Famous collector’s equestrian pieces among three-day auction

A William Nedham painting from 1838 graced the hallway of Robert Kime's London home in Warwick Square.
A William Nedham painting from 1838 graced the hallway of the late Robert Kime’s London home in Warwick Square. © Simon Upton/Dreweatts

Several equestrian pieces from the personal collection of Royal interior decorator and collector Robert Kime are going to auction in Britain this week.

The three-day sale by Dreweatts auction house from October 4 to 6 comprises more than 750 lots ranging in value from £30 to £100,000.

Robert Kime (1946-2022), known the world over as a titan of design, a polymath, and the ‘great assembler’ of beautiful things, became one of the leading design figures of his generation. The auction features lots ranging in value from £40 to £100,000 and it is expected to achieve in excess of £1.5m. It charts his passion, curiosity and delight in beautiful things through the contents of his homes in London and Provence.

Day one of Robert Kime: The Personal Collection will present works of art from Robert’s Warwick Square home in London, whilst day two will offer the collection from his much-loved Provencal house, “La Gonette”. Day three’s auction will contain a variety of the more decorative items from both locations.

Kime’s projects included the redecoration of Clarence House and Highgrove for King Charles III, as well as properties for an array of celebrities, such as Duran Duran’s John Taylor and his wife Gela Nash-Taylor (founder of fashion brand Juicy Couture).

The equestrian works include a painting by William Nedham, A mastiff, a pomeranian, a newfoundland and a spaniel by a dark brown and a grey hunter in the grounds of Clopton House, Warwickshire (lot 5). This piece graced the hallway of Robert Kime’s London home in Warwick Square. Dated 1838, it is likely that this rare portrait of the family dogs and hunters in the grounds of Clopton, was commissioned by Charles Thomas Warde upon inheriting Clopton house the previous year.

William Nedham's work of the animals of Clopton House from 1838 is lot 5 in the Dreweatts auction.
William Nedham’s work of the animals of Clopton House from 1838 is lot 5 in the Dreweatts auction. © Dreweatts

Its pre-auction estimate was up to £40,000, but early online bids have already exceeded that.

Clopton House is a 17th-century country mansion near Stratford-upon-Avon, standing on the site of the earlier Clopton Manor, home to Hugh Clopton and dating from the 13th century. The present house was built around the core of the earlier manor by Sir John Clopton during the 17th century.

William Nedham (active 1815-1849) was a provincial equestrian painter working predominantly in the Leicestershire area. He was a pupil of John Ferneley Senior (1781-1860).

Domenico Brucciani's plaster model of a horse has a pre-auction estimate of up to £1200.
Domenico Brucciani’s plaster model of a horse has a pre-auction estimate of up to £1200. © Dreweatts

Lot 246 is a plaster model of a horse by Brucciani, from the late 19th-early 20th century. Born near Lucca, Italy, plaster figure maker Domenico Brucciani came to England with his father. He established a Gallery of Casts in Covent Garden and was soon known as the leading plaster figure maker and modeller in London. He worked for the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, taking casts of items in their collections and of monuments elsewhere.

The Turn of the Plough, by George Gascoyne (1862-1933), is painted in what is known as the social realist tradition.
The Turn of the Plough, by George Gascoyne (1862-1933), is painted in what is known as the social realist tradition. © Dreweatts

The Turn of the Plough (lot 309) hung for years on the main staircase in the now-defunct Junior Carlton Club in London.

The club was designed to offer membership to those not given admission to the more elite gentlemen’s clubs of London, such as the Carlton Club, which had a locked-in number of members and a long waiting list. It was therefore given the prefix ‘Junior’ to allude to the grander establishments and aligned the club with other ‘Junior’ clubs, such as the Junior Oxford and Cambridge Club and the Junior Athenaeum Club. The “senior” Carlton Club’s building at 94 Pall Mall suffered a direct hit during the war and lay derelict until 1963, when the Junior Carlton Club sold its headquarters to build “the club of the future” in the old club’s spot. The result was a concrete structure decorated in 1960s style. It was not liked by all and some members left. By 1977 the club was dissolved and its few remaining members merged with the Carlton Club that we know today.

