Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers


Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet Essex, United Kingdom CM24 8GE
+44 0-127-981-7778

About Auction House

Operating since 1782, Sworders is one of the longest established fine art auction houses in the UK, now conducting over 45 auctions each year. Specialist categories include British and European paintings, Asian Art, jewellery, watches, furniture, silver, 20th century design and modern and contemporary prints.

Auction Previews & News

8 Results
  • Auction Preview
    Sworders Fine Interiors Sale Offers Jacques-François Delyen Paintings and Louis XV Furniture

    Two paintings by French artist Jacques-François Delyen headline the first day of the Fine Interiors sale, presented by Sworders. Born in 1684 in Ghent, Belgium, Delyen apprenticed under Parisian artist Nicolas de Largillièrre and specialized in portraits. He later went to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, where he exhibited his works several times. Jacques-François Delyen executed the available paintings, Aurora Triumphant and Diana and Endymion, in 1752. Several pieces of Louis XV furniture are also represented in the catalog. The Louis XV era is often dubbed the ‘Golden Age of French Furniture.’ The furniture of this style is characterized by asymmetrical design, curved lines, and the use of giltwood. This includes a pair of Louis XV chairs from the mid-18th-century. The giltwood armchairs have padded seats and backs, curved legs, and a serpentine top rail. Two Chinese cloisonné attendant figures from the early 20th-century are also notable. While one of the figures is a warrior holding a guandao, the other has a gift in his hands. Visit Bidsquare to view more lots and to place a bid.

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Sworders’ April 13-14 Out of the Ordinary Auction promises to unleash ‘the weird and wonderful’

    STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, England - Numbering close to 600 lots, the Out of the Ordinary auction at Sworders on April 13-14 is the largest to date. In keeping with the name of the popular format, the sale brings together the weird and the wonderful from an original Dalek from the Doctor Who series to a sword presented by Catherine the Great to a cossack who helped put down a popular rebellion and ‘the Smallest Show On Earth’ - the UK’s only surviving flea circus.  THE WORLD FAMOUS FLEA CIRCUS Flea circuses were a hugely popular form of fairground entertainment in both England and Germany between the 1830s and the 1960s. In its heyday the Professor Len Tomlin Flea Circus attracted the crowds in Belle Vue, Manchester and later formed part of the Ribchester Museum of Childhood. It is believed to be the last example in the UK. Bidding for the two miniature swing trapezes, a chariot, two bicycles, a windmill, a garden roller, a carriage and dueling pedestals is expected to reach £1500-2000, but it may leap higher.  Once a common sight in London’s Billingsgate were the ‘bobbin’ hats worn by porters as they moved the merchandise from the local fish market to distribution vehicles. One of the pair of late 19th and early 20th century hats included for sale (estimate £500-700) is known to be have owned by James Alfred ‘Robo’ Robinson (b.1911) who worked at Billingsgate most of his life and received the hat from his father. This curious type of headwear is thought to get its name from the ‘bobbin’ or payment, that the porters received for their services.  The Daleks are now almost 60 years old. They first appeared on our screens in 1963, but they remain the most famous of all of the Dr Who villains. Standing 1.6m high, Sworders’ example (estimate £15,000-18,000) is made to ‘new series’ specifications - principally of wood with fiberglass, metal and plastic elements - and has recently been fitted with a motor so it can be driven around. It appeared in three episodes of the BBC series, alongside Matt Smith…

  • Auction Industry
    Bowl by rising star potter expected to deliver a handsome return on investment

    The 18cm high hand-built black and white stepped rim bowl by John Ward (b.1939), bought two decades ago for £595, has a guide of £8000-12,000. STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET.- A vendor who bought a piece of studio pottery simply ‘because she liked it’ is expected to receive a handsome return on her investment when the piece comes to auction in October. The 18cm high hand-built black and white stepped rim bowl by John Ward (b.1939), bought two decades ago for £595, has a guide of £8000-12,000 at Sworders on October 13. The vendor is a friend of dealer Ian Courcoux whose gallery Courcoux & Courcoux Contemporary Art in the picturesque village of Nether Wallop in Hampshire represented then rising star potter John Ward. In April 2001, having “been hankering after one of his black and white a pots for sometime”, they finally purchased one. It retains its original receipt for £595. In the intervening years the market for contemporary British ceramics, often referred to as studio pottery has changed markedly. Alongside the superstar names such as Dame Lucie Rie (1902-95) and her protegé Hans Coper (1920-81), the market had broadened to embrace a wider number of first, second and third generation potters. Ward’s prices in particular have spiked in the last decade with the current record standing at £18,000. It is the minimalist black and white coiled stoneware vessels with matt glazes that have become his signature pieces. Sworders’ vendor had been unaware of the changing values until recently flicking through a copy of Country Life magazine. “We bought it because we liked it and were intrigued that it was a hand-built pot. We read in Country Life that its brethren had recently sold well and decided to sell. We will replace it with a young potters work.” Ward came to his career in ceramics later in life, having first worked as a cameraman at the BBC. Studying under both Rie and Coper at the Camberwell School of Art in the late 1960s, he took his first workshop in London in 1971 before moving to Pembrokeshire to pursue a full-time career in 1979.

