Uncharted art and antiques pay dividends at Fine Art Sale

Little Barford Collection from Bedfordshire makes over £280,000; Peter Lely paintings sell for £24,000; Two 18th century tables make £54,000 and £55,000 apiece; Art Deco brooch sells to collector for £22,000

Cheffins’ third Fine Art Sale of the year on the 13th and 14th September illustrated that Old Master paintings and early furniture still pays dividends as unforeseen prices were paid across the board. 

The sale included over 100 lots of paintings and furniture from the historic Alington Estate much of which hadn’t been seen for the past 300 years. The items had been hidden in the derelict Little Barford Manor in Bedfordshire which has been left empty for over 20 years. Rediscovered by Cheffins experts earlier this year, the collection made a total of £280,000. Amongst the collection were two previously undocumented portraits by 17th Century artist, Sir Peter Lely, Principal Painter to King Charles II which made £24,000 for the pair and sold to a private UK-based buyer. Depicted in the two works are William Alington, 3rd Lord Alington, MP for Cambridge and Constable of the Tower of London and his wife, Lady Diana Alington and the pictures had been verified by Catherine MacLeod, Lely specialist at the National Portrait Gallery.  

Also within the Little Barford Collection were two antique tables which sold for unprecedented prices to overseas collectors. The first was a George II mahogany table dating back to 1720 which was sold to America. Thought to be one of the earliest pieces of furniture made in mahogany, it made £54,000, smashing its guide price of £3,000 - £5,000. The second was an enormous Regency mahogany table dating back to the 1830s in the manner of Gillow which sold for £55,000 against its guide price of £7,000 - £10,000.  

Luke Macdonald, Director, Cheffins comments: “This is easily the largest table I have sold in 30 years of auctioneering. Because of its sheer size it would easily be at home in some of England’s finest country houses or Scottish baronial piles. Seating over 20 people, the table drew much interest partly because of its heritage but also because of its size. Similarly, a collection of 16 early mahogany dining chairs in the manner of Gillow sold for £15,000. Many think that the fashion for older, mahogany furniture has died a death, however the prices achieved at this sale go to show that these items are still incredibly desirable and can still reap rewards when sold.” 

Further paintings from the Alington Estate which drew interest include a portrait of a man by a follower of the famous Spanish painter, Jusepa de Ribera. This picture smashed its estimate of £3,000 - £5,000, eventually selling for £16,000. Whilst another 16th Century painting, by the circle of Tiberio Titi sold to a collector for £6,500. Similarly, a portrait of Jacqueline van Caestre, wife of Jean Charles de Cordes by a follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens which dates back to the 16th Century sold for £9,500, tripling its lower guide price of £3,000.  

Sarah Flynn, Head of Paintings, Cheffins comments: “The unforeseen success of this collection of 16th and 17th Century paintings goes to show that pictures from this era can still make strong prices at auction. Some of these pictures had suffered from neglect and are in need of restoration, however their provenance and quality still drew in hundreds of buyers from both the UK and overseas. Some of the artwork from the Alington Estate haven’t been seen for over 300 years and these represented exactly what buyers’ want, interesting pictures which are new to the market.” 

Other highlights in the sale, not part of the Alington Estate, include a painting by Scottish artist, William Denune. From a Norfolk country house, the work depicts a lady with her dog by a loch. Thought to be one of the finest examples of a Denune picture, the work sold for £17,000 against its guide price of £3,000 - £5,000 and is going home to Scotland. Similarly, a painting of three ducks by widely-collected German artist, Alexander Koester, sold for £26,000 against its guide price of £5,000 - £8,000. This picture had a plethora of overseas interest, eventually selling to a collector from England. Sarah Flynn continues, “The prices paid for the Koester and the Denune go to show that aesthetics are still as important as rarity and provenance. Whilst both of these artists are highly-collectible, the prices paid here illustrate that purchasers as much want something beautiful as they do something valuable. Both pictures are going to private homes.” 

The highlight of the jewellery section was an Art Deco Boucheron brooch set with diamonds, jade and black onyx which sold for £22,000 to a quadrupling its lower guide price of £5,000.


The sale took place on the 13th and 14th September at Cheffins, in Cambridge.  

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.

Peter Lely



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