Decorative Highlights

2nd April 2022

Japanned, lacquered and highly decorated objects were among the highlights of the Furniture and Works of Art auction at Woolley and Wallis on 30th March.

A William and Mary cabinet on stand (lot 100) was the top lot of the sale, reaching £68,750 against a pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000. Beautifully painted with vases of flowers and large floral sprays, it was part of a group of rare cabinets decorated in the Netherlandish manner, including examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Of similar decoration, but lesser rarity, was a George II japanned coffer on stand (lot 101) decorated with flowers, exotic birds and leaves. It more than double its top estimate to sell for £3,500.  While another William and Mary chest on stand sold for £10,000 (lot 107).

“The comparison between the two William and Mary cabinets demonstrates the importance of rarity and quality,” said Furniture specialist, Mark Yuan-Richards. “The style of decoration on the first cabinet is unusual and the quality exceptional, which has led to it being so sought after by collectors.”

Another statement piece was a 7ft tall eight-fold Chinese lacquer screen, which had previously been on display at Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, now owned by the National Trust (lot 446). Decorated in gilt and black lacquer with detailed scenes emblematic of the Four Seasons, it was bought by a UK private collector for £11,250.

“Condition with lacquered or japanned pieces can often be an issue, with modern central heating often drying out the surface and causing it to crack or lift,” continued Yuan-Richards. “The colours can also fade with time, evidenced by stronger colours on the inside of a cabinet compared to its exterior. Again, higher prices tend to be realised for pieces which are in a condition closer to how it originally looked.”

Other highlights of the auction on 30th March included a pair of Italian painted and parcel gilt architectural pedestals selling for £17,500 (lot 294); an Anglo-Chinese huanghuali and padouk games table at £11,875 (lot 449); and an Anglo-Chinese bureau at £23,750 (lot 450).

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