Chorley’s Country House sale (Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th July) was held during the recent heat wave and it was pleasing to see some scorching prices for traditional pictures.
This 10th Anniversary sale gave several vendors the opportunity to thin out existing collections. From Apperley Court near Tewkesbury, came a charming series of five cattle paintings by the English artist John Pitman. The ‘Apperley Cattle’ were bred by the Strickland family of Apperley Court and included what must have been some of the very first shorthorns in Gloucestershire. Some of the cattle were named and details of prizes they were awarded were known. These had great crossover appeal with buyers drawn from the local agricultural community as well as decorators and dealers in 19th Century animal paintings. Lots 221 and 223 each depicting a shorthorn ox sold for £6,500 apiece with the collection totalling £26,200 hammer. From a Wiltshire country house came a number of oils and with the Glorious Twelfth approaching it was no surprise to see Lot 256, two studies of black grouse, achieve £4,200.
Portraiture featured heavily in this sale and although this market can be selective there was plenty to be optimistic about. Lot 224, a portrait after Sir Peter Lely of The Duke of Monmouth was certainly an attractive picture of an interesting historical figure and this helped it exceed estimate at £7,000. An interesting little oil on panel (Lot 271) was thought to depict Capt John Hyfield and was dated 1568, this again exceeded expectations at £3,800. Lot 174, a marble portrait bust of Lieutenant-General Duncan McLeod, also saw strong bidding. McLeod was in the Bengal Engineers and was responsible for numerous important buildings including the Moorshedabad Palace. The sculpture was by John Bailey and dated to 1854, it found a new home at £4,000.
Other paintings scored some of the day’s top prices with an 18th Century Italian Capriccio (Lot 208) seeing £6,300, a depiction of Nassau by Noel Coward knocking down at £5,700 (Lot 181) and a delightful little oil (Lot 198) depicting shipping by Charles Brooking fetching £4,800.
As is so often the case the surprise of the day came in the oriental section with Lot 67, a set of four Chinese embroidered panels in ‘country house condition’ achieving £3,200 against an estimate of just £100-150. Amber continues to perform strongly with a nicely matched strand of oval beads achieving £2,500 (Lot 159) and jewellery prices seemed to be benefitting from some post-Brexit bounce.
As is so often the case the furniture section was patchy but decorative items such as Lot 454, a Dutch laburnum klapbuffet can still give a pleasant surprise, on this occasion £2,800.