Juan Manuel Blanes World Record at Toovey’s

Juan Manuel Blanes’s Gaucho on Horseback in a Uruguayan Prairie Landscape, oil on canvas, circa 1875-1878

A major work by Uruguay’s most important painter Juan Manuel Blanes of a Gaucho has just broken the world record at auction selling for £1.15 million at Toovey’s.

Rupert Toovey said “I have known the painting for many years but congratulations must go to our fine art consultant Tim Williams whose exceptional research and tenacity in contacting collectors across the world has made this remarkable result possible, and Nick Toovey who conducted the auction.”

Toovey’s fine art consultant Tim Williams with Juan Manuel Blanes’s important painting Gaucho on Horseback

Tim Williams commented “Juan Manuel Blanes [1830-1901] is renowned for painting grand history paintings and portraits, as well as scenes and events that shaped Uruguay’s national identity during the years of conflict that resulted in independence from Spain.”

He continues “The Uruguayan municipal gallery in Montevideo is named Museo del Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes and houses the largest collection of the artist’s work.”

Tim’s research revealed the painting’s remarkable provenance. The first owner of the painting was the notable Spanish aristocrat Baldomero Hyacinth de Bertodano, 7th Marquis de Moral. He lived at Cowbridge House near Malmsbury in Wiltshire and the painting hung there until his death in 1921. The contents of Cowbridge House were auctioned to divide the estate between five family members. The painting was included in the sale. Described as ‘A fine Oil Painting, The Gaucho on the Pampas in Argentine about 52 by 46 ins’. Baldomero’s brother, Charles Edmund de Bertodano, a notable Railway engineer, purchased the painting from the auction and it remained with his family to the present day.

Thought originally to be an Argentinian landscape the painting sold by Toovey’s actually depicts a Uruguayan scene with a Gaucho on horseback pointing, as two horsemen gallop away on the horizon. The golden glow of Blanes’ palette and the way that he paints the effect of light playing on the prairie is remarkable.

Tim explains “Blanes’ Gaucho paintings celebrate the way of life of these independent, rugged horsemen whose lives embodied the South American ‘Wild West’ and national identity in a similar way to the cowboys of the United States. The open prairie beneath an expansive sky would have contrasted with the pressured urban lives of the cosmopolitan collectors who patronised Blanes’ work.”

Toovey’s Chairman, Rupert Toovey with the World Record Breaking Blanes Gaucho

Commenting on the result Rupert Toovey said “This is the first time that this important painting has appeared on the market in some 102 years. A hammer price of £1.15 million is a new world record and I am delighted that the painting has been acquired by a private Uruguayan collector.”

Watch the auction below:

Rare Louis Vuitton Trunk sets New World Record at Toovey’s

The Louis Vuitton ‘explorer’s’ (malle cabine) trunk exterior

A new world record at auction of £66,000 has just been set at Toovey’s Washington salerooms for a Louis Vuitton ‘explorer’s’ ‘malle cabine’ trunk discovered by their specialist William Rowsell.

Toovey’s specialist William Rowsell has established the saleroom’s reputation as leaders in the auction of Louis Vuitton trunks.

This early trunk was beautifully crafted but quite plain in comparison to later examples. the inscribed name and initials to the top and sides are believed to relate to Dr Edward Percival Dickin. Born in Yorkshire in 1871, he studied in Paris and worked in Northampton Hospital.

The record breaking Louis Vuitton zinc covered ‘explorer’s’ (malle cabine) trunk, circa 1895, with Toovey’s specialist William Rowsell

The famous Louis Vuitton LV was not used until 1896. All Louis Vuitton trunks are numbered and the original paper label, no. ‘37942’, in the interior confirmed its authenticity and date.

The early story of Louis Vuitton is a romantic one caught up with the industrial and political revolutions of 19th century France. The company’s founder, Louis Vuitton, spent his early childhood in Anchay in the Jura region on the eastern borders of France. The 1830s witnessed a significant migration in France from countryside to city. In 1835 the thirteen year old Louis Vuitton left home. It took him two years to walk the 292 miles to Paris as he worked to feed himself along the way. He arrived in the city in 1837. These qualities of determination and hard work would inform his life and success.

