Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sun comes out for Summers Place Auctions

Summers Place Auctions, Billingshurst West Sussex

Above: The new contemporary sculpture park, pieces include Thomas Joynes and Adrian Paddon 'Resole', red enamelled stainless steel estimated at £2000-3000.

Above: Modern sculpture on display for the sealed bid auction Tuesday 27th May

Above: Antique statuary in the sealed bid auction.

Above: Antique statuary examples from both the live auction and the sealed bid auction.

The excitement and buzz surrounding the newley formed Summers Place Auctions Ltd was evident from the moment you arrive up the long drive towards the house. The car park was brimming, a very different site to that of the last Sotheby's auction held at Billingshurst. This was perhaps helped by the weather as the clouds broke and the statuary basked in the sunshine.

The recently extended contemporary sculpture park looked remarkably impressive as each piece had enough space to make its own statement and mark its dominance. The public milled around some with a bemused look on their faces whilst others were quickly flicking through the catalogue to note estimates and potentially leave a sealed bid which will be opened on Tuesday 27th May. "A selection of antique statuary is to be sold via sealed bid. The live auction (Tuesday 20th May) will only include more select antiques pieces, regardless of price. The garden statuary and fossil decoration in the live auction will be the finest examples of their kind. Auctions were running for two days sometimes and people were getting bored. We have therefore decided to try this method," said James. "Which is the oldest way of auctioning", added Rupert.

Larger architectural pieces will be offered for sale by private treaty. At present the portfolio includes a stunning late seventeenth century Portland stone niche, almost certainly originally from an architectural scheme by Sir Christopher Wren.

Under the leadership of James Rylands and Rupert van der Werff the sale remains largely unchanged as James took to his seat adopting his usual charismatic air. Steadily running through the lots, only to pause to ask Rupert for help with the pictures of the lots as he is a self confessed 'Techno-fobe'. There is noticeably more people in the room and all of the telephone lines are manned. To everyones excitement many of the lots are sold in the room and even those which eventually go to the telephone or commission bids have previously engaged in a bidding war with a buyer in the room.

The auction of just under 150 lots realised £1,620,463 and included some highly significiant items. The highest price paid was for a set of four impressive carved Italian white marble figures representing the Seasons, which dated from the late 19th century and sold for £180,500 against an estimate of £150,000/250,000 [Lot 73]. The set which had been in a garden in Argentina for more than 100years, had a very good quality surface and achieved such a high price due to the rarity of a complete set coming to the market. They were purchased in the room, on behalf of a Private UK Collector.

Other particularly interesting lots include an impressive carved Portland stone seat from the second half of the nineteenth century. Selling to a seated bidder for £26,000, above the top estimate of £15,000-25,000. A white carved marble group of squabbling putti, Anglo Dutch, early eighteenth century. Which entered into a fierce bidding war before finally selling to a telephone bidder for £11,500, well over its £4000-£6000 estimate. A very fine quality French cast iron figure of Flora, after Mathurin Moreau, dating from 1900, was also highly soughafter and after fierce competition between two bidders on the telephone, it realised £79,700 - almost four times its low estimate.

A rare pair of lead lidded urns dating from the mid 18th century and decorated in frolicking classical putti attracted substantial interest, partuculary when the two experts in charge, James Rylands and Rupert van Werff, subsequently attributed them to John van Nost, whi is considered as the greatest lead modeller of the 18th century. On a recent visit to Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire, the team saw the Four Season Vase and were able to make a comparison with the piece in their sale. This resullted in the vases selling for £74,900 against an estimate of £20,000/30,000.

James Rylands, Auctioneer of the sale and one of the specialist in charge said: “As the world’s leading Auction House specialising in Garden Statuary, we are delighted with the result of our first auction in asscociation with Sotheby’s. This sale not only shows that the market for good pieces is stronger than ever, but it also proves that we can sell a vast range of items spanning a 2000 year period - from an Eastern Roman Empire carved white capital from 2nd/3rd century AD (sold for £9,375 – Lot 7) to the two Lalanne Chairs from the 1980s which fetched £48,500 each.

Im sure more is yet to come from Summers Place Auctioneers as, further development of another two acres of landscaped gardens is planed. Work with Jason stiles an experienced landscape gardener to create the largest specialist garden statuary auction venue in the world. The next sale will be held on Tuesday, October 21, with the sealed bid auction continuing until Friday, October 24.

Summers Place Auctions Ltd

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