Kevin MacDonald finds some unusual offerings, including an interesting quartet of bows, at the capital’s March auctions
With war in Ukraine and multiple financial crises looming, one could be forgiven for thinking that bidding in the March auctions would be rather hesitant. Yet this was not the case. Not only were the London showings a bustle of activity approaching pre-Covid levels, but the sales themselves were also highly successful. Ingles & Hayday (I&H) managed numbers very close to their strong November sale, with £2,898,000 and 85 per cent of lots sold. Brompton’s put together the largest sale of the season with 260 lots, including an impressive array of old and 20th-century Italians. Tarisio again only mounted a small London sale (31 lots) with some solid, if relatively unspectacular, offerings. Their main European weight is in their Berlin sale – still incomplete at press time – offering 132 lots including an incredible run of 28 cello bows, and strong range of violins (Guarneri ‘filius Andreae’, Ferdinando Gagliano, Poggi and Rugeri among others). So, for the moment at least, the violin world appears to defy the dark clouds on the global horizon.
The top lot of the London season was an impeccable 1678 Francesco Rugeri cello with Moennig & Son certificate that sold for I&H at its top estimate of £624,000. Another major star was a very fine G. F. Pressenda violin, Turin 1834, with its original 1907 Hill certificate describing it as a ‘good, characteristic and perfectly preserved example’. It sold at Brompton’s for £354,000.
The violin world appears to defy the dark clouds on the global horizon
Other heavy hitters from Brompton’s included a remarkable c.1600 Maggini violin with heavily worn volutes, some probable minor changes in outline and a Biddulph certificate. It had no dendro evaluation but the experts I discussed it with were convinced. It went over top estimate for £106,200. Also, a very desirable 1626 Brothers Amati (with later scroll), supported by a Jacques Francais certificate, went at £94,400. Both Brompton’s and I&H sold well-preserved Vuillaume violins, the former from 1869 with original neck and a record of appearance on many film soundtracks (Star Wars, Superman and E.T. among them) for £177,000, and the latter of 1845 for £180,000. Further important violins from I&H included a c.1710 Alessandro Gagliano with a Hill certificate, which went for £216,000, and an 1846 Rocca for £204,000; both sold within estimate…
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