Issue 7, January - July 2013

Introduction

In auctioneering, nothing stimulates interest more than the appearance on the market of a painting or object considered lost or missing. In these past six months Bonhams has brought several such discoveries to auction and seen them achieve some outstanding results.

Madonna Laboris by the Russian artist Nicholas Roerich, for example, had achieved almost legendary status but its whereabouts was unknown until it was spotted in a New York apartment by a Bonhams valuer. It sold in June for nearly £8,000,000 making it the most expensive Russian painting sold at auction. Similarly, a routine valuation visit turned up Stanley Spencer's 'Garden Path, Cookham Rise' - sold in May for £770,000 - which had not been seen in public since it was purchased in 1950. The owners of the Sri Lankan moonstone temple step, which made £550,000 in April, suspected that it might be important but could persuade no-one to take them seriously. Research by a Bonhams valuer showed it to be just one of seven pre-Hindu stone steps to date from 1000 AD. The identification by our specialist of only the fifth clock known to be by the 17th century clock maker Samuel Knibb was not only a thrilling moment but one of real significance in the history of horology. It was sold in July for £460,000.

Discoveries were also a feature of the highly successful sale of the contents of Trelissick House in Cornwall. Held over two days in glorious July sunshine it was 100% sold and, at £3.3 million, doubled its high estimate. Among the best of a very good crop of 800 lots was a rare flambé-glazed bottle from the reign of the Emperor Qianlong which sold for £337,000 and two Iznik vases which made a combined total of over £750,000.

To round off a remarkable six months, Bonhams made history at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed in July when the hammer was brought down on Juan-Manuel Fangio's Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racing car sold for an astonishing £19,600,000. A world record for any vehicle sold at auction, it was an exceptional price for a car which holds an iconic place in the history of the sport.

I hope you will enjoy reading more about these objects on the following pages and about some of the many other wonderful things sold at Bonhams since the beginning of the year.

  1. A rare, large Iznik pottery Water Bottle (surahi) Turkey, circa 1575

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    Two Iznik pottery water bottles Sold for £457,250 and £301,250

    To find one Iznik bottle of this type from the second half of the 16th century is very rare, but to come across two splendid examples in the same English collection is astonishing. The bottles were acquired in 1919 for £500 by Leonard Daneham Cunliffe, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, co-founder of the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers ...

  2. Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich (Russian, 1874-1947) 'Madonna Laboris'

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    Madonna Laboris by Nikolai Roerich Sold for £7,881,250, London A world record for the artist and the most expensive Russian painting sold at auction.

    We were thrilled to be given the responsibility for selling this masterpiece by one of Russia's most intriguing painters. Madonna Laboris was always known to exist but its whereabouts had remained a mystery until it was rediscovered by Bonhams experts in a private collection in the U.S.A. It is undoubtedly one of the most important works by ...

  3. A Sri Lanka Temple moonstone- This item is very heavy please handle with care

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    Sri Lankan Temple Moonstone Sold for £553,250, London

    This beautiful 1,000 year old pre-Hindu stone step is one of only six examples known to date from this period, making this discovery the seventh. Sandakada pahana, also known as Moonstone, is a feature unique to the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka and according to historians, symbolizes the cycle of Samsara in Buddhism. It is an elaborately carved ...

  4. A table clock by Samuel Knibb

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    Architectural table clock by Samuel Knibb Sold for £457,250, London

    Samuel Knibb is one of the great unsung heroes in the history of clock making and until our discovery of this table clock there were only four known examples of his work. When the owner first contacted me I was intrigued and then of course delighted when it became clear that the timepiece was a genuine previously unrecorded example from ...

  5. An important fancy deep-blue diamond 'Trombino' ring,

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    The Blue Diamond Sold for £6,201,250, London A world record at auction for a diamond of this type.

    Blue diamonds are extraordinarily rare and over the past ten years fewer than thirty of them over five carats have appeared at auction worldwide. The famous historic blue diamonds – the Hope, the Wittelsbach-Graff and the Tereschenko - are believed to have come from the legendary Golconda mines in India and share a high degree of transparency and liquid fire. This diamond ...

  6. A large and rare blue and white 'longevity' vase, fanghu Qianlong six-character seal mark and of the period

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    Imperial blue and white 'longevity' vase Sold for HK$7.820,000 (£657,000), Hong Kong

    This monumental vase was one of a select group of large porcelain vases produced in the shape of an ancient bronze vessel called a fanghu. The six-character seal mark on the base of the vase shows that it was made for the court of the Emperor Qianlong. It is known as a 'longevity' vase because of the symbols used to ...

  7. Fred Williams (1927-1982) You Yangs landscape 1 1963

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    You Yangs landscape I by Fred Williams Sold for AUD$2,287,000 (£1,380,000), Sydney

    You Yangs landscape I which was sold as part of the Grundy Collection, is the defining work from the You Yang series which marked a major turning point in Fred Williams' career. He worked on this painting with special care and, as well as the normal preliminary sketches, painted a full-scale oil study for the final picture. Williams realized he ...

  8. An Achaemenid green glass lobed bowl

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    An Achaemenid glass phiale Sold for £481,250, London

    This glass Achaemenid bowl from the ancient Persian Empire, around about the 5th-early 4th Century B.C. had everything – great rarity, excellent condition and impeccable provenance. It is an astonishing survivor of violent and unstable times. The largest collection of Persian glass known, for example, consisting of twenty-four vessels, including a phiale was recovered between 1931 and 1934 from the ...

