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Hammer Highlights | April 2023

April 22, 2023

Highlights this month included two fine watercolours by the colourful and increasingly sought after Scottish artist James McNaught. In particular Lot 64 stands out.

On initial viewing the work is a straight on view of a woman relaxing in the sunshine before a table of watermelon and cake. Everybody likes a fine cake! McNaught is loves to revel in a more mysterious, surreal World and this image is typical. The painting is clearly influenced by other 20th century British stars, Beryl Cook and her buxom ladies; William Gillies and Alberto Morocco for their still lives and figure painting for example. However, look closer and the work has deeper meaning. A bloody knife and coat hanger discretely fall from the table edge, hinting that she has perhaps overindulged and had to visit a back street ‘doctor’ to deal with the issue. It’s a clever piece of theatre and several potential buyers keenly pushed it to double the estimate at just above £1000 (including premium)

A real gem this month, Lot 10, looked magnificent as a wall hanging. Made probably in the 17th century to grace a fine bed, a bedspread fit for a King. The red silk coverlet is beautifully embroidered with crewel work, a raised and intricate pattern of flower heads centred by a vase of flowers and two winged putti, and coronated with a crown. An appropriate star lot to highlight as Charles III is crowned this week. It tripled the estimate, the design and rarity trumping the wear from long years of use.

As with all our monthly sales of Art and Antiques, this week’s auction had many both attractive and useful items to collect or re-purpose. Beswick horse, fine Doulton china and practical fine furniture, including a finely made George IV rosewood breakfast table and various colourful rugs.

We also included a well-known portrait of France’s most famous ruler and the terror of Europe Napoleon Bonaparte. The artist Paul Delaroche made several fine portraits of the emperor Lot 57 was a good example of a 19th century miniature copy, painted wearing his uniform. As with nearly all miniatures painted in the 18th and 19th century the small piece is painted on to ivory. With the changes to the law in June last year it is now illegal to sell ivory objects, however there are a number of exemptions and ‘Portrait miniatures made before 1918’ is thankfully one. Browns valuers can assess such pieces and make the necessary application on your behalf for certification allowing the sale to proceed.

Do of course contact us if you have any works of art, collectables, paintings or indeed an entire household you want considered for sale.

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