Eyes on brown furniture from Annandale's The Abbey

By Jane O'Sullivan | The Australian Financial Review | Thursday 23 July 2015

Sydney auctioneer Andrew Shapiro says the market for "brown furniture" is still patchy as collectors chase 20th century designers, but believes there is still interest in "focal pieces". In his mixed sale on July 26, he has given conservative estimates to antique furniture, including three 19th century pieces that first came onto the market at Lawsons' 2009 onsite sale of The Abbey, a sprawling heritage home in Sydney's inner west suburb of Annandale.

Lot 234

These lots, in varying styles, are not thought to be part of The Abbey's original fittings and furnishings, but were collected by then owner Dr Geoffrey Davis, who had a particular interest in pieces that complemented the building's gothic revival style.

At the 2009 sale, a gothic revival bookcase sold for a hammer price of $1140 and is now being listed with an estimate of $800 to $1,200, while a renaissance revival carved oak bookcase sold for $2,400 and now carries an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

A fall front desk in the English Arts and Crafts style has been given a higher estimate. It originally sold of $720 in 2009 and is now estimated between $4,000 and $5,000.

Lot 418 Neoclassical Mirror

The large Shapiro sale also includes 100 lots from interior designer Margot Montgomery, known around Sydney for her affection for French provincial style and for her work for high profile clients including John Laws' wife Caroline.

While most of these lots are low value decorative items like porcelain, there are also pieces of painted French furniture, including a 19th century side cabinet estimated at $1,000 to $2,000, and a number of mirrors, including a neoclassical gilt mirror estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. "As an interior designer she collected what she put in people's homes," says Shapiro. "I think a lot of her followers have been coming through [the viewing days] and wanting a piece."

There is also another tranche from the estate of D'Arcy Ryan, a West Australian anthropologist with an eccentric and global collection. His 1955 Jeffrey Smart painting Approaching Storm by Railroad made $240,000 including a buyer's premium of 20 per cent, on an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, at Shapiro's sale in April. Now his silver and Asian bronzes are going under the hammer. A silver tray by Thomas Bradbury & Sons is estimated between $1,000 and $2,000 while a bronze statue of Shiva Nataraja balanced upside down on one hand is estimated between $500 and $700.

Fine Furniture, Paintings, Silver, Decorative and Asian Arts

AUCTION | Sunday 26 July

ON VIEW | Daily, 11am - 5pm (Sunday 26 July 10am - 12noon)

CATALOGUE | Shapiro.com.au

ENQUIRIES | (02) 9326 1588 or info@shapiro.com.au