At the age of sixteen Louis Vuitton was taken on as an apprentice in the workshop of the successful packer and box maker Monsieur Marechal where he quickly gained a reputation for his abilities in this fashionable field of enterprise.

In 1854 he married Clemence-Emile Parriaux and left Marechal to found Louis Vuitton. To begin with he specialized in packing fashions and fragile objects. It was not until 1858 that he introduced his revolutionary rectangular, stackable trunks. They were an immediate success and the business expanded.

Napolean III and the French Empire was re-established in 1852 and Louis Vuitton was hired as the personal box maker to the Empress of France, Eugine de Montijo.

Louis Vuitton’s son George Vuitton would build on his father’s reputation and establish Louis Vuitton as a worldwide company.

The story of the founder, Louis Vuitton, together with the beautiful craftsmanship which he established ensure that the earliest and rarest examples of the company’s work attract international attention at auction and underpin the continued reputation of this luxury brand today.

A World Record £260,000 for a Japanese Gold Coin at Toovey’s

The obverse and reverse of the record breaking Japanese Meiji ten yen Year 3 pattern gold coin from 1870

A Japanese Meiji ten yen Year 3 pattern gold coin dating from 1870 has just sold at Toovey’s for £260,000. A world record price at auction.

Measuring just 3.2cm the coin’s obverse is decorated with a dragon design within a beaded border surrounded by a frame of characters, whilst the reverse has a sunburst flanked by banners between Imperial kiku and kiri mon. It is in extremely fine condition.

Toovey’s valuer and auctioneer William Rowsell, describes how he discovered the coin on a routine visit to a family home in Walberton, West Sussex. He says “There were a small group of gold coins in a brown envelope. This one coin particularly stood out as being Japanese and worth further research.”

William continues “I returned to Toovey’s salerooms with a car full of an eclectic array of collectors’ items including the coin. I showed it to our specialist Mark Stonard who immediately identified it as being an extremely rare Japanese Meiji ten yen Year 3 pattern gold coin, the first coin of its type after Japanese decimalisation in 1870.”

Mark Stonard explains “This type of coin was originally intended for general issue but it was too fragile and the design was changed to a smaller thicker design. Only four examples of this coin were known to exist before our discovery, one is in the British Museum, one is in the Bank of Japan Collection, and two were auctioned in the USA in 2011 and 2014. The die anomalies in the coin’s striking were identified as being correct by comparing them to those found on the example in the British Museum.”

William Rowsell describes how the seller, a keen genealogist, was able to provide the most remarkable provenance. He says “The coin had come to them by family descent from George Henry Williamson Esquire of Worcester [1845-1918]. George Williamson was a former mayor of Worcester, a manufacturer and a Conservative politician. But the vendor thought that it was likely that this coin was originally acquired by George’s father, William Blizard Williamson [1811-1878]. Mr Williamson was a tinsmith from Cork who eventually settled in Worcester, where he founded the Providence Tinplate Works in 1858. George and his brother William Blizard the younger took over the company after their father’s death. George Williamson deposited this coin with several others for some time at Lloyds Bank in Worcester, incorrectly labelling it ‘Chinese gold piece’, suggesting that he was unaware of its significance.”

It is always exciting to discover something that has lain undiscovered and forgotten, especially when it realises a world record price of £260,000. There is much talk about the value of precious metals but the collectors’ value is so often much higher than the bullion price.

William Rowsell, Mark Stonard and the seller are still celebrating this remarkable coin, its discovery and the result.

