Single-owner collection to set the pace at major art and antiques auction

Cheffins’ fourth and final Fine Art Sale of the year will include 500 lots of furniture, fine art, ceramics and collectors’ items.

Going under the hammer on the 28th and 29th November, the auction will include the prestigious Sir Richard Parsons collection, originating from Norfolk.


Luke Macdonald, Director, Cheffins comments: “The final Fine Art sale of the year includes a good mix of paintings, furniture, ceramics and collectors’ items, some of which have exceptional history and provenance. The important, multi-category Sir Richard Parsons Collection includes some of the highlights in the paintings section, whilst there is a series of quality and high value furniture such as a Gillow library table and an impressive oyster veneer cabinet.”


Sir Richard Parsons was a well-known career diplomat and crime fiction writer, who throughout the 1970s and 1980s was successively British Ambassador to Hungary, Spain and Sweden. His books include The Moon Pool, The Den of the Basilisk, Howling at the Moon, and under his pseudonym, John Haythorne, Mandrake in Granada and Mandrake in the Monastery amongst others. Parsons left the Diplomatic Service in 1987 and retired to Whittington, near Kings Lynn, where he focused on his writing and gave talks on his diplomatic adventures at the town’s literary festival, before passing away in 2016.


The collection includes a series of important paintings, with the headline lot being a 15th century altarpiece, depicting The Madonna and Child, by the Master of San Miniato. Dating back to circa 1460 – 1480, this altarpiece is a new discovery by the artist who painted a number of altarpieces in the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte in Florence. It will be the first time that this picture has been offered on the open market since the 19th Century and it is believed that it was purchased by a member of the family, potentially on the Grand Tour. It has an estimate of £20,000 - £30,000.


Also within the collection is an important miniature by Isaac Oliver, circa 1612, of Thomas Fones, Mayor of Plymouth in 1620, the year the Mayflower sailed. Sir Richard Parsons is a descendant of the famous Fones family and the miniature is estimated to make between £3,000 and £5,000. In addition, there are seven watercolours by the highly-regarded artist, Alfred Parsons, who was Sir Richard Parsons’ grandfather, which include views of Italy and the UK and also over 220 pieces of Herend porcelain which vary in value from £100 to £400.


Sarah Flynn, Head of Paintings at Cheffins comments: “As well as the Master of San Miniato altarpiece, the Isaac Oliver miniature is also an important piece within the collection. Oliver was a master of his trade and these items are rarely seen on the open market today. Painted the year that the Mayflower carried the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World, this image of the enterprising and dashing Thomas Fones is set to draw interest from both private collectors and trade buyers.”


The sale also includes a number of important furniture lots, with the highlight being a Regency rosewood and brass inlaid library table, in the manner of the great furniture and cabinet makers, Gillow. Dating back to circa 1825, the table is of very similar design to The Hackwood Park Library Table which was supplied by Gillow in 1813 for the second Baron Bolton. It has an estimate of £10,000 - £15,000. The earliest piece is a 15th century elm and iron bound chest, which is possibly an ecclesiastical strong chest and which has an estimate of £2,000 to £4,000.


Other notable lots are a series of early portraits, including one of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted advisor and builder of Burghley House, Stamford which dates back to 1597. This has an estimate of £10,000 - £15,000. There is also an original portrait of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, dating back to the early 17th century from the Studio of Robert Walker and consigned from Northborough Manor, which is thought to make between £1,000 and £1,500.


Auction: The Fine Art Sale – 28th and 29th November, 11am onwards; Viewing Times: Sunday 25th November 10am – 12pm | Monday 26th November 10am – 5pm | Tuesday 27th November 10am – 6pm Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA.


For more information, contact the Fine Art team on 01223 213343.


For further media information, please contact Sophie Richardson, PR Manager, Cheffins, t: +44 (0) 1223 271990.



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