Dreweatts is honoured to be selling the personal collection of the late Robert Kime in our three day auction, taking place this autumn on 4, 5 & 6 October. Sir Nicholas Coleridge CBE DL, Chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum, takes a moment to talk about the work of Robert and the influence that he had, which led him to becoming known as a titan of design.
Foreword by Sir Nicholas Coleridge CBE DL
There is a curious thing about Robert Kime’s work: you recognise it at once, and yet it has very few ‘signature moves’. Suzanis, yes; blue and white Islamic ceramics, yes; mellow oriental carpets, very much so. But nothing flash or “look at me” about it. And yet, when you see anything he’s touched, you get that little thrill of cognition, knowing you are looking at something perfect, unshouty and intelligently civilised. Robert possessed an indomitable ability to marry artworks and objects from seemingly disparate cultural traditions to create an exceptional, harmonious whole. Both immensely knowledgeable and entirely unassuming, Robert created interiors, that revealed an enviable command of elegance and originality whilst fusing it with intimacy, substance, and above all, comfort.
In the hierarchy of tastemakers, I unhesitatingly place Robert Kime in the Premier League, belonging to that glorious lineage extending from Oliver Messel and John Fowler to Christopher Gibbs and Geoffrey Bennison. He would dislike that Eighties word “tastemaker”, of course, arguing in his self-deprecating way that he merely placed beautiful objects in the right order, in happy conjunction with each other, though it was far, far more than that; he had an almost intangible instinct, honed by decades of travel and study, for what works and what doesn’t, always realised in a most beautiful, cultured way.
I used to visit the Ebury Street shop regularly, dropping by for a quick look-see, and always left feeling a bit lovesick at the sheer beauty of the stone Etruscan-style basins, plaster casts, Imari plates and Seljuk ottomans. Frequently, Robert was present in the shop himself, seated behind a table with a pile of books, seldom interacting beyond a smile unless you asked him a question. You felt free to have a proper look, without proprietorial interference; he was the last person to try and “coax you over the line” into buying anything. I loved that about him.
Although his clients were about as elevated as they come, from the King and Queen, Dukes and Earls, to potentates, tycoons and rock nobility, his talent worked every bit as well for more modest customers too. In our house, we have a blend of Kime fabrics, cushions and outbreaks of wallpaper: they are amongst the loveliest things in the place, all bring joy whenever we see them, and make us feel better people just for having chosen them. In some clever way, Robert Kime tapped into the centuries long British love affair with Italy, India, Egypt and the wider orient, all the way back to the 17th century Grand Tour, and injected their essence into his fabrics.
His personal collection, now offered throughout this two volume catalogue, assembled, enjoyed and edited over many years by Robert, his wife Helen and their family, will undoubtedly remain a reference document and a landmark in the history of English taste. It charts his life and his process culminating in this intensely distilled view of his favourite objects - the beauty he simply could not part with.
Robert Kime’s place in history is certain. He is to his craft what Alexander McQueen was to fashion, and Sir Cecil Beaton and Tim Walker to photography: scholarly, respectful of the great sweep of the past, touched with genius, and somehow curating it all with the most discriminating modern eye.
Day 1: Wednesday 4 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | Warwick Square, London (Lots 1-399)
Day 2: Thursday 5 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | La Gonette, France (Lots 400-746)
Day 3: Friday 6 October 2023 | 10.30am BST | (Lots 747-918)
The three-day auction will take place at Dreweatts Donnington Priory salerooms.
London (highlights): Dreweatts, 16-17 Pall Mall, St James's, London SW1Y 5LU
Friday 8 - Thursday 14 September 2023
Newbury (full sale): Dreweatts, Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
Saturday 30 September - Tuesday 3 October 2023
For details on registration, viewing, bidding, payment and shipping, please see the Auction Information Page here.
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