I started ‘OBJECTS OF DESIRE’ ten years ago this summer, as a brokerage offering clients the opportunity to buy and/or sell works of art privately, and to accept commissions to find works by specific artists, and during that time we are delighted to have bought, and/or sold, many works of Art for our clients.
So, we thought it would be fun to mark this Anniversary by recalling various amusing stories about specific deals, without divulging the identity of the clients, so here are some ‘Tales of Sales’.
One of my first successes was to find a pair of French Field Cannon, which had been confiscated by the victorious Russian Army who then had each cannon engraved with the double-headed, Romanov Eagle.
I offered this to the wife of one of our Russian clients, and to my amazement she said it was just what she had been trying to find as a birthday present for her husband, since he had admired a pair of cannon gracing the entrance to a Cowes, Isle of Wight restaurant. His delight at seeing the cannons when we delivered them to his house, was reward enough.
The next sale was to another, quite separate, Russian client, who had just completed his new yacht, which at 110 metres had plenty of room for interesting things to compliment the interior design.
I approached his Agent with a very beautiful and rare Silver ‘Hump-Back’ Carriage clock by Abraham Louis Breguet which came in its original travelling case. This clock had exceptional provenance, having been owned by the Tsar’s wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna and we went to the trouble of getting Breguet in Paris to issue a duplicate certificate confirming that this clock had belonged to the Tsarina.
When we first took the clock to a viewing by the potential buyer, it was assessed by an expert, who verified the authenticity, condition, and provenance of this stunning clock, following which, they agreed to our price.
When we first took the clock to a viewing by the potential buyer, it was assessed by an expert, who verified the authenticity, condition, and provenance of this stunning clock, following which, they agreed to our price. On leaving their London offices, I asked their ‘expert’ what he had advised them. He responded that they were very happy with the price of the clock because it had such impressive provenance. I commented that I had originally wanted to ask double the agreed price, to which the advisor responded that his boss would happily have paid double for such an historically important clock!
So, that was one thing we seriously underestimated, and it taught me the importance of provenance! However, because we had not been greedy, we sold many other things to this client, and advised him on a Collection of Russian Bronzes of Art Deco animals, by George Lavroff.
Lavroff was sent to Paris to study Art, from 1929-1935 and it was there that he created most of his Art Deco animal sculptures, and during the subsequent Soviet era, he was responsible for many of the gigantic sculptures of Soviet leaders.
After a fascinating life, including fighting in the Russian Revolution he died in 1991 at the ripe old age of 94.
We identified George Lavroff as an artist whose work was not fully appreciated or valued, and the Collection of his work which we created has appreciated considerably in value in recent years.
There was something special about another clock we were asked to find a buyer for, which immediately caught our attention. This fine clock with an eight day Petite Sonnerie movement was in a solid silver bejewelled case standing on a base of bloodstone surrounded by Russian Lapis Lazuli. The case was made by the famous French silversmith Francois Desire Froment Meurice. It was obvious that a clock of this quality had been created for an important client and the two delicately painted coats of arms which adorned the clock would reveal for whom and what occasion this clock had been made.
Our research identified the coats of arms to be those of Prince Antoine Marie Philippe Louis d’Orleans, Duc de Montponsier (born Neuilly 31st July 1824, died at Sanlucar de Barrameda, 4th February 1890) son of Louis Philippe King of France, and those of his wife, the Infanta Dona Maria Luisa Fernanda de Bourbon y Bourbon (born at Madrid 30th January 1832, died at Seville 2nd February 1897) second daughter of King Fernando VII of Spain and the Indies.
The research we carried out established its Royal Provenance and consequently it sold for considerably more than the original valuation.
We pride ourselves that this is what we are good at and similar in depth research aided the sale of a portrait of Sir John Osborn by Nathaniel Dance.
Nathaniel Dance was the youngest member of the Royal Academy when it was founded in 1768 and later became the Member of Parliament for East Grinstead in 1790 and was subsequently made a baronet in 1800.
The sitter, Sir John Osborn, also had many fascinating connections being the second son of Sir Danvers Osborn, 3rd Bt., Governor of New York, after whom Danvers, Massachusetts is named.
John Osborn was a Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire, and went on to become Chargé d’Affaires at Naples and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Dresden and during Napoleon’s advances he was captured and imprisoned for seven years.
So both the artist and the sitter provided us with a list of potential buyers, from the National Portrait Gallery or Royal Academy to the ‘good and the great’ of Bedfordshire.
Other potential buyers were some of the American connections and of course descendents of Sir John Osborn. Budget constraints prevented the portrait being sold to a public institution so it was eventually purchased by a descendent of the Osborn family whom we had identified through our research.
