Last week Sotheby’s held a spectacular sale, auctioning what they describe as one of the finest groups of antiques to be sold by them in recent years. The lots for sale were all from the collection of Alan Rubin of Pelham Galleries. The Pelham Galleries in London and Paris are known for their exceptional quality of English and Continual furniture and works of art, their galleries have also helped to form some of the best known private and museum collections. Following the decision to start a new chapter of dealership, focussing on antique instruments, Alan Rubin is auctioned a range of items from the Pelham Galleries and personal collections in this sale.
We’ve chosen some of the items that stood out to us the most, take a look at our top picks …
This George III breakfront bookcase (c. 1780) instantly caught our eye for its grand stature. It has been made in satinwood, harewood and tulipwood which gives a beautiful finish and perfect tonal balance. We love the classical details of the bookcase which features a cornice with inlaid pilasters. The inlaid oval medallions on the lower section perfectly balance with the astragal enclosing glazed doors. It is thought that this originally belonged to Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston for Broadlands House as it was listed in the Broadlands House inventory from 1786.
This lacquered and parcel-gilt cabinet (c.1750) was a slightly more unusual piece for us to chose, we were drawn to its impeccable detail and vibrant colouring. The doors doors are decorated with in the manner of Jean-Baptiste Pater with scenes galantes. ‘Scenes galantes’ or ‘fetes galantes’ were typical of the Rococo era and were initially developed by Watteau, they depicted aristocratic figures in lush landscapes enjoying celebrations. Pater was a student of Watteau and was strongly influenced by this style, borrowing both his themes and Rococo pastel palette. As well as these painted scenes, the interior of the cabinet features architectural coastal scenes within red and gold borders. An item of furniture like this could instantly enliven a sitting room or bedroom. While it would suit a classic interior, it could also add character and charm to a contemporary interior with muted tones. We enjoy mixing contemporary interiors with antique items and a piece like this would certainly become a talking point.
Lot Sold: £28,750
Continuing our colourful selection we also were drawn to this pair of Italian gilt wood and polychrome mirrors (c.1770). The mirrors each feature a beautiful central cartouche painted with scenes of putti. The decoration around each mirror plate features finely carved, polychrome floral garlands, scrolls and acanthus. These mirror originated from the Palazzo Butera in Palermo and are wonderful examples of High Rococo design. Their rectilinear shape and moulded cornices were designed to merge with the architecture of their surroundings and were often found in large salons in Palazzi and estates around Sicily. Placed in a classic house or apartment these mirrors could enliven and open up the space while merging with existing architectural features.
Lot Sold: £35,000
We were also struck by these interesting George III mahogany hall chairs (c.1760). They feature magnificent shell shaped backs and seat above cabriole legs. Their dark mahogany colouring and shell shaped design give them a real richness and these would suit a classic interior. Their backs are painted with the crest of the Elwes Baronets - John Elwes reputedly being the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ character of scrooge!
Lot Sold: £11,250