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Publisher Description

What was most striking about the London summer sales? Perhaps it was the dawning realisation that in almost any field the salerooms can find prices the like of which dealers can only dream. Again and again, from furniture to Old Master paintings, the exceptional found any number of takers ready and willing to bid up trophy pieces. Again and again, one saw the top dealers in those fields look on in wonder, and comment that even if they offered such a piece for a quarter of the price, the punters would shake their heads and propose a deal. Such is the triumph of the auction-house--a triumph, incidentally, not without its dangers. A perfect case in point was the fabulous Florentine pietra dura table top offered by Christie's on 9 June (and illustrated in the June APOLLO). The most illustrious lot in a sale drawn from an English country house collection packaged as 'Two Late Regency Collectors: Philip John Miles and George Byng 1815-45', the octagonal top was almost certainly commissioned from the Grand Ducal workshops by an earlier Byng around 1718 and is a tour-de-force not only in terms of the opulence and expense of the various hardstones used but in their infinitely subtle arrangement. Fruit, flowers and scrolling foliage, birds and butterflies grace this particular design, attributed, not unreasonably, to Giovanni Battista Foggini. The opulent base with its four gilded griffins was fine too, commissioned a century later by George Byng and attributed to George Bullock. The sole problem was their slightly unhappy marriage, not least because the table was lower than it ought to have been. Christie's presented it with an estimate of 300,000 [pounds sterling]-500,000 [pounds sterling]. Bidding rocketed to 1m [pounds sterling]--and even then there were still six buyers chasing it. In the end, the table went to an Italian collector for just over 2m [pounds sterling].

Arts & Entertainment
1 August
Apollo Magazine Ltd.
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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