Auction: Portraits are picture perfect at antiques auction

A PAIR of portraits by a painter to the courts of George I and II sold for £7,500 at an auction in the Cotswolds last month.

The portraits of George Venables-Vernon, 1st Baron Vernon, and his first wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Howard, 6th Baron Howard of Effingham, were painted by Enoch Seeman.

George Venables-Vernon sat as a Member of Parliament for Lichfield from 1731 to 1747 and for Derby from 1754 to 1762. In 1762 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Vernon, Baron of Kinderton.

Mary married the politician in 1733, but died seven short years later.

The family seat was Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, which is now a National Trust property and doubled for Pemberley in the BBC's 1995 dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice.

Enoch Seeman, who was born in Danzig to a family of painters, completed portraits of George I, in 1730, in the robes of his coronation, and of George II some years later.

The latter now forms part of the royal collection at Windsor Castle.

And from one royal residence to another, a beautifully illustrated two volume tome featuring the flowers found at Prince Charles' Highgrove home sold for £5,000.

The Highgrove Florilegium was published in a limited run of 175 in 2008 and 2009.

Each copy of the book was signed by the Prince of Wales, and contained reproductions of watercolours painted by leading botanical illustrators from around the world.

The books – which measure a whopping 26 by 18 inches – are half-bound in red goatskin and retail new at £12,500.

The auction at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester offered collectors the chance to bid on art both old and modern.

A small watercolour by the modern British artist Mary Fedden sold for £2,600 – more than double the upper estimate of £1,200.

Measuring just 20cm by 15cm, Sheep in Mountain Snow was painted in 1988 and signed by the artist.

Two maritime oil paintings by the 19th century Dutch artist Hendrik Willem Mesdag – Fishing Boats Near Shoreline, and Sailing Vessels in a Squall – sold for £2,000 and £1,900 respectively, while On the Coast, North Wales, a study in oils of cattle and herdsman painted in 1883 by the English landscape artist Sidney Richard Percy achieved £2,000.

More boats – this time a Venetian canal scene with the Riva Dei Schiavoni in the background – also achieved £2,000.

The watercolour was painted by Staffordshire-born James Holland (1799-1870) who began his career decorating ceramics for the William Davenport pottery and progressed to painting landscapes across Europe.

Sticking with ceramics, a 43cm high slab built vessel of abstract form made in 1987 by leading British potter Alison Britton sold for £3,500, while a 40cm tall studio pottery slab built vase painted with distinctive red, white and orange cross pattern decoration by the English sculptor John Maltby made £1,800.

And in the rug section, a 2m wide prayer rug with Tree of Life design on a cream and red ground from the Iranian city of Kashan took everyone by surprise, selling for £6,500 against a modest estimate of £400 to £600, while in the furniture section a George III mahogany serving table with serpentine front and the stamp Patent GR to the lock sold for £4,700 – well above the auctioneer's £300 to £500 estimate.

Finally, the auctioneers were flooded with offers for a 19th century painted pine Noah's Ark together with around 140 animals and humans, which sold for £2,300 – double the £1,200 upper estimate.

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