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 Industry, Press Release
    18th C. Gobelins tapestry of Marriage of Cupid and Psyche scheduled for March 20 sale in UK

    A Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, U.K. – An important tapestry made at the French royal factory in Gobelins is the featured highlight of Sworders' Fine Interiors auction on March 19-20. The monumental weaving depicting the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, which will be offered on Day 2 of the auction, is expected to sell for £25,000-£35,000 ($31,850-$44,585).  The 457cm wide x 335cm high (179.9in x 131.9in) tapestry is thought to be part of a series of at least seven works owned by Louis XIV that were based on Raphael drawings of mythological subjects. The first sets known as Les Sujets de la Fable d'après Raphaël (The Subjects of the Fable after Raphael) were woven by the Gobelins manufactory from the 1680s.    This particular image depicting Hymen, the God of marriage, approaching Cupid and Psyche seated on a bed, is based on a drawing in the Louvre that today is attributed to school of Giulio Romano. It is referenced in a Gobelins 1690 inventory where the scene was called “L'himen de Psiche et de l'Amor.”  Some other versions are known. The first weaving of the tapestry (now divided into two pieces) is in the Chateau de Pau and the Chateau de Rambouillet; the second is in the Chateau de Compiegne (now on loan to the Museum of Besancon), and the third in Vienna.   Sworders' tapestry is thought to have been a private commission made in the 18th century. It was previously part of the Shelswell-White Collection at Bantry House in Country Cork and was photographed there alongside another with the same monogrammed border in the early 20th century.  The Bantry House collection was formed by the second Earl of Bantry, Richard White (1800-68), who traveled frequently throughout Europe as far as Russia and Poland, enthusiastically adding to the collections that occupied his recently enlarged home. The collection’s crowning glory was its tapestries, known to include a set of Aubusson tapestries that are said to have been made for Versailles in celebration of Marie Antoinette’s marriage to the Dauphin of France.  Sworders has…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    All the fun of the fair is represented in Sworders’ March 7 auction of a famed fairground art collection

    Many of the exquisitely carved rarities are late-19th and 20th-century productions acquired over a 50-year period A rare and important carved fairground carousel mount torso by C J Spooner STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – Step right up! On March 7, the British auction Sworders will present the John Barker fairground art collection. The dazzling array of late-19th and early 20th-century antiques includes superbly carved carousel horses and panels, painted signs and other regalia. Barker’s passion for carnival art harkens to his grandfather, who worked the fairgrounds in their golden era, The John Barker collection represents more than 50 years of collecting. As Barker recalls, he purchased his first carousel carving from a junk shop in Cookham, England, at the age of 14 and estimates that as much as 80% of his collection was acquired from US sources who exported some of their very best items to collectors from the 1960s to the 1990s. After the success of selling a small portion of his collection at Sworders in 2018, John Barker has consigned 47 different fairground attractions to the March 7 sale, having kept around a dozen pieces to pass on to his grandchildren. “I can’t lie. Parting ways is a wrench, as each piece is exceptional and it’s been a lifelong passion finding and restoring them. However, I look forward to seeing how they are enjoyed by other collectors, knowing my name will always be connected to them.” Among Barker’s favorite pieces in the sale is a torso mount from a famous ride created by the celebrated Burton-on-Trent (England) carver Charles Spooner. Particularly adept at catering to public taste, this model of Joseph Chamberlain wearing a tam-o'-shanter and monocle was part of very topical carousel of 12 centaurs carved with the heads of Boer War leaders, which debuted at the Neath Fair in Swansea (Wales) in September 1900. Joseph Chamberlain, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, was not first choice with amusement park patrons, who preferred to ride models of Kitchener, Roberts, Baden-Powell or other “war heroes.” The Chamberlain effigy was quietly removed from the ride and replaced, and it is…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Antiques dealer’s collection of offbeat and extraordinary objects to be auctioned Feb. 22 in UK

