Posted on: May 24, 2021

The Ruyton Hall Collection: Auction Highlights

Following a triumphant return to business in April, there is no slowing down for the team at Trevanion Auctioneers; the blockbuster May Fine Art & Antiques Auction broke previous house records, becoming their most successful auction since they were established in 2014. “The response to this month’s auction has been incredible,” says Auctioneer and Managing Director Christina Trevanion. “Over 2000 buyers registered for online bidding, and a record-breaking number of clients used our telephone bidding facility. The pandemic has encouraged many people who would usually bid in person to try new avenues of bidding, as well as a new influx of first-time buyers who are dipping their toes into the auction world for the first time. As we look to open our auction to the public next month, I’m sure interest will continue to grow!”

At the heart of the over 750 lot sale was the precious contents of Ruyton Hall. Situated near Shrewsbury, Ruyton Hall is a substantial and historic house dating back the 16th century. For over 400 years, the house was the seat of the Kynaston Family, a prominent local family of whom many served as Members of Parliament through the 17th and 18th centuries.

“Having the opportunity to handle the contents of Ruyton Hall over the past few months has been a privilege,” says Christina. “The house was awash with pieces of exceptional quality and utterly captured the quintessentially eclectic ‘English country house style’ which is not only incredibly popular here in the UK, but across the globe. Country house contents and private estate sales always generate an enormous amount of interest – these collections are amassed and carefully curated over many years and are often where we find the most rare and important works of art, the likes of which rarely come to market”.

Peter Monamy – oil on canvas: Sold for £12,000

Of particular note was Ruyton’s spectacular art collection, which was a combination of family pieces, inherited over generations, and carefully curated works of art by a renowned London Art Dealer. “This collection spanned a great breadth of specialisms,” says picture specialist James Forster. “From portraits of nobility, watercolours from the ‘Golden Age of Watercolours’ and specialist maritime works. The collector hand-selected the finest examples of each.” Highlights from the auction included a selection of fine oil paintings by renowned maritime artist Peter Monamy which achieved over £26,000 collectively, a portrait of Portrait of the Duchess of Portsmouth, which sold for £10,000 and a fascinating depiction of doomed Monarch Charles I which sold for £4600.

A collection of 19th Century botanical studies: Sold for £15,000

While the collection generated an enormous amount of pre-sale interest, there were still a few surprises on the day, namely a collection of exquisite botanical studies which far exceeded pre-sale estimates, selling for £15,000 to a London buyer. “When this collection of incredibly unusual botanical studies soared to a phenomenal £15,000 it became clear that others believed these studies to be accomplished by a virtuoso of remarkable talent,” said auctioneer Ashley Jones. “The staggering result demonstrated how our global platforms reach audiences of even the most unique and specialist areas.”  Other results of note came from a 17th century stump work panel which sold for an impressive £5,400 and a charming 19th century watercolour study of a parrot, which made £2,400.

There were further successes in the buoyant furniture section, which boasted a selection of fine quality and rare antique pieces also uncovered at Ruyton Hall. The top price of the day came from an 18th century chinoiserie lacquered cabinet on stand, which, after a competitive bidding war between online and telephone buyers, made £14,000. Reflecting on this astonishing result, furniture specialist Ian Woodward said “Chinoiserie furniture is very ‘in vogue’ – lacquered cabinets, chairs and tables are consistently generating a buzz on sale day, whether they are period or not. They are fantastic statement pieces to have in the home. What contributed to the incredible price the cabinet achieved on Wednesday was its originality and condition. It was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but considering its age, it was in very good order. Moreover, there had not been any alterations made to the piece in its 300-year history, which is quite incredible.”

Other lots of note included a 17th century cabinet on stand which sold for £6,500, a pair of Rococo mirrors which sold for £3,500, and a set of four well-preserved 18th century French glass wall sconces, which made £5,500. “The Ruyton Hall collection contained a wide and varied selection of pieces, from the expected to the unexpected. There were items which we knew would perform well, but there were a great number of surprises also – pieces which have fallen out of fashion in the last 10-15 years were selling exceptionally well. This is largely to do with provenance, but there is something to be said for the changing furniture market as well. Buyers seem to be revising their needs and tastes, and there is a changing mindset towards furniture. As prices for rare and high-end furniture continue to rise, this new generation of first-time bidders seem to be reconsidering less fashionable, but more affordable pieces. We seem to be going through a great period of revitalisation in the antique furniture market.”

An IWC Military issue wristwatch: Sold for £4800

Elsewhere in the sale, a collection of Military wristwatches caused quite stir in the saleroom, with collectors across the world battling it out on the phones and across online bidding platforms. The collection contained three examples of the so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ wristwatches. This name refers to twelve brands of wristwatch which were given to British soldiers in World War Two, which were specially commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence to fulfil the needs of the British Soldiers – they had to be accurate, durable, waterproof and shockproof. The watches also had to have a black dial, luminous markers, a railroad minute track, shatterproof crystal, and a stainless-steel case. While they were standard issue in WWII, the watches have become legendary amongst watch collectors, many of whom are on a mission to collect all twelve examples. The collection in this month’s sale, which were discovered in a drawer amongst a box of old watches, contained three ‘Dirty Dozen’ examples by the International Watch Company, which sold for the collective sum of £12,000.

Following the success of their Spring sales, Trevanion are now looking forward to a busy Summer. “Demand for items from country houses are proving ever-popular with both the experienced collector and the new and emerging millennial,” remarks Ashley. “The combination of decorative merit accompanied with unmeasurable quality equates to fierce bidding when such items appear to the open market, which itself is often a once in a lifetime opportunity. The English Country House has long upheld fascination for people from across the globe and the unprecedented international interest which we received for the Ruyton Hall collection reflects this. We are a leading influence in carefully conducting specialist Country House auctions and are looking forward to managing collections of a similar calibre throughout 2021 with a collection of 17th and 18th century portraiture sourced from a titled estate forming a signification part of our June Fine Art Auction, many of which are of national importance”.

To view the results from this auction, click here.