2023 Review of the Year at Clevedon Salerooms

2023 Review of the Year at Clevedon Salerooms

Join us as we take a look back at the past twelve months, on what has been another highly successful year for Clevedon Salerooms.


As we welcome a new year it is with considerable pride that I look back on the achievements over the past twelve months at Clevedon Salerooms. Without doubt, the highlight of our sales calendar came in June with the spectacular Barrow Court Sale. Success breeds success and later in the year we were delighted to offer the selected contents of Gatcombe Court. 2023 was also record-breaking year for three-weekly Interiors sales. A year of high prices culminated in November where we achieved our highest hammer total for these ever-popular sales. Together with other high calibre private collections – from Worcester porcelain, to important Victorian watercolours – I am pleased to say this has been a year in which Clevedon Salerooms has gone from strength to strength. I hope you enjoy this chronological review of some of the most memorable pieces we have sold this year.


Fourteen rolls of 20th Century Chinese wallpaper, hand painted in watercolours and depicting figures on paths before a karst landscape, laid on to linen backing, a complete run numbered 5-18 verso
Sold for £7,200

If there is one lesson that 2023 taught us is that, when it comes to an outstanding auction price, the ‘x’ factor can usually be found where quality, rarity and decorative appeal combine. Sometimes this can be found in the most unlikely places, as the standout lot in the March Specialist sale proved. It must be said that unused wallpaper isn’t the sort of fare normally couched to get valuer’s pulses racing but when it’s Chinese hand-painted wallpaper it can be a different story. A routine valuation at a North Somerset country property, yielded an unusual discovery for Clevedon Salerooms valuers - fourteen rolls of wallpaper, unused and still in its packaging, as it had been from the day it was bought fifty years ago. Initially there was nothing to excite. Unrolled, however, a freely painted panoramic landscape of trees and mountains was revealed. Offering, as it did, decorative flair combined with a strong appeal to the bullish Chinese market hopes were high from the outset. The saleroom’s photographer surpassed themselves with no fewer than forty-five images which really showed this extraordinary artwork to its full advantage. Reliable online images give buyers the confidence to bid high and their hard work certainly paid off as strong commission bids, vied with fevered online bidding and four telephone bidders. In the end it was the internet that won out with the gavel going down at an estimate smashing £7,200


Aerial view of Barrow Court, North Somerset


In the Summer, Clevedon Salerooms were delighted to announce that it had been entrusted with the sale of the contents of Barrow Court, former home of the late technology entrepreneur Iann Barron C.B.E. An ardent champion of Barrow Court’s history, over many years he undertook a project to restore many of the notable features and interiors of the historic mansion, in the process creating a wonderland of period furniture and works of art, the majority purchased from established dealers in the Cotswolds during the 1980s. Furniture of such calibre and provenance is always guaranteed to create a stir when it appears on the market in such quantity and this certainly proved to be the case with strong and sustained bidding throughout the sale. In a day which saw many lots fiercely fought over, leading the way, an outstanding carved oak and marquetry-inlaid tester bed, in the early 17th Century manner. The nine-panel tester was a tour-de-force of the woodcarver’s art, the headboard flanked by figural terms and the endposts with Ionic capitals and gadrooned-and floral-carved cup-and-cover supports. The focus of spirited bidding it took the day’s top price, selling for £14,000. Also scoring highly was a Charles I oak three-tier open ‘court cupboard’ or buffet, well carved with gryphon front supports, which sold for £9,000, and a very attractive Queen Anne walnut cabinet on chest, circa 1710, the upper section with bevelled and star-etched mirror doors, which sold for £8,000 but it wasn’t just amongst the furniture that the high notes of the sale were hit.


Circle of Arthur Pond, (circa 1701-1758) - English School, mid-18th Century - Oil on canvas – Henry and Susanna Hoare of Stourhead, Wiltshire
Sold for £8,200

A mid-18th century English School oil on canvas from the Circle of Arthur Pond, of Henry and Susanna Hoare of Stourhead, Wiltshire was the focus of a hotly fought bidding battle which saw it eventually knocked down well over estimate at £8,200.  Similarly, a fine walnut and seaweed marquetry eight-day brass dial longcase clock by the esteemed maker John Norcot of London also performed well, selling for £6,200.


Fine neoclassical style statuary marble chimneypiece or fireplace surround, probably George III period, circa 1790
Sold for £7,200

A fine George III neo-classical cararra and sienna marble chimneypiece was the very stylish opening lot in the June quarterly sale. Purchased in the 1980s, it had been intended to adorn a townhouse in The Circus in Bath, the one-time home of Sir Thomas Gainsborough, no less, but its former owner never got round to installing it and it spent the next thirty five years in pieces on the floor of his cellar where it was discovered by Director Mark Huddleston. Provenance and decorative appeal combined to send sparks flying and it sold well above expectations, online against strong commission bidding, for £7,200.


Our ever-popular valuation days in Clevedon and Bristol continue to yield some exceptional pieces. Lighting up the September Quarterly sale – a handsome pair of sterling silver candelabra from the celebrated Danish silversmiths Georg Jensen - had arrived at one such valuation event, somewhat inauspiciously in a shoebox, having spent most of the last fifty years hiding their light under a bushel in the owner’s sideboard. Finely cast with the crispness and quality one would expect from this stellar name, their quality shone through. The focus of much pre-sale interest, some very spirited bidding saw them leave their estimate well and truly in the shade, selling for £6,200.


Pair of Georg Jensen sterling silver two-branch pattern 343 candelabra designed by Johan Rohde in 1920, post-1945 stamped marks to bases, 26.5cm high, 1235g approx.
Sold for £6,200

The market for certain traditional areas of the market remains challenging. This is particularly true of pictures, however, as our December Quarterly Sale showed, even in a soft market, quality and rarity will always out. Following on from the success of the Barrow Court Sale, the sale opened with the principal contents of Gatcombe Court, near Long Ashton. This historic house, with elements dating to the Roman period, had been home of the vendor’s family for over a century and offered the eclectic mix so beloved of country house auction devotes. Amongst this were several stand out lots, chief amongst them an oil painting, widely regarded as one of the most iconic images of World War One.  ‘The Last General Absolution of the Munsters at Rue du Bois’, by First World War artist Fortunino Matania, is widely considered one of the most iconic images of World War One.  In the years following the conflict, prints of the painting hung on the walls of many homes throughout Ireland as a memorial to the Irishmen who fought and died in it. The original painting is believed to have been destroyed in the Second World War and, by repute, this was a copy of the famous study commissioned from the artist shortly after the end of the war. 


Fortunino Matania (1881-1963) - Oil on canvas - The Last General Absolution of the Munsters at Rue du Bois
Sold for £21,000

The most “watched” item online ahead of the sale, expectations were certainly high but they were quickly met and then well and truly exceeded as telephone and online bidders from the Emerald Isle fought a spirited battle which finally saw it triple its top estimate, selling for £21,000, making it the year's best performing lot.

There was a further triumph in the Pictures section later that day when an oil painting by Clevedon artist Doris Hatt created a considerable stir. Consigned from a local private collection, ‘The Green Beach, Clevedon’ is one of the artist’s most iconic images of her home town. Long overlooked in the art market, Hatt’s work is now receiving the attention it deserves and prices have risen significantly in the last couple of years. Hopes were certainly high but no one could have predicted the final remarkable result of £8,000 – almost double the previous record for a work by Hatt. 

Doris Hatt (1890-1969) - Oil on board - The Green Beach, Clevedon
Sold for £8,000


The Winter Specialist sale was the culmination of what has turned out to be a vintage year for Clevedon Salerooms, with the success of the Barrow Court Sale, together with successful Quarterly sales and record-breaking Interiors sales. With a busy schedule already planned, we are excited to look ahead to all that 2024 brings.