Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alex Puddy over the moon at £853k result

Above: A relaxed-looking Alex Puddy two days before the sale at Christie's South Kensington

London UK - "IT went well", Alex Puddy said after the sale of the Adrian and Suzy Puddy Collection at Christie's South Kensington, "you shoot for the stars in your mind, and I would have loved it to have reached a million, but I am absolutely over the moon. The business side of things went well too. It was also interesting that quite a few old clients came, who had only seen us at Olympia or Chelsea, and expressed surprise that they didn't really know we had that much stock."

The 230 lot sale, which took place on Wednesday 10 March 2010, totalled £852,938 with 177 lots sold, sold by lot 77 per cent, sold by value 79 per cent. Christie's head of sales, Anna Evans and director Toby Woolley said, "The beautiful public exhibition of items on offer prior to the sale, which overflowed into the mews, received a host of compliments, which resulted in strong results in the saleroom from both UK and international clients."

Alex was, as he puts it, born into the business - son of Adrian and Suzy Puddy, founders of Architectural Heritage of Taddington Manor in Gloucestershire. After leaving school with both art and art history, he spent some time dealing in pictures, worked as barman in a cocktail bar and travelled around for a year, before making the career choice at 23 of settling into the family business. Now he has taken over the reins while Adrian Puddy has not exactly retired but has left Architectural Heritage.

There are no planned changes to the business which is mainly antique garden ornament, with some fine antique panelling and chimneypieces, supplemented with reproduction fountains, statuary, gazebo and pergola.

"Although nothing is planned, I hope to develop new areas within my personal interest in twentieth century and contemporary sculpture and works of art. This year we will be doing Chelsea Flower Show, as usual, and I will watch with interest how the London fair scene pans out over the summer." In previous years Architectural Heritage has been a regular exhibitor at both Chelsea and Olympia, and last year was also at the summer antiques event in Berkeley Square in the heart of Mayfair. There is something of a rummage going on between several antiques and decorative fairs this summer, which has led to some of the top end of the trade holding fire to see who might end up topping the bill as London's most prestiguous, rather than becoming fodder for one of the early failures.

Having exhausted themselves with intensely expensive London shows, we are hoping that at the end of June some of the glitterati may visit Knewbworth to relieve themselves of small change at Salvo Fair. Although they do not stand at Salvo Fair, Adrian normally comes and buys, and Alex always very kindly gives away Salvo Fair postcards on his London show stands.

On the state of the trade in general Alex Puddy said, "The trade is individual people's livelihoods, and I respect that, and I know that all are working, tough sometimes in comptetition, as hard as we can to succeed in a market increasingly dominated by the auction houses."

Preview of the sale at Christie's South Kensington with commentary by TK

Sale results
[Lot notes and photos courtesy of Christie's]

Above: ONE OF A PAIR: The top lot at £37,250 (est £40k-£60k) was a pair of 19th century Italian marble Molossian hounds traditionally known as the Dog of Alcbiades. The dogs 48 in. (122 cm.) high. Provenance: estate of Leona M. Helmsley, Christie's, New York, 9 April 2008.
Lot Notes: The Hellenistic sculpture the 'Dog of Alcibiades' was modelled on a Molossian dog, ancestor of the modern mastiff. Henry Constantine Jennings of Shiplake acquired the only known Roman copy of the lost bronze original, dating from the 2nd century, during his stay in Rome between 1753 and 1756 when he rescued it from a pile of rubble in a Roman sculpture workshop for a total of £80. Jennings liked to call the sculpture the 'Dog of Alcibiades', after Alcibiades, an Athenian general with a chequered career who spent most of his time fighting or in exile. According to the Greek biographer and philosopher Plutarch, Alcibiades owned a large, handsome dog whose tail was "his principal ornament". Alcibiades cut off his tail and when told that "all Athens" felt pity for the dog, laughed and said "I wished the Athenians to talk about this, that they might not say something worse of me". Jennings's motive was probably much the same, for the Dog became so famous in England that the owner was called 'Dog-Jennings' and replicas were thought to make "a most noble appearance in a gentleman's hall" according to Dr Johnson. It was considered a sign of true gentlemanly taste to own a copy of this dog. Though the original and the present copies do not lack tails, it was Jennings's hope to associate the figure with the cachet of ancient Greek civilisation. By 1816, Jennings was in debt and forced to sell his dog stating "A fine dog it was, and a lucky dog was I to purchase it." Jennings's original now resides in the British Museum, London.

