Wednesday 19 July 2023

Lot 233

Philip Alexius de László, PRBA,  Hungarian / British 1869-1937-  Portrait of Sir Henry...

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Lot 233

Philip Alexius de László, PRBA,  
Hungarian / British 1869-1937- 
Portrait of Sir Henry...

Price Realised: £36,400

Estimate: £5,000 - £7,000

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (30% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 233


Philip Alexius de László, PRBA,  
Hungarian / British 1869-1937- 

Portrait of Sir Henry Birchenough, 1st Baronet, half-length, wearing white tie evening dress and decorations of Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George; 

oil on canvas, signed and dated 'de László / 1926 [date partly obscured by frame]' (lower right), 82 x 58.5 cm. 

By descent in the family. 
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 22 July 1987, lot 86. 
Private Collection, UK. 

NPG Album 1925-27, p.13. 
Sitters’ Book II, opp. f. 50: Henry Birchenough October 19 1926. 
De László, Philip, January-June 1935 diary, entry 27 May, p.133. 
‘The British South Africa Company Historical Catalogue & Souvenir of Rhodesia Empire Exhibition’, Johannesburg, 1936-1937, illustrated p.3. 
The Times, Thursday 13 May, 1937. 
The de László Archive Trust, ‘The Catalogue Raisonné of Works by Philip de László (1869-1937) [online]’, no.3376. 

The following entry is taken from The de László Archive Trust, ‘The Catalogue Raisonné of Works by Philip de László (1869-1937) [online]’, no.3376: 

‘De László recorded that two copies of this portrait were made by Sydney Percy Kendrick, one of the artist’s most favoured copyists, in 1935. In fact there exists one exact copy in the Bulawayo Club, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and Kendrick painted another portrait of the sitter, also half length, but wearing his robes and decorations as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, which remains in a private collection. 

Sir Henry Birchenough was the second son of John Birchenough JP of Macclesfield, a silk manufacturer. Born in 1853, he was educated at Oxford University, University College London and in Paris. He was married to Mabel, third daughter of the Very Rev. G.G. Bradley, Dean of Westminster. There were two daughters of the marriage. The sitter was created a Baronet in 1920. 

Sir Henry came to public notice after the Second Boer War, when at the suggestion of Lord Milner he was dispatched to South Africa as Government Special Trade Commissioner, for which he received a CMG in 1905. His role in South Africa resulted in his report on “The present position and future prospects of British trade in South Africa” and initiating a system for monitoring foreign competition and commercial information that could be shared for the benefit of British traders. In 1905, he became a director of the British South Africa Company and from 1925 held the post of President of the company until his death in 1937. In this respect, he was particularly close to Baron Emile d’Erlanger, who financed nearly all of the railways of the British South Africa Company from 1892 onwards, and who also sat to de László. Sir Henry also took a leading role in 1905 in the negotiations between representatives of the Rhodesian settlers and the colonial office which resulted in the country eventually becoming a self-governing colony. 

The sitter was a member of the board of Directors of the Rhodesian Railway company from 1906 and became Chairman of the Rhodesia and Mashonaland Railway Companies in 1925; a position which he too held until his death. In 1906, he also served as a Member of the Advisory Committee to the Board of Trade and a Member of the Royal Commission on Shipping Rings. An advocate of preferential tariffs, he was also a member of Joseph Chamberlain’s Tariff Commission. He furthermore held a directorship of the Imperial and Continental Gas Association, and was Chairman of the Beit Railway Trust from 1931-1937. 

During and after the First World War, Sir Henry played a role in the reconstruction process, chairing the board of Trade Textiles Committee in 1916 and served as a Member of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy. Still in 1916, he was created KCMG. In 1917 he was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Paper and Chairman of the Committee on Cotton Growing in the Empire. In 1918 he became Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Reconstruction and Government Director of the British Dyestuffs Corporation. His interest in fiscal reform and knowledge of Britain’s economic competitors within her colonies stood him in good stead in these positions, and subsequently after the war he went on to take a seat on the Southborough committee that had been appointed to explore ways of accelerating economic development in British East Africa. He published many articles on political and economic subjects in the nineteenth century and was a Fellow of the Royal Empire Society. He was promoted to GCMG in 1935. 

Following his death on 12 May 1937, his ashes, together with those of his wife, were interred in a pillar of the Birchenough Bridge, which still bears his name and spans the Sabi River in modern-day Zimbabwe.’

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over €1,000 as follows:
0 to €50,000 - 4%, €50,000.01 to €200,000 - 3%
€200,000.01 to €350,000 - 1%,
€350,000.01 to €500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding €500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at €12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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