Christie’s to Auction Historical Collection from Newton Hall

Christie’s announced the sale of a fine single owner collection; “The Country House Sale: Newton Hall, Northumberland” to be held on January 20, 2010. The Widdringtons of Newton were a powerful and influential land owning family associated with Northumberland as far back as the 12th-century. Theirs is a fascinating history coloured by Royalist favour, Jacobite sympathies and military honors. Descendents include William, 2nd Baron Widdrington (d.1675), an M.P for Northumberland who accompanied the Marquis of Newcastle to the Restoration of Charles II in 1660; William, 4th Baron Widdrington (1677/8-1743), who took a leading role in the northern English contribution to the Jacobite uprising of 1715; Captain Samuel Edward Cook, R.N. (1787-1856), who was awarded a rare group of orders and decorations by Dom João IV of Portugal, and who married Dorothy Widdrington, daughter of Alexander Davison, confident and agent to Admiral Lord Nelson.

The sale will feature over 290 lots with estimates ranging from £200 to £50,000. A broad spectrum of items will be offered including furniture, works of art, Old Master, Continental and British pictures, watercolours, silver, Asian art, sporting art, miniatures, clocks, books and manuscripts and medals. The collection is expected to realize in the region of £400,000.

The sale includes items once in the collection of Alexander Davison (1750-1829), who worked for more than twenty years as a government contractor, providing uniforms, weapons, transport and supplies. He was very well connected with leading political figures, and his government contracts enabled him to build up a lucrative business. The profits from this helped him to buy a substantial house in St. James’s Square, London, where he regularly entertained Horatio Nelson and other leading figures of the day, including the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Clarence and William Pitt. He was soon wealthy enough to purchase, Swarland Hall and Park, Northumberland, and he spent a fortune improving the house and grounds and buying adjacent land, in addition to building an extensive collection of paintings, as well as fine collections of porcelain, jewels and books.

A highlight of the sale is a George III quilted mahogany veneered and Honduran mahogany four pedestal dining-table, circa 1790 (estimate: £30,000-50,000), listed in the Inventory and Valuation of the contents of Newton Hall, Felton, Morpeth, Northumberland, The Property of Brigadier General B. F. Widdrington, C.M.G., D.S.O., 1925, p. 22., as `made from mahogany brought by Lord Nelson from the West Indies.’ Nelson served in the West Indies from 1777-1780. On December 8, 1778, he was appointed commander of the Badger and was sent to protect the Mosquito shore and the Bay of Honduras, from American privateers. Other items brought to Newton Hall from Swarland Hall include a George III mahogany traveling chest, late 18th-century (estimate £1,000-1,500) and sixteen volumes of Drawings faithfully copied from Nature at Naples … dedicated to … Sir William Hamilton by the artist Frederick Rehberg [London]: 1794 (estimate: £1,000-1,500) given to Alexander Davison by Nelson in 1803.

A fine selection of paintings is included in the sale, led by a gallant ancestral portrait of Sir William Widdrington, 2nd Baron Widdrington of Blankney (d.1675) by Jacob Huysmans (Antwerp 1630-1696 London) (estimate: £30,000-50,000). A number of beautiful British works also feature, such as Thomas Stringer (British, 1722-1790), An equestrian portrait of a gentleman, traditionally identified as Mr. Heron, mounted on a bay hunter, with hounds in a landscape (estimate: £10,000-15,000), and a fine oil painting commissioned by Shalcross Fitzherbert Widdrington (1826-1917) by Edward Lear (British, 1812-1888), “The Tiber, and the Campagna of Rome, looking Eastward towards Antemnae, Monte Gennaro, and Monte Vellino” (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

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