On Wednesday 14 December, we have our auction of Old Masters, British and European Art. The auction includes oil paintings and works on paper ranging from the 16th to the 19th Century. We are pleased to be offering a private collection of nearly fifty works from Blaisdon Hall in Gloucestershire (Lots 58-104).
Situated on the edge of the Forest of Dean, this Grade II*-listed, three-storey stone mansion was built in 1876 in Jacobean style by the local architect Frederick Sandham Waller and was further extended in the early 20th century by his son Frederick William Waller. The main entrance features a four-storey tower and a porte cochère – a covered entrance with three arches that would have once allowed carriages, and subsequently motorcars, to pass through. At the rear are two projecting wings with a courtyard between them, completed by an orangery looking out at the 86.7 acres of grounds which is a haven for local wildlife. Despite passing through several hands, Blaisdon Hall retained its original character, with stained glass windows, oak panelling and ornate plaster ceilings made by George Jackson & Sons of London and specialist carved work by the architectural sculptors Farmer & Brindley.
The masterpiece of Victorian architecture, built on a raised site offering spectacular views across the Severn Valley, was originally commissioned by the Crawshay family, a long line of Forest of Dean ironmasters, and remains a visual symbol of the influence this family once had in the area. By the early 1890s, the estate had passed into the hands of Peter Stubbs, a mining equipment manufacturer from Warrington, who owned it until 1935 when The Salesian Society purchased it to establish an agricultural school for the training of underprivileged boys from inner-city suburbs. In 1993, the religious order closed the school and it was sold to Hartpury Agricultural College until it finally returned to private ownership in 2009.
The current collection reflects the essence of its former home, an elegant marriage of 17th century charm and 19th century grandeur, and includes a variety of works from Old Masters such as Elias van den Broeck (1649-1708) to important Victorian Royal Academy landscapes by Edwin Henry Boddington (1836-1905) and George Cole (1810-1883). As to be expected in such a stately country house, the collection also features a strong selection of British sporting artists such as William Joseph Shayer (1811-1892) and George Wright (1860-1942). Concluding this versatile collection are impressive continental works, from a biblical scene by the famous French illustrator Gustave Doré (1831-1883) to a lively view of the Roman campagna by the Italian Aurelio Tiratelli (1842-1900).
We first take a look at Lot 67, A poppy, tulip, chrysanthemum, morning glory, roses and other flowers in a vase, on a stone ledge by Dutch artist Elias van den Broeck (1650-1708). Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague has dated this impressive still life to the late period of Van den Broeck's career.
Elias van den Broeck was born in Antwerp but soon moved to Amsterdam to become an apprentice of Cornelis Kick. After training in Amsterdam for four years, he became a pupil of Jan Davidsz. De Heem in Utrecht in 1669, one of the greatest Dutch still life painters of his time. Van den Broeck is recorded back in Antwerp in 1673, where he became master in the Guild of St. Luke and where he married in 1677 and had three children. He would return to Amsterdam in 1685 and remained there until his death in 1708.
Van den Broeck's oeuvre is undoubtedly influenced by that of De Heem. Both of their still lives, whether of flowers or forest floors, are particularly celebrated for their meticulous attention to detail. This work similarly combines a brilliance and harmony of colour with an accurate rending of the subject matter, be it the flowers in all their variety, the snail on the left, or even the smallest drops of water. In his artists biography, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718), Arnold Houbraken mentions that Van den Broeck even kept a garden outside his house in Amsterdam purely for his studio needs. Van den Broeck's works are widely collected and part of renowned museum collections such as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and Boijmans- Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
We then have Lot 80, a lively view of the Roman campagna by the Italian artist Aurelio Tiratelli (1842-1900). Tiratelli was born in Rome and studied at the Accademia di San Luca under Minardi, Alessandro Capalti, and Francesco Podesti. He also trained as a sculptor and created some sculptures in his early years, but would become known for his views of cattle in the Italian countryside. This painting of a cattle fair on the outskirts of Rome is considered to be one of his major works and is even said to have been acquired by King Vittorio Emanuele.
Another highlight is Lot 82, Moses in the Bulrushes by French artist Gustave Doré. Doré was commissioned to produce a series of 241 wood-engravings for a new deluxe edition of the 1843 French translation of the Vulgate Bible, popularly known as the La Grande Bible de Tours. This two volume work was published in France and Great Britain in 1866 and included 139 plates from the Old Testament and 81 from the New Testiment. Plate 39 The Child Moses on the Nile (The book of Exodus. 1:8-22, 2:1-4) shows close similarities to the present picture.
The illustrations had broad international appeal and were widely reproduced. The artist’s biographer Joanna Richardson suggests that the project 'Offered him an almost endless series of intensely dramatic events. Reminds one of the visions of John Martin. They also reveal many elements bynow familiar in Doré’s work: the mountain scenes, the lurid skies…. There is, too, a period element: the angels are Victorian angels, full of sentiment; the women are, again, keepsake women, the children are Victorian children: sentimental or wise beyond their years.' (Joanna Richardson, Gustave Doré, London, 1980, pp. 72–73.)
Wednesday 14 December | 10.30am GMT
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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Viewing in London (highlights only):
Dreweatts London, 16-17 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5LU
Monday 28 November: 10am - 4pm
Tuesday 29 November: 10am – 4pm
Wednesday 30 November: 10am - 4pm
Viewing at Donnington Priory (full sale):
Dreweatts Newbury, Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Sunday 11 December: 10am - 3pm
Monday 12 December: 10am - 4pm
Tuesday 13 December: 10am - 4pm
Wednesday 14 December: from 8.30am
Remote viewing service | Available by appointment from Sunday 11 December
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