    American-born Warner Dailey moved to London as a young man and worked his way up from a counter job at Christie’s to being a trusted ‘runner’ for Malcolm Forbes and other notables  Early 19th-century iron anti-slavery tobacco box retaining its original white on green paintwork. Estimate £300-£400 ($380-$505). American-born Warner Dailey moved to London as a young man and worked his way up from a counter job at Christie’s to being a trusted ‘runner’ for Malcolm Forbes and other notables  STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, U.K. – Items from the remarkable collection of art and antiques dealer Warner Dailey will be sold on February 22 at Sworders auction house in England. Some 300 lots coming directly from Dailey’s southeast London residence will be offered. For Warner Dailey, the collecting habit was formed early in his life. An only child born in New Jersey in 1945, he was trading badges (pins) in pre-school before graduating to stamps and shells. After moving to London in 1968 with $1,000 and the promise of a job at the front counter at Christie’s, Dailey soon became entrenched in the auction business. He spent the 1970s and ’80s working as a “runner,” driving a Mercedes-Benz Estate wagon around the south of England and scouring antique shops for objects that ranged from the best in Russian objets d’art to the weird and wonderful. His clients included the American publishing magnate and Fabergé fanatic Malcolm Forbes, who paid Dailey a retainer to find items for him. Having bought and sold an estimated 100,000 pieces in his career, Dailey’s Lewisham (London) home groans under the weight of pictures, natural history specimens, tribal art, exotic textiles and objects that just demand to be picked up and studied. “Collecting has been almost everything in my life. It is a constant stimulation that you can’t get from anything else. What I value most is the gathering, the learning and the experience of what these objects give you,” Dailey said. The three words he uses to describe the collection are “historic, eclectic, and unusual.” Estimates at Sworders’ sale range from £300-£400 ($380-$505) for an early 19th-century…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Sworders to auction property of celebrated British antiques dealer Dick Turpin

    Jan. 25 sale includes furniture, paintings and other art from Turpin’s West London flat A George III padouk and kingwood commode attributed to John Cobb STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET, UK – On January 25, 2024, the British fine art and antiques auction house Sworders will conduct a single-owner sale devoted to the contents of the Barons Court, West London, flat of Maurice Turpin (1928-2005). Known throughout the trade as “Dick,” Turpin was one of Britain’s foremost antiques dealers of the second half of the 20th century, achieving near-legendary status over a 50-year career. Born in Bow in 1928, the son of an East End fruit seller, Turpin originally trained as a sound engineer for the BBC, before taking work as an “runner” in the summer of 1948. He began searching provincial shops and markets for objects he could sell to the London antiques trade before opening his own small premises on Portobello Road. During the “golden age” of the antique furniture business, Turpin was a familiar sight at regional UK salerooms and one of the first British dealers to undertake frequent buying trips to America. He opened a shop at 27 Bruton Street in the late 1980s. The caliber of the pieces that he bought and sold was surpassed only by his persona. He was a giant of a man with a large walrus moustache who wore thick-rimmed spectacles and a trilby hat, all of which mixed incongruously with a curiously high-pitched voice. While never a man to cross, his friends credited him with extraordinary kindness, good humor and generosity. Fellow dealer Lennox Cato of Kent, England, remembers Turpin with great affection: “Dick enjoyed life immensely, he was never far from good food, fine wine, great antiques, and close friends.” Following his death in 2005, his remaining stock was sold in two sales at Christie’s, titled “The Legend of Dick Turpin.” Sworders’ sale will include the contents of the Barons Keep, London W14 residence he shared with partner Jackie Mann. The assemblage includes hundreds of meticulously chosen pieces of furniture, paintings and other works of art. The sale of 267 lots will…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Fine furnishings with Churchill family provenance to be sold at UK auction, Dec. 12-13

    STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK - Furnishings with links to one of the most celebrated family names in modern British history will be auctioned at Sworders auction house on December 12-13. Nine pieces in Sworders’ Fine Interiors sale were most recently part of a private collection in Mayfair, London, and previously were owned by Winston Spencer Churchill, MP (1940-2010). His father was the politician Randolph Churchill, MBE (1911-1968); and his grandfather, the legendary wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Like his celebrated forebears, Winston Spencer Churchill spent much of his life in politics and was in public office from 1970-1983. Many of the pieces entered in the auction were acquired following his second marriage to Luce Engelen, a Belgian-born jewelry maker whom he married in 1997. Together they chose to furnish their fashionable Belgrave Square apartment in the classic country house taste, using both family pieces and others acquired at auctions and galleries.  The look the couple created was the subject of a 2001 feature in the American lifestyle magazine Veranda, titled simply “The Churchills in London.” Sworders expects considerable bidder interest to be generated both by the provenance and the pieces themselves, which are mainly 18th-century French and revivalist furniture. Estimates range from around £1,500 to £10,000 ($1,905 to $12,705). A Régence rosewood commode by Antoine Criaerd, circa 1720, French. Estimate: £7,000-£10,000 ($8,890-$12,705) Leading the selection, with a pre-sale estimate of £7,000-£10,000 ($8,890-$12,705), is a circa-1720 French serpentine commode with a molded brèche violette top and gilt-metal mounts. It is stamped A Criaerd for the cabinetmaker Antoine-Mathieu Criaerd, who worked from 1720-50 in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district of Paris.  An early 20th century tulipwood bureau plat with ormolu mounts and a tooled leather top made in Louis XV-style is expected to bring £3,000-£5,000 ($3,810-$6,350), while a 19th-century bronze group after Jean-Antoine Houdon and titled La Baisier Donne, features an ormolu and porphyry socle and is guided at £2,000-£4,000 ($2,540-$5,080). Additional information and the fully illustrated catalogue may be viewed online at https://www.sworder.co.uk/auction/search/?st=Mayfair&sto=0&au=1132&sf=%5B%5D&w=False&pn=1 #   #   # Media Contact: Elizabeth Lardner [email protected]

  • Auction Result, Press Release
    Dragon box in revered Chinese hardwood sells for $180,480 at UK auction

    STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, U.K. - A rare Chinese “dragon” box fashioned from zitan, a cherished Asian wood, sold for $180,480 – more than 71 times its high estimate – on November 3 in England. It was the top prize in an Asian Art auction conducted by Sworders of Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex. A Sworders auction house associate with the spectacularly carved and embellished zitan ‘Dragon’ box that sold for the British equivalent of $180,480, inclusive of buyer’s premium The 49cm/19.3-inch-wide casket, which would have been used to store precious objects, is composed almost exclusively of purplish-black, fine-grained zitan, a wood so dense, it sinks in water. Zitan was the preferred wood of the Chinese imperial workshops. It is especially suitable for fine and intricate carving. The box sold by Sworders was adorned with the powerful dynastic images of the five-clawed dragon amidst clouds (symbol of the emperor) and phoenixes (the empress). By the early Qing period, zitan had become a very expensive commodity, primarily because many of the native tree species had been exhausted during the Ming dynasty. Accordingly, zitan’s use after that period was carefully controlled.  When the dragon box was made by master Chinese carpenters in the 18th or early 19th century, it would have been extraordinarily expensive, and it remains so today. The box offered by Sworders came from a private seller who inherited it from grandparents who lived in Bullwood Hall, Hockley, Essex, between 1930 and 1950.  The seller recalled, “The box has stored some family papers, but my memories are having my father’s various hats stored on top of it.”  Entered with an estimate of $1,260-$2,520, the box attracted bids from China, Hong Kong and the UK before selling at a price that was the British equivalent of $180,480, inclusive of buyer’s premium. The buyer is from China.  “Zitan is China’s most revered wood, and this dragon chest was superbly carved, suggesting it was made in the imperial workshops, perhaps in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. It was not in perfect condition – it had several cracks – but buyers agreed it was another special discovery by Sworders team,” said Yexue Li, Head…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Art of the samurai comes to life in Sworders’ Nov. 2 auction of Dennison Collection

    STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, U.K. – The art of the samurai takes center stage at Sworders on Thursday, November 2nd. As part of the British firm’s autumn Asian art offering, a total of 150 lots of Japanese arms and armor will be sold for the family of the late Peter Raymond Dennison.  Japanese gusoku (composite armor). Estimate: £1,000-£2,000 A former marine mechanic with a deep interest in historical warfare, Dennison was a collector of Edo and Meiji period weaponry for many years and a well-known face in the collecting community. His wish was that the collection should be sold at auction, which is how most came into his possession. Many of the pieces in the sale date from the Edo period (1603-1868), when the city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo) became the center of Tokugawa shōgunate power. Although it was a time of peace, it was also the era of Bushidō – The Way of the Warrior – when moral and military values were learned and maintained by swordsmanship. The word samurai derives from the term meaning “one who serves.”  The core of the collection is an array of 17th-19th century Japanese blades, each made by folding and hammering layers of high and low carbon steel. There are some 15 examples of the wakizashi (side-inserted sword), which were worn in pairs from the sash at the side. Additionally, there are 19 katana, whose classic curved, slender, single-edged blade is considered among the finest cutting weapons in military history; and more than 30 varieties of polearms and spears: the naginata, omi yari and su yari. They carry estimates ranging from £80-£120 ($97-$145) to £1,500-£2,500 ($1,820-$3,030). With Japan at peace from the early 17th century, much of the costume and accessories of the samurai were used for parades and martial arts rather than on the battlefield. Japanese armor, in particular, was anachronistic, and still made in the centuries-old fashion with the o-yoroi (cuirass and skirt) formed of flexible plates once designed to repel a bow and arrow. There are several good gusoku (composite armors) in the Dennison collection that date from either the end of the Edo period or the beginning of the Meiji restoration that would ultimately abolish the samurai…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Sworders to auction bronze linking two titans of 20th-century British art, Oct. 17

    Sir Jacob Epstein’s 1947 gilt-bronze full bust portrait of his son-in-law Lucian Freud is believed to be unique STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – A bronze bust that unites two titans of British 20th-century art – sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (American/British, 1880-1959) and the painter Lucian Freud OM CH (German/British, 1922-2011) – will be auctioned at Sworders auction house on October 17. Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (American/British, 1880-1959), bronze busts of his daughter Kathleen ‘Kitty’ Garman and son-in-law Lucian Freud. Epstein’s 27-inch/68cm-high portrait of Freud – the Berlin-born painter and draftsman who went on to become one of England’s foremost 20th-century portraitists – is a top highlight of Sworders’ Modern British and Contemporary Art Auction. Its pre-sale estimate is £50,000-£70,000 ($60,940-$85,330). Epstein’s full bust portrait of Freud was created in 1947, the same year the young artist married Epstein’s daughter, Kathleen “Kitty” Garman. A plaster version of the bust of Freud is held in the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, but the auction example is thought to be a unique iteration cast in gilded bronze. It has been published in several exhibition catalogs and books. Sworders’ consignor, who purchased the bronze at Christie’s December 13, 2012 Modern British and Irish Art Auction, subsequently reunited it with an earlier Epstein bronze of Kitty from the same period.  The latter work, which measures 18.5in/47cm high (inclusive of its composite stone base), was conceived in 1944. It was acquired at Christie’s South Kensington’s December 9, 2015 Modern British & Irish Art Auction. According to its provenance, the bronze of Kitty was shown at Leicester Galleries, London, in a May/June 1994 exhibition titled “Girl with the Gardenias and Other Recent Sculpture by Jacob Epstein.” Sworders estimates the work will fetch in the region of £6,000-£7,000 ($7,310-$8,530).  The October 17 auction represents a rare opportunity to purchase Epstein bronzes of both Lucian Freud and Kitty Garman. They are entered in the sale as consecutive lots, #127 and #128. Both pieces come to auction as part of the contents of Colne Priory in Essex. The £7 million (US $8.5 million) Georgian red-brick country house is built on the grounds…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Sworders to conduct Sept. 14 auction of art, furniture and decoratives at historic English home Elveden Hall

