Two rare Fabergé flowers said to showcase ‘the very best of Fabergé genius’ sparked a strong bidding battle at auction on Monday (June 11).
And now the flowers, made thanks to the inventiveness and skill of Russian goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé, are heading to a new home after being purchased by the same phone bidder.
A Fabergé barberry bush sold for £160,000 while a morning glory blossom went under the hammer for £180,000 making a total of £340,000 for the pair. Both flowers exceeded their estimates of £100,000 to £150,000 each and, with the addition of buyer's fees and VAT, the total selling price was £421,600.
Three phone bidders battled it out to own the botanical studies, which sparked strong interest from Russia. The flowers have been bought by an anonymous buyer.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons London, which sold the flowers at its saleroom at the Normansfield Theatre, Teddington, said: “I am thrilled both for our client and bidder who has secured some of the rarest masterpieces of the goldsmith’s art ever to be offered at auction.
“Right from the start, there was great excitement and interest in these two flower studies, which came from the late Lady Juliet Duff’s personal collection.”
Mr Hanson, 40, a familiar face on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, called the discovery of the two rare Fabergé flowers his most significant find ever.
The jewelled ornaments were taken along to Hansons London’s valuation office in Hampton Court Village after their owner saw a Fabergé flower, valued at £1m, uncovered by TV’s Antiques Roadshow in March.
Mr Hanson said: “A lady came along carrying a humble cardboard box. Inside, wrapped in an old tea towel, was the holy grail of what an auctioneer can expect only in their wildest of dreams - not one, but two, Fabergé flowers.
“The two botanical studies, created by Fabergé in Imperial Russia, were crafted in the early 20th century, circa 1907-1910, and are six inches long. These are 'objects de fantaisie’, simply made for guests to admire.
“Only about 80 of Fabergé’s botanical studies are known to have survived with the majority in the Queen’s Royal Collection.
“One of the flowers, a Fabergé barberry bush with purpurine berries and jade leaves, demonstrates breathtaking luxury. It’s chased and engraved gold stem sits within a carved rock crystal vase appearing to be half full of water. It is extraordinarily delicate with rich, soft red berries so real they could drop any time on ripening
“The other flower takes the form of a highly naturalistic morning glory blossom on a jade jardinière and aventurine quartz stand. The gold flowers, enamelled white with shades of pale pink and lilac, are inset with 'dew drops' of diamonds. A bud is bursting to open and flower. The leaves are carved Siberian jade nephrite. Fabergé’s creations are truly still-life jewels.
“The British royal family led the fashion for Fabergé and its glittering clientele included aristocrats and socialites. The most important collection of Fabergé flowers is The Royal Collection. It was started by Queen Alexandra and has been added to by Queen Mary, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales.”
The flowers sold by Hansons were once the property of Lady Juliet Duff (1881-1965). Her mother, the Marchioness of Ripon (1859-1917), was a notable customer at Fabergé in London.
Owing to her noble heritage Lady Juliet was a well know figure in royal, artistic and musical circles. She was a friend to playwrights Oscar Wilde and Terence Rattigan, the poet Maurice Baring, the author Hilaire Belloc and the Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Lady Juliet was also a familiar face at court and was a close friend of King George V and Queen Mary.
The two Fabergé flowers were sold on June 11 at 7.30pm at Hansons London saleroom, the Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS.To find out more about the sale, email [email protected].
Hansons London holds free valuation days every Saturday at the Normansfield Theatre, from 9.30am-12.30pm and at its offices at 77 Bridge Road, Hampton Court Village on Wednesdays, 11am-3pm, and Fridays, 10am-4pm. TV celebrity Kate Bliss will be doing free valuations at the Hampton Court Village office on June 15, 11.30am-4pm. To find out more, email [email protected]