Christies to auction The Collection of Professor Sir Albert Richardson, P.R.A

Christies is to auction The Collection of Professor Sir Albert Richardson, P.R.A (1880-1964) – the celebrated collector, architect and President of the Royal Academy (1954-1956), in London on 18 and 19 September 2013.

Interior at Avenue House

Interior at Avenue House

All great collections are exercises in creativity and self-expression, but rarely do they give such a vivid impression of the collector’s discerning tastes, interests and idiosyncrasies as that formed by Professor Sir Albert Richardson. Providing a window into an older, more generous and civilised world, this collection is complete to its last detail, providing astonishing variety and a stark contrast to the frenetic pace of the modern world. The collection comprises around 650 lots and includes Old Master and British paintings, British watercolours and architectural drawings, English and European furniture, sculpture and objects, garden statuary, books, clocks, musical instruments and Georgian costume. In essence, the sale directly mirrors and celebrates the life and passions of Professor Sir Albert Richardson. The collection is expected to realise in excess of £4 million.

Professor Sir Albert Richardson was one of Britain’s finest architects during the first half of the 20th century. His early commissions included the façade of the Regent Street Polytechnic and the New Theatre, Manchester. Prestigious post-war commissions included the Financial Times building in Cannon Street, which was the first post-war building in Britain to be listed; the AEI building in Grosvenor Place; various reconstruction projects as well as alterations at Woburn Abbey; and the restoration of the Assembly Rooms at Bath. Richardson was a dedicated student of Georgian architecture and a fluent and skillful draughtsman, obsessively recording the buildings he saw on his extensive travels. He also created capriccios which he called his ‘Fantasies’ and were often based around a lost great building. Often produced during one intense sitting, works such as A Fantasy of Kubla Khan’s Palace, 1915, could take up to 15 hours to produce (estimate: £1,500-2,000, illustrated left). He was also a distinguished architectural historian, writing pioneering works such as London Houses from 1660 to 1820, a study of the capital’s elegant Georgian streets and squares, and the acclaimed Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland.