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Waves of interest over rare 'River Rug' print...

17th April 2018

In our recent auction of Decorative Arts, there was plenty to please the collectors of good modern ceramics, glass, bronzes and furniture but it was an exceptional print that led the sale.

The sale began with a good private collection of the ever-popular Moorcroft pottery: 24 lots achieved a total of £11,700, the top price being the £2680 paid for a Sally Tuffin vase with the `Carp` design. Two Lalique vases in the Bacchantes and Saint Francois designs made £1460 apiece and an unsigned Art Deco bronze of an exotic lady holding a mirror (33cm high) exceeded expectations to make £2560. A Lenci Italian figure of a flower seller bloomed beautifully to make £870, five times expectations.

The keenest interest was shown in a rare `Sun Print` (52 by 25cm) of Charles Voysey’s famous `River Rug` (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum). The distinguished designer’s major project was woven at Wilton in 1903 and the print of it, long thought to be a watercolour, was a gift from Voysey to George Nelson Haden who was a friend and collaborator. It was sold by a descendant of Haden and the print’s superb provenance certainly contributed to its appeal. Despite being on a printed base, there was little doubt that the fine colouring was in Voysey’s own hand. Some spirited bidding saw the price climb to £21,350. As recently as ten years ago, another similar print made just £500 at auction but the very personal history of this print offered an intriguing link to Voysey himself. In addition, of course, it is a splendidly decorative image.

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