We are also good at matching buyers with the painting of their dreams. One such deal came after I introduced a client to a West End gallery owner friend of mine who had arranged a very private exhibition of paintings at her home, a wonderful Lutyens house, with its obligatory Gertrude Jekyll garden built on top of the highest hill in Surrey, with views to the South Downs. The ‘official’ Exhibition was on the Saturday night but my clients could not make this, and so I had arranged to accompany them the next day to meet the gallery owner. As soon as we arrived on the Sunday morning we were each given a large glass of very good champagne, and set off on a guided tour of the house and the exhibition.
As we entered one room, there was a large impressionist painting by Jean Laudy, circa 1900 entitled, Femme á sa Toilette. I could tell, as soon as my clients saw it, that they loved it and would buy it, which they duly did, along with two other works. All three works now hang in their drawing room.
Sometimes, when meeting a new dealer for the first time, we become over cautious about the potential for things to go wrong.
One such person elected to meet us at an ultramodern hotel in Soho, where he was staying and had insisted in paying us in 500 Euro notes for an impressively large solid gold commemorative medallion, presented to one of the most important guests at the Tsar’s funeral, the King of Wurttemberg. We were concerned that having concluded the transaction we might be mugged on leaving the hotel. As a result of this concern we had arranged for two security guards to be present to monitor the entire transaction which I am pleased to say went very smoothly, but it was good to know that we had them there if they had been needed.
Another transaction was difficult because a Russian client had decided to purchase a large bronze from us on a Friday afternoon, with the condition that was delivered to his yacht in Antibes by noon on the Sunday!
Never let it be said that we would let a client down, so we calculated that if we caught an early Eurotunnel train on Saturday morning, and shared the driving we could deliver the said bronze by the allotted time.
Whilst my wife supervised the packing and crating of this enormous bronze, I swiftly hired a big enough estate car to accommodate it, and very early on the Saturday morning we headed for the Eurotunnel, just managing to get on the 6.30 am crossing.
We left Calais at about 7.30am and drove south as fast as we could stopping only to rest and re-fuel, but by 8 pm that night we were still only at Aix-en-Provence and could not drive another inch, so pulled into a Mercure Hotel where we managed to catch up on our sleep. On the road again by 9am we drove the last part of the journey to Antibes in three hours delivering the bronze at the appointed hour. With a sigh of relief we headed for Eden Roc at Cap D’Antibes for a celebratory and much deserved lunch.
These are just a few of the many stories associated with items we have acquired or sold for our clients, and we pride ourselves in ‘going the extra mile’ to find what they want, and we will be delighted to discuss your requirements.
In addition to the above we have been involved in other transactions, which for one reason or another failed to complete, but they included works by Gerhard Richter, Kokoschka, Renoir, Monet, Picasso and Turner.
Following are just some of the wonderful things that we have either sold, or acquired on behalf of clients, and in the case of the collections, we have found all the works in that Collection.
We have been prevented from displaying certain objects where the owners have requested complete anonymity, but the following ‘Gallery’ will give you a good idea of the types of items we have handled over the past ten years.
‘Femme á sa Toilette’ by Jean Laudy circa 1900, oil on canvas
Laudy’s father was a sculptor who inspired his son to paint, and he was a pupil at the free drawing school, La Patte de Dindon. In his early years he was mainly influenced by impressionism but also painted portraits, landscapes and ‘still lifes’.
He made portraits of members of the Belgian monarchy, including King Albert I of Belgium, Queen Elizabeth and King Leopold III. His work was exhibited in Venlo (Southern Netherlands) in 1937 and Brussels in 1949.
This beautiful painting was acquired for a client, along with the other two paintings below
‘Nude’ by Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy first exhibited drawings in London in The Park Walk Gallery, Chelsea, and since then has had numerous ‘one man’ exhibitions in Galleries in New York, London and Edinburgh.
Collectors of his work include Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Waters, Richard Curtis, The Murdochs, the Freuds, Tim Bevan, M.Night Shyamalan, and Sting.
‘Britannia leading White Heather off the Needles’ by Stephen Renard, oil on canvas. Stephen Renard is a Master of Marine Painting. Born at Huddersfield, England in 1947, and graduated from the Liverpool University with a degree in the natural sciences. However, he abandoned his career to pursue a passionate interest in sailing. Abandoning teaching, Renard purchased a boat in 1981 and taught himself to sail, painting ships as a hobby. Since then, he has concentrated on yachting subjects, following in the footsteps of Steven Dews. In addition, he was asked to work for the Royal Thames Yacht Club. For his first commission, he produced a painting of the Spithead review, honouring the birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
‘Flowers in a Basket’ by Jean Baptiste Monnoyer (1634-1699) oil on canvas. Monnoyer was born at Lille, but was in Paris by 1650, where he was documented working on the decors of the Hôtel Lambert. He was commissioned by Charles Le Brun for decorative painting at the Château de Marly and at the Grand Dauphin’s residence, the Château de Meudon. He was received at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1665 with a piece of the genre that he made his speciality, a still life of flowers and fruit combined with objets d’art. His only appearance at the Paris salon was in 1673, when four paintings of flowers were exhibited by “M. Baptiste”.
