Introduction by Simon Neal
Putting it simply – history excites me and fires my imagination. What has become a lifelong love was sparked at the age of seven when I met a metal detectorist on the outskirts of Thrapston, Northamptonshire. I vividly remember him placing a bronze Roman coin in the palm of my hand and explaining that I was the second person to hold it since it was dropped nearly 2000 years ago! I was hooked. To hold something from the past was, and still, is electric.
Lots 444, 500, 501 and 517
This goes someway to explain why I am a collector of historical objects. There are other reasons: a childhood home with at least one secret tunnel and a captivating first auction experience at the age of eleven. I think most collectors would agree, there is a thrill of discovering an object, researching it and then gazing on it.
The vast majority of my collection is Western-centric with a particular bent towards ancient Rome and most things neoclassical. Like the Grand Tourist of old, I have an intellectual fascination with the classical world and its associated objects. Parts of my collection are reminders of places I’ve visited, and others a bridge to the now unreachable. An object has to speak to me. It doesn’t have to be classically beautiful, but it does need to be interesting with the ability to spark my imagination - to transport me to another place in time. A found object can often lead to an odyssey of learning and, consequently, my bookshelves are creaking with history and reference books.
Lot 552: A carved 'Grand Tour' wood model of the Temple of Hera at Paestum, after Domenico Padiglione, modern | Est. £8,000-12,000 (+ fees)
My collection has been built over many years. I’ve bought from all over the world including auctions, dealers, private collectors, antique shops and an occasional junk shop (who doesn’t like a diamond in the rough?). After discovering the wonderful Grand Tour cork models in the Sir John Soanes Museum, London, I commissioned a scale model of the Temple of Hera II, Paestum. The model (Lot 552 in this sale) was made from old pitch pine and set on a 19th century wooden base. It was then beautifully stippled to emulate cork. The end result is an arresting and architecturally grand object. It was an ideal backdrop to the marble busts of Augustus (Lot 546) and Marcus Aurelius (Lot 514) and the Italian 16th century lion (Lot 566).
Lot 546: An Italian white marble bust of the first Roman emperor Caesar Augustus (63 BC- 14 AD), likely 17th century but possibly earlier | Est. £4,000-6,000 (+ fees)
As well as the larger objects, I’ve collected a number of smaller items including micromosaics (a fascinating art and well worth studying – particularly the Vatican Mosaic Workshop), bronzes and 19th alabaster architectural models of Roman ruins.
Lot 514: An Italian alabaster model of the Temple of Vespasian, Rome, 19th century | Est. £800-1,000 (+ fees)
I’ve always known that I’m a temporary custodian of objects in my collection - I’m just part of a long chain of people that have touched and gazed on them. I have had the pleasure of owning them and now the pleasure of handing them over to the next custodians. I hope they give you as much joy as they’ve brought me.
Lot 425: After the antique, an Italian scagliola head of the goddess Ariadne, 19th century | Est. £3,000-5,000 (+ fees)
Wednesday 8 September | Day One: Fine Furniture, Sculpture, Carpets and Works of Art
Browse the auction
Thursday 9 September | Day Two: A 'Grand Tour' Collection, Garden Furniture and Statuary
Browse the auction
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
There are a variety of ways that you can view the auction:
- Viewing in Newbury:
- Friday 3 September: 10am-5pm
- Sunday 5 September: 10am-4pm
- Monday 6 September: 10am-5pm
- Tuesday 7 September: 10am-5pm
- Day of auctions: from 8.30am
- Dreweatts 360 Virtual Auction Tour | from 3 September
- Condition reports can be provided upon request.
View page turning catalogue
Sign up to email alerts