Christie’s will offer An Aesthetic Odyssey ~ The Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan Collection in a live auction on 30 September 2021.
The couple were pioneering collectors of 19th Century fine and decorative arts and this unique collection was a shared passion assembled over the course of a lifetime from the 1950s onwards. The sale comprises approximately 300 lots of British decorative arts and paintings spanning the major movements of the later 19th century. Highly regarded and recognised as academically important, a number of bequests of both decorative and fine arts from the collection have been accepted by museums including The British Museum and The Ashmolean.
This sale provides the market with a unique microcosm of the best of the period. Albert Gallichan died in 2001; the sale takes place now following the death of Peter Rose last year at the age of ninety-three.
Ensuring that the scholarly legacy of their life’s work lives on, the proceeds from the sale – which is expected to realise in excess of £1 million, with estimates starting from £500 – will benefit The Albert Dawson Educational Trust. Established in 2003, using the middle names of the two collectors for its title, the trust promotes and supports the study of 19th century English fine and decorative arts.
The increased resources raised will be used to develop a more substantial programme of grants and to enable the trust to offer other support from 2022.
The sale is led by The Light of the World, a contemporary studio version of the masterpiece by English Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt, which was recognised as one of the most famous paintings in the world in its own time (estimate: £60,000-100,000, illustrated page one and right). This atmospheric watercolour by Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) owes its existence to Holman Hunt’s deteriorating eyesight.
The older artist had begun a large replica of The Light of the World in 1899, copying from his second version of the subject (Manchester Art Gallery), as his original painting, in Keble College, Oxford would have been unavailable. From 1900 Hughes was employed by Hunt as his studio assistant. The watercolour was made as a compositional guide during the painting of Hunt’s final version, now in St Paul’s Cathedral. This work by Hughes provides the market with a unique opportunity.
Adrian Hume-Sayer, Head of Sale comments: “The collection is one of the most respected in its field. Collectors and scholars alike were delighted by any chance to visit Montpelier Villas to see these carefully selected works in their unique habitat; a wonderful and vivid experience. Both Albert and Peter were founder members of Decorative Arts Society as well as members of numerous other scholarly organisations for the furtherance of study and dissemination of the 19th century aesthetic. It has been a privilege to work on this collection and bring it to the market at Christie’s.”
Peter Brown, International Specialist-European & British Art: adds: “This comprehensive collection was founded on the premise that each acquisition had to be different from or better than its predecessor. The result is a carefully considered group of museum quality that will delight, intrigue and inspire: a unique array of the best of 19th Century British creativity. Christie’s is honoured to be holding this sale to enable greater study of this field.”
The Green Study – The Aesthetic Movement
The green Study was firmly rooted in the Aesthetic movement. The book-lined walls were offset by parcel-gilt ebonised furniture including a superb Greek Revival cabinet by Cottier & Co: lot 39, detail illustrated above centre (estimate: £10,000-15,000). British landscapes and figurative works by Sir Edward Poynter (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and Sir George Clausen (estimate: £3,000-5,000) surrounded an Aesthetic Movement side cabinet commissioned for a Glasgow mansion, illustrated right (estimate: £2,500-4,000).
The cabinet was populated by a collection of paper-thin opaline glass by James Powell & Sons, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £3,000. The mantel boasted a version of Lord Leighton’s sculpture Sluggard, lot 25 (estimate: £7,000-10,000, illustrated left), lit by a brass and copper chandelier by Benson hung with original tear-drop-shaped blown-glass shades, lot 44 (estimate: £3,000-5,00, illustrated left).
The Aesthetic Bedroom; The South Bedroom And The De Morgan Bathroom
The aesthetic bedroom, illustrated left, was home to one of the stars of the collection, Henry Scott Tuke’s Noonday Heat, a work on paper in pencil and watercolour, signed and dated ‘H.S. TUKE. 1911’ in the lower left (estimate: £40,000-60,000, illustrated above left) . A sketch for Herbert Draper’s The Lament for Icarus hung beneath; the finished work is in the collection of Tate Britain (estimate: £6,000-8,000).
The walls of the south bedroom, illustrated above centre, were filled with the works by Robert Anning Bell, including The Marriage at Cana (estimate: £7,000-10,000), which were complemented by an array of late 19th century French art pottery, with prices ranging from £800 to £6,000. Presenting riotous pops of joyful colour, the de Morgan bathroom illustrated above right was populated by bright lusterware chargers (lots 10, 287 and 290, with estimates from £2,000 to £4,000) and colourful tile panels by the eponymous potter, with estimates from £800 to £5,000.
The Kitchen – Arts & Crafts
The kitchen was dominated by a magnificent ‘medieval’ oak sideboard designed by Bruce Talbert, illustrated left, inset with five delicately carved boxwood panels depicting a stag, a fish and a swan as well as ripe fruit (estimate: £10,000-15,000). The room was also home to an extensive collection of ceramics and metalware by the Arts & Crafts artisan John Pearson, including groups of pottery, lot 200 (estimate: £1,000-1,500) and lot 201 (estimate: £800-1,200), and hammered-copper chargers, lot 204 (estimate: £800-1,200).
As the late art historian John Christian recalled: “Helping to clear the lunch table was never done out of mere politeness, it was an act of enlightened self-interest as well. For the kitchen, reached from the dining room, via a red baize door, epitomised the ‘gap-free’ philosophy [of displaying objects and works of art, advocated by scholars and pioneer collectors of Victorian and Edwardian decorative arts Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read]. The massive dresser groaned with Doulton, John Pearson, and other Arts and Crafts ceramics. On the walls were more of the ubiquitous tiles…Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites seemed almost present.”
The Red Dining Room
The inspiration for the red dining room illustrated right, came from the grand tour. The walls were filled with depictions of Italy and beyond by John William Inchbold, George Price Boyce and Edward Lear. Highlights include Venice, from Lido to Guidecca by Inchbold, lot 174 (estimate: £20,000-30,000), The Sphinx by Boyce, lot 194 (estimate: £5,000-8,000) and Valdoniello, Corsica by Lear, lot 186 (estimate: £3,000-5,000).
The ‘Empire’ furniture including an ormolu-mounted mahogany console table, lot 199 (estimate: £1,200-1,800), was subsumed by a collection of ‘Kraterware’ by Samuel Alcock, including lots 3 and 196 (with estimates ranging from £500 to £1,000).
The Nature Room
The nature room illustrated left, perhaps the most densely populated room in the house, was a celebration of the most eccentric, colourful and fun Victorian creations with a Burmantofts dragon-wrapped vase on a table, supported by foliage with three carved ibises, at the centre of the room (estimate: £1,500-2,500) and shell pictures on the walls, including a diorama depicting a house in a garden, lot 165 (estimate: £1,200-1,800).
Another highly evocative recollection shared by the late art historian John Christian transports one straight into the nature room:
“Without doubt, the most extraordinary creation in the house was the so-called Nature Room. Its ostensible theme is the Victorians’ passion for exuberant organic design, but in practice, the room is a receptacle for everything weird and wacky that caught the collectors’ attention, whether in the form of stained glass panels (lot 173, estimate: £800-1,200), anthropomorphic pots (lot 172 estimate: £1,000-1,500) so over-the-top that they make even the Martin Brothers look models of sanity… or those things that our Victorian forebears did with bird nests, sand and shells. Here was a true Wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities.
This is not to say that there were not some serious objects… Nonetheless, there was an air of self-indulgence about this room and we invariably found ourselves laughing…the inherent dottiness of the collecting habit, however serious and laudable the motives that drive it.”