A selection of English and Asian antiques and fine paintings ranging from the 18th through to the 20th century from Abbotswood, Gloucestershire, will be offered at auction at Donnington Priory on 24th May. The auction comprises over 260 lots, featuring fine furniture, ceramics and glass, works of art and sculpture, carpets, clocks, chandeliers, Chinese works of art and books. A strong group of paintings accompanies the selected contents with works by internationally recognised artists such as Sir Alfred James Munnings, Christopher Wood and Celso Lagar.
Abbotswood is an impressive house occupying an idyllic position overlooking the Swell valley. It sits amongst formal gardens laid out when Sir Edwyn Lutyens altered the house around 1900 and looks out over parkland down to the Swell running through its beautiful valley. The consignor of the collection purchased Abbotswood from the Ferguson family in 1970 and it is to his credit that the house and gardens have been maintained in immaculate condition. This sale is testament to the collector’s love of English antiques and fine art and Abbotswood provided the perfect environment for these notable works.
Highlights of the sale include an oil-on-canvas, A Gypsy Queen, by Sir Alfred James Munnings, lot 125. The artist commented that, “Of all my painting experiences, none were so alluring and colourful as those visits spent amongst the gypsy hop-pickers in Hampshire each September. More glamour and excitement were packed in those six weeks than a painter could well contend with. I still have visions of brown faces, black hair, earrings, black hats and black skirts”. (Quoted in An Artist's Life, Sir Alfred Munnings, p.287). The present lot depicts a glamorous female with jet black hair and stunning pendant earrings and is estimated at £8,000-12,000.
Significant European sculpture by the French artist Charles Henri Joseph Cordier (1827-1905) features in the auction. Cordier is renowned for producing lifelike busts of ethnographic subjects, and from 1851 to 1866 he was the official sculptor at Paris’s National History Museum, where he produced a series of sculptures for the Museum’s new ethnographic gallery. Lot 219, Venus Africaine and Saïd Abdullah of the Mayac, Kingdom of Darfur (Sudan), in patinated bronze, is a stunning example of his work. Cordier worked in conscious opposition to the mostly Eurocentric viewpoint of the day and in 1862 stated that: "Beauty does not belong to a single, privileged race... Every race has its own beauty, which differs from that of others. The most beautiful black person is not the one who looks most like us".
The auction also features a superb group of Chinese ceramics, antiques and works of art, notably a very fine huang huali wood side table, early 18th century, lot 255, (Est. £8,000-12,000) along with lot 256, a ‘Longquan’ foliate-rimmed celadon bowl with a carved wood stand from the Yuan/Ming Dynasty and styled with flowers and wave patterns. This striking piece carries an estimate of £6,000-8,000.
Abbotswood has been lovingly and tenderly maintained by its owner for over 40 years and has provided a beautiful setting for this impressive group of works. The sale is an exciting opportunity for clients to acquire a piece of the estate’s legacy.
Auction date: 24th May 2017, 11am
Auction location: Donnington Priory, Oxford Road, Donnington, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Viewing: Sunday 21st May: 10am – 2pm Monday 22nd May: 9am – 5.30pm Tuesday 23rd May: 9am – 4.30pm Wednesday 24th May: from 8.30am
Visit Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ website at www.dreweatts.com