Monday, 17 July 2006

Christie’s sale of the centuries - great houses give up their secrets

Important antiques and works of art from four great private houses are expected to raise more than £1 million in a two-day auction later this month.

International fine art auctioneers Christie's will sell more than 800 lots in a marquee at Gyrn Castle, Llanasa, North Wales, the country house home of prominent 19th century Liverpool ship owner Sir Edward Bates.
Click here to see a slideshow of the four properties and some of the objects up for sale
The sale, on July 17 and 18, follows the recent death of his descendant Sir Geoffrey Bates, the fifth baronet. The house and its 367-acre estate are alson on the market, either as a whole or up to 10 lots. Estate agents Strutt & Parker have issued a £3.5 million guide price.

Gyrn has the lion's share of the sale with around 450 lots, but property from two other historic Welsh houses will also be sold: Nantlys Hall, a Victorian mansion at Tremeirchion, which is also on the market, and Mostyn Hall, which overlooks the Dee above Mostyn village, Flintshire.

Other objects in the sale are from the attics of Capesthorne Hall, the South Cheshire home of the Bromley-Davenport family who in October last year sold Greek vases and antiquities in a £1.5 million sale at Christie's in London.

Most controversially, the sale will see the dispersal of The Gyrn Apostles, an unusual and rare group of late 15th or early 16th century carved wooden figures, each of which stands about two feet high.

Christ and seven of the figures, either Welsh or English, have been at Gyrn since at least 1831 and were in place when the property was acquired by Sir Edward in 1856. They are estimated at £15,000-25,000.

Four further Netherlandish examples, depicting respectively Matthew, Peter, James and Bartholomew, will be sold individually with estimates ranging from £2,000-6,000, potentially upsetting those who believe the group should be kept together.

The Gyrn collection reflects the opulence enjoyed by the successful Victorian ship-owner, politician and successive generations of the wealthy family. It includes both early oak and good Georgian mahogany; porcelain; fine oil paintings; silver; sporting trophies and collectors' items. They will be sold throughout the first of the two-day sale.

Nantlys was built in the early 1870s for a branch of the great Welsh antiquarian family of Pennant. About 75 lots include, notably a strong group of family silver such as a Victorian soup tureen by John Samuel Hunt, which is estimated at £3,000-5,000, as is an imposing 18th-century English School portrait of Peter Pennant (c1664-1736) who was the High Sheriff of Merionethshire in 1674, Flintshire in 1675 and Caernarvonshire in 1676.

Nantlys furniture includes a set of 14 George III mahogany dining chairs estimated at £15,000-20,000, while a fine mid-Victorian gilt wood table topped with specimen marble is estimated at £15,000-25,000.

Among around 100 lots in the sale are from the attic rooms at Mostyn Hall. A late 17th century Dutch old master oil painting of a frozen river landscape is estimated at £3,000-4,000 and an early George III mahogany writing table is estimated at £5,000-8,000.

A rhinoceros trophy estimated at £500-1,000 is among the more unusual items in the sale.

Among the treasures from Capesthorne Hall are paintings collected in the 18th century by members of the Bromley-Davenport family making the Grand Tour; Regency furniture and arms and armour including an early 17th century English Pikeman's armour, circa 1640 estimated at £3,000-3,500.

The sale will be on view at Gyrn Castle next Friday and Saturday, July 14 and 15, from 10am to 6pm, and on Sunday 16 July from 10am to 4pm. A catalogue of the contents, priced £16 at the door, £20 by post, admits two to the view and subsequent sale

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