Posted on: 26 October 2021

Birds of a Feather: October 2021 Highlights

Featuring over 600 lots of silver, ceramics, fine art and furniture, it was birds that were causing a flutter in the saleroom in this month’s auction. Amongst the top results of the day was a Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson carved oak owl, which surpassed it’s £2000 – £3000 estimate, selling for £4,600 + Buyer’s Premium.

Workshop of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn, a carved oak model of an owl, sold for £4,600

“As the appetite for 20th century furniture and homeware continues to grow amongst bidders, Mouseman pieces are achieving strong prices at auction,” says valuer Simon Grover. “Large Mouseman owls are particularly sought after as they are not typical of the output of the Mouseman workshop – they are carved in a naturalistic and detailed way, rather than with the stylised simplicity of other Mouseman pieces. The example in this month’s sale had particularly fine details, from the delicate feathers on its wings to the lowlights on its chest.”

Robert Thompson was born in North Yorkshire in 1876. He had humble beginnings, working as a joiner in the village of Kilburn, taking on agricultural jobs such as repairing old barns and fences. His talent didn’t go unnoticed, and soon Thompson was receiving commissions for fittings and furnishings from churches across Yorkshire. Thompson drew inspiration from the Gothic churches and medieval carvings he saw on his travels, and wanted to emulate the unrestrained but simple lines used by these ancient craftsmen. This stylistic decision coincided with the height of the Arts & Crafts movement, and Thompson became a key part of part of the 1920’s revival of craftsmanship. Today, Thompson remains one of the most celebrated northern craftsman of the 20th century, and his works are noted for their exceptional quality, simplicity and timeless appeal.  But the most notable calling card of any piece from Thompson’s workshop is the iconic mouse motif which he carved into all his works, from which he gets his nickname ‘Mouseman’.

A pair of Meissen porcelain parrots, circa 1900, sold for £3,800

Other results of note came from a pair of vibrant porcelain parrots by renowned German porcelain factory Meissen which sold for £3800 + Buyer’s Premium, and an Art Deco opalescent vase by glassmaker extraordinaire Rene Lalique decorated with budgerigars which fetched £2600 + Buyer’s Premium. “The quality of these pieces was exceptional” commented Christina Trevanion, “they each represent the pinnacle of style and technical finesse in their respective fields.  Work of such quality doesn’t appear at auction often, and it’s hotly contested when it does”.

In the run-up to the final sale of the calendar year, the team at Trevanion are anticipating an action-packed pre-Christmas auction.  “We have some excellent pieces coming in for our November sale, including an exceptional country house consignment” says Ashley Jones, “our pre-Christmas sale is usually a great event, and this one promises to uphold that tradition.  There’s still time for potential vendors to contact us if they have pieces they think might be suitable for the sale, but the catalogue is filling up quickly, so we’d urge people to get in touch as soon as possible”.