On Wednesday 31 January we have our Town and Country auction. Offering two exquisite academic collections, the auction includes the collection from a historic townhouse on Wimpole Street, London. Here, Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland and her daughter, Lady Eliza Manners pick out just a few of their favourite pieces, echoing the multi-generational allure for decorative arts within the home.
Commenting on the collection, Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland, said "The sale by my good friends comprises a long, hidden family collection from one of the most perfectly preserved of splendid and complete Georgian townhouses on Wimpole Street, which has given as much pleasure to them as to us. The house and collection lent itself to a glittering backdrop for wonderful parties and occasions and it was always such a great pleasure to visit as well as reciprocate at Belvoir. Eighteenth century furniture and paintings were thoughtfully displayed in the magnificent period rooms, and the most significant pieces have been carefully researched and preserved revealing a deep interest in great 18th century works of art, underpinned by historical curiosity fused with scholarly integrity and an overriding desire for comfortable living. I have always believed that one should use the beautiful pieces we are lucky enough to own, as these friends always have, as it ensures their continued life and memories for continuing generations.
"As often with collections several prominent themes stand out, including 18th century British portraiture and classic English furniture of the best period is evoked by a roll call of the greatest makers. The scholarly and historic objects which form the highpoints of the collection are also cleverly balanced with charming Chinese lamps, comfortable sofas and chairs. Colourful rugs, baroque tapestry hangings and embroidered seats give warmth and texture among the polished mahogany and inlaid satinwood."
(Left) Lady Eliza Manners; (Right) Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland
Her Grace, The Duchess of Rutland's Top Picks
Lot 92: A mahogany breakfront library bookcase, in George III style, late 20th century | Est. £2,000-3,000 (+ fees)
"This piece is reminiscent of ones that we have at Belvoir. The scale is wonderful, and the fretwork in the pediment is the sort of detail that I adore. One can never have enough books and they are kept safely behind the geometric patterned glazed doors. The sliding secretaire can be used to perch to write a letter, or used as a useful surface to serve drinks with its convenient storage for glasses and bottles below."
Lot 110: A pair of George III giltwood mirrors, circa 1790 | Est. £5,000-8,000 (+ fees)
"This pair of late 18th century Adam period mirrors have a timeless simplicity and elegance. Their refined frames and swagged neo-classical crestings touchingly display emblems of maternal devotion. Antique mirror plates have a unique advantage in extending space and reflecting light in a most flattering and romantic manner. They add depth and timeless glamour displayed within their glittering gilded frames. The wonderfully glamorous Regent’s Gallery at Belvoir with its own gilded pier glasses is always magically brought to life by the reflection of candlelight that adds to the theatre of endlessly memorable evenings."
Lot 55A: John Hoppner RA (1758- 1810), Louisa, Countess of Mansfield (1758-1843), Oil on canvas, a pair | Est. £10,000-15,000 (+ fees)
"This wonderfully sympathetic portrait of the beautiful Louisa Mansfield, painted during a briefly fashionable period of depicting aristocratic women in simple country dress, is enchanting. The unpretentious dress highlights her natural beauty and porcelain skin against the dark background. It is mesmerising. Hoppner, George III’s favourite portrait painter also painted several of the Manners family including the dashing 5th Duke. Louisa must have been an extraordinary young woman to support her much older husband as Ambassador in Paris whilst still the chatelaine of Kenwood House, one of Robert Adam’s most magnificent London houses, as well as Scone Palace in Scotland. The demands must have been huge and such remarkable chatelaines have been an inspiration and encouraged me to explore their often untold but crucial contribution to the success of our great houses. My recent podcast ‘Duchess’, in which we interviewed many extraordinary and dedicated modern chatelaines of the current generation, hopefully conveyed their remarkable central role in preserving our shared heritage."