Above: ONE OF A PAIR: French carved marble urns of campana form, the bodies with a continuous frieze of classical figures, on waisted socles with rope-twist detail and square bases 38½ in. (98 cm.) high, complete with modern limestone pedestals. Sold for £37,250 (est £10k)

Above: Lot Description: A GROUP OF SIX GRADUATED HAMSTONE STADDLESTONES EARLY 19TH CENTURY Of typical form, various sizes The largest - 28¾ in. (73 cm.) high The smallest - 21½ in. (54.5 cm.) high (6). Sold £27,500 (est £3k-£5k)

Above: Late 19th century Italian Carrara marble seat, 74ins long, from Warfield House Hampshire. Sold £32,450 (est £10k-£15k)

Above: White painted wrought iron gate, 62ins high, catalogued as early 20th century. It had been adapted in the 1930s but had been recrafted using 18th century elements which appeared to be part of an old sign or bracket. Sold £688 (est £500).

Above: Mid 19th century sandstone bust of the Roman god Zeus of Otricoli, after the antique, 33ins high. Sold £7,500 (est £7k-£15k). This is the same model which appears in miniature in the tondo below where it is described in the catalogue as Zeus's Greek equivalent Jupiter.

Above: Two lots juxtaposed for comparison. The one on the right is a Carron seat, made in Scotland, 62ins long which sold for £6,875. The design for this seat, number 34358, was registered and patented by the Carron Foundry, Carron, Stirlingshire, on the 16th March 1846. John Adam became a partner of Carron in 1763 and with his brothers James and Robert produced a range of elegant railings, stoves, fireplace surrounds and hob grates. The one on the left is by Mott of New York, 65ins long, which sold for £6,875. The New York based firm of J.L.Mott & Co was established in 1828. By the second half of the nineteenth century the firm had showrooms at 549 Sixth Avenue and 1266 Broadway. The current lot is a clear example of how designs by British cast-iron manufacturers were copied abroad. The Carron 'Gothic' seat, lot 185, has been reproduced by Mott, one difference being the back legs, which are cabriole in shape to match the front and provide additional support. Another difference is that the apron casting on the Carron seat is in one piece while the Mott apron is in three pieces.

Above: A French composition stone table attributed to Louis Thovin on four shaped supports, 78ins diameter. Sold £16,250 (est £8k-£12k)

Above: Modern bronze deer on limestone plinths, 56ins high. Sold £16,250 (est £4k-£6k)

Above: Four 19th century Cotswold stone urns with octagonal socles, together with four modern limestone pedestals, 48ins high. Sold £20,000 (est £12k-£18k)

Above: 'The Skipping Rope' by Mary Thornycroft mid 19th century statuary marble 58ins high. Sold £15k (est £12k)
Lot Note: Mary Thornycroft studied under her father, John Francis, and was regarded as a child prodigy. In 1840 she married the sculptor Thomas Thornycroft who was assisting her father in his studio at the time. She made her debut at the Royal Academy in 1835 with the genre figure 'The Young Woodcutter'. She travelled to Rome 1842-1843 with her husband. On the recommendation of John Gibson, Queen Victoria commissioned her to sculpt her daughters as the four seasons and she followed this with many individual portrait busts of the Royal Family, some of which are held in Royal collections at Buckingham Palace and Osborne House. Rupert Gunnis notes a model of 'The Skipping Rope' at Osborne House (Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, London, 1953). This was a popular model and was copied by Minton in Parian Ware. An engraving was published in the Art Journal in 1861 and another in the Illustrated London News of 10th August 1867.

Above: George III c1770 Portland stone tondo of Clio muse of History from Plas Llangoedmor estate, Cardigan, Wales, 32ins dia. Sold £10k (est £4k)

Above: George III c1770 Portland stone tondo of Hebe, Greek goddess of youth, from Plas Llangoedmor estate, Cardigan, Wales, 32ins dia. Sold £9,375 (est £4k)

Above: Edwardian octagonal pine and cork summerhouse, reconditioned and new roof, 112ins high, made by Julius Caesar & Sons. Sold £8,750 (est £8k-£12k)

Above: Late 19th century French Cipollino marble bath with lion's paw feet, 78ins long. Sold £7,500 (est £6k-£8k)

Architectural Heritage

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