seen here. The thrysus was also popular and our settee bears this decoration in the form of gilt metal mounts on the top rail and seat rail.
The George II bureau cabinet bears an acanthus carved crest with unicorns and spear heads for the Wright family. It is thought that this piece might have previously been owned by Thomas Wright (1724-1790) of Mapperley Hall, Nottingham. Wright headed a family of bankers whose business entailed the importation of iron and timber. The distinctive handles of the bureau are identical to those used on a writing table by Gillows for Colonel Howard of Levens Hall, near Kendal, in 1808; however, Gillows had already used this design as early as the 1760s. Furthermore, in September 1766, Richard Gillow wrote to Sir Fleetwood Hesketh, of Rossall, Lancashire, about Hesketh’s commission of a small library bookcase, ‘In the opens or aprons of the pediment you may have a Busto, carved shield or your arms carved which (ever) you choose’. Gillows would carve the shields in Lancashire, whereas the busts were procured or made in London.
One of a pair of good matched George III Irish silver sauceboats, Dublin, circa 1770, was made by George Hall, with the other probably by William Homer, (WH appears in a double-lobed punch). Both sauceboats sit on rococo feet, and although the rococo style was introduced to Britain between 1740-50, it was seen in Ireland a few years later. Each sauceboat features the engraving of a dragon’s head crest coronet.
Auctions of Fine Interiors always feature a interesting selection of rugs, carpets and kelim. This Heriz carpet, 19th century, realised a strong price against its pre-sale estimate. Located in East Azerbaijan, North West Iran, the village of Heriz on the slopes of Mount Sabalan gives its name to the carpets produced here. The wool from sheep in the area is known to be more resilient than that produced by other nearby flocks. Consequently, Heriz carpets are renowned for their durability and hard-wearing qualities, and they can last for generations.
The bergère – an enclosed armchair, with upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames – takes its name from the French for shepherdess and the name was first used in the mid-18th century. As here, mahogany is typically used, as well as fruitwood and walnut, for the bergère. The exposed frame is usually carved, and our example features lotus leaves and bellflower designs in the arm supports. The deeper and wider seat is designed for comfortable lounging, and its castors give it mobility around a room to suit the occasion, versus, a more formal armchair which might be ranged permanently along a wall working only as part of the overall decor.
Cool and clear emerald green bakelite, as used in the handles and finials, provides an interesting and unusual design feature in this Art Deco teaset. Dating from 1930, its pieces are heavily stylised to resemble birds. The bird teasets of the Indian silversmith Oomersi Mawji of Bhuj would have provided the inspiration here. Oomersi was active at the end of the 19th century and produced extremely fine, detailed teasets, featuring families of quails or chickens fashioned imaginatively into teapots, water jugs and sugar bowls. Our pared down teaset is an innovative nod to the much loved work of Oomersi and his workshops.
Please note that all sold for prices inc. buyer’s premium at 25%
Showing on the previous page: a pair of George III silver wine coasters by Hester Bateman, London, 1785; sold for £2,000
Next auction: Fine Interiors | April 2020
To discuss consigning to future auctions, contact: Guy Savill and Sally Stratton MRICS | +44 (0)20 7281 2790 | email@example.com