Each historic piece of furniture offered in Bonhams
4th June Fine English Furniture sale tells its own story of centuries past. Pieces carved, cast and crafted in workshops generations ago, have outlived the grand families who commissioned them, survived world wars and stood witness in English households to drastic social change.
An impressive George II carved giltwood centre table (lot 17), produced circa 1725 is estimated to sell for £40,000-60,000. The Siena marble top sits above a leaf carved frieze; a grotesque mask carving sits at each corner and each carved table leg is finished in bold paw and ball feet. The impressive 18th century table is attributed to the furniture maker James Moore, whose workshop was based in Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden in early 1700s. As Royal cabinet-maker James Moore supplied walnut and mahogany furniture for the Royal Household, the Royal Yacht and was especially known for gilt gesso furniture.
Another Georgian top lot is a George III chimney piece (lot 53), carved in Irish white marble and African breccia with central carved panel depicting the Roman Gods Venus, Mercury and Cupid. It is offered with estimates of £40,000-£60,000. The carved scene shows Mercury acting as schoolmaster to a young Cupid, accompanied by his mother Venus in her chariot. This classical subject is best known from Correggio's 16th century painting, The School of Love.
A bronze equestrian sculpture (lot 149), titled 'Physical Energy' and dated 1914, takes its place among the front-runners in the sale. The bronze, showing a male rider on a rearing steed, is a reduction of the full size work by George Frederick Watts, cast by Thomas Wren (British b. 1885). It is offered with an estimate of £40,000-£60,000. This reduction in bronze was modelled by Wren in 1914 and was based on the three full-size bronze monumental casts produced by Watts which were unveiled in Kensington Gardens, London, Cape Town, South Africa and Harare, Zimbabwe. Around fifty of Wren's sculptures were to be cast but this venture was cut short by the outbreak of war, possibly as production was moved over to the production of armaments.
Until now, only four other reductions of 'Physical Energy' were known, all inscribed 'Physical Energy, G.F. Watts'. The present bronze, similarly inscribed and signed, is almost certainly from this same edition and, as such, is a new and rare discovery.
A pair of painted bronze octagonal lamp posts that lit Mansion House in the 1930s (lot 155) are estimated to sell for £10,000-£15,000. The lanterns hold the thistle and dragon crest of the City of London and were made by The Cashmore Art Works, circa 1935. Since the removal of these lamps, the portico at Mansion House has not been lit with lamps between the columns.