Our September 2021 Five Centuries auction features fine examples of Georgian and Regency furniture, works of art, and British and European paintings and sculpture, and includes specialist collecting areas encompassing clocks, bronzes, ceramics & glass, rugs & carpets.
Here, our team has chosen a few of their favourite things to share as highlights that will feature in our September 2021 auction...
There are two lots in the upcoming Five Centuries sale that have caught my eye. While they might appear to be completely unrelated, the common factor that ties them together is their quality and technical craftsmanship. The first is Lot 102, a George III tambour writing table executed in an array of fine figured and exotic wood veneers and marquetry. It’s made to a design by Thomas Shearer, a little-known 18th century cabinet maker and designer. Not as famous as his contemporaries Hepplewhite and Sheraton, Shearer nonetheless designed pieces that were functional yet elegant. The striking feature of this desk is its encompassing tambour top that recedes neatly away into the body of the table. Technically tambour doors are notoriously tricky because if even one of their component parts goes awry, the whole mechanism seizes up and becomes immobile. It is a testament to Shearer’s design that what is really a challenging feat of engineering and construction is realised so beautifully.
- Douglas Girton, Head of Fine Furniture and Works of Art
Continuing a focus on technical craftsmanship, I am completely amazed by the skill involved in making a piece like lot 523, the remarkable 19th century French carriage clock with calendar and alarm functions. I always marvel at these robust yet technically sophisticated little clocks, remarkable for their compactness and their intricate movements. By design they are not delicate flowers, made to be moved and carried around while maintaining their accuracy, with all the individual components having to fit together seamlessly in the beautifully engraved brass case. The skill and precision of the clockmaker is a wonder and inspiration to me.
- Douglas Girton, Head of Fine Furniture and Works of Art
Although this type of tapestry is commonly referred to as carpet, this one would not have been used on a floor, rather as a decorative table cover for special occasions. The central saint, most likely St Peter, makes it very likely that it was used religious feast days. Even though there were once many such tapestries, listed in most inventories of England’s larger houses, their survival is rare. Not only this makes it special, I particularly love the little details depicted – if you look closely, you will see different types of flowers and even small birds embroidered between the squares.
- Kerstin Schaeffer, Auction Administrator
There were two prisons in Scotland that housed Napoleonic French prisoners of war: one in Edinburgh and the other in Perth. Prisoners used what materials they could acquire to build items to sell to supplement their rations. Miniature ornaments, models and toys were typically made using straw, wood, bone and even human hair. Many of the items made were extraordinary in their complexity. The bone deck fittings and figurehead on the present lot are typical of prisoner of war work, as is the inlaid baseboard.
My favourite thing is lot 306, the fine French prisoner-of-war mahogany and bone model of a barque. It never ceases to amaze me the level of detail that went into the construction of these models made by prisoners of war. Constructed from only materials that the prisoners could get the hands on at the time and sold on to provide much needed rations. Lot 306 is a fantastic example.
- Katie Hannah, Furniture, Clocks & Works of Art
The large group of Meissen ‘Onion’ pattern porcelain, in the form of an extensive dinner service, a dessert service, a centrepiece etc, being offered as lots 528-532 are some of my favourite pieces in the sale. I have always had a great fondness for blue and white pottery and porcelain of all descriptions. The Zwiebelmuster or ‘Onion’ pattern was originally created at Meissen in 1731 and remains in production and enduringly popular to this day. In the 18th century the production of porcelain, then known as ‘white gold’, was a relatively new invention in the west, although it had already been made for centuries in Asia. The dark cobalt blue decoration of the ‘Onion’ pattern was a perfect way to emphasise the prized whiteness of the porcelain. The design of scrolling foliage entwined through branches is inspired by the chrysanthemums, peonies, blossom and bamboo commonly seen in Chinese blue and white porcelain. The borders of the plates and bowls are painted with stylised peaches and pomegranates. However, these were exotic fruits that were unfamiliar to decorators in Saxony, hence their appearance as turnip and onion like vegetables, which gave rise to the popular name the ‘Onion’ pattern’. I would love to dine at a table laid with this service, richly decorated by hand and with such a range of serving dishes in various shapes and sizes, including intricately pierced pieces, delicate quatrefoil shaped coffee cups and saucers, and figural sweet meat dishes that would be filled with tantalising delicacies such as candied fruits and sugared nuts. The only downside would come at the end of the evening, washing up all the dishes by hand!
- Katherine Wright, Ceramics & Glass
The Works of Art department sells a wide variety of antique items covering nearly 400 years of European and British design. Sold as part of our Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art sale series, items offered at auction range from the esoteric to those of popular appeal and include sculpture, mechanical items, textiles, decorative objects and artworks. Primarily focused on works produced during the 18th and 19th centuries, our team of specialists and consultants are able to value and advise on the current market.
Selling fine antique furniture has always been at the core of our business, ever since Lyon & Turnbull’s establishment in 1826. Today, our specialist Fine Furniture Auctions department conducts four auctions throughout the year both through our beautiful period saleroom in Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists’ knowledge of furniture and the current market are essential to the overall success of sales of antique pieces spanning five centuries of design; from 17th century oak through the finest walnut, mahogany, and satinwood examples of the Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods.