Looking good... Two carved giltwood mirrors achieve £120,000 at Bonhams

Two George II carved giltwood mirrors, which were commissioned for Castle Howard in Yorkshire, the stately home featured in the 1981 TV series and the 2008 film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, sold for an impressive £120,000 yesterday (3 November 2010) at Bonhams.

As we reported, the mirrors were the leading lot of the Fine English Furniture and Works of Art sale, which realised a total of £1,341,216, with 78% sold by value.

Designed for Henry, 4th Earl of Carlisle (1694-1758) by John Vardy and showing the influence of his colleague William Kent, the mirrors had passed by descent through five generations, before being bought by a London dealer, Lionel Harris Junior, in 1929.

Three year later, in September 1932, Harris was contacted by the leading furniture historian and advisor R. W. Symonds, who had been employed by Francis A Lauder to find a pair of mirrors for Bowden Hall in Derbyshire.

Rare antique pair of George II carved giltwood mirrors
Antique George II carved giltwood mirror
(Click to enlarge)

Due to the depressed economic circumstances of the time, Symonds, who was behind some of the most important 20th century collections, managed to negotiate the purchase of two of the mirrors - although being sold as a set of four - with ease.

Prior to being acquired by Lauder of Bowden Hall, one of the mirrors was exhibited at the Art Treasures Exhibition on October 12 1932, held under the auspices of the British Antique Dealers Association.

A packed saleroom also saw top prices paid for items including an early 18th century figured walnut bureau, which started off its life at Shaw Hall, Newbury, Berkshire when it was supplied to James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos (1673-1744) between 1730 and 1736. It fetched £114,000, far outstripping pre-sale expectations of £30,000 - 50,000.

A George III mahogany escritoire (estimate £4,000 - 6,000) and a set of six George III chairs (estimate £6,000 - 8,000), which had passed by descent through the Windham, Dalling and Meade families at Earsham Hall, Norfolk, from the 18th century, also sold well, fetching £36,000 and £29,400 respectively.

Harvey Cammell, Director of Bonhams' Furniture Department, commented:

"This is a fantastic result for a Fine English Furniture sale and demonstrates the continued depth of demand for top end pieces. It comes on the back of a very strong year for selling furniture at Bonhams globally, from The Owston Collection, Sydney, in June to the Sampson and Horne sale, London, in April."

Those interested in investing in antique furniture will want to take a look at this George III period mahogany and satinwood cabinet which also boasts a Castle Howard connection.


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