    Sale additionally includes inherited furnishings with Guinness family connections from several properties including Farmleigh, the Irish State Guesthouse STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK – On September 14, the British auction house Sworders will conduct a single-owner auction for Lord Iveagh at Elveden Hall in Suffolk, England. The auction includes furnishings with Guinness family connections from several properties including Elveden and Farmleigh, the Irish State Guesthouse.  The event will be held in the oak-paneled dining room at Elveden Hall with a pre-auction reception staged in the Mughal-inspired Main Hall that was built for the estate’s most famous occupant, the Maharajah Duleep Singh. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.  George III giltwood mirror, Irish, circa 1760, manner of Thomas Chippendale. Formerly in Entrance Hall of Farmleigh. Estimate £20,000-£30,000 Estimates range from £200 up to more than £20,000 for an array of English and Irish furniture, rugs, taxidermy and pictures. Highlights include an Irish giltwood mirror in the manner of Thomas Chippendale (estimate £20,000-£30,000) and a Louis XV floral marquetry bombe commode with Breccia marble top (estimate £8,000-£12,000). A set of six giltwood open armchairs and a matching sofa, to a Chippendale design but late 19th century, is guided at £3,000-£5,000.  Sworders’ director, Luke Macdonald, said: “It’s a huge honor for Sworders to be asked to conduct this auction for Lord Iveagh. The Guinness family name is one that resonates across the world and is today synonymous not just with brewing but also with the connoisseurship of art and antiques. Many of the objects we are bringing for sale were bought by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, and have been treasured by generations of the family.” Elveden Hall, along with its 16,000 acres, was once the property of Admiral Augustus Keppel. In 1863 it was sold to Duleep Singh (1838-1893), the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire, who remodeled the property with an Italianate exterior and interiors based on Mughal palaces that had been his home. Its next owner was Edward Cecil Guinness (created Earl of Iveagh and Viscount of Elveden in 1919), who built the landmark Elveden War Memorial, the towering…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Signed, sealed, delivered: ‘world’s largest’ private collection of celebrity autographs to be auctioned June 25

    Britain’s king of the autograph hounds is parting with his 70-year collection of more than 100,000 signatures from 60,000 different celebrities STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK - What may very well be the world’s largest private collection of autographs is currently offered in an online auction that closes on Sunday, June 25. The Clive Bullimore Autograph Collection includes the signatures of around 60,000 different celebrities, amassed by a former stockbroker over a period of more than 70 years. The massive assemblage representing a who’s who of 20th century pop culture is expected to make in excess of £100,000 ($127,600) in the sale, which is being conducted by the British auction house Sworders. Tiger Woods autograph. Estimate: £80-£120 ($100-$155) For Clive, who began autograph-hunting in the early 1950s at the age of 17, collecting has been a lifelong passion. He was hugely dedicated. From Monday to Friday he would commute from the small Hertfordshire town of Hoddesdon to his job at the London Stock Exchange, but on Saturdays he would return to London for a different mission: to visit the smart hotels, theaters, record stores and TV studios where celebrities might be found. Typically, he would scan the press for tips and exchange weekly information with fellow autograph addicts. Sometimes he would just turn up at the BBC studios and leave it to luck. As for those Hollywood stars who rarely visited the UK, Clive would send off a letter with a stamped addressed envelope, asking for a signed photograph or personal note. Clive continued collecting for several decades after his retirement in 1992, after which time the Internet became a huge resource for him. However, he also continued to travel for his hobby and says he has had many thousands of face-to-face meetings with actors, musicians, professional athletes, politicians and other public figures. Clive was autograph-hunting in London when the COVID lockdown was announced. He returned home and spent most of next two years indoors, in isolation with his wife. It was during that time that the collection was organized and the decision made to prepare it for sale. The vast collection, which numbers more than 100,000…

  • 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…