  9. The Dessau Goblet: A magnificent Silesian engraved Hochschnitt goblet and cover by Friedrich Winter, Hermsdorf, circa 1700

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    The Dessau Goblet Sold for £277,250, London

    The goblet, which was sold as part of the Muhleib Collection of European Glass, takes its name from the Residenzschloss Dessau, the home of the Fürsten and Herzöge von Anhalt-Dessa but the credit, of course, belongs to its maker, the master engraver. Friedrich Winter. In 1687, Winter was granted a special privilege or patent to set up a water-powered cutting ...

  10. Demetre Chiparus  'Alméria' a Large and Impressive Cold-painted Bronze and Carved Ivory Sculpture, circa 1925

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    Almeria by Demetre Chiparus Sold for £481,250, London

    Almeria is probably in the top three most desirable Chiparus figures ever produced and one that is rarely available at auction. Chiparus lived and worked in Paris and French theater, Russian ballet dancers and stars of early motion pictures were often the subject of his works. Almeria is thought to be modeled on ballerina and choreographer, Bronislava Nijinska, who was ...

  11. Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) Prunier hâtif (Hasty Plum)

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    14 Watercolor Fruit Studies by Salvador Dali Sold for a combined total of £726,700, London

    This series of fourteen paintings show Dali's desire to take the ordinary and subvert it. At first glance, one could mistake the paintings for conventional decorative prints but look more closely and one can see that Dali has painted over them with characteristically fantastic embellishments. Dali himself declared "I see the human form in trees, animals: the animal and ...

  12. Yiannis Tsarouchis (Greek, 1910-1989) Autumn 116.5 x 81.5 cm.

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    Autumn by Yiannis Tsarouchis Sold for £271,250

    Tsarouchis is one of the greatest Greek artists of the 20th century. He is often called the painter of 'Greek people' and he certainly drew much
    inspiration from the working class youth of Athens and the Greek sailors and soldiers he met while he was serving in the Greco Italian War in the early 1940s. When the military took over ...

  13. CANADA, UNITED STATES AND THE WAR OF 1812. Extensive archive of Papers of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, including important manuscript maps, portrait, correspondence, held in 3 original manuscript boxes (quantity)

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    The papers of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke Sold for £433,250, London

    Sherbrooke is an important figure in the history of Canada and, in particular, of Nova Scotia of which he was lieutenant governor before his appointment as Canada's Governor General between 1816–1818. He was a leading figure in the defense of Nova Scotia in the American War of Independence and in 1814 led a successful attack on what is ...

  14. Sir Stanley Spencer R.A. (British, 1891-1959) Garden Path, Cookham Rise 76.2 x 50.8 cm. (30 x 20 in.)

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    Garden Path, Cookham Rise by Sir Stanley Spencer Sold for £769,750, London

    Garden Path, Cookham Rise, was discovered on a routine valuation visit. It had come to the owner by descent from the original buyer but she had no idea of its significance. In fact, the painting has always been highly acclaimed. Spencer completed it in 1949 when he was in debt, and under pressure from his dealer to provide picturesque subjects ...

  15. The Sachsen-Teschen Tureen, An important late 18th century Austrian silver soup tureen and stand

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    The Sachsen-Teschen Tureen Sold for £433,250, London

    This spectacular and rare silver tureen had a fascinating history. It was a survivor of the fabled Taschen-Saschen silver service given as a wedding present to Marie Antoinette's estranged sister Maria Christina. Unusually for the period, Maria was allowed to marry for love rather than for dynastic reasons. She and her husband were avid collectors of all kinds of ...

  16. Tyeb Mehta (India, 1925-2009) Untitled,

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    Untitled painting by Tyeb Mehta Sold for £505,250, London

    Mehta's untitled work from 1978 is an early and powerful example of what would soon be recognized as his mature style. Although he was born in Bombay and spent most of his life there, Mehta enjoyed an especially productive phase of his career in New Delhi, where he lived from 1965 to 1979. It is to his Delhi phase ...

  17. A Sang de Boeuf Vase for inspection and advice. Loss and damage warranty £100,000 while in transit

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    Rare flambé-glazed bottle vase Sold for £337,250, Trelissick House

    The vase was the star item in the two days house sale of the contents of Trelissick House in Cornwall which raised over £3.3m. The vase dates from the reign of the Emperor Quinlong, that very fertile period in the development of Chinese decorative arts. It is the outcome of a remarkable technical development which enabled craftsmen to overcome ...

  18. Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006) 'Chinese Girl'

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    Chinese Girl by Vladimir Tretchikoff Sold for £982,050, London A world recordprice at auction for the artist.

    Chinese Girl is Tretchikoff's best known work. It was reproduced as a hugely popular poster in the 1950s and 1960s and has hung in millions of homes all round the world. Indeed, it remains the highest selling art print in history. Tretchikoff was one of the first artists to realize the commercial potential of mass producing his work and ...

  19. The ex-Works/Juan Manuel Fangio  German and Swiss Grand Prix Winning  1954 2½-litre Mercedes-Benz W1

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    1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater Sold for £19,600,00, Goodwood A world record for a car sold at auction

    A truly exceptional car, it was driven by the great Argentinean Juan-Manuel Fangio to clinch the 1954 Formula 1 World Drivers Championship and is the only W196R left in private hands. The W196R marked the return of Mercedes-Benz to Grand Prix racing after a gap of 15 years and it swept all before it, enabling Fangio to win the championship ...

Contacts
  1. Harvey Cammell
    Author
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8230
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5860