Issue 4, July/December 2011

Part of the allure of working in an international auction house is the excitement of unearthing a hitherto lost work of art - and this edition focuses on several such discoveries. Amongst them, the Velazquez painting on page seven is one of the major art discoveries in a generation. On brief inspection, it is perhaps understandable why this the low-key, sombre portrait remained undiscovered for so long. However on closer inspection, the intensity of the subject' gaze and the effortless brushstrokes of the artist leave us in no doubt that the portrait is the work of a great master at the height of his powers.

Given the fast moving pace of our business, with over 700 auctions each year (more than any other fine art auctioneer), there is often little time to reflect on the incredible works of art and objects once they have passed through our rooms.

The Review gives us this opportunity to look back on some of the outstanding items that Bonhams has handled over the last six months. As you will see, all these items sold for spectacular prices and during the Autumn season Bonhams achieved world record prices in 16 categories.

Over the next few pages we will let the objects speak for themselves and hope that, like us, you will enjoy this glance back at these magnificent items.

  1. A fine and rare pair of zitan and hongmu recessed leg altar tables 18th/19th century

    Page 4

    Chinese Art

    "When we launched our Asian auction business we set out to create a truly global Chinese department which could source objects from all over the world and, through our international network, offer them for sale where the market is strongest. Nothing demonstrates Bonhams commitment as a global art auctioneer better than our capability to sell property where we recommend it ...

  2. An ivory netsuke of a deer Circa 1800

    Page 6

    Japanese Art

    "I have been associated with auctions of Japanese netsuke all my life, but I have never had the privilege of handling such an outstanding group. The Harriet Szechenyi Collection was the product of an exceptional eye which completely explains the astounding prices that collectors from Japan, Europe, North America and Russia willingly bid to secure these superb carvings."

    Neil Davey ...

  3. Spanish School Portrait of a gentleman

    Page 8

    Old Masters

    "The discovery of this extraordinarily beautiful portrait is a fascinating story in its own right. In August 2010 a number of works by the nineteenth century British artist, Matthew Shepperson, were consigned for sale at Bonhams Oxford office. Among these works was a portrait of a gentleman, which was brought to our attention in the Old Master Paintings department in ...

  4. Vasilii Dmitrievich Polenov (Russian

    Page 10

    Russian Pictures

    "Technically brilliant and emotionally intense, these two works represented the artist at his best. Polenov is one of the best-loved artists in Russia and his religious paintings in particular have a very special, intimate resonance. The final prices realised demonstrates the demand, at an international level, in works of this quality and we are very happy with the result."

    Evgenia ...

  5. Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) Deux blancs en dessous, 1974 30 x 36 x 12 1/4in (76.2 x 91.5 x 31.1cm)

    Page 12

    Contemporary Art

    "....with a superb team in place in London and New York and with major investment into our new headquarters in New Bond Street, the Contemporary Art Department is poised for a very exciting future."

    Anthony McNearney
    Bonhams Head of Contemporary Art

  6. John Duncan Fergusson, RBA (British, 1874-1961) At the Milliner's, Paris 38 x 38 cm. (15 x 15 in.)

    Page 14

    Scottish Art

    "We had an exceptional selection of pictures for our August sale - many of them from a major American collection - and I was not surprised that bidding was so competitive. Bonhams is the only international auction house with sale rooms in Scotland and for owners of Scottish art, wherever they are in the world, we are rapidly becoming the natural place ...

  7. Dame Elisabeth Frink R.A. (British, 1930-1993) Horse in the Rain V

    Page 16

    20th Century British Art

    "We were really pleased to able to offer so many works of outstanding quality in our November sale that were also fresh to the market. The combination attracted interest from around the globe and, of course, produced some top prices including a world record for Henry Moore's remarkable and poignant Second World War drawing on paper of a mother ...

  8. Page 18


    "This autumn's sale at the Goodwood Revival historic motor race meeting was very much a global effort. My West Coast USA team worked closely with one of its local clients who consigned two outstanding Silver Ghost Rolls Royces to the UK sale – very much a case of placing cars in their right environment to achieve the best prices."

    James ...

  9. An important gem-set gold Navratna Pendant from the Treasury of Tipu Sultan, The Tiger of Mysore (1750-99), Mysore (Seringapatam), late 18th Century

    Page 20

    Jewellery & Watches

    "Not only was this jewel an exquisite example of Bulgari's craftsmanship at this period, but the fancy vivid blue diamond is an incredibly rare gem in its own right. Bonhams was delighted to handle the sale of this magnificent ring, and the final price realised demonstrates the demand, at an international level, in pieces of this quality".

    Jean Ghika ...

  10. The Brühl "Garniture de Cheminée": a highly important garniture of five Meissen Augustus Rex vases, circa 1730

    Page 22

    Ceramics & Glass

    "It was a great joy to have such a masterpiece in our sale, its price set a new benchmark for the fast expanding market for Doccia porcelain. Other figures of this importance are kept in museums around the world, so to be able to offer a previously unknown figure from a private collection was a huge thrill."

    Nette Megens
    Bonhams ...

  11. The William V Goblet. A highly important Beilby enamelled and gilt Royal armorial Goblet, circa 1766

    Page 24

    World Records

    "The world record price for the important Prince William V goblet significantly underlines the steady growth in the value of English 18th century glass and emphasises Bonhams continued pre-eminence in this highly specialised market."

    Simon Cottle
    Head of Bonhams Glass Department.

    "This is the third 'Riding Crop' we have sold and on each occasion we've set a new world ...

  12. Page 26

    Highlights of forthcoming auctions

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