A Florentine 17th century 'pietre dure' panel depicting a coastal scene was the prize piece at Bonhams Fine European Furniture sale yesterday, 4th July, selling for £157,250, five times its pre-sale estimate. It was brought to a Bonhams valuation day in Suffolk earlier this year where it was recognised as something rather special.
This spectacular picture panel using stone marquetry was most probably from the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence. It was sold with a later English table, into which the panel was once inset. The rectangular panel measured 59cm x 34.5cm (23" x 13.5"); the table: 74.5cm wide, 49.5cm deep, 76.5cm high (29" wide, 19" deep, 30" high). It had been estimated to sell for £20,000-30,000 but determined bidding finally pushed the price to five times the top estimate.
The composition and use of stones in this panel relate it closely to a group of panels originally incorporated into a cabinet, and featuring landscapes with ruins and fishing scenes of 1709, which have been attributed to Baccio Cappelli, now in the Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence. Cappelli was a leading artist in the Grand Ducal Workshops, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence in the 18th century.
A related panel, part of the collection of Steinitz sold recently for £90,500, uses a similar type of translucent alabaster to render the clouds, a very comparable greyish/green stone for the sea, a similar striated pink/white marble to render clothing on some of the figures and the same black marble for the tree trunks.
Anthony Salani, a Bonhams Valuer in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, says: "The vendor brought it along to a valuation day that we were holding at Saffron Walden Golf Club. He said that his mother had always believed that it was valuable and it appeared on an episode of Antiques Roadshow a number of years ago where it was valued at between £10,000 to £15,000. But when it was researched by our European Furniture specialists, Francois Le Brun and Camille Mestdagh, it was found to be a 17th century example."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com