World auction records set for glass at Bonhams

The Attack, an important cameo glass plaque by Thomas and George Woodall, smashed world records selling for £169,250 at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 1st May, as part of the British and European Glass Sale. The lot was secured by a buyer in the saleroom after a lengthy bidding battle.

Cameo glass plaque by Thomas and George Woodall

Cameo glass plaque by Thomas and George Woodall

Crafted over 150 years ago in 1896 in dark amethyst glass overlaid with white the piece is carved with a ‘Pompeian’ scene where a maiden is surprised in a state of undress on her terrace by two cupids, gods of desire. Her modesty protected only by a translucent veil and her discarded clothing and jewels scattered in the foreground, the maiden is set upon by the mischievous cupids.

The Cameo glass method was first invented in the Roman era and later revived in the nineteenth-century by two craftsmen, to whom Thomas and George Woodall were apprentices. Unwilling to sign his work and pre-occupied with social reform, Thomas Woodall’s name mostly faded from history. George, on the other hand, was a showman and local celebrity. Many of the figures depicted in his works were modeled on his daughters. Relations between the two brothers had become strained and The Attack was to be the last work that the brothers collaborated on.

Simon Cottle, European Director of Glass at Bonhams said, “Carved in the Roman manner The Attack is one of the finest pieces of Cameo glass work ever produced. Reminiscent of the priceless Portland vase created nearly two thousand years ago and which stands in the British Museum, this piece is in outstanding condition having always been in private hands. With several major international buyers bidding, the market has recognized the significance of a true masterpiece and the price achieved reflects this. This piece may well hold the record for any piece of English glass ever sold at auction.”

Other top lots in the sale included A Venetian Cameo Glass Vase by Attilio Spaccarelli which made over ten times the estimate selling at £26,250 and set a new world record for a work by the artist. A Beilby wine goblet which sold for £63,650 set a world record for glass of this particular type.