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Bonhams to sell Georgian cello by maker favoured by HRH The Prince of Wales
The William ‘Royal’ Forster Cello with Beare provenance is a noted example, created just as the French Revolution was beginning. Estimate: £80,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A cello made by the maker favoured by HRH the Prince of Wales will star in the Fine Musical Instruments sale to be held in Bonhams Knightsbridge saleroom on 22 May, where it is expected to fetch as much as £80,000.

The William ‘Royal’ Forster Cello with Beare provenance is a noted example, created just as the French Revolution was beginning. HRH Charles, Prince of Wales at one time played a fine cello by the same maker, made in the eighteenth century for the sons of George III.

As instrument makers, the Forsters set new standards for England. Their patronage by the cello-playing royal family allowed them to dominate the market for stringed instruments in wealthy and aristocratic London society. Prices for cellos by the Forsters soon rivalled those paid for prestigious Cremonese instruments and once associated with the famous names of the day, their value increased further.

An article in The General Advertiser on 6 November 1787 marks the sale of a Forster cello made in 1772 for the chemist Charles Alexander, which had passed to Hugh Reinagle, “The rage for music was never more conspicuous than now. A few days ago, a violoncello made by Forster, was sold for the sum of one hundred guineas and an Amati bass, worth at least fifty guineas in exchange. The purchaser was Mr. Hole, an amateur, in whose praise much has been, though too much cannot be said.”

Other highlights of the May sale, include a Spinet by B. Slade London circa 1700, listed in all major reference books and decorated with song birds, estimated at £10,000-15,000.

Making a rare appearance is a violin by John Betts, from the same year as the cello above, and recently arrived back in the UK after a century in the US, branded and labelled by the maker in the style of the then fashionable Stradivari. Estimate is £15,000-20,000. The sale will also feature a number of good examples of the work of English eighteenth and nineteenth century makers such as; Benjamin Banks, Joseph Hill and W.E.Hill & Sons.

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