10 Apr 2021
January 20, 2012 - Filed under: Arts and Crafts Furniture — David

Sworders Decorative Arts & Design sale, held on January 10th in Stansted, Essex, saw high bidding on a number of Art Deco and Arts & Crafts furniture pieces. However, it was an abstract sculpture by Barbara Hepworth (1903-75) which caused the most excitement, realising £250,000 against a £60,000 – 80,000 estimate.

Unfortunately the alabaster piece, dated 1966, fell foul of the new extension to Artist Resale Rights, which came into force on January 1st. Originally, ARR was only paid to living artists, who received a royalty each time a work was publicly sold for 1000 Euros or more. However, the new ruling has extended this to artists who have died in the last 70 years, with royalties going to their nearest living relatives. While this was unlikely to affect those bidding for antique cabinets in Sworders sale, the buyer of the £250,000 Hepworth sculpture had to pay an extra £5293 to the artist’s estate, plus collection fees of £934 and a 20% commission fee! A hammer price more than three times the upper estimate no doubt softened the blow.

In Lancashire, antique cabinets of the Art Deco period are always popular. At Sworders, a walnut, rosewood and maple bar cabinet – one of 10 items in a collection rescued from the London Blitz – realised £3,100. However, of more interest to buyers from the Ribble Valley was an antique chest-of-drawers. Given to the vendor’s mother by Margaret Pilkington, founder of the Manchester Red Rose Guild, it was made by guild-member Harry Norris of Bolton. It realised £820 – though a Lancashire antique dealer would probably have paid a lot more to have it in his shop.

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