The Under the Hammer column with Tennants Auctioneers

Rare works of art are coming under the hammer in Tennants Auctioneers’ Spring Fine Art Sale on Saturday (23 March).

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 9:00 am
A Quillwork Diorama, circa 1670, 27.5cm by 37.5cm  £3,000-5,000.
A Quillwork Diorama, circa 1670, 27.5cm by 37.5cm  £3,000-5,000.

One of the top lots is a Chinese porcelain green and aubergine Dragon Dish, marked and dating from the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) and estimated at £10,000-15,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

It is painted with a dragon chasing the flaming pearl, with a similar example held in the Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm.

During the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, the regulations of the Palace of the Qing Dynasty specified which designs were allowed for use by Imperial household members, dishes of this type were assigned for use by the Fifth Rank Concubine.

A Chinese Porcelain Green Ground Aubergine Dragon Dish, Kangxi reign mark and of the period, 32cm diameter  £10,000-15,000

A beautiful and intricate Quillwork Diorama dating from circa 1670 is also on offer with an estimate of £3,000-5,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

Intricately worked in scrolls of coloured and gilded paper, the little scene depicts a castle flanked by two miniature portraits (possibly James II and Mary of Modena). Quillwork, quilling or paper filigree was first seen in religious images made in French and Italian convents in the 16th Century.

The practice spread across Europe throughout the 17th Century, becoming a favourite pastime for aristocratic ladies until the Regency period.

An impressive white marble bust of Napoleon as Mars Pacificus, by the School of Antonio Canova (1757-1822) is on offer at £5,000-7,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The bust is derived from the colossal example currently in Apsley House, London, which was rejected by Napoleon because of the statue’s nudity.

A turned ivory pedestal cup and cover, South Germany, second half 17th century, 39cm high  £5,000-10,000.

Canova then produced a bust derived from the full-length original which is now in Chatsworth House.

Subsequently, Canova’s Roman studio produced marble versions of the bust and Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, the Duchess of Lucca, established a workshop at the quarries in Carrara that specialised in the reproduction of Imperial marble portraits by sculptors such as Lorenzo Bartolini, Antoine Denis Chaudet and Baron François Bosto.

It is recorded that between 1808 and 1842 Carrara workshop marbles of Canova’s bust of Napoleon were received for sale in Paris and it is possible that the present lot is one of these examples.

Sourced through the Harrogate branch, an Ivory Pedestal Cup and Cover made in South Germany during the second half of the 17th Century is entered with an estimate of £5,000-10,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

A gift to the vendor’s father from his uncle, the ivory cup was turned on a lathe to create the lobed, sculptural form.

The lathe had been used since ancient times for producing simple turned, decorative items and sections for furniture and other items. However, innovations to lathe technology in the 16th Century allow much more sculptural forms to be produced, often impossible to replicate by hand.

Examples produced in ivory were particularly prized and courts throughout Central Europe installed lathes and employed master turners to instruct princes and aristocrats in their use.

A lathe made for Emperor Maximillian I between 1500 and 1518 is the earliest recorded example of princely turning, whilst Augustus the Strong employed Georg Wecker in Dresden, and Rudolf the First was instructed by members of the Zink Family.

The present example, with its distinctive hemispheres on the cover and foot, would seem to be unusual. A similar example with its original puzzle ball finial is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The sale will also include fine art and antiques from private estates, including The Contents of Bilton Hall, Bilton-in-Ainsty, as instructed by Mr and Mrs Owen James and The Estate of the late Drs. Kamal and Margaret el Shamy. Highlights of which include 19th and 20th Century paintings by the likes of Sir Frank Brangwyn, Eliot Hodgkin and Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, and good period furniture including a Gillows of Lancaster library table estimated at £1,000-1,500 (plus buyer’s premium).

Also from the estate is a significant collection of jewellery by the likes of Andrew Grima, Van Cleef & Arples, Boucheron, Tiffany and Cartier.

For further details please call 01423 531661 or see website