Aeronautical Discovery Fetches Thousands

Major Robert Hobart Mayo, O.B.E., M.A. (Cantab), Assoc.M.Inst.C.E., F.R.Ae.S., M.Inst.T. with medals

I was recently on a routine visit to a bungalow in Henfield, West Sussex when I discovered a trunk filled with the most remarkable collection of photographs, documents and medals relating to the late Major Robert Hobart Mayo, M.B.E., M.A.(Cantab)., Assoc. M. Inst. C.E. F.R.Ae.S., M. Inst. T. The collection sold for more than £10,000 including premium at Toovey’s.

Major Mayo was the designer of the Short-Mayo Composite flying boats. He would become a consulting aeronautical engineer alongside some of the most significant moments in 20th century aviation history.

Robert Mayo joined the staff of the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1913 and became head of the experimental department. He qualified as a pilot in December 1914 and went on to serve in the Royal Flying Corps in France during the First World War. On returning to England, he became Flight Commander in the Testing Squadron at Martlesham Heath and was personally responsible for the flying trials of a wide variety of new types of aircraft. In 1917 he was appointed head of the Design (Aeroplane) Section at the Air Ministry and he retained this post until 1919, when he resigned in order to take up Consulting Engineering. He was consulting engineer and technical manager to Instone Air Lines (later Imperial Airways) from 1923 to 1924.

Robert Mayo became a prominent official in competition flying; he was a timekeeper for the Schneider Trophy Contest in 1929 and chairman of the Records, Racing and Competition Committee of the Royal Aero Club in later years. He flew over one hundred different types of aircraft and had a thorough knowledge of aircraft and engines used in various commercial services.

A small section of original fabric from the Wright brothers Kitty Hawk ‘Wright Flyer’ with a printed certification from Major Robert H. Mayo
A small section of original fabric from the Wright brothers Kitty Hawk ‘Wright Flyer’ with a printed certification from Major Robert H. Mayo

On the 17th December 1903 the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, famously made the first controlled flight of a ‘heavier than air’, powered aircraft known as the Kitty Hawk. Amongst the highlights of the collection was a framed fragment of material used to cover the wings from the original plane with a certificate of authenticity from Robert H. Mayo. He writes ‘When Orville Wright, at my suggestion, assembled the Kitty Hawk machine for public exhibition for the first time, in 1916, at the opening the new buildings of M.I.T. in Cambridge, he found that the original fabric could not be used and substituted new fabric of the identical material. When he died, his executors found that he had preserved some of the original coverings of the wings and entrusted several pieces of this most valuable relic to me for distribution to notable aeronautical friends. I certify that this piece was used in the first successful flight in history by Orville Wright on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, N. C.’ It realised £2600.

A letter, signatures and photograph relating to the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in 1919
A letter, signatures and photograph relating to the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in 1919

Technical advances in aviation continued at great pace. On the 14th June1919 John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown took off from Newfoundland in a converted Vickers Vimy bomber. They landed in Ireland 16 hours and 12 minutes later on 15th June 1919, having faced great challenges, to win the £10,000 Daily Mail newspaper prize for the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Robert Mayo had in his collection a gold engraved presentation match vesta, a letter and photographs relating to this first non-stop flight across the Atlantic which sold for £4000.

These and objects like them bring history to life in a vivid and exciting way which is reflected in their values.

The spirit of courage, adventure and engineering inventiveness expressed in the life of Major Robert H. Mayo will continue to be told through the pieces from this extraordinary historical archive.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

£132,000 South Coast Discovery at Toovey’s

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies
£132,000 pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain tea caddies, displayed on a window sill, caught the eye of a Toovey’s valuer during a routine visit to a client’s home. The caddies were subsequently brought in for sale and went under the gavel in a specialist Asian Art sale on Thursday 23rd February 2017.

These Qing dynasty caddies from the Imperial kilns were similar in shape to those made for the European export market. However, the painted blossoming branches and flowering stems accompanied by the lines of text and red seals are typically Chinese in taste, as are the profusely decorated sides with their panels of lotus flowers and tendrils. Measuring just 16.7cm in height they realised a remarkable £132,0000. Both the vendor and Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, are delighted with the result.