Puzzled by E=mc2 ? Einstein's explanation for 'dummies' to go under the hammer

IT’S just over 100 years since Einstein published his theory of relativity to the scientific community, and coming up to a century since what nowadays might be called Relativity for Dummies was first published in English.

Relativity: The Special and the General Theory was written by Einstein for a non-academic market in 1916, and translated from the original German into English in 1920.

In it, Einstein aimed to offer “...an exact insight into the theory of relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.”

Translated by the English physicist Robert William Lawson, Einstein used simple real-world examples to explain the space-bending, time-stretching theories that upended 200 years of scientific thinking, and shaped the way we think about the universe for another 100.

And a rare copy of the first edition will be going under the hammer at Moore Allen & Innocent’s selected antiques sale in Cirencester on Friday, March 16 with an estimate of £300 to £500.

The book retains the all-important red dust jacket which collectors seek. And interestingly, the inside of the dust jacket has been annotated with graphs and formulas by an unknown author - perhaps an amateur physicist working through his own theories.

If the translation of Einstein’s work is a great example of Anglo-European co-operation, then a large oil painting by Malta’s most famous artist, Giuseppe Cali, is the complete opposite.

British Gold Explores the Mediterranean is a rebuke to English imperialism and occupation. The humorous study features five young girls – thought to represent Cali’s daughters – sailing a clamshell with the spoils of war while the Royal Navy beats a hasty retreat.

The girls carry a ripped British ensign and a trident among their haul. Cali painted the work decades before Malta was granted independence.

Cali (1846 to 1930) was a prolific painter, and it is said that almost every church in Malta boasts a work of his. The chance to own this 1.5m wide Cali comes with an estimate of £4,000 to £6,000.

Elsewhere in the picture section, a striking oil painting by the Parisian-based Russian artist Sergei Chepik commands an estimate of £5,000 to £8,000.

While hardly a household name, Chepik – who died in 2011 at the age of 58 – boasted a couple of claims to fame. He was the only living artist ever to have his paintings hung in St Paul’s Cathedral and he was, by repute, Margaret Thatcher’s favourite portraitist – his 1993 painting of the Baroness hung over the fireplace of her London home.

His detailed fantastical compositions were inspired by the louche bars of Paris and the bullrings of southern France. La Boxe features two black boxers, one of whom has just dealt the other a knockout blow, while the bowtie bedecked referee stops the bout.

To the right of the 1930s scene, the bulbs of photographers flash. To the left, spectators – cast in a ghostly white light – howl in approval. In the foreground bookies – in trench coats and trilbies – look on impassionately, while in the bottom right hand corner a spectator lays a hand on the posterior of the only female in the painting – a cigarette girl who grins broadly at the observer.

Staying with Parisian artists, a pair of urns in the manner of the leading Late Baroque architect and furniture maker Daniel Marot is expected to be one of the highlights of the sale.

Standing at more than 70cm tall and measuring over 50cm wide, the acanthus and scrolling foliage decorated urns appear at first sight to be stone, but are actually carved walnut. It is thought that they were originally gilded – which is Louis XIV all over. A bid of £3,000 to £5,000 should secure the lot.

A pair of patinated bronze busts after the 18th century French sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot are expected to achieve £3,000 to £5,000. Mounted on marble plinths and standing at 47cm tall, the busts portray the Trojan priest Chryses and Iphigenia, priestess of Artemis.

And six bronze wall sconces by the 19th century Parisian cabinetmaker Henry Dasson carry the highest estimate of the sale. Each of the neo-classical two branch sconces measures 51cm tall and 33cm wide, and five of the six are stamped HD. They command an estimate of £8,000 to £12,000.

For British-made antiques, bidders should turn to the furniture section. A walnut and iron framed adjustable armchair, designed for first class passengers of the GWR railway, is painted in the gold and brown GWR livery and, at £500 to £800, is a must-have for enthusiasts.

A Victorian aesthetic ebonised framed armchair after a design by E W Godwin and manufactured by Gillow and Co around 1875 is expected to achieve £3,000 to £5,000, while a late Victorian aesthetic stained beech child’s chair, designed by Ford Maddox and made by William Watt, and bearing the initials WW, carries a modest £150 to £250 estimate.

Designed for sitting on, but certainly not for resting in, a circa 2006 rocking horse by Stevenson Brothers is expected to romp home at £2,000 to £3,000.

Manufactured by the makers of the world’s best rocking horses, this example – which is in A1 condition – comes in dapple grey with real hair mane and tail, leather saddle, stirrups and bridle, and embroidered horse rug. Raised on an oak base, the horse stands at 147cm tall and is 172cm long.

Finally, if happiness can be found at the bottom of an empty bottle, then the highlight of the extensive vintage wines section is surely a long since drained wine bottle from the 18th century. Standing at 22.5cm tall, the black glass wine bottle is inscribed Coll John Folliott 1743. Bids of between £500 and £800 are expected.

A full auction catalogue can be viewed online at mooreallen.co.uk