Rare Egyptian Stela Grave Marker Discovered in Sussex

Detail of an Egyptian grave marker for the judge Nebnenjeti, circa 1850 BC

This week I am in the company of Toovey’s Antiquities specialist, Mark Stonard, who has just discovered a rare Egyptian stela from the Middle Kingdom which dates from circa 1850 BC.

He explains that a stela is a slab used in the ancient world primarily as a grave marker but also for dedication, commemoration, and demarcation.

The Middle Kingdom saw a flourishing of the arts and Egyptian power under the Pharaohs. It lasted from 1975 BC to 1640 BC. The Middle Kingdom was the second peak period of the Ancient Egyptian civilization (the other two being the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom). During this time all of Egypt was united under a single government and Pharaoh.

The owner, a private Sussex gentleman, discovered the grave marker amongst his late Father’s possessions. Mark says “The family had always known of it and brought it to Toovey’s to be authenticated together with other antiquities including flint axes which had been acquired by the gentleman’s grandfather.”
He continues “It is unusual to have this quality of pigmentation and colouring remaining. It is of a more standard type of grave marker, so someone from middle society, the higher classes would have had black marble or black basalt grave markers while this is a sandstone example, easier to carve and easier to produce. But, it’s still an astonishing survivor.”

An Egyptian grave marker for the judge Nebnenjeti, circa 1850 BC

The script is a standard formulaic offering from the King to the funerary deity Ptah-Seker-Osiris of bread, beer, meat, fowl, clothing, alabaster and “every good and pure thing on which a god lives”. This is followed by the name of the deceased, Nebnetjeru, whose title shows that he was a judge. It also tells how his name is kept alive by his beloved son who recites the offering.
Beneath this inscription we see a table laid with other offerings including a lotus flower. He and his wife are shown on one side with his son and a daughter on the other.

I comment that it is remarkable that you can even pick out their eyes with that crisp white. Mark agrees “Amazing really, they’re beautifully drawn. There is something very contemporary in the depiction of the figures. It is quite possible that this was fashioned into a wall or a shrine inside a tomb. This is an exciting thing and almost 4000 years old.”

I ask Mark what the pre-sale estimate is for this remarkable object and he responds “£15,000 to £20,000.” The Egyptian grave marker will be auctioned on 7th July and entries are still being invited for this specialist auction of antiquities.

Dame Vera Lynn Jewellery to be Sold in Aid of Charity

A number of pieces of Dame Vera Lynn’s jewellery are to be sold by auction in aid of charity at Toovey’s Washington salerooms in West Sussex on Wednesday 16th March 2022.

Over many years I have admired and supported Dame Vera Lynn and the the work of her Charitable Trust.

During the Second World War Dame Vera was known as the Forces Sweetheart, a singer of undoubtable talent she became an icon of hope in the face of the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges of the Second World War.

In recent days there has been an almost tangible, sharp, intake of breath across a world shocked by Vladimir Putin’s actions. Against the backdrop of courageous protests in his own country Putin has brought his will and the Russian military machine to bear on Ukraine and her people waging war in Europe.

Dame Vera Lynn was always outward facing and generous using her gifts to make a difference to people’s lives, especially in the communities she was passionate about – those who served their country bravely in our Armed Forces, children with disabilities, and of course more recently those she described as ‘the silent soldiers’ in our marvellous NHS. It was a generous example.

It is that ability to press on, to do what is right in the service of others where we stand that gives dignity and purpose to our lives whether our inspiration is sacred or secular. And the more of us who actively choose this path the more evil is pushed back and hope is restored.

Dame Vera Lynn’s large diamond set heart shaped pendant locket being sold to benefit the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust

The heart remains one of the definitive symbols of love and amongst the items entered for sale from the collection is a large late Victorian diamond set heart shaped pendant locket pavé set with old cut diamonds. It was during the Victorian period that the popularity of heart shaped jewellery really reached its heights influenced by the tastes of Queen Victoria. Dame Vera’s locket is a fine example. The smaller diamonds accentuate the principle stone at its centre within a shimmering field. The back is glazed and hinged with a locket compartment. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £7000-£10000.

Alongside the pendant locket are a number of rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches from her collection.

Dame Vera Lynn and her husband Harry Lewis

Speaking to Vera Lynn’s daughter, Ginny, about the sale she said “Mummy’s jewellery reflected points of love in her life. Her charitable work was very precious to her too, so it is very fitting that the pieces of jewellery we have entered for auction at Toovey’s will benefit the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust.” Through her life, work and the legacy of the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust Vera Lynn remains an icon of hope.

To be notified as soon as the illustrated online catalogue goes live this weekend register at www.tooveys.com/auction-alerts or visit www.tooveys.com/online-catalogue.

Lost Work by George Romney Discovered in West Sussex

Toovey’s Fine Art consultant, Tim Williams, with the re-discovered portrait of Lady Laetitia Beauchamp-Proctor by the important English artist George Romney

A lost work by the important English artist George Romney (1734-1802) has been newly re-discovered in West Sussex by Toovey’s Fine Art consultant Tim Williams. Romney was the most fashionable artist of his day and this portrait is to be auctioned at Toovey’s with an estimate of £8000-£12000 on 16th February.

The painting has been in the vendor’s family since the day it was painted, the sitter being a direct ancestor of the owner’s late husband. It is not recorded why but the painting had been previously attributed to Angelica Kauffman sometime before 1915. At that time it was in the possession of Rev Sydney C. Beauchamp. A letter written in 1915 by Rev Beauchamp describes that he had fallen on hard times and was prepared to sell the painting to his cousins for £50 on the proviso that he had the option to buy it back if his fortunes improved. Evidently his fortunes did not improve and the painting has remained in his cousin’s family until now.

Toovey’s Fine Art consultant Tim Williams says ‘I was immediately struck by the quality of the painting when I saw it at the client’s home. I thought it had some compositional similarities to Kauffman’s work, but my gut reaction was that it was by George Romney. I initially contacted the notable Kauffman scholar Dr Professor Wendy Wassyng Roworth who felt the treatment of the subject wasn’t quite right for Kauffman and also suggested Romney as the artist. I wrote to Alex Kidson, the leading authority on Romney, who confirmed that it was indeed by Romney and there was a considerable amount of supporting evidence. The date it was executed was recorded in Romney’s ledgers, as well as the cost of framing. It had been included in Alex Kidson’s scholarly catalogue raisonné of the artist but its whereabouts were unknown and the sitter’s identity was conflated with that of her sister. Alex had never seen an image of the portrait and was as excited as me about its re-discovery. It is rare to have such comprehensive provenance for a portrait of this date.’

George Romney – Portrait of Lady Laetitia Beauchamp-Proctor, oil on canvas, circa 1780

Tim explains how the portrait of Lady Laetitia Beauchamp-Proctor, née Johnson, had originally hung at her sister’s home, Langley Park in Norfolk. It is possible that the same picture is recorded hanging in her brother in law, Sir Thomas Beauchamp-Proctor’s drawing room in 1829 as noted in John Chamber’s ‘A General History of the County of Norfolk’ which was published in 1829 by John Stacy in London.

George Romney recorded Lady Beauchamp-Proctor’s seven sittings between 20th July and 16th August 1780, and the 18 guinea fee was paid to the artist on 5th May 1781. It was sent to Thomas Allwood for framing and is recorded in his framing book as ‘an oval 3/4 at a price of £2 12s 6d for Lady Beauchamp Proctor’.

Tim Williams concludes excitedly ‘This is the first time that this portrait has ever appeared on the market – almost unheard of for a 242 year old painting.’

View the lot here.

Tim Harding Collection of Motoring Photographs

William Sherbrooke and his Bentleys, photo by Chas Bowers

Toovey’s are delighted to announce the Sale of The Tim Harding Collection of Motoring Photographs. It was amassed over a lifetime of collecting by Tim Harding, a motoring historian who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of early vehicle marques.

Tim Harding died in 2018 and part of the collection is now to be dispersed through an auction sale at Toovey’s in Washington. West Sussex, on 27th October 2021. Such is the size of the collection that this will be the first of two sales.

Music Hall Stars Nervo & Knox in an Aston Martin

The collection comprises photographs in all formats from full plate to ‘box brownie’.  The images, well over 20,000 in number, cover the period from the very earliest days of motoring to the early post war era. Most are loose but some are framed and mounted, and there are also ‘family albums’ compiled in period.

Marseal Trade Stand

Whilst mainly focussed on cars, the collection also covers commercial vehicles, cyclecars, motorcycles, racing cars, motorsport generally, trials, rallies and racing including Brooklands. Some lots will cover period garages and workshops, motor accidents, as well as postcards of motoring in topographical settings.

In addition there are a number of items of automobilia such as manufacturers’ catalogues from the 20s and 30s, and dealers’ brochures.

The auction will be held on Wednesday 27th October 2021 at 1pm.
Viewing for the sale will be held on:
Mon, 25th October 2021: 10:00 to 16:00
Tue, 26th October 2021: 10:00 to 16:00
Wed, 27th October 2021: 09:00 to 13:00

Bidding is available at our rooms and live via the third party website the-saleroom.com, commission bidding is also available.

The online catalogue will be available on our website from the 16th October.