Lyon & Turnbull Nov. 2-3 auction shines spotlight on British design icons Archibald Knox & Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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Celebrity collectors of Knox’s Celtic-inspired silver and pewter wares include Brad Pitt

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Lyon & Turnbull’s highly anticipated Decorative Arts: Design Since 1860 auction on November 2-3 includes important works by both Archibald Knox (1864-1933) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928). It is a live online auction with in-person previewing of goods available at the company’s historic Edinburgh saleroom.

Archibald Knox’s designs for Liberty & Co., are very well documented, especially his designs for the “Tudric” and “Cymric” ranges, which the luxury department store in London famously marketed. Today, more than a century after Knox’s wares were first showcased at Liberty’s Regent Street venue, a legion of fans – including celebrities – compete to acquire the artist’s metalware designs at auction and elsewhere. Among those known to admire and collect Knox’s designs is Hollywood actor and film producer Brad Pitt. It has even been suggested that his 12-year-old son Knox was named after Archibald Knox.

with ebonized plinth and shell-inlaid handles, the upper section with two doors flanked by uprights pierced by squares, the base with single paneled door enclosing a single drawer and a shelf, 36cm wide, 122cm high, 35.5cm deep
with ebonized plinth and shell-inlaid handles, the upper section with two doors flanked by uprights pierced by squares, the base with single paneled door enclosing a single drawer and a shelf, 36cm wide, 122cm high, 35.5cm deep

Some of the finest examples of Knox wares seen in the marketplace for many years are entered in Lyon & Turnbull’s November 2-3 auction. Estimated at £20,000-£30,000 ($26,000-$39,000) is a rare, circa-1900, extra-size Tudric pewter and abalone clock – a minimalist form thought to have been inspired by the Celtic standing stones of Knox’s native Isle of Man. At 25cm high, this piece is considerably larger than its smaller counterpart, which measures around 16cm high. Knox is known to have produced only a few extra-size clocks during his Liberty period, and it is possible that the rare example offered by Lyon & Turnbull was produced as a special commission.

decorated oak, with rectangular top and single drop leaf above square tapered legs linked by stretchers and terminating in brass caps and castors, the whole with stenciled checker decoration, 122cm long, 58.5cm deep (closed), 86cm deep (open), 76cm high
decorated oak, with rectangular top and single drop leaf above square tapered legs linked by stretchers and terminating in brass caps and castors, the whole with stenciled checker decoration, 122cm long, 58.5cm deep (closed), 86cm deep (open), 76cm high

A previously unrecorded oak gate-leg table by Charles Rennie Mackintosh dates to around 1910 when, in addition to the famous commissions he produced for Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms in Glasgow, Mackintosh created a series of furniture designs for his friend and collaborator, the decorator William Douglas. Made to a traditional Georgian form, a characteristic Mackintosh checkerboard motif is stenciled across the piece. A companion table made for Douglas is pictured in Roger Billcliffe’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs (2009). This new discovery comes to auction from the collection of Angus and Alison Hill, with an estimate of £8,000-£12,000 ($10,400-$15,600). It is one of two pieces of Mackintosh furniture expected to attract international interest. 

In 1914, in the wake of the success in Glasgow, Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, moved to Suffolk (England). His main client during this period was Wenman Joseph Bassett Lowke (1877-1953), founder of the toymakers Bassett Lowke, whose house at 78 Derngate, Northampton, England, was remodeled and furnished in the modern taste. 

At 78 Derngate, Mackintosh’s style evolved to focus on broad planes of polished and waxed timber enhanced by abalone inlay. His production methods changed too. Unable to supervise the manufacture of these pieces, Mackintosh provided drawings that were worked up by German craftspeople working on the Isle of Man.

A bedside cabinet, the companion to another in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum dated circa 1916, came by descent until it was last sold at auction in 1988. It has a pre-auction estimate of £10,000-£15,000 ($13,000-$19,500).

The Nov. 2-3 auction is an online-only event starting at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. US Eastern time) on both days. Bid absentee or live online through Lyon & Turnbull’s website or via LiveAuctioneers. The auction catalogue may be viewed online at lyonandturnbull.com or LiveAuctioneers.com

About Lyon & Turnbull 

Operating since 1826, Lyon & Turnbull are one of the UK’s premiere fine art and antiques auctioneers. The company’s galleries in London and Glasgow complement the historic Georgian headquarters and main saleroom in Edinburgh. Hosting nearly 35 specialist auctions per year across the UK there is always something to see at Lyon & Turnbull: from jewelry and watches to fine furniture; traditional British and European art to Modern & Contemporary stars; European decorative arts and design to fine Asian art from China and Japan. www.lyonandturnbull.com