The important waterlily bowl, in silver gilt, titanium, laburnum wood and enamel, by Louis Osman, was made for Peter Jenkins in 1991 and is accompanied by the original design drawing. In 1988 Peter Jenkins retired as Clerk of the Goldsmiths’ Company after 13 years. The Company wished to give Peter a retirement gift, he suggested a piece by Louis Osman, who he had known for many years and whose work he admired. It was decided that the piece should be a mazer bowl (a medieval drinking vessel) and Louis set to work researching the history of mazer bowls and determined that the design should be “in the medieval tradition but completely contemporary in feeling” and based on a rare waterlily, found in the Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. The accompanying design shows that Louis had intended for the bowl to bear a presentation inscription - work that was never undertaken on the final piece (See Notes to Editors for biography).
Jewellery specialist, Laura Smith commented: “We are delighted to be offering this exquisite bowl by renowned designer Louis Osman. This was consigned by the family of Peter Jenkins following the success, last year, when we were privileged to sell the personal archive of Osman.”
Elsewhere in the sale, Dix Noonan Webb is delighted to present a selection of lady’s watches and rings by the award winning French designer Jean Muller. A Fine Arts School graduate, the softly spoken craftsman Jean Muller began his career as a stylist for an international watchmaking group. In the 1980s, he launched the BUGATTI watch brand, independently managing this project from the initial designs right through to worldwide distribution.
For the past 15 years, Jean Muller has been discreetly cooperating with many of the great names in Swiss watchmaking and French fine jewellery creation - including Chopard, Girard Perregaux, Richard Mille, TAG HEUER ETC., and is now working in alliance with master watchmaker Bruno Saville, with workshops in Le Locle (Switzerland). A selection of pretty cocktail watches and matching rings will be offered for sale, with each piece incorporating the theme of a multi-petal flower head, the designs drawing parallels perhaps with the much loved traditional cottage garden flower, the ‘Auricula’.
Head of Jewellery, Frances Noble commented; “The watch heads are delicately fashioned in 18ct white, rose or yellow gold, diamond set, with enamelled, pearl or gem set dials, on fine black silk straps and diamond set buckle clasps. These beautifully produced watches are all unused, and in pristine condition. The accompanying rings echo the designs. With estimates ranging from £300 upwards, surely too tempting an opportunity to miss….”
Also in the sale is a 16th century gold posy ring, discovered by a metal detectorist in October 2017 and expected to fetch £1,500-£2,000. The exterior is chased with nautilus shells and six petal flower heads, the interior inscribed in Roman capitals ‘In silenc and in hope’ (sic).
As Laura Smith explains: “This unusual posy is not recorded in Joan Evan’s reference work ‘Posy rings’. It is possibly taken from the Douay-Rheims bible, Isaiah 30:15 - “For thus saith the Lord God the Holy One of Israel: If you return and be quiet, you shall be saved: in silence and in hope shall your strength be.” The Douay-Rheims Bible was an English translation of the Latin Vugate for the Catholic Church, the Old Testament being published in 1610.”
Free online bidding is available is www.dnw.co.uk.
For more information, please call 020 7016 1700
Thursday 21st March: 5pm - 7pm
Friday 22nd:: 10am - 4.30pm
Monday 25th 10am - 4.30pm
Morning of sale 10am - 1pm
Earlier viewing can be arranged by appointment.
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NEXT SALE: JEWELLERY, WATCHES AND OBJECTS OF VERTU – 18th JUNE 201
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Dix Noonan Webb – a brief history
In 1991, its first year of trading, the company held three medal auctions and sold 1,200 lots for a total hammer price of £553,000. Two years later it opened a coin department which also auctions commemorative medals and tokens and in 2015 DNW added jewellery to its sales calendar. Last year, it set up a standalone banknotes department and expanded into premises next door.
In 2018 DNW achieved a total hammer price of £11,676,580 and the total number of lots across all departments was 20,273. To date the company has sold in excess of 300,000 lots totalling £155 million.
Louis Osman: He was an architect, goldsmith, draftsman, art historian and art patron. Most of all he was a creator of genius” - these are the words Graham Hughes, Art Directors of the Goldsmith's Company, used to describe Louis Osman. Born in 1914, Louis Osman showed a flair for creativity even as a youth, channeling his talent into his training at the Bartlett School of Architecture and also studying drawing at the Slade School of Art. During the Second World War he was a major in the Intelligence Service and, more importantly, he met and married Dills Robert, who not only became his wife and unswerving supporter, but later his enamelist.
Louis began his career as an architect in the office of Sir Albert Richardson, learning the grammar of good architecture, but, from the beginning, was keen to question traditional methods and push design and construction to their limits. He first made his name when he rebuilt the bomb damaged Convent of the Holy Child Jesus on Cavendish Square, London, connecting the two Georgian buildings with a new bridge. As part of this work Louis asked the sculptor Jacob Epstein to produce his magnificent Madonna and Child, to grace the front of the building. Much of Louis’ other architectural work comprised restorations or extensions to historical buildings, most notably Staunton Harold for the National Trust, Ranston House in Dorset and Shere Church in Surrey; another architectural tour-de-force was his brand new neo-renaissance plate glass palazzo Principal’s Lodge for Newnham College, Cambridge.
In the early 1960s “Osman moved out of masonry and into precious metals with grace and apparent ease.” Graham Hughes was, from the first, a champion of Osman, and it was under his direction that the Goldsmith’s Company commissioned Louis, first to design a new treasure for Lincoln Cathedral, and then in 1969 to make the crown the the Company presented to the Queen for the Prince of Wales’ investiture at Carnarvon Castle - “the best known piece of new British gold of [the] century”.
In 1971 the Goldsmiths Company held the ‘Louis Osman Gold Exhibition’ at Goldsmiths Hall, comprising 105 pieces, mostly new and modelled in gold. By this time Louis was ensconced at Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire, where he set up a workshop employing half a dozen silversmiths, engravers, and other helpers. Besides silver Louis also designed and produced jewellery, most for commission, but sometimes for exhibition. Highlights of his jewellery work include the stunning ‘Spiders web’ diamond necklace, designed for the 1961 International Jewellery Exhibition in Tokyo. This necklace, Osman’s own personal favourite, was also the best loved piece among the members of the Goldsmiths Company and their wives, who are encouraged to borrow pieces from the collections to wear at the Company’s annual dinners, although this necklace is now considered too delicate to be loaned out.
Louis “always undertook meticulous research to ensure his commissions were appropriate for the individual or institutions commissioning them, with the design drawings in pencil, ink and watercolour, often embellished with gold leaf, being works of art in their own right”, and this is clearly demonstrated by the beautiful designs and drawings he produced, and the annotations he added to them. Even small sketches are coloured and accented in gold leaf to bring them to life. Louis himself, always sure of his own talent, said in a letter to his publisher; “Holbein could make jewellery and paint portraits of Henry VIII, providing the most marvellous drawings, which rest in the British Library. Michelangelo could design the dome of St Peter’s, carve David and paint the Sistine Chapel, but I am thought peculiar because I make things of gold and also of concrete, and can also draw.” Hopefully history will raise this creative genius to the pedestal where he belongs, amongst the Pantheon of titans of Art and Design.
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