Two huge 2ft 9 inch tall Bohemian glass goblets made in Carlsbad in the mid 19th century were the star performers at Bonhams Masterpieces of Bohemian Glass sale in New Bond Street, London on 11 December. The pair sold for £47,500 in a sale which made over £450,000.
The clear glass goblets, complete with covers, were part of a private and unique collection of high quality work by all the leading names from the golden age of engraved glass.
Many of the pieces sold for well over their estimates. A massive ruby-stained bottle vase (est £10,000-15,000) was bought for £33,750. An exceptional amber-stained goblet and crown cover (£7,000-10,000) sold for £22,500 as did a pair of part-amber-stained goblets and covers probably made by August Böhm in Meistersdorf around 1840-50. They had been estimated at £6,000-8,000.
Bohemian glass is the epitome of the Biedermeier taste which flourished in Central Europe in the first half of the 19th century and these goblets and covers were made during that period and for a time shortly afterwards. The stark, strong shapes are decorated with the finest craftsmanship using the technique known as Tiefschnitt, which involves carving away layers of glass to create entire scenes in intaglio.
Deer hunting was a favourite theme, reflecting the main sporting pursuit in the region. In the 19th century, as part of 'The Season', Europe's wealthy flocked to the spas of Bohemia – an historical kingdom which today is part of the Czech Republic – to take the waters and hunt. Many of the pieces in the sale would have been presented as trophies by aristocratic hosts to successful hunters.
Sadly, the craftsmen who made these beautiful objects did not always enjoy the recognition and respect they command today. August Böhm, for example, who excelled at carving figures on horseback, left his wife and family at home to seek his fortune abroad only to return unsuccessful and die in penury.
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