At Roseberys this year, our nine specialist department’s auctions have yielded many outstanding results. In total, we had 46 sales in 2021. Here, we showcase the top value lot from each department.
Old Master & 19th Century Pictures
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Italian 1696-1770- Three Punchinelli gathered around a gnocchi pot; black chalk, pen and brown ink and wash on paper, bears ownership inscription ‘Tiepolo / Collection Jolimont.' (lower edge), 20.5 x 23 cm.
Lot 83, black chalk, pen, and brown ink and wash on paper, depicting Three Punchinelli gathered around a gnocchi pot by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1696-1770, was the highlight sale of the Old Master & 19th Century Pictures department this year. One of around just thirty-six Punchinello drawings by Tiepolo Senior (Giovanni Battista), and dating to the late 1730s, these Punchinello works are incredibly rare appearances on the art market. The celebrated, buffoon character of the Punchinello originated in popular theatrical productions or ‘Commedia dell’Arte’ in the 1600s. A century later, Tiepolo’s representations of this clownish figure – hunchbacked and clad in a white suit with a tall sugarloaf hat and beaked nose – cooking or eating gnocchi, are thought to point to the festival of Verona on the last Friday of Carnival, the so-called ‘venerdì gnoccolare’, during which vast quantities of gnocchi and red wine were consumed before the beginning of Lent the following week. The drawing hasn’t been seen on the open market since it last came up for sale at Sotheby’s, London, in 1974. Entered onto the market with a pre-sale guide price of £20,000- £30,000, this lot realised the price of £100,000 at auction, going to a UK-based telephone bidder. Lara L’vov-Basirov commented: ‘The high price achieved reflects the rarity of works of this subject by the Venetian master entering onto the market, and demonstrates clearly that strong demand is there for such outstanding works on paper.’
Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples
The highest value lot in the Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples sales in 2021 was lot 187 by Andy Warhol - Shoes (Black and White) [Feldman and Schellmann II. 255], 1980; screenprint with diamond dust on Arches wove. This work was offered to the market from the edition of 60 and signed and numbered in pencil verso. A leader of the Pop Art movement, Warhol is today remembered most prominently for his pioneering silkscreen prints, which came to define the accessible art movement in the Sixties. Long before the Campbell’s soup cans, the Marilyns, and the Maos, there were shoes. Women’s shoes are a strong theme throughout Warhol’s oeuvre, originating from his time as an illustrator for the likes of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and as a shoe designer for I. Miller and Sons. Warhol's ‘Diamond Dust Shoes’ series, in particular, are very popular, which was reflected in the realised price of this print, which made the total figure of £81,250 going to a UK based, RoseberysLive bidder.
Fine & Decorative
Leading the Fine & Decorative highlights from the Geoffrey and Fay Elliott collection was lot 13, a bronze titled ‘Walking Man’ by English sculptor and printmaker Dame Elisabeth Frink CH DBE RA, created in 1989. Frink’s Times obituary noted the three essential themes in her work as "the nature of Man; the 'horseness' of horses; and the divine in human form" – making this work a key work within the artist’s opus. The bronze that came with provenance from Lumley Cazelet Ltd, London; private collection, purchased from the above in October 1998; thence by descent, had an estimate of £20,000 - £30,000 and realised the top estimated price making £30,000.
Jewellery & Watches
The premium lot of the Jewellery & Watches auctions this year was a 7.50-carat pear-shaped diamond described by the lab report as D colour, VVS2 clarity, and type IIa. This lot sailed past the £80,000 low estimate to achieve a final bid of £175,000. Type IIa diamonds are very rare and make up approximately 1–2% of the world’s natural diamonds and 1.8% of gem diamonds. These diamonds are almost or entirely devoid of impurities, and consequently are usually colourless and have the highest thermal conductivity. D is the highest colour grade for diamonds. The rarity of this stunning diamond was the main contributing factor in achieving such a competitive result. Mark Bowis commented: ‘This diamond was utterly hypnotising when seen!’.
