Published: April 25, 2018
LONDON – Bonhams, the last large international auction house to conduct sales devoted to early oak furniture, featured “The Oak Interior” on March 28. Crossing the block were approximately 500 lots, of which 326 found buyers and achieved nearly 77 percent by value, a total of approximately $1.2 million.
Chairs were the top sellers in the sale and strong results were seen for examples spanning more than 150 years. Leading the sale was a circa 1530 Henry VIII joined oak panel back armchair. With a closing price of $57,225, it more than doubled its $ 21,500/28,600 estimate. According to the catalog, the chair is one of the earliest examples of a British joined open-framed armchair and is like examples in both the National Museum of Wales Collection, St Fagan, and in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow.
An Elizabeth I armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, realized $50,072. Dated to circa 1570-1600 and possibly from the Somerset area, it easily surpassed its $28,600/43,000 estimate. Two related examples are in institutions in the United States: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Ipswich (Mass.) Museum. A third related example is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Rounding out the top three lots was a Charles II inlaid double panel back open armchair from southwest Yorkshire, circa 1670. With provenance to the Gene and Sally Foster collection and illustrated in Victor Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition, it nearly tripled its low estimate ($11,400/17,000) to bring $30,401.
A large Elizabeth I / James I carved lion finial, which was a particularly large example, more than doubling high estimate, bringing $26,666.
Reached for comment after the sale, Bonhams’ oak furniture specialist David Houlston said collectors are increasingly interested in works that have been exhibited in publications.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house.
Bonhams is at 101 New Bond Street. For information, 44 20 7447 7447 or www.bonhams.com.
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