Spotlight On | Asian Art Collections

3 November 2023


Sworders November Asian Art auction proudly presents a selection of distinctive single-owner collections, each reflecting its own unique affinity for Chinese early ceramics, mark and period porcelain from the Qing dynasty, Tibetan Buddhist sculptures, or a wide-ranging appreciation for Far East artworks from the 19th century. These collections, all newly introduced to the market, offer a captivating glimpse into the historical passion and collecting journey of their original owners.


A Single Owner Collection of Chinese Early Ceramics

LOTS 1-31




From the Collection of the Nightingale family, Lea Hurst, Derbyshire; Collection of Mr Williaam Gregory (d.1995) of Tansley House, Matlock, Derbyshire; purchased by the vendor’s father and thence by descent.

This collection was originally purchased in its entirety in 1945 , from the Estate Auction of the contents of Lea Hurst , Derbyshire, the country estate of the Nightingale family. See attached photo of the auction details.

The buyer was Mr William Gregory , a local mill owner, of Tansley House , Matlock, Derbyshire, deceased circa 1995 .

In 1972 it was purchased in a private transaction from Mr Gregory by the father of the present vendor and remained in storage in its original packing cases.

Rediscovered earlier this year it is now offered on the open market ,without reserve, for the first time in nearly 80 years.


From the Collection of Mr Edmund Bruce Ball (1873-1944)

LOTS 59-100




Born in Norfolk in 1873, Edmund Bruce Ball had a long and illustrious career in the field of engineering. 

Starting employment as an engineering apprentice in Thetford, he went on to study further at the Manchester School of Technology, achieving many academic awards along the way.  After holding several senior and managerial positions in the UK, he took his first overseas appointment, residing in Italy from 1905.  In 1908, Bruce Ball headed for China to take on the position of engineer and commercial agent for Messrs Samuel McGregor & Co. of Shanghai, a role which led to him travelling throughout the Far East and Siberia representing the interests of several British firms.  He found the experience fascinating and unlike anything he had encountered before, no doubt fuelling his passion for collecting Asian Art.

At the end of the First World War, Bruce Ball took up the position of managing director at Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. in Kilmarnock, Scotland, a role he held for more than a quarter of a century and where he was considered with high regard, not only for his professional expertise, but also for the efforts he made in improving the overall welfare of his employees.  By the end of his life, he was a recognised authority in the field of hydraulic engineering and had received many professional honours and accolades.


The Collection of Dr Anne F Sutton (1942-2022)

 Lots 165 - 217




Dr Sutton was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a retired Archivist of the Mercers’ Company of London, having previously been an actress, appearing in several stage and radio productions during the 1960s.  Much of her collection had been gathered by her grandfather, Herbert Sutton (1880-1946), who was a silk merchant living in Canton.  When he returned to England in the 1920s, he brought back various items that he had acquired during his twenty-year stay in China.  Anne later inherited these pieces from her father and, having an interest in the Far East herself, she continued to add her own purchases to enhance the collection.


From a Single Owner Collection in St John’s Wood, London

Lots 239-256




These lots are part of a larger private collection that has been accumulated over a twenty-year period by a devout practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. The pieces are primarily from the Gelug lineage, with several depictions of Tsongkhapa, and have served as a source of meditative inspiration to their current and previous owners. 


Asian Art

Friday 3 November | 10am | 01279 817778