Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s To Offer Private Collection of The Hon. Simon Sainsbury in June 2008

London – Christie’s announced that they will offer the private collection of the Hon. Simon Sainsbury on 18 June 2008 in London. One of Britain’s most generous philanthropists and discerning collectors, the late Simon Sainsbury assembled throughout his lifetime one of the finest private British collections of the 20th century which will be offered at a landmark single-owner auction at Christie’s on Wednesday 18 June 2008. A further selection of Impressionist paintings from the collection will be offered at the auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art on 24 and 25 June 2008. Highlights include an unprecedented collection of English furniture, one of the finest collections of early English pottery ever assembled and paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Paul Signac. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the charity established by Simon Sainsbury in 1965, The Monument Trust.

Charles Cator, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s International and Chairman of the International Furniture Department: “Simon Sainsbury was an exceptional man and a true connoisseur, universally admired and respected by the whole art world. A very private and modest person, Simon was one of the greatest British collectors and most generous philanthropists of the 20th century. Over more than forty years, while masterminding with his two brothers the transformation of the family company that his great-grandfather founded in 1869, as well as establishing one of the most creative and influential charitable trusts in Britain, he assembled a most remarkable collection of English 18th century furniture, early British pottery, British pictures and Impressionist works, all chosen with immense care and understanding for his much loved home in Sussex, where he created an English arcadia. We are honoured to be presenting this very personal collection to international collectors and the public in June 2008 at Christie’s in London.”


Simon Sainsbury held a great passion for early British tin-glazed pottery and assembled one of the finest private collections ever known, refined over many years of careful and thoughtful pursuit of outstanding examples. He concentrated on English delftware which was introduced to Britain from Holland in the 16th century. The earliest known piece with an English inscription is a dish dated 1600, now in the London Museum. The collection to be offered at Christie’s includes approximately 80 lots and includes extremely rare and early examples of delft Royal Portrait chargers, tankards, jugs, wine bottles and vases, all dating to the 1600s. Presented in remarkable condition, the section is led by a London delft blue-dash polychrome Royal Oak Charger circa 1660 whose centre is painted with a manganese-trunked oak tree, the branches of which are capped by crowns (estimate: £80,000-£120,000) illustrated left. Further highlights include a London delft blue and white armorial jug dated 1673 (estimate: £40,000-£60,000); a Brislington delft small Royal portrait dish circa 1685 decorated by a portrait of James II (estimate: £20,000-£30,000); a London delft cat jug dated 1659 (estimate: £20,000-£30,000) illustrated right and a London delft polychrome handwarmer circa 1685 (estimate: £20,000-£30,000).


Throughout his lifetime, Simon Sainsbury assembled an intimate collection of paintings focussing on over 400 years of British art from 1600 to the present day and a carefully chosen group of Impressionist and Modern pictures. The selection to be offered at Christie’s in June includes works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Joseph Wright of Derby, Angelica Kauffman, Sir Stanley Spencer, Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Henri Matisse and Paul Signac, among others. A leading British highlight is Portrait of William Charles Colyear, 3rd Earl Of Portmore (1747-1823), when styled Viscount Milsington, as a boy, half-length, in a grey coat, leaning on a table, with a spaniel pup by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792) which has been exhibited twice at the Royal Academy (estimate: £200,000-£300,000). Portrait of three girls, three-quarter length, in green silk dresses, with lace embroidery, holding yellow and white feathered fans by the Circle of Marcus Gheeraerts II (1561/2-1636) is an intricate early work which is expected to realise £150,000-£250,000 illustrated right, and Thomas Freeman, Lord Clarendon’s gamekeeper, with a dog and a shot doe in a wooded river landscape, his gun and hat beside him by George Stubbs, A.R.A (1724-1806) is closely related to a similar composition from the Mellon Collection recently exhibited at The Royal Academy (estimate: £150,000-£250,000). British art from the 20th Century is highlighted by The Last Supper by Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), painted in 1922, which has been widely exhibited, including at the artist’s retrospective at The Tate in 1955 (estimate: £120,000-£180,000), and Under the Hammer by Robert Polhill Bevan (1865-1925) which was painted in 1914 and is expected to realise £150,000-£250,000.

Further works from the collection will be offered at the auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art on 24 and 25 June 2008 including paintings by Bonnard, Vuillard, Fantin-Latour, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Matisse. Leading this section is Collioure. Les Balancelles, an early Pointillist picture by Paul Signac (1836-1935) which dates from the height of the artist’s interaction with his friend and fellow artist, Georges Seurat (1859-1891) and whose importance is reflected in the extensive range of publications that discussed it soon after its execution in 1887 (estimate: £1,800,000-£2,500,000) illustrated left.

Jussi Pylkännen, President of Christie’s Europe and Chairman of the International Impressionist and Modern Art Department: “The collection of Impressionist and Modern pictures assembled by Simon Sainsbury’s over several decades pay testament to his discerning eye and exceptional taste. ‘Collioure. Les Balancelles’ by Paul Signac is the leading highlight of the auction in June – a crisp and beautiful work, Signac has carefully judged and juxtaposed each spot of coloured paint with another in order to intensify the vivid, shimmering colours that convey the elements in the picture. We look forward to welcoming collectors from around the world to Christie’s in June for what promises to be the highlight of the summer auction season.”

Another leading highlight is Figure assise et le torse grec (la gandoura) by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), a picture bathed in light and colour that was painted in 1939 and incorporates elements of the North African and Ottoman worlds which fascinated the artist (estimate: £600,000-£800,000). This work will be offered together with a photograph of the artist at the easel painting the picture. Further works to be offered in this sale include Helénè Rouart (Mme. Marin) by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) (estimate: £400,000-£600,000), Nature Morte aux Fruits dans le Soleil by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) (estimate: £500,000-£700,000) and Hortensias Giroflées, Deux Pots de Pensées, an intricate still-life by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) which was sold from the Goetz Collection at Chrisie’s New York in 1988 (estimate: £600,000-£800,000).


Simon Sainsbury was born in 1930 and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. A keen sportsman, he trained as a chartered accountant before joining the family firm, Sainsbury’s, in 1956. In 1969, on the retirement of his uncle Robert, Simon Sainsbury was appointed Deputy Chairman of the company, while his brother John became Chairman.