Napoleon’s best-selling 1810 star cameo in our latest pick of five auction highlights

Sardonyx cameo depicting Napoleon as a classical emperor – £ 22,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

1. Napoleon’s cameo – £ 22,000

The best examples of glyphic arts continue to shine at auction. This carved sardonyx cameo of Napoleon as a classical emperor sold for £ 22,000 (estimate £ 600-800) at the Chiswick auction on June 11.

Unknown to the local seller, who had kept it in a drawer, it was from around 1810 and is signed Morelli for the Roman engraver Niccolò Morelli (1771-1830). Measuring 1.75 in (4 cm) and mounted in gold, it is housed in a later blackened frame.

Napoleon greatly encouraged the glyptic arts in France, extending the Prix de Rome (a scholarship for students of the arts) to engravers of precious stones from 1805 and creating a school for students of the subject under the supervision of Roman-Vincent Jeuffroy of the Monnaie de Paris. Many gemstone engravers have chosen to represent the Emperor and his family. However, Niccolò Morelli (whose clients included Francis I of Austria and Count Sommariva) was considered his favorite and practically became the empire’s official engraver.

In November 2020, Bonhams gifted a cameo that would be a portrait of Marie, Countess Walewska (1786-1817), the Polish nobleman and mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte, who bore him a son in 1810. It was unsold with a guide from £ 15,000-20,000.

2. Queen Anne Gold Medal – £ 12,500


Queen Anne Gold Medal

A gold medal from Queen Anne’s accession in 1702 – £ 12,500 in Bamfords.

The 1702 Accession of Queen Anne Medal is not uncommon in copper and silver but very rare in gold. Examples of copper medals can be found for under £ 100 and silver ones costing £ 100 to £ 500 depending on the state.

This gold copy (in a contemporary shagreen case) went on sale at Bamford’s in Derby on June 10 where, estimated between £ 3,000 and £ 5,000, it cost £ 12,500.

The medal is a relatively early design by John Croker, who would become chief engraver at the Tower of London from 1705 to 1741. A portrait bust of the monarch appears on the obverse with the obverse depicting a heart, in raised oak branches. on an inscribed pedestal, Atavis Regiev with words Completely English. These are a reference to Anne’s first speech to Parliament in which, after a decade of William of Orange’s reign, she proclaimed “I know my own heart is entirely English”.

3. Portrait of a Shortened Life – £ 5,800


Portrait of Maurice William Greiffenhagen

Portrait of Gilbert Maurice Parkinson by Maurice William Greiffenhagen – £ 5,800 at Semley Auctions.

The sale at Semley Auctions in Shaftesbury, Dorset on June 12 included this 14 x 10 inch (35 x 25 cm) portrait of a young boy in profile by Maurice William Greiffenhagen (1862-1931). He had a guidebook of just £ 150-250 but sold for £ 5,800.

Worked in both pastel and watercolor, it is signed and dated 1906 – the year Greiffenhagen first taught at the Glasgow School of Art – with the subject named Gilbert Maurice Parkinson. It was offered for sale by a member of the Haviland Parkinson family, a descendant of the Guardian.

Subject was a repeatedly painted Greiffenhagen, most famous as part of the 1915 portrait William Parkinson’s sons (Captain William Haviland Parkinson, 1891-1976 and Captain Gilbert Maurice Parkinson, 1896-1918) which is now in the Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland.

After nearly four years as a soldier in France and Italy, Gilbert was struck by the flu epidemic that ravaged Europe in the last months of the war and died in Italy in 1918.

After the death of the artist and the caretaker, the photo was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts’ winter exhibition in 1933, when it was simply titled Head of a young boy.

4. Dominion Gas Pump Globe – £ 15,500


Dominion Gas Pump Globe

Dominion Gas Pump Globe – £ 15,500 at Richard Edmunds.

Every collector of original glass fuel pump globes hopes to own copies of classic top brands – BP, Shell, Esso and others. With a little patience and a decent budget, there are plenty of examples available over a year.

However, once these “entry-level” pieces are acquired, it is the globes of the more obscure brands that come to the top of the list. They can be much harder to find – and much more expensive.

Richard Edmonds in Chippenham has sold very rare British petrol pump globes in recent years – including a lantern-shaped globe for Dominion sold for £ 13,000 in October 2019 and, precisely one year later, another Dominion Guaranteed globe. inspired by Deco dated approx. 1937 sold for £ 23,000 – considered a record for a British oil globe.

Dominion was started in 1923 but was quickly swallowed up by Sealand Petroleum.

The best things come in threes and another Dominion Globe surfaced at the Wiltshire firm on June 12. In excellent condition, it sold for £ 15,500.

5. Portrait of Sir Henry Raeburn – £ 80,000


Portrait of Sir Henry Raeburn

Portrait of Lady Agnes Carnegie by Sir Henry Raeburn – £ 80,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

This three-quarter-length portrait of Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) depicts Lady Agnes Carnegie (1763-1860). Born in Edinburgh in 1763 and raised in colonial America where her father Andrew Elliot was the last governor of New York, she returned with her family to Scotland when American independence was recognized in 1783.

There she married Sir David Carnegie, Member of Parliament for Kincardineshire and Deputy Governor of the British Linen Company. The couple and their 12 children lived between Kinnaird Castle and their home in Gloucester Place, London.

This 1.27 x 1.02 m (4 ft 2 in x 3 ft 4 in) portrait with its subtle palette was made around 1810, when Raeburn was at the height of his powers. It shows Lady Carnegie looking towards the viewer with a gentle, smiling poise, the light playing on the stripes of her ivory headdress.

This portrait was put on sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on June 10 from the collection of John Reid (1861-1933), a son of James Reid of Auchterarder, who founded the Hyde Park Locomotive Works in Glasgow. The Reid family were among the earliest collectors of paintings from the Barbizon and The Hague Schools, and also owned several great Old Masters as well as a fine selection of British paintings.

Estimated between £ 15,000 and £ 20,000, this Scottish portrait generated a sale in excess of £ 80,000, sold to a private American buyer.


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