Cameo glass world record smashed in $263,500 Bonhams auction

The Attack, a cameo glass plaque by Thomas and George Woodall, has set a new world record at Bonhams May 1 auction of British and European Glass.

George Thomas Woodall The Attack glass cameo
The Attack has a companion piece entitled The Intruders, which is more widely published

The plaque brought an impressive £169,250 ($263,255) to the auction. It was one of three records set during the sale, with a Venetian vase and a Beilby wine goblet also achieving record sums.  

The Attack was crafted in 1896, its dark amethyst glass overlaid with white. It is carved with a Pompeian scene, in which two cupids - gods of desire - catch a semi-clad maiden unaware on her terrace.

Britons Thomas and George Woodall were apprentices to two artisans who were known for reviving the Roman tradition of cameo glass in the 19th century. The brothers continued their work, and while George was a local celebrity and achieved a good deal of success during his lifetime, Thomas was preoccupied with social reform and refused to sign his work, causing his name to be almost forgotten today.

This was the last piece they would collaborate on, with their relationship becoming strained in later years.

"Carved in the Roman manner The Attack is one of the finest pieces of Cameo glass work ever produced," commented Simon Cottle, Bonhams' European director of glass.

"Reminiscent of the priceless Portland vase created nearly two thousand years ago and which stands in the British Museum, this piece is in outstanding condition having always been in private hands. This piece may well hold the record for any piece of English glass ever sold at auction."

A Venetian cameo glass vase created by Attilio Spaccarelli (1890-1975) set a new world record for the artist, selling for £26,250 ($40,829) - more than 10 times is pre-sale valuation.

A circa 1766 Beilby wine goblet sold for £63,650 ($99,002), setting the auction record for a glass of this particular type.

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