Painted by English Royal Academician George Gascoyne (1862-1933), had a prominent position in the club on the main staircase and fits with the theme of the approaching second Reform Act, depicting men working closely with their horses on the land. The work is painted in what’s known as the social realist tradition – a method of using visual art to highlight political and social issues, in particular looking at poverty, injustice and corruption within a society.

Studio Magazine wrote in 1915 that “the horse that serves the worker in the fields [is where] Mr Gascoyne is pictorially most intimate … and in this vein … is seen at his best”. (Vol.63. p.144). The bold large-scale work with its stunning haze of light and rich warmth of colour, draws your attention into this one specific moment in time and makes a bold statement through the visual medium of painting.

Born in Sittingbourne, Kent, Gascoyne was a painter and engraver, particularly known for his equestrian depictions. He studied at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art and from 1884 exhibited at the Royal Academy. This particular painting was exhibited at the Academy in 1894. His work is highly sought-after and this work in oil on canvas carries an estimate of £8,000 to £12,000. It was purchased by Kime in 2012.

Martindale's Starling.
Martindale’s Starling. © Dreweatts

Two oil paintings by a follower of English painter Francis Sartorius the Elder (1734-1804) are a combined lot in the sale. Lot 362 in the sale is Martindale’s Starling; and Atlas.

They are inscribed: “Atlas, Got by Babraham who was / Son of ye Godolphin Arabian”.

“Martindale’s Starling was got by Old Starling/ His Dam by Partner / His Grand-dam Mr Croft’s Grey Barb”.

Atlas is being sold alongside Martindale's Starling, as lot 362.
Atlas is being sold alongside Martindale’s Starling, as lot 362. © Dreweatts

Lot 361 is a depiction of the racehorse Cadabra from the 18th-century English School. The 58 x 77cm (22¾ x 30¼ in) oil on canvas work is extensively inscribed with Cadabra’s race history.

Cadabra, a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian and a great-grandson of the Byerley Turk, raced in the 1760s.
Cadabra, a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian and a great-grandson of the Byerley Turk, raced in the 1760s. © Dreweatts

Cadabra raced in the 1760s and his pedigree was from the very foundations of the Thoroughbred breed. He was sired by Cade (Old Cade), and out of a mare by Jigg. Cade was an important foundation sire of Thoroughbreds, being by the Godolphin Arabian. Cade was a full brother to the Godolphin Arabian‘s first son, Lath. Jigg was by the Byerley Turk, and from a mare by the Leedes Arabian. Cadabra’s dam line is from the No.6 family of Old Bald Peg.

The “English School” refers to the art created in the period between 1750 and 1850 by English artists.

The Cadabra painting has a pre-auction estimate of up to £3000.

Robert Kime’s fascination with objects grew from his childhood and he began selling antiques while studying Medieval History as an undergraduate at Oxford. His passion and broad knowledge encompassed Middle Eastern art, including textiles and antiquities, European antiquities and works of art and ceramics, as well as modern art.

His enthusiastic intellectual engagement created wonderfully varied, fascinating and comfortable interiors filled with the exotic and every day. Kime’s ‘eye’ and academic rigour drew the Royal Family and collectors from around the world to ask for his help in building their collections and designing their homes.

King Charles III said of his unique aesthetic sensibility: “You often hear of people who are said to have ‘a good eye’, but Robert Kime’s must surely be one of the best.’’ It was this keen eye that enabled him to bring comfort to a room by harmoniously mixing beautiful antique textiles, with fascinating objects, furniture and paintings, while creating an atmosphere of safety and warmth, as if the interiors had developed a special atmosphere naturally.

This immensely personal collection, whilst providing a portrait of the man through his objects, also charts the creative partnership he had with his wife Helen Nicoll, the celebrated children’s author and audiobook pioneer.

This sale will be an insight into the countless decisions the couple made together over the course of many decades and in a succession of homes, the interiors of which are now ingrained in the psyche of English interior decoration.

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One thought on “Famous collector’s equestrian pieces among three-day auction

  • October 3, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Thank you for the articles in Horse Sport…


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