Discoveries: 8 Great Finds Sourced Online in 2017

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The variety and breadth of antique, and often not-so-antique, objects and paintings sent to Sotheby’s via our online platform during 2017 was quite an experience to see. We sifted through watches, jewellery, wine, paintings from every period, silver, ceramics and objects so bizarre they cannot be categorised. The good, the bad, and the ugly of the antiques world passed through our hands on a daily basis. Click ahead to see some of my personal favourites, all of which were offered for sale by clients who contacted Sotheby’s via the online valuation platform.

Mark Stephen is Deputy Director in the London valuations department, responsible for online valuations and with 35 years’ experience in the auction world. For more information and to have your objects valued click here.

Discoveries: 8 Great Finds Sourced Online in 2017

  • Ingo Maurer, 'Porca Miseria!' Chandelier, 1994. Sold for £118,750 in Design: Living In A Material World in London on 17 October 2017.
    Maurer made this in response to what he felt to be the slick, overly-designed look of contemporary furniture. He initially called it 'Zabriskie Point', after the slow-motion explosion in Antonioni's film, but when some Italians came to its first showing and muttered "porca miseria!" in amazement, he changed the name.

    The seller, who consigned it via the online valuation tool said: “I first saw Porca Miseria about ten years ago, hanging in the Blue Room at Waddesdon Manor. I immediately fell in love with its energy and playfulness. Five years later, I was renovating my home in Wimbledon Village and determined that Porca Miseria would be the perfect addition to the dining room. I commissioned the piece directly from Ingo Maurer and received it around 12 months later. After moving house to a lower ceiling property, I stored it for twelve months before deciding to part with it. It is a piece that I adore, but it is far better being hung and adored than stored and forgotten.”

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • A Gold and Micromosaic 'Medusa' Brooch, Castellani, Mosaic Possibly by Luigi Podio. Sold for $137,500 in Magnificent Jewels in New York on 5 December 2017.
    A fine example of a gold and micromosaic brooch by one of the finest makers of the 19th Century, the quality of the mosaic made with thousands of glass tesserae and the luxurious gold frame make this one of the finest products of the Castellani workshop.

    Revived by the Vatican museum workshops at the end of the eighteenth century, the art of the micromosaic was contined by Castellani and under his direction the company became renowned for quality of detail. Castellani’s micromosaics were made under the guidance of Luigi Podio who presided over the mosaic workshop between 1851 and 1888 and guaranteed a consistent quality of production. The brooch was believed to have been a gift to the vendor’s great grandmother from a wealthy New York family and was passed down through the family.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • Mark Stoddart, Hippo 'The Lad' Coffee Table,. Sold for £9,000 in Made In Britain in London on 13 September 2017.
    Made and created by the Scottish contemporary designer Mark Stoddart, this finely cast, bronze table is signed and numbered 78 of 99. It is the most appealing table with the illusion of the Hippo breaking surface through the glass top and was inspired by Mark’s trips to Africa to observe wildlife.

    The seller told us: “The sale was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have recently moved and unfortunately there was no longer enough room for ‘hippo’ to appreciate him properly. I have loved having him and it was always a talking point for visitors. Sotheby's were recommended and they certainly didn’t disappoint with an outstanding result for my lot. I am sure that you have found ‘hippo’ a wonderful new home and hope the new owners get as much pleasure out of him as I did.”

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • He Who Does Not Work Does Not Eat: A Soviet Porcelain Plate, State Porcelain Factory, Leningrad, 1922. Sold for £13,750 in Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons in London on 28 November 2017.
    These Soviet plates are a fascinating record of the Russian revolution and show how the Soviet government realised the importance of propaganda. They commissioned artists to paint the blank plates they found in the Imperial Porcelain factory in Leningrad with a variety of communist messages and slogans. Many were exhibited at Western Trade fairs and communist delegations in Western Europe so found their way to Western collections.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • © Estate of John Craxton. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017
    John Craxton, R.A., Fishes and Pomegranates on a Table,. Sold for £35,000 in Modern & Post-War British Art in London on 12 & 13 June 2017.
    Craxton admired Picasso throughout his life, having seen Guernica as a child at the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World Exposition. His semi-Cubist paintings are witness to this admiration. He held his first solo show at the Leicester galleries in 1944. Known as a Neo-Romantic, his early work was influenced by his friend Graham Sutherland. He adored Greece and travelled there to paint, eventually settling in Crete in 1960.

    This still life was painted in 1952, probably in Greece given the subject matter of fish and pomegranates, and was bought by a friend of Craxton in the 1950’s and was passed from him to the family of the present vendor, who consigned it via the online valuation tool.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • A Gilt-Bronze Figure of Shakyamuni Buddha, Ming Dynasty, Early 15th Century. Sold for £187,500 in Important Chinese Art in London on 8 November 2017.
    This Buddha had been passed down through the family of Ernest Hamilton Sharp OBE. (1861–1922), King’s Counsel for the Colony of Hong Kong.   Apart from the provenance to the early twentieth century, to a man who would have had both the wealth and connections to buy good pieces, the unusual thing about the Buddha is the fact it is signed.  Inscribed ‘Made by Chen Yanqing, from Qiantang’, it is a signature known on three other early bronze figures, one of which is in the Art Institute of Chicago, and another in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • Ernest Martin Hennings, Untitled (Portrait of Frank Samora). Sold for $81,250 in American Art in New York on 13 November 2017.
    Ernest Martin Hennings (1886 – 1956) trained in Chicago and studied painting in Europe, returning to Chicago as the First World War loomed. Bored with the restrictions of his career as a commercial artist in Chicago he headed to New Mexico and was to settle in Taos joining the Taos society of Artists in 1924.

    This colony of artists turned Taos into an International art centre. Here, Hennings thrived in his new freedom and painted en plein air subjects of intense natural beauty in remarkable light, none of which would have been possible in Chicago. Hennings’ primary interest was in portrait painting, with his primary subject being the Native Americans living in and around Taos Pueblo. The seller of the picture inherited the painting from his great grandfather who purchased it in Taos in the 1920’s.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


  • JERRY@6ixsenze
    Patek Philippe, A Fine Yellow Gold Automatic Wristwatch. Sold for HK$450,000 in Important Watches in Hong Kong on 2 October 2017.
    The vendor of this rare vintage watch contacted Sotheby’s from New Zealand. He inherited the watch from his grandfather, the successful business man Philip Seabrook who had a business importing cars and developing the post-war automobile industry in New Zealand.

    Seabrook was an admirer of fine timepieces and journeyed to Patek Philippe in Geneva in 1959 to purchase a new state-of-the-art watch. The "double-baked" enamel dial Ref. 2526 represented the pioneering modern-era Patek Philippe watches.  Mr. Philip Seabrook treasured the watch, having the gold case inscribed and wore it with tremendous pride. It was sold accompanied by a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives.

    For more information and to have your objects valued click here .


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