On Thursday 2 March we have our Old Master, British and European Art auction. We are delighted to bring to you a private collection of works from The Wodehouse, Wombourne (lots 1-25).
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The Wodehouse is a grade II* listed country house near Wombourne, Staffordshire. The estate has existed since medieval times and is recorded from the 13th century. It came into possession of the Hellier family in 1708 and for over 900 years it has never been sold, the current owners having inherited the house by marriage. It became notable as the family seat of the Georgian landscape designer and musicologist Sir Samuel Hellier, who created the core of an important collection of musical instruments and literature.
© Courtesy of H. Phillips
For over 200 years, the Hellier family was also in possession of what would become known as the Hellier Stradivarius, one of the best-preserved violins made by Antonio Stradivari of Cremona around 1679, which by family repute is said to have been depicted in one of the pictures (lot 13) and is now in the care of the Stradivari Foundation in Cremona.
Lot 13: Follower of Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten, Still life with a violin, a teapot and a clock, oil on canvas | Est £2,000 - 3,000 (+ fees)
Samuel Hellier laid out the grounds of Wodehouse in 18th century fashion. Between 1760 and 1770 he created an elaborate pleasure garden, complete with a grotto, a Druid’s circle, a music room with a working organ, a hermitage with a model of a hermit, an exedra, a root house and a temple dedicated to the memory of his favourite composer, Handel. Hellier also collected an extensive and important collection of musical instruments and manuscripts relating to Handel and his contemporaries. While the house itself still has a fourteenth century core, it also includes 17th and 18th century additions. It was subsequently restored by George Frederick Bodley, the Gothic Revival architect, in the 1870’s and twenty years later a billiard room, chapel and other external decoration were added by Charles Robert Ashbee, a leader in the English Arts and Crafts movement.
Lot 9: Circle of Charles Collins (British Ca. 1680-1744) A still life of a lobster and a shrimp on a ledge, oil on canvas | Est £2,000 - 3,000 (+ fees)
Samuel Hellier left the property to his lifelong friend Thomas Shaw, minister at St. John’s Wolverhampton, who changed his name in 1786 to become Reverend Shaw-Hellier as a condition of the inheritance. His grandson, Colonel Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier (1836-1910) and the last of the Shaw-Hellier line, made a career in military music as the director of the Royal Military School of Music and also commanded the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards.
Lot 25: Tilly Kettle (British 1735-1786) Portrait of a lady, seated three-quarter length, in a landscape
oil on canvas. Provenance: Colonel Thomas Shaw-Hellier (1836-1910) | Est: £4,000 - 6,000 (+ fees)
Several works from the Wodehouse collection were lent by him to the Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition of 1902, including a selection by the 18th century portrait painter James Shaw (1736-1784), the Reverend Thomas Shaw-Hellier’s younger brother. Little is known about James Shaw, apart from him entering the Royal Academy in 1769 where he trained and later exhibited in 1776 and 1784. His works in the current sale (lots 1-7) therefore shine an important light on the oeuvre of this obscure but talented Wolverhampton artist.
Lot 1: James Shaw (British Fl. 1769-1784), Self portrait with a palette, Oil on canvas | Est £1,500 - 2,000 (+ fees)
Thursday 2 March | 10.30am GMT
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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- Viewing in London (highlights only):
- Monday 20 February: 10am-4pm
- Tuesday 21 February: 10am-4pm
- Wednesday 22 February: 10am-4pm
- Viewing in Newbury (full sale):
- Sunday 26 February: 10am-3pm
- Monday 27 February: 10am-4pm
- Tuesday 28 February: 10am-4pm
- Wednesday 1 March: 10am-4pm
- Day of sale: from 8.30am
- Dreweatts 360 Virtual Auction Tour | Available from Friday 17 February