On Day Two of our Fine Furniture, Sculpture, Carpets, Ceramics and Works of Art auction on 31 May, we are pleased to present items from the London property of a former Australian Prime Minister (Lots 355-434). Timothy Langston of Timothy Langston Fine Art & Antiques, helped furnish the interiors and introduces the collection here.
One of the most compulsive aspects of antiques dealing is the pursuit of unique objects - you just never know what you will find during the hunt for magical works of art. In twenty years of dealing, I have made many exciting discoveries, but one project which gave me particular pleasure was to assist in furnishing a charming Queen Anne townhouse, situated within an untouched part of Old Chelsea.
On a quiet Friday afternoon, some years ago, I met a new client in my Pimlico Road gallery who had just acquired one of London’s most perfect early eighteenth century homes - a giant dolls house retaining its original core, panelling, and chimney pieces, with a stunning garden that had been laid out by Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Its backdrop was the perfect blank canvas. It is quite rare these days that new home owners choose to respect utterly the fabric of old buildings, but the new owner of ‘Lady Cheyne’ (as we liked to call the house) wanted to maintain the building not only for its architectural charm and history, but also incorporating pieces from the past, celebrating the centuries through which this gem has stood proud.
Finding pieces was not only great fun but challenging at times. The house is located near the Chelsea Physic Garden and it was decided that we needed to source a host of period botanical engravings to welcome visitors. We hung these in the entrance hall and up the staircases. The building is also situated near the river and I set about finding some views of Old Father Thames over the centuries.
Other gems appeared, including the most magnificent William & Mary Period japanned and silver gilt mirror. The original mercury plates, which have reflected life over three centuries, are bevel cut with shooting stars. It was without doubt the most exciting discovery we made.
The house was situated barely a hundred yards from the Chelsea Pottery, the source of some of England’s greatest early ceramics. I was instructed to put together a collection of vibrant porcelain and on a dark night we selected pieces by candlelight and Claret and placed them within an alcove in the dining room. In other rooms we hung tapestries, crewelwork panels, and lanterns and placed whimsical objects as eye-catchers.
I was naturally sad to hear the house and its contents were up for sale as I have so enjoyed visiting Lady Cheyne over the years and to have played a small part in her history. But equally, I have always felt that the antiques we own are in trust to us, to cherish for a time, to be looked after and then released again to new owners to enjoy as they make their own discoveries and celebrate the past with all its colour in their own homes. This collection represents a vibrant opportunity for future collectors.
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Kirtlington Park, Kirtlington, Oxfordshire OX5 3JN
- Friday 27 May: 10am-8pm
- Saturday 28 May: 10am-4pm
- Sunday 29 May: 10am-4pm
- Monday 30 May: no viewing
Monday 30 & Tuesday 31 May | 10.30am BST
Auction location: Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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