  • Auction Preview
    Arts & Crafts and Art Deco

    At the cutting edge of the Art Nouveau movement was Alphonse Mucha, a Czech designer active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mucha’s hand was behind the Art Nouveau emphasis on beautiful women surrounded by stylized flora and fauna. Available in the upcoming Sworders auction of Arts & Crafts and Art Deco items is a pair of Mucha lithographs in the artist’s signature style. Tête Byzantine Brunette and Tête Byzantine Blonde show the heads of two women facing each other from opposite frames. Both figures wear jeweled hairpieces and translucent white garments.  This sale also highlights furniture, fine art, and decorative works created before World War I. A bronze and ivory sculpture from Romanian artist Demétre Chiparus is among the key lots. Showing a flamenco dancer balanced on an onyx base, the piece was inspired by a Russian ballet and the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. The offered furniture lots include an embossed mahogany settee with an Arts & Crafts pattern, a 1930s European rug, and an assortment of Art Deco dining tables. To bid online and view the full catalog, visit the Sworders website.

  • Auction Industry
    Artist to Know: Alphonse Mucha

    Sworders Presents Signed Lithograph Pair from Art Nouveau Poster Artist On December 26th, 1894, French stage actress Sarah Bernhardt needed a new advertisement for her play Gismonda, and she needed it fast. Bernhardt was connected to rising Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, one of the few designers in Paris not on vacation at the time. Within a week, Mucha produced a poster for her that is now considered a cornerstone of the Art Nouveau movement. Highly stylized posters would become the trademark of Mucha’s long and successful career. Two Alphonse Mucha art prints will come to auction on September 8th, 2020, at 10:00 AM WEST (5:00 AM EDT) with Sworders. Find out more about Alphonse Mucha’s life and legacy before the online bidding begins. Alphonse Mucha in front of his Gismonda poster. Image from the Mucha Trust. Born in a small Moravian town in the present-day Czech Republic, Mucha’s childhood was marked by violence and a cholera epidemic. Mucha’s interest in art grew out of these traumas and was cultivated under the influence of the Catholic Church. He would go on to study art in Vienna and Munich before landing in Paris, the city that would allow his career to take off. Alphonse Mucha’s poster for Gismonda played a key role in the artist’s life and in the burgeoning Art Nouveau movement. After it was released, it caused nothing short of a sensation in Paris. Audience members and everyday people were stealing the posters from the streets to sell and admire. “I predict fame for you,” Bernhardt told Mucha in the aftermath. Her prediction soon proved accurate. Mucha continued to create posters for Bernhardt’s performances for the next six years, leading to unprecedented commercial success. Alphonse Mucha, Poster for ‘Gismonda,’ 1894. Image from the Mucha Foundation. Alphonse Mucha’s paintings and posters followed consistent themes, many showing idealized women surrounded by flowers, swirling patterns, and elaborate costumes. His work juxtaposed the craft and style of high art with the common, everyday poster that could be easily printed and distributed. Mucha’s early innovations also created a lasting association with Art Nouveau. “Mucha is…

  • Auction Industry
    Sworders announces sale of Arts & Crafts & Art Deco

    C.F.A Voysey (1857-1941), a pair of oak armchairs, c.1902, with leather and studded drop in seats, 62.5cm wide, 54.5cm deep. 100.5cm high, seat 42.5cm (2). Estimate: £20,000-30,000. STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET .-Sworders' September 8 sale of Arts & Crafts & Art Deco includes an unprecedented number of pieces by Stanley Webb Davies (1894-1978). More than 30 pieces by the Windermere craftsman will come under the hammer – from table lamps and trays to bedroom furniture. Trained in the Cotswolds but choosing to work in the Lake District, Webb Davies’ handmade pieces in indigenous timbers were a direct backlash against the mechanisation and automation of the 19th and 20th centuries. Contributing to the debate on British industry in the 1940s he wrote to the Guardian newspaper describing "probably the chief evil of our present industrial age – the tyranny of the machine." It was, he felt, "more important that industry should turn out excellent men and women than a flood of cheap and useful goods." Sworders’ specialist John Black believed the sale represents the largest number of works by Webb Davies offered at a single auction. Most were made in the 1930s for a gentleman in Yorkshire and together they represent an important commission from a single patron. “Stanley Webb Davies pieces are pretty rare to the market. He was resolute in never producing exactly the same design twice. Most pieces are signed and dated with the names of the workshop craftsman who made it”. Estimates will range from £4000-6000 for an oak sideboard of cupboards and drawers dated 1936 to £100-150 for small furnishings such as a tea tray and a book rack. Webb Davies was working at Windermere at much the same time as Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. His distinctive oak furniture carved reached new financial levels when in October 2018 Sworders sold Mouseman furniture and chattels made in the 1930s for the Horlicks factory in Slough, which collectively sold for £300,000. The September sale includes another piece from this prime period – a sideboard with five central drawers and a raised back rail estimated at £2500-3500. Chairs with…

