Connoiseurship at the Fore

The overarching theme for the May Asian Art, Classic Furniture & Objects auction is one of connoisseurship: every collection represented in the auction contains high quality examples of their respective categories, meticulously collected over generations and acquired from some of the best known retailers in Australia and overseas. The current catalogue also includes one of the nest offerings of silver to feature in a Leonard Joel auction in recent years, with presentation pieces very much to the fore. One particularly notable example is the Victorian silver mounted novelty claret jug in the form of a seal, by Alexander Crichton.

251In and of itself a desirable piece, given the current demand for Crichton’s ‘zoomorphic’ creations, this example is lent an extra significance through its presentation inscription, stating that it was a gift from the Frankston Bowling Club to Major General Harold William Grimwade in 1937 (lot 251). Its collectable appeal aside, if nothing else, the claret jug can’t help but invoke a nostalgia for a bygone era when truly exquisite gifts were bestowed upon highly regarded citizens!

Closer to home, the 1853 ‘First Hunt Steeplechase Trophy’ will be offered for the first time in 163 years, and only a few blocks from where it was originally presented (lot 245). Won by colonial pioneer Alexander McLean Hunt’s ‘Benedict’, the race took place at the former Prahran Course, which was located in the precinct between what is now Toorak Road and Fawkner Park.

459Few collections in this auction represent connoisseurship better than that of the late Sara- Jean ‘Sally’ Dilena. A pioneer in the Melbourne manufacture and retail of American confectionary in the 1950s and 60s, Sally’s innate entrepreneurship and commercial drive co-existed with her passion for collecting. She was a regular purchaser at the Melbourne antique auctions and a valued customer of well-known retailers such as Kozminsky Galleries, on Bourke Street in Melbourne – so much so that she frequently understated the real cost of her purchases to her enquiring husband! Her discerning eye is evident throughout her collection, particularly in the high quality selection of silver, many pieces in their original retail boxes (including lot 459). As with previous auctions of this type, our aim has been to place emphasis on the personal context of the objects on offer, separate from notions of market value. We trust that you will enjoy the collections presented here and the stories behind them.

Auction | Sunday 15 May 2016 at 12pm
Viewing | 11 May 9am-8pm | 12-13 May 10am-4pm | 14 May 10am-5pm | 15 May 10am-11.30am
See the full catalogue here >

Guy Cairnduff
Head of Classic Furniture & Objects