Group Of 12 Dining Chairs From Knowsley Hall, $36,025
NEW YORK – A group of 12 dining chairs from the original commission of 48 sold on October 18 at Doyle New York for $27,500 ($36,025 with buyer’s premium). The chairs were designed and built in anticipation of a visit by the newly coronated George IV in 1891 to Knowsley Hall in Lancashire, England.
Dating to the 12th century, Knowsley Hall in Merseyside, which is near Liverpool in northwest England, has a fascinating history. It has been continuously owned by the Stanley family, who include the Earls of Derby, from its founding to the present day, having been used as a hunting lodge in its earliest years. It has undergone significant renovations, but the occasion of a visit by George IV was the impetus for yet another redesign from which the set of 48 dining chairs would emerge.
The 12th Earl and his wife, actress Elizabeth Farren, commissioned architect John Foster, Jr., of nearby Liverpool to create a large new dining room from the old drawing rooms for the occasion. The dining room would remain intact until the 1960s, when various elements of Knowlsley Hall were sent to market.
Another set of 12 dining chairs from the same original complement was sold by Christie’s London in 1985.
Charles Murray Padday, ‘Nearing the Mark,’ $132,300
LONDON – The painting by Charles Murray Padday (1868-1954) titled Nearing the Mark was almost certain to sell well. The British painter’s works infrequently appear at auction, and the diagonal composition was dynamic and dramatic, placing the viewer on the helm of a yacht, looking back at the people sailing it as at least four rival vessels keep pace but remain just behind them.
But the oil on canvas stands out in one other unmissable way. The person sitting closest to the viewer, with one gloved hand on the tiller and the other on her hip, is a woman sailor.
Like her crewmate behind her, she is dressed entirely in white, but instead of a cap, she has covered her head with a broad-brimmed straw hat bound in place by a strategically wrapped length of gauzy cloth. It wasn’t there to protect her from the sun, or if it was, it did a lousy job, because her cheeks and chin look decidedly cooked. But the pose she strikes – upright and leaning as the water churns around her sailing yacht and the competitors bear down – is nothing less than regal.
In his book Yachts on Canvas, Dr. James Taylor, a former curator at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich in Greenwich, England, identifies both members of the crew Padday pictured. He speculates that the woman is Constance Edwina Grosvenor, also known as Shelagh, Duchess of Westminster (1877-1970).
It’s a decent guess, as she was one of only two women sailors among the 66 who participated in the sailing contests in the 1908 Olympics, which were hosted by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. While there’s no date on the painting, the dawn of its exhibition history places it at the Royal Academy in 1910, making Taylor’s identification that much more plausible.
By inference, Taylor suggested the man behind the Duchess, serving as navigator, might be Major Sir Philip Hunloke (1868-1947). As a member of the crew of the Sorais, he won a bronze medal for sailing in the 1908 Olympics in the 8-metre class. Later, he would serve as Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club from 1943 until his death four years later.
Nearing the Mark was offered at the October 18 Marine Sale at Bonhams London with an estimate of £30,000-£50,000. It sailed to victory, hammering for £85,000 and sold for £108,800, or $132,300 with buyer’s premium.
John Wilde, ‘To Shoot A Beetle,’ $35,100
CHICAGO – Wilde by name and wild by nature, To Shoot a Beetle, a small but captivating oil on board by John Wilde (1919-2006), is typical of the surreal world created by an artist who spent much of his career teaching drawing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Darkly humorous and meticulously painted images of a fantasy world were his stock in trade, and are increasingly admired in the marketplace.
Dating from 1964, the 7-by-8in To Shoot a Beetle formed part of the Wilde exhibition held at Bresler Galleries in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in December 1965. It appeared in Hindman’s American Art sale on October 17 with an estimate of $7,000-$9,000 but, with 96 people watching the item on LiveAuctioneers, it took $27,000 ($35,100 including buyer’s premium).
Circa-1810 Maltese Silver Lampier, $24,800
LONDON – Although the island of Malta supported a surprisingly large number of silversmiths in the 17th and 18th centuries – an estimated 600 makers from 1680 to 1820 – relatively little silver from the period survived in situ. The Silver of Malta, a 1995 book by Alaine Apap Bologna, records the treasure trove of secular and ecclesiastical gold and silver ransomed or melted down under Napoleon’s brief rule and countless other pieces that left the island before and after as maritime souvenirs. Today, when they occasionally appear for sale on foreign soil, most are destined to return to the Maltese archipelago.
Italianate lampiers are the most recognizable silver domestic forms in Maltese silver. The Silver and Objects of Vertu sale at Bonhams on October 18 included this example bearing the maker’s mark of Paolo Schembri and dated to circa 1810. Maltese silver is typically categorized according to the ruler at the time – in this case, the British army officer Sir Hildebrand Oakes (1754-1822).
The 2ft 3in (68cm) high Oakes period lampier came by descent with an aristocratic provenance from the Barony of Benwarrad. One of the many old Maltese titles recognized and accepted by the British when invited to occupy Malta in the Napoleonic era, the Benwarrad lineage held many important posts in Malta, and still retains key positions today. This doubtless added to its appeal as it sailed above its estimate of £2,000-£4,000 to hammer for £16,000 and sell for £20,480, or $24,800 with buyer’s premium.