Issue 6, July - December 2012

Auctioneering is, of course, a business. But sometimes, in among the commercial considerations, it is right simply to stand back and admire the artistry, imagination and craftsmanship which go into creating a great work. This edition of Bonhams Art Review focuses on a few key items sold over the past six months and examines what makes them exceptional.

Our cover lot, for example, is a compelling image of Saint Peter attributed to El Greco. It shows not only a masterly command of the paint but also, in its naturalistic and three dimensional rendering of the figure, the painter capturing the saint's essential humanity. It is equally easy to admire the exquisite beauty of the 18th century Meissen Half-Figure Service, part of the celebrated Marouf Collection, which sold for over £500,000 at the end of the year. The breathtaking levels of skill and delicacy on show in these pieces makes them very rare, but they also command great respect for the virtuosity of master craftsmen at the height of their powers.

Elsewhere we find Samuel John Peploe in the 1920 work, 'Still life of mixed roses in Chinese vase', at a crucial point in his artistic life reveling in the exploration of color and form which has made his work among the most sought after of all Scottish and, indeed, British painters.

All these works and the others illustrated throughout this Review have considerable financial appraise but they are objects of great esthetic appraise too. I hope you enjoy reading about them.

  1. A magnificent Chinese blue and white stick neck globular vase (tianqiuping) with Ming style vine and lotus motif decoration  Yongzheng Mark and period

    Page 4

    Asian Art

    "The extraordinary price achieved for this magnificent vase represents the strong demand for Chinese imperial porcelain of the Qing Dynasty endowed with distinguished provenance. The rare vase exemplifies the zenith of imperial porcelain production during the reign of the Yongzheng emperor (1723-1735) and had been consigned from an impeccable source. Only two other examples of this shape are known from ...

  2. The ex-Works/Lord Selsdon & Lord Waleran,1939 Lagonda V12 Le Mans Team Car

    Page 6

    Motor Cars

    "Among the raft of outstanding cars sold in the second part of 2012 none gave me more pleasure than the sale of the Maserati Tipo 26 Road Racing Four-Seater made in 1930 – 1931. The star of the famous Hartley collection of Maseratis put together by Anthony Hartley over the past 57 years, it was one of the top cars at ...

  3. A ruby and diamond bracelet,  by Van Cleef & Arpels,

    Page 8

    Fine Jewelry

    "This elegant Asscher-cut diamond single-stone ring of 19.56 carats (I color, VVS2 clarity) sold for £858,850 against a pre-sale estimate of £315,000-440,000. The Asscher-cut, invented in 1902, combines simplicity in shape and line without compromising the brilliance of the stone and this example was quite simply a very beautiful stone which epitomized the glamor of the ...

  4. Theofilos Hadjimichail  (Greek, 1867-1934) Erotokritos and Aretoussa 65 x 58 cm.

    Page 10

    Paintings

    "Still Life of Mixed Roses in Chinese Vase" by Samuel John Peploe was a very special work. Painted around 1920, a pivotal moment in Peploe's artistic career, it marks the high point in his exploration of still life painting which began before World War I with small scale works featuring everyday objects against a dark background. As Peploe became ...

  5. Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell The White Room

    Page 14

    Paintings

    "Soulages' "Peinture 116 x 89 cm, 22 mai 1958" dates from a period when the artist had truly come into his own. Here Soulages - (or the painter of black as he is often referred to) - first applied a thick tobaccobrown wash over the expanse of the canvas before applying the striking swatches of black in multiples layers. This layering of ...

  6. A Roman banded alabaster trapezophoros terminal  Circa 3rd Century A.D.

    Page 16

    Scottish Country Houses

    "Country House sales are in the finest tradition of British auctioneering and are among the most fascinating and enjoyable events we do. They have great historical appeal and because of that I think they are very popular with the public. There is something different and a little bit magical about owning an object with a distinguished past and we always ...

  7. The "Half-Figure Service": a highly important group of Meissen tea wares, circa 1723-24

    Page 18

    Highlights

    "The Said and Roswitha Marouf collection of Meissen is legendary among collectors and academics. The sale of Part I of the collection in December gave us what must be one of the world's most valuable tea sets, when the eight piece Meissen Half-Figure Service sold for over £500,000. Meissen porcelain with 'Half-Figure Service' decoration is one of the ...

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