Portrait of John Osborn M.P. by Nathaniel Dance inscribed Zoffany, in a gilt frame, circa 1775. Dimensions: 89cm by 69cm.
Nathaniel Dance was the youngest member of the Royal Academy when it was founded in 1768, and was later honoured with a Baronetcy, becoming Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1st Baronet RA (8th May 1735 – 15th October 1811) and was a notable English portrait painter.
The subject of the portrait, John Osborn was the second son of Sir Danvers Osborn, 3rd Bt., Governor of New York, after whom Danvers, Massachusetts is named, and Lady Mary Montague (d. 1743), great granddaughter of the 1st Earl of Manchester in the third creation, and third daughter of the 1st Earl of Halifax.
He was a Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire and was a Colonel in the Bedford Regiment and Militia. He went on to become Chargé d’Affaires at Naples and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Dresden. During Napoleon’s advances he was captured and imprisoned for seven years. He died at Rudolstadt, Saxony, in 1814 having never married. Sold on behalf of a client.
We pride ourselves on the quality and variety of the clocks and watches we have handled, all of which have been by some of the finest horologists
A Very Fine and Rare Large Silver “Hump Back” Carriage Clock by Abraham Louis Breguet numbered 2428,
Sold on November 19th, 1909 to the Empress Maria Feodorovna. Signed on the dial and the movement, and with its original Morocco fitted case. Dimensions: Height 15.5 cms. Width 12.0 cms.
The astonishing provenance of this beautiful Silver Carriage Clock appealed to a Russian client who acquired it for his Yacht.
A stunning and unique Mantel clock with a fine, 8-day, Petite Sonnerie movement, and a bejewelled, solid silver case, standing on a base of bloodstone surrounded by Russian Lapis Lazuli, by the famous silversmith Francois Desire Froment Meurice. Circa 1846.
This clock is thought to have been made to commemorate the marriage of Prince Antoine Marie Philippe Louis d’Orleans, Duc de Montpensier, son of Louis Philippe I, King of France, to the Infanta Dona Maria Luisa Fernanda de Bourbon y Bourbon, second daughter of King Fernando VII of Spain, on 10th October, 1846, in Madrid.
This important Royal clock was offered, by us, to His Majesty the King of Spain, who wanted the ‘Patrimonio Nationale’ to acquire it for the Spanish nation, but it was eventually sold to a private client.
Early 19th century; Width: 14 ins Height: 10.5 ins
The clock’s design derives from a drawing in a catalogue produced by the celebrated ciseleurs-doreur Francois Rémond, circa 1785, which incorporates figures designed and supplied to the Sèvres factory for reproduction in biscuit porcelain by the sculptor Simon-Louis Boizot.
Another Regency example exhibiting the same details was almost certainly bought by the 2nd Marquis of Bath for Longleat, Wiltshire and remained in the family until sold in the June 13th-14th 2002 sale entitled, ‘Furniture, Porcelain and Silver from Longleat’ by Christie’s London, lot 304
A collection of animal sculptures in bronze, in the ‘art deco’ style, by George Lavroff (1895-1991)
George Lavroff studied painting and medicine at the University of Tomsk, and became well known as a sculptor and painter, as well as a skilled draughtsman and designer.
In the October Revolution in 1917, George Lavroff served, and fought, in the 6th Regiment with the artisans of Azchipov until 1920.
In 1922 George Lavroff received his first commissions, and sold his first sculptures in Moscow, and his success led him to become a Member of the Revolutionary Russian Artists’ Association.
He took part in Exhibitions and competed for the right to design and make large monuments (he won the 5th prize for Sverdlovsk in Moscow in 1924, and won the Lenin competition in Poltava in 1925)
From 1927 until 1935 George Lavroff lived in France where, as well as carrying on his Portrait career he sculpted numerous art deco animals and his work was shown in numerous salons.
This Collection was created for a client who acquired all the works in it between 2005 and 2010
Robert Jarman was a founding partner in 1995, of The Silver Fund which has become the biggest dealer in Georg Jensen silver in the world, with a Gallery in Palm Beach, and we therefore have a close relationship with the MD, Michael James, who has helped us offer a wide range of Modern Silver, especially, by Georg Jensen, and these are some of his iconic designs. We can procure almost any design by Georg Jensen, including those illustrated.