Lot 14: A cream painted and upholstered sofa, in George III style, 20th century | Est. £2,000-3,000 (+ fees)
"The classic silhouette of this generously proportioned sofa is something I am always hunting for when re-decorating rooms. The subtle Greek key close nailing of the border is an added detail that makes it stand out from the rest. Its extra depth is perfect for layering a bank of exotic cushions, adding extra colour that one can curl up in with a good book or a gossip with a friend. Robert Kime was a genius and it is no surprise that he supplied something so beautiful and inviting."
Lot 121: A set of six George III giltwood side chairs, by Thomas Chippendale, circa 1773 | Est. £70,000-100,000 (+ fees)
"Thomas Chippendale’s name still remains the most legendary and spectacular of English furniture makers, creating elegant and showstopping items - this set of chairs are no different and it is remarkable to have a set of six of them from the famed Brocket Hall suite. The crisply carved frieze with classical paterae and bell flowers perfectly illustrates his intricate detailing that is beautifully thought through to harmonise with a complete and unified interior. The gilded frames and beautiful silk still shimmer in the light to create a dazzling display just as they were intended to over 250 years ago. They truly have timeless sophistication and importance."
Lady Eliza Manner's Top Picks
Lot 56: A pair of electro-plated camel cruets | Est. £100-150 (+ fees)
"The beautifully modelled pair of camels eccentrically transport salt and pepper in hinged panniers below a lidded mustard pot. They are so amusing and belong to a moment of Victorian charm reflecting their love of travel and seem almost ready for Phileas Fogg’s table or of a stylish modern adventurer. Conceived at the height of the 19th century’s romance with the mysteries of Orientalism and the Ottoman Empire, they remain delightful and highly decorative as well as practical."
Lot 83: λ Augustus John (British 1878-1961), Canadian Soldier, Ink | Est. £3,000-5,000 (+ fees)
"Augustus John is one of my favourite artists. There is something romantic yet modern about his work, with his portraiture taking an essence of the Old Masters whilst being far more contemporary. Yet I find John's work as a war artist very touching with some of his most fascinating pieces capturing something so completely different. These studies are a rare find of his work, the brave young Canadian soldiers during World War I immortalised by his pen in the middle of a harsh long war far from home."
Lot 78: A set of three carved walnut and upholstered side chairs, in George II style, late 19th or early 20th century | Est. £500-800 (+ fees)
"The classic shape of these George II style side chairs has a certain simplicity but the carving to the cabriole claw and ball front legs adds the perfect amount of rich naturalistic detail. They have an elegant sinuous silhouette with their expansive backs that were originally intended as a foil to display costly silks or needlework. Today they could equally be transformed if re-covered in a beautiful contemporary or exotic Anatolian fabric. It takes just a little bold imagination and one is rarely disappointed."
Lot 102: A black slate and mosaic topped chestnut three tier centre table, the table 19th or early 20th century | Est. £1,200-1,800 (+ fees)
"This is such an unusual piece and it caught my eye straight away. The inlaid polychrome mosaic top centred by a large flowerhead design is framed within a guilloche border with fabulous colours ready to fit into any space. It is a very versatile piece suitable for a grand bathroom, the end of a library sofa, a centre table in a bay window bearing a drinks tray or a beautiful vase of flowers. It is wonderfully practical and decorative and I would find endless places for it."
Lot 176: A French wrought iron, brass and marble topped baker's table, 19th century | Est. £500-800 (+ fees)
"This table’s use of the different materials, the contrast of the elaborate scrolling supports and the intricate frieze design adds to the great versatility of this piece that was once a patisserie table. It is so sculptural and could sit in a variety of different settings from a conservatory, dining room or a hall table, working with a multitude of different styles from baroque to contemporary. The expansive simplicity of the carrara marble top is a weighty foil to the splendidly elaborate iron base that supports it."
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Town and Country: The Collections from Cairness House and a Historic Townhouse on Wimpole Street
Wednesday 31 January, 10.30am GMT
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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- Viewing in Newbury (full sale):
- Saturday 27 January: 10am-3pm
- Sunday 28 January: 10am-3pm
- Monday 29 January: 10am-4pm
- Tuesday 30 January: 10am-4pm
- Wednesday 31 January: from 8.30am
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