Imagine acquiring a William Morris, Raoul Dufy or Salvador Dalí for less than £1,000. Canny bidders at Scotland’s oldest auction room, Lyon & Turnbull, could well find themselves doing just that when textiles from the personal collection of the antiques dealer Paul Reeves go under the hammer on Thursday February 23.
The 192 lots in the Textiles as Art sale date from 1840 to 2002. Many are framed for use as wall hangings; others are mounted for display, some on freestanding screens such as the embroidered Apple Tree design on a fire screen (c1880, estimate £800-£1,200) by William Morris for Morris & Co. Further Morris designs include two charming cotton hanging panels – Brer Rabbit (c1882, £400-£600) and Strawberry Thief (c1883, £350-£450), printed using a technique that took Morris six years to achieve.
Other standout lots from the late 19th century include Christopher Dresser’s Hera fabric panel (c1890, £150-£250) for Liberty & Co; Walter Crane’s Regmarita wool embroidered panel (c1880, £300-£500) featuring a classical figure allegorical of Time, made for the Royal School of Needlework; and rare crewelwork pieces designed by Robert Lorimer for his restoration of Earlshall Castle in Fife – a pair of bed hangings (£10,000-£15,000) and an exquisite panel (£18,000-£22,000), both from 1893.
Collectors will also be drawn to Raoul Dufy’s intricate patterns, printed on cotton-twill panels for Bianchini-Férier in the 1920s, such as La Chasse (£800-£1,200) and La Pêche (£700-£900), part of the Toiles de Tournon series that shows Dufy’s aspiration to create a modern-day version of Oberkampf’s toiles de Jouy. Salvador Dalí’s silk butterfly scarf (£600-£800), designed for the International Silk Congress, is offered with a programme from the opening dinner dated October 1950; and two rare 1955 Taliesin Line printed linen panels carrying architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs for F Schumacher & Co – estimated at £800-£1,200 and £400-£600 – come with printed inscriptions on the selvedge.
Just like any artwork on canvas, these textiles are to be cherished, enjoyed and displayed – and with the current underappreciation of textiles as artworks in their own right, now might be the time to invest.