‘Silver Salmon’ by David Williams-Ellis.
David Williams-Ellis is one of the world’s leading figurative sculptors, whose unique life size, portrait, bird and animal sculptures are cast in bronze.
David’s work has earned him international recognition and acclaim. He has worked on a number of prestigious commissions, both private and public, and his work is exhibited and collected worldwide. David Williams-Ellis started sculpting as a child at school in England. He attributes his early start in his career to a helpful teacher who “was a painter by practice, but a sculptor by inclination”. Art also runs in the family; his parents were talented amateur artists, his sister Bronwyn is a successful ceramicist and his wife, Serena, a renowned interior designer. His brother was Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect and creator of Portmeirion, and although he died when David was in his early 20s he was a big influence on him, and still is to this day.
Silver table lighter by Carl Fabergé, realistically modelled as a bear lying supine on its back and pulling forward its right hind leg, the paw of which holds the wick burner. This paw may be removed by means of a bayonet-fitting to allow spirit to be poured in to impregnate the wick. Possibly a model of Mishka the Bear, a much-loved figure of Russian legend whose exploits are chronicled in the stories of Krilov.
The Fabergé maker’s mark appears in full below the Imperial Warrant: ‘Assay Master I. Lebenkin Moscow 1889-1908’. The bear measures 4.5 inches long.
An almost identical Bear forms part of the Fabergé collection of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, and is illustrated in a book entitled ‘Carl Fabergé – Goldsmith to the Imperial Court of Russia’ by A. Kenneth Snowman, published by Debrett’s Peerage Limited in 1979. The workmaster’s mark on this bear is for Julius Alexandrovich Rappoport.
A solid gold, Russian Commemorative medal given to members of Royal families, and other dignitaries attending the funeral of the Tsar. Our research established that this medal was presented to the King of Württemberg, whose family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Württemberg, a state in Germany that existed from 1805 to 1918, located in the area that is now Baden-Württemberg. The Kingdom was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which existed from 1495 to 1805.
The knowledge gained from this research greatly increased the sale value of this Medal.
Architectural Garden Furniture, Sculpture and Statuary from Summers Place Auction House
We have bought many items from Summers Place Auction House on behalf of clients and enjoyed watching their business flourish. Summers Place at Billingshurst, West Sussex is the largest specialist Auction House of its kind and is frequently used by leading international interior designers seeking items for their clients.
Below is a selection of items we acquired by successfully bidding on behalf of our clients:-
A pair of small Val d’Osne foundry cast iron Gothic seats
89cm.; 35ins wide
An unusual and rare Val d’Osne foundry cast iron Gothic seat
156cm.; 61ins wide
circa 1870 fully stamped C B Dale and Co and with model number and diamond registration stamps
96cm.; 38ins wide
A Coalbrookdale Nasturtium pattern cast iron seat
circa 1870 fully stamped with additional makers plaque on back rail
182cm.; 72ins wide
This design, number 1958629 was registered and patented at the Public Records Office by Coalbrookdale on the 1st of March 1866 and is seat number 44 in their 1875 catalogue of castings.
David Cooke, born 1970
128cm.; 50½ins long
Brendan Hesmondhalgh, born 1973
Mad March Hare
50cm.; 20ins high by 40cm.; 16ins wide
Barn owl in flight
48cm.; 19ins high by 37cm.; 14½ins wide
A large roughly hewn circular carved stone trough on staddlestone supports
130cm.; 51ins high by 145cm.; 57ins diameter
Life size sow
146cm.; 57½ins long by 76cm.; 30ins high
A pair of carved limestone Ionic order columns
271cm.; 107ins high
A composition stone lidded Pope urn on pedestal
late 20th century
196cm.; 77ins high
A cast iron bath
Chinese, 19th century
46cm.; 18ins high by 107cm.; 42ins long
An unusual carved sandstone water table
Indian, 19th century
168cm.; 66ins wide
Olivia Ferrier, Born 1978
Three Crows on a Gate
Bronze with gold plate and distressed timber gate
Crows signed and numbered
169cm.; 66½ins high by 90cm.; 35½ins wide
A Victorian wrought iron weathervane
late 19th century
with associated copper dragon
163cm.; 64ins high, the dragon 49cm.; 19ins wide
Frog on Stone
80cm; 32ins high
Julieann Worrall Hood
Unique commission 2002
94cm.; 37ins high overall
A Thing Of Beauty is a Joy Forever
Objects of Desire
The Old Milk Parlour,
Upham, Hants, SO32 1SU
Tel: 00 44 (0)1962 793134
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Founder and Editor of The Vintage Magazine
and Founder and Managing Director of Objects of Desire