Chinese, Japanese & South East Asian Art
Highlighting the first Chinese, Japanese & South East Asian Art auction this year was lot 33, rare Chinese gold and silver inlaid bronze tapir-form ritual vessel, xizun, Yuan/Ming dynasty. This impressive and rare vessel, based on archaic prototypes from the middle of the Warring States period (475-221 BC), was crafted amidst a period of great interest in earlier archaic bronzes. With similar examples found in the Nanjing Museum and the National Palace Museum, Taipei, this particular example bears intricate gold and silver-inlaid details. Significant interest came from all over the world, with hotly-contested bidding across two auction platforms and several phone lines, with the lot eventually going to a determined buyer based in China. Estimated to make £50,000-£80,000, the tapir-form ritual vessel made £137,000. The final hammer price for this bronze firmly cements London as a hub for selling fine Chinese works of art.
Islamic & Indian Art
Highlighting the Islamic & Indian Art department, alongside several other pieces of Indian jewellery was lot 121, a stunning diamond and ruby set- gold sarpech. This lot was accompanied by strong provenance, having formerly owned by the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh. The sarpech was passed onto Bhupinder Singh’s son Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, who then sold the sarpech to the Gazdar’s Jewellers, the luxury Jewellery firm based within the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, where it was acquired by the current vendor. Set with 133 diamonds, 15 Burmese Rubies, and a large natural pearl, the sarpech attracted plenty of interest, with telephone and internet bidding battling it out, settling for the price of £81,250 won by a buyer in America.
Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art
Leading the highlights within the first Impressionist and Modern sale of the year was a work by Sonia Delaunay, a multi-disciplinary abstract artist and a key figure in the Parisian avant-garde. Titled ‘Le Guépard’, created in 1972, this work is no.1918 in the artist's archive and is a preparatory design for the lithograph 'Le Guépard'. This piece, through its depiction of an assemblage of bold geometric shapes in bright, contrasting colours, exemplifies Delaunay’s signature style. Delaunay also produced art across a range of media, focusing particularly on paint and print, and featured this piece, as a gouache design for a lithograph, which neatly encapsulates this aspect of the artist’s work. The influence of several key artistic movements, to which Delaunay was exposed, whilst living in Paris at the beginning of the twentieth century, can all be found featured in this work sold at Roseberys. It came as no surprise that this lot sold well, after a remarkable amount of pre-sale interest. Competing against multiple eager phone and internet bidders on the day of sale, the artwork made the price of £55,000. The gouache artwork was sold to a phone bidder located in Paris, the artwork’s original home, close to 50 years after its creation during the Parisian avant-garde period.
Design: Decorative Arts 1860 to the Present-Day
Leading the highlights within the Fornasetti items on offer in the Design: Decorative Arts 1860 to the Present-Day auction was lot 245, a whimsical ‘Architettura’ trumeau cabinet, which was numbered and dated ‘6-8-89’, with a label ‘Fornasetti, Milano’. The cabinet was made with lacquered wood, lithographically printed with classical architectural designs, two doors open up to six glazed shelves, above fall enclosing illuminated storage space and a writing surface, over three graduated drawers. Estimated to make £7,000 - £10,000, the cabinet realised a price over double its top estimate of £20,000, making it the highest value lot from the department this year.
Modern & Contemporary British Art
Lot 16 in the Modern & Contemporary British Art auction with an estimate of £30,000 - £50,000 went for the highest value of the year, with numerous online and phone bidders competing for the maquette, it was finally secured to the lucky bidder over the phone for 68,750. It is a piece by Ivor Roberts-Jones RA, British 1916-1966 - Sir Winston Churchill, maquette for the monument in Parliament Square, c.1971-3; bronze with stone base, cast in the Meridian Bronze Foundry in an edition of 500, numbered '234' on bronze base, inscribed 'Churchill' on a stone base. Robert-Jones is most famous for his sculpture of Winston Churchill, commissioned in 1971, which now stands in Parliament Square. This smaller maquette of the sculpture was created due to the enduring popularity of the work, which is one of the most recognisable public works of art in the UK. One of the maquettes for an earlier version of the work, which depicts Churchill in his garter robes, was donated to the National Churchill Library and Centre in Washington D.C. by the Centre’s chairman Laurence Geller. Roberts-Jones was one of the founding members of the Society of Portrait Sculptors, and from 1964-1978 he was the head of the sculpture department at Goldsmiths.
We are now welcoming consignments for all the auctions in 2022. You can find the calendar here: www.roseberys.co.uk/calendarpage