Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gone are the days of the Good the Bad and the Ugly

Billinghurst, Sussex, UK -

Above1: A terracotta Triton blowing a horn, Austrian circa 1870, the highest of the architectural garden lots fetching £19,700, Above2: A terracotta Triton holding a trident, Austrian circa 1870's, the providence by repute is that they were removed from the Vienna Stock Exchange

James Ryland stood at the podium minus a tie for the first time in twenty years, to mark the last ever Sotheby's sale at Billinghurst Summers Place on the 25th September 2007.

Rupert Van Der Werff and James Rylands are 'delighted to announce that from 1st January 2008, Sotheby's sales of garden statuary will be under the auspices of Summers Place Auctions in association with Sothebys.' Under this new banner the regular sales of garden statuary, architectural and fossil decoration will continue but they welcome an additional two and a half acres of landscape viewing ground to form their enhanced sculpture garden. The expansion and take-over potentially suggests that there maybe more sales at Summers place throughout the year, news of which we will eagerly await.

The top antique lot in the garden and architectural section was an attractive terracotta Triton blowing a horn, circa 1870's and reputed to be from the Vienna stock exchange, fetching £19,700. The top fossil was a rare gigantic plate of paradoxides trilobite from Morocco which reached £23,300. The top lot of the sale was a modern set of four carved limestone Seasons, selling for £25,700. The best performer in the contemporary field was 'Fighting Hares' crafted by Paul Jenkins and selling for £14,900,

Their infectious appreciation of fossils is a credit to their fine tuning and knowledge to make them market makers in this sector. Mr Rylands said, 'that fossils are very important to the sale as they are timeless and exceptionally decorative, fitting in just as well in a country cottage as they would in a New York loft apartment.' Their collective passion coupled with the market shift to high end antiques suggests that future sales will include an increasing number of fossil decorations. Additionally both are keen to promote new designers by including a selection of contemporary sculptures sourced from around the world. Perhaps this is a way in which the market and economic climate is moving as taste moves and expands and the buyer increasingly knows what it is they want. However one has to question if these buyers are still in a Sotheby's mindset as much of the contemporary works are figurative with naturalistic or animal references rather than outlandish conceptual pieces, but this again may develop over time. Although a passer-by was heard to refer to the top field of contemporary sculpture as a sculpture park and describe the collection of female and male enameled steel pieces by Danu as handy for target practice. Therefore it seems that they still have a little way to go to infiltrate the mindset of the Sotheby's eighteenth century classic sculpture buyers. However it is commendable that they have taken on this challenge as it is a natural progression and obviously a direction in which they have to go.

The afternoon timing of the sale seemed particularly apt, pandering to US buyers, as the telephones were full whilst the room remained relatively empty. Although it was not quiet, the charismatic character of Mr Rylands filled the room along with the sounds from the latest building work undertaken on Summers Place, which has recently been sold by Sotheby's for development.

The money spiders which hung from the newly erected marquee did not prove a good omen for the sale as 51 per cent sold by lot went unsold. Perhaps even more interestingly the top three lots did not include contemporary sculpture or any older garden or sculptural lots, highlighting the fact which both partners pointed out that the current market is hard to predict .

Above: Sotheby's garden, architectural field view

Above: Kouros, Coquine, Lascive, Miss, Sirena by Danu (or 'Target Practice')

Above: Fossil decoration marquee

Above: Top field of contemporary sculpture - front 'Swan' by Marjan Wouda, horse in background 'Refusal One' by Martin Lowe

Above: The higest modern lot a beautifully balanced sculpture of 'Fighting Hares' by Paul Jenkins reaching £14,900

Above: A gigantic paradoxides trilobite place from Morrocco measuring 168cm; 66ins high by 140cm; 55incs wide, and selling for £23,300

Above: A rare double headed Crinoid plaque Holtzmagen, German, from the Jurrassic period, £20,900

Above: A set of four carved limestone seasons, modern on pedastals 246cm; 97ins high, the record of the sale selling for £25,700

Sotheby's sale catalogue

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