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The Richard Burnett Collection and Contents of Finchcocks dazzles at auction
A single-manual harpsicord by J.J. Antunes, 1785.

NEWBURY.- The Richard Burnett Collection sold on 11 May 2016 at The Dreweatts, Donnington Priory in two sales and secured a combined sale total of over £1.2m, with 96.2% of lots sold.

Part 1: The Richard Burnett Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments, achieved well over double its pre-sale estimate with every lot sold and a total for the session of £835,462. The funds raised will go towards the Finchcocks Charity for Musical Education which supports the training of technicians and tuners in order to preserve and promote the playing of historic keyboard instruments.

Will Richards, Deputy Chairman of Dreweatts and Bloomsbury commented: I was honoured to be asked to handle the Finchcocks sale by Richard and Katrina Burnett. The success of the sale far exceeded our expectations and has raised important funds for the Finchcocks musical charity going forward which serves as a fitting outcome to all the dedication that Richard and Katrina have shown to early musical instruments.

The Part I sale saw competitive bidding from all over the world, as buyers relished the opportunity to secure a piece of musical history. Lot 24, a single-manual harpsichord by Joaquim José Antunes, Lisbon, 1785, realised the highest price. Against estimates of £50,000-£70,000, this beautiful piece, painted internally with classical figures including the goddess Athena, sold for £99,200.

Another highlight was the exquisite virginal Onofrio Guarracino, Naples, 1668 (Est: £20,000-£30,000, lot 23) which saw lively bidding and secured over double its estimate, achieving a sale price of £74,400.

More excitement was generated with lot 14, a grand piano by John Broadwood & Sons, London, 1846 which carried an estimate of £5,000-£7,000 and sold for over triple its estimate securing a final price of £32,240. Similarly, the striking euphonicon (upright piano) by Frederick Beale with John Steward, London, circa 1845 (Est: £3,000-£5,000, lot 33) captured buyers’ imaginations and sold for £24,800, the result of fierce bidding from telephone, online and in-the-room bidders.

Dr Graham Wells, Specialist at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, commented: The auction raised a tremendous sum for Finchcocks Charity for Musical Education. This outstanding result, coupled with every lot in the auction selling, stands as a testament to this important collection which shone a beacon of light on early musical instruments. Throughout the auction there was strong bidding across all platforms. In my career I have sold over 18 Stradivarius and this has stood out as one of the most exciting auctions that I have ever worked on.

Part 2: The Contents of FInchcocks Musical Museum, continued on from the morning’s success and attained a sale total of £301,180 with 94.7% of lots selling. Buyers from across the globe were keen to secure the lots from the Burnetts much-loved musical museum as competitive bidding continued into the afternoon.

The top lot in Part 2 of the sale was the striking oil painting by Martin van Meytens the Younger (1695-1770) (lot 193) depicting a concert group including Anne Antonia Christina Somis playing at a harpsichord with her father and brother. The piece doubled its pre-sale estimate of £12,000-£18,000, finally selling for £37,200 after spirited engagement from telephone bidders.

A stunning Chinese blue and white ‘Lotus’ dish, Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722) (Est: £2,000-£3,000, lot 396) raced past its pre-sale estimate selling for £27,280. Lot 307, from amongst the decorative arts pieces, a woodcut by Hans Baldung Grien (c.1484-1545) depicting seven wild horses carried a pre-sale estimate of £1,500-£2,000 and sold for £18,600.

Other sale highlights included a pen, ink and watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) of John Bull at the Italian Opera (lot 340) sold for £8,060, well over its estimate of £3,000-£5,000. A Flemish oak chest front panel, carved to show a scene from the story of King Nebuchahnezzar (lot 377) sold for £6,820, achieving four times its estimate of £1,000-£1,500.

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