Bringing a strong year to a fitting close, our Design department presented 300 lots from The Peter Rose & Albert Gallichan Collection on November 30. The selling rate for the live online auction, warmly received when on view at the Noho Studios in London, was over 90% sold with the final sale total doubling the original estimate at £464,000*.
Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan were pioneering collectors of Victorian fine and decorative arts. The collection was begun in the 1950s when they were living in an attic flat over an antique shop in Hampstead. At the time Victorian art was the butt of jokes, the Festival of Britain was fresh in the memory and ‘contemporary’ was the watchword for interior decoration. When in 1965 these founder members of the Decorative Arts Society moved to 1 Montpelier Villas in Brighton, works by named artists and designers from the major design movements of the later 19th century soon began to dominate an increasingly crowded house. They kept detailed records of their acquisitions with every piece given an inventory card, a photograph and details of where it was purchased and the price.
The couple took the decision to ultimately disperse the collection shortly before Albert Gallichan died in 2001. Bequests were accepted by museums including The British Museum and The Ashmolean with the proceeds from this sale funding the establishment of the Albert Dawson Educational Trust to support study and scholarship of 19th century fine and decorative art. The name of the trust reflects Peter and Albert’s middle names.
The trustees expressed their great satisfaction at the success of the sale. "[We] are delighted with the positive response to the auction and glad that so many of Peter and Albert's treasured possessions have found worthy new owners, while helping others to further their knowledge of this fascinating and diverse artistic period. We are very grateful to [lead specialists] Joy McCall and John Mackie and the rest of the Lyon & Turnbull team for their professionalism, and in particular the beautiful installation at the NoHo Studios and the fine catalogue."
From groups of French faience vases by the Montigny-Sur-Long factory to panels of vibrant Victorian stained glass, there were many ‘mini collections’ within this remarkable archive.
Numerous pieces from the Doulton Lambeth studios included ten characterful lots by George Tinworth that attracted interested from around the world and soared above estimates. Tinworth’s output for Doulton was immense. He produced many religious reliefs throughout his career, including a trio of 14cm x 32cm terracotta reliefs with New Testament scenes of Salome demanding the head of John the Baptist, A Word to the Shepherd and The Release of Peter sold at £4,500*.
However, from the 1880s onwards, began to produce playful sculptures on a much smaller scale. These fun and endearing pieces often featured zoomorphic mice and frogs in a number of humorous ‘human’ situations. Produced in small numbers from moulds design by Tinworth, then hand-assembled by his assistants before adding some final touches himself, these pieces are the most of endearing of all Tinworth creations. His surrealist 12cm high figure The Bicyclist featuring a frog riding a penny farthing sold here at £5,250* while two rare Albert Embankment ‘park bench’ groups of frogs and mice in conversation, one titled Music & Literature, the other Art & Agriculture, sold at £6,875* and £4,375* respectively. Like a number of pieces in the collection, the latter had been pictured in Brian Coleman’s The Best of British Arts & Crafts (2004).
Peter Rose was among the first 20th century scholars to write about George Tinworth, his book on the Tinworth holdings in the Harriman-Judd Collection published when the market was in its relative infancy in 1982. He also wrote one of the first collecting articles on WAS Benson in 1985.
Benson is today celebrated as a pioneer of Arts & Crafts lighting design, adept at using the reflective qualities of metal to enhance the new power of electric light. The best of his work was made in the early 1900s in collaboration with Harry Powell of James Powell & Sons, the provider of ‘Venetian’ style hand-blown glass shades in a range of simple, elegant forms. Rose and Gallichan owned a number of examples with a 79cm high hanging ceiling lantern worked in copper and brass with opalescent glass (£4,750*) and a 54cm silvered metal table light with a cut glass shade and beaded fringe (£3,750*) providing the highlights.
William De Morgan was a designer that the couple particularly admired: De Morgan pottery adorned many rooms in their home with a bathroom devoted to a remarkable display of London-made Persian style and lustre tile panels, vases and dishes. Some of the 14 lots of De Morgan pottery sold way beyond expectations including both a group of six ruby lustre animal tiles c,1885 and a Persian style cobalt blue, green and turquoise floral panel c.1890 both sold at £7,500*. As pictured in Martin Greenwood’s The Designs of William De Morgan (2007), a Persian style bowl decorated with mythical beasts in foliage by decorator Charles Passenger brought £6,250* while a red lustre ‘two dragons’ plate, also by Passenger, sold at £6,000*.
The epitome of the Aesthetic Movement that the collectors so admired was a large 49cm pottery charger decorated by William Stephen Coleman for the Mintons Art Pottery Studios at Kensington Gore c.1875. In a case of art imitating life, this particular scene depicts a young lady in exotic attire painting pottery vessels in a studio. It became the top lot of the day when it sold for £13,750*.
Joy McCall, head of sale and senior specialist in Design, described the sale as “a great end to an exciting year for Design at Lyon & Turnbull” adding “we now begin to look forward to the 2022 season which will start with the Minoprio collection of British design in January and a private collection of Lalique scent bottles in February.”
Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts & Design specialists are renowned for both their knowledge and their sales of artworks conducted from our Scottish auction house based in Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on design from 1860 to the present, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to any successful auction.