Saturday, 30 April 2022

Buyers and Prices at the Rogers Sale in 1856


I have written several times about the need to locate multiple annotated copies of auction catalogues, because the annotations in any one copy cannot be trusted as reliable. And I have written (e.g. here) about the need to distinguish between the date on which a manuscript was sold and the date on which the auction commenced, because these are often not the same. In looking at the famous 1856 sale at Christie's of the collection of the poet Samuel Rogers (mentioned e.g. here), both these principles are exemplified, as will be discussed today and in next weekend's post.

The art collection of Samuel Rogers were sold at Christie's "On Monday, April 28, 1856, and eighteen following days":

There is a copy of the catalogue at the New York Public Library (available online through Google Books), which is very convenient for trying to trace ex-Ottley cuttings in Rogers' collection, but it is not annotated with prices or buyers' names:

On the page above the first item is the famous miniature of King David in armour from the Hours of Etienne Chevalier, by Jean Fouquet (of which an image is shown at the top of this blogpost); it is listed among the miniatures by named artists, separate from the unframed "illuminated miniatures" which follow.

A copy of the catalogue at the Getty Research Intitute (available online through was annotated selectively by someone who had an interest in Rogers' paintings and drawings, but not his manuscripts, portrait miniatures, etc.:


Another digitised copy (behind a paywall, so I cannot link to it) is annotated sporadically with prices, but not names; here we can see that the Fouquet miniature sold for £16 5s 6d, and the last item on the same page (lot 990 "A collection of fifty-five beautiful illuminated borders, with birds, flowers, and arabesques, on gold ground--from ancient missals") made £13 10s:

[As usual, click images to enlarge]

Arguably the best and most reliable source of buyer and price information is the copy of the catalogue in Christie's own archive. I have a copy of one page of the catalogue (thanks to Matt Westerby), with the names and prices on the interleaved facing page:

This confirms that the Fouquet miniature and lot 990 were sold for £16 5s 6d and £13 10s and that they were bought by "Lord Bredalbane" [1] and "Sir Hugh Campbell", respectively. It also provides the prices and buyers' names for the other lots on this page. Unfortunately this is the only scan I have from this copy of the catalogue, and the Christie's Archive, which used to provide such scans to researchers, can no longer provide this service. How, then, are we to identify the buyers, and the prices paid, for the other cuttings from illuminated manuscripts (lots 991-1010), and the "Missals" (lots 1011-1016)? I'll provide one possible answer that question next weekend.

[1] I am not aware of any study of Lord Breadalbane as a collector of illuminated manuscripts, though he had several, including the Taymouth Hours (as discussed in this blogpost).

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