Bonhams has announced that it will be selling the contents of the world famous Great Brampton House, on 1 October 2008, in what is expected to be the country house sale of the year.
The remarkable success of this rural stately home can be seen from Lady Pidgeon’s international client list which included such luminaries as Ava Gardner and Luciano Pavarotti.
Over 700 lots of fine furniture, works of art, Asian ceramics and paintings will go under the hammer in a traditional country house sale that will take place in the grounds of the estate. With the majority of lots to be sold without reserve, this promises to be a sale that will attract much attention from dealers and private collectors alike. The highlight of the collection is a painting of the Marchioness of Donegal by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) and Francis Coates (1726-1770).
Harvey Cammell, Director of Bonhams, is delighted to be involved in the sale: “Lady Pidgeon had a very strong eye for classic English furniture and French opulence and there will be some exceptional pieces in the sale. The sale will have a truly broad appeal with sale estimates on lots ranging from £100 to £80,000. Given the unique nature of the sale, many lots will be sold without reserve.
The sale should attract enormous interest not only from within Britain, but also from Lady Pidgeon’s vast array of customers from around the world. Great Brampton House provides the perfect English Country setting for an on-site sale experience – a wonderful and memorable event which Bonhams is understandably very proud to be directing.”
An oil on canvas painting of the Marchioness of Donegal by Thomas Gainsborough and Francis Coates is one of the highlights of the sale. Estimated at £40,000-60,000 the painting was primarily executed by Francis Coates in 1760. Thomas Gainsborough added to the portrait 16 years later, on the instructions of the Marchioness who wanted the painting to reflect her latest hairstyle. The impressive full-length painting hangs at the foot of the imposing double staircase in the Great Hall.
Lady Pidgeon started selling antiques in Somerset in the 1960s from the back of her Morris Minor 1000. From these humble beginnings Lady Pidgeon went on to build a business that commanded the attention of the antiques world and attracted an international clientele including the Hollywood screen siren Ava Gardner, operatic legend Luciano Pavarotti and the Duke of Northumberland.
A visit to Great Brampton House was a completely unique experience. Lady Pidgeon had a fleet of chauffeur driven Rolls Royces on hand to collect clients from the train station, as well as a helipad in the grounds of the house. Visitors entering the spectacular country residence would be guided through the various rooms in the house, each bestowed with a different name such as The Wedgwood Room, The Russian Room and The Gold Room. A perceptive businesswoman, Lady Pidgeon recognised the importance of creating a vision of English grandeur that her clients could understand and would wish to emulate.
Highlights in the sale include:
A pair of portraits of Grand Duke Paul of Russia (later Tsar Paul I) and his wife Maria Feodorovna from the Studio of Alexander Roslin (Malmo 1718-1793 Paris) 79 x 59 cm, estimated at £30,000-50,000
A fine ormolu mounted Japanese lacquer bombé commode by François Linke, Paris, late 19th century, 147cm wide, 6cm deep, 90cm high (57.5” wide, 24” deep, 35” high), estimated at £60,000-80,000
A Queen Anne burr walnut and featherbanded and crossbanded bureau cabinet, estimated at £12,000-18,000
A very fine and large pair of blue and white baluster jars and covers, Kangxi, 79cm high (31” high); sold with a pair of marble-topped four-legged hardwood stands, 19th century, 46cm high (18” high), estimated at £35,000-40,000
A fine and large pair of glazed pottery models of recumbent leopards, dating to the first half of the 19th century, probably French, 61cm and 57cm wide (24” and 22” wide), estimated at £12,000-18,000
Also included in the sale are two of the cars which were used by Lady Pidgeon to collect clients from the nearby station. They include a 1988 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur Saloon estimated at £6,000-8,000 and a 1997 Bentley Turbo RT Sports Saloon estimated at £13,000-15,000.
The sale of the contents of Great Brampton House will be held on 1 October 2008 in the grounds of the estate. You can find out more about the sale by visiting the website at www.bonhams.com/greatbramptonhouse