  • Auction Result
    Lockdown effect sees spirited bidding for home grown artists

    The sale included a broad selection of British and Continental paintings and sculptures, with bidding from the US to Sri Lanka. LONDON.- Specialist Jane Oakley was delighted with the results at Sworders’ Modern British and 20th Century Art Live Online auction on June 10. “Overall, it was a hugely encouraging day for the market, showing that despite the uncertainties, people still want to buy art. I think you might call it the ‘lockdown effect’. Having a captive audience of buyers cooped up at home worked in our favour. Prices were off the register for many pieces." The sale included a broad selection of British and Continental paintings and sculptures, with bidding from the US to Sri Lanka. As always, there was a particularly strong selection of East Anglian works – a vibrant collecting area in which Sworders continue to enjoy great success. In the wake of an auction record of £204,160 bid in Stansted Mountfitchet last year for Foxglove by Cedric Morris, another fine painting by the Suffolk artist-plantsman came for sale from an Oxfordshire vendor. Gypsy Queen Caravans in a Sussex Meadow, sold to a private buyer at £23,400 (all prices include buyer’s premium including VAT) was dated and dedicated “to Phyllis from Cedric 1927”. The vendor’s mother Phyllis Pitcairn Gage-Brown was part of Morris’s circle and it had been the norm for the group to ‘play’ at camping together in the grounds of Socknersh Manor, East Sussex. Two years later Morris would move from London to begin life in rural Suffolk where he would establish the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing. Four pen and ink drawings by Edward Bawden came for sale from the estate of Cambridge resident Lady Elizabeth Cavendish. Two showing East Anglian village life were created for The English Scene, a diary and notebook published by textiles firm Morton Sundour Fabrics. At the height of the vogue for the group of artists living in and around Great Bardfield, Bawden was invited to illustrate the diary on several occasions in the early to mid-1950s. Morris Dancing at Thaxted and Village Fete, from the edition published in…

  • Auction Result
    A global bidding festival: Sworders Asian art sale topped by £21,000 Qing silk scroll

    A magnificent Chinese silk kesi 'Peach Festival' hanging scroll, sold £21,000. LONDON.- A magnificent Qing dynasty (1644-1911) embroidered silk hanging scroll topped Sworders' Asian art sale on May 28 selling at £21,000. With quality Chinese and Japanese works of art performing strongly throughout the sale, this was a truly global event attracting bidding from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, Germany, USA, Austria, Sweden and the UK . The silk kepi scroll, dating from the 19th century depicts the folkloric Peach Festival, a highly auspicious event held once every 6000 years at the celestial Jade Palace in Paradise. It shows a pantheon of Daoist immortals and deities celebrating as the goddess Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, descends gracefully from the sky seated astride her phoenix. As part of her birthday festivities she bestows upon her followers great fortune and perhaps one of the peaches of immortality. Objects on the theme are favourite birthday gifts in China. Purchased by the London vendor in Hong Kong in the 1980s, it was entered for sale with a guide of £8000-10,000. The buyer was from Austria. Major purchasers such as this are being made with increasing confidence online. With the saleroom closed to the public, Sworders sought to provide multiple images and detailed condition reports online to provide buyers with all the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. A collection of Chinese textiles came with an exceptional provenance. The nine lots, including embroidered silk garments and panels, have been consigned by descendants of William Orr Leitch (1871-1948), a Victorian engineer who left Scotland in 1897 to work on the Chinese government railway. The Leitch family remained in China throughout the Boxer Rebellion, periods of Japanese rule and the civil war. However, they later returned to Edinburgh taking up residence in Gordon Square where they furnished a home with many treasures. Among the pieces retained by the Leitch family is a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) embroidered kesi red and black robe, a luxury garment decorated with the auspicious motifs of butterflies and double gourds. To the hem is a splendid border of rocks and precious…