The salesroom highlights of 2016: part 2
Auction houses offered it all in 2016, for every taste and budget. Here's part two of our pick of the highlights and best buys from the past year...
Chinese buyers prefer things made for the Chinese home market, so this enamel decorated porcelain dinner service in an auspicious phoenix and peony pattern was a key lot. ‘It was made for the Straits-born Chinese community but is clearly influenced by the traditional Chinese famille rose palette,’ says Samantha Phillips of Christie’shttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloisonné. It sold in July at the auction house for $10,625 (est $2,500–$3,500).
Chinese cloisonné fetched good prices at auction because there wasn’t that much of it about. The painstaking art involves firing enamel colours within a network of copper or bronze wires, known as cloisons, fused onto a metal body. The art was introduced to China around 600 years ago and wares were generally made for temples or palaces. These two hounds, with blue and turquoise markings highlighted in gilt, symbolising loyalty, sold for £3,200 at Tennants last spring (est £1,000–£1,500).
‘We’re noticing increasing interest in Chinese, Indian and Burmese silver, including quite late c1900 pieces often made in quantity for the European market,’ says Lawrences’ Alexis Butcher. This striking silver rose bowl on a hardwood stand sold at Lawrences at the beginning of last year for £410 (est £250–£300). Made in the renowned workshop of Wang Hing in Canton, it is decorated with birds and bamboo.
JEWELLERY & WATCHES
Art deco rings
Rings were one of the most popular items of jewellery at auction, especially in art deco style. ‘When you look at deco pieces, they tend to have abstract patterns in simple, geometric shapes and the designs don’t date. In rings of the period, rectangular or square faceted stones are typical,’ says Maryanne Lineker-Mobberley at Halls. In March, this emerald and diamond oblong cluster ring sold at the auction house for £3,000 (est £1,200–£2,200).
JEWELLERY & WATCHES
Jewellery from the 1960s and 1970s has been garnering new fans, and top names like Cartier and Boucheron provoked strong bidding. ‘Modern jewellery as a whole is really picking up,’ says Guy Schooling at Sworders. Pieces by high society designer Andrew Grima are very collectable, and the 18-carat gold ‘Pinkerton’ bracelet watch from Grima’s ‘About Time’ collection by Omega, c1960, sold for £19,500 (est £8,000–£10,000) at Sworders.
JEWELLERY & WATCHES
Fuelled by Chinese demand, the prices for butterscotch amber were high and, while you could still buy strings of amber in the low hundreds, this single strand of opaque graduated beads sold for £2,500 (est £400–£600) at Lawrences last April. Says specialist Miranda Bingham, ‘In the Buddhist tradition, amber is considered to bring good luck. In Chinese medicine it is valued for its calming properties.'
A group of eight, 1950s giltwood sunburst mirrors sold at Christie’s South Kensington last spring for an impressive £7,500 (est £2,000–£3,000). Says specialist Shari Kashani: ‘With their bold design, sunburst mirrors make a dramatic statement whether displayed singly or in groups. The gilding and mirrored glass inject a sense of luxury into a room and add a pop of colour.’
Affordable but anonymous pieces of retro Scandi furniture often came up for sale, so attribution to a particular designer added value. The iconic ‘Boomerang’ chair was designed in 1956 by Danish duo Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen for France & Son. With its teak frame and minimal tubular steel bronzed legs it shouts Fifties style and sold for £850 (est £200–£400) at Cheffins last September.
Lamps, lampshades and chandeliers from the mid-century period bring finesse to a room scheme, and add an extra dash of style, drawing the eye upwards. This glamorous Italian pink glass chandelier in a spiral waterfall, made in the manner of Venini glass, is a case in point. The buyer splashed out £1,500 (est £1,500–£2,000) on this fine example at Bonhams in February last year.
As we wave goodbye to 2016, one thing we can say with certainty is that the auction world is as lively as ever. Where else can you trawl through items that once belonged to David Bowie (Sotheby’s), the Reagans (Christie’s) or Maureen O’Hara (Bonhams)? You can even place a bid on them.
In the January issue of Homes & Antiques we published our list of the salesroom highlights of 2016. In part two, uncover the daintiest Asian antiques, glittering gems and swoon-worthy mid-century finds.