On Friday 27 May, Christie’s will be offering 170 lots from The Collection of the late Lord and Lady Swaythling in a live auction. David Montagu, 4th Lord Swaythling (1928-1998), had an illustrious career spanning the worlds of banking, racing, politics, and media. The charming works being offered weave together fascinating strands of several notable family collections inherited by Lord Swaythling and his French wife Ninette (née Dreyfus) (1927-2021).
Lord and Lady Swaythling established their own collection to which these inherited works were added, becoming part of their striking modern London residence and their country house in Newmarket. The sale comprises Impressionist and Modern paintings, Jewellery, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Silver, Old Master paintings, Chinese Ceramics, and Works of Art. With estimates ranging from £300 to £300,000, the Collection is expected to realize in the region of £1 million.
The sale is led by Notre Dame, effet de soleil from 1906 by Francis Picabia (estimate: £200,000-300,000, illustrated above) which is part of a rare group of early works by the artist in the sale.
Lord Swaythling was a descendent of Benjamin Goldsmid (circa 1753-1808), a celebrated financier and friend of Lord Nelson, and the maternal grandson of the revered connoisseur collector The Hon. Nellie Ionides (née Samuel). He was Chairman of his family’s banking firm Samuel Montagu & Co (1970-73), Orion Bank (1974-79) and of Rothmans International plc (1988-98), and Director of J. Rothschild Holdings (1983-89).
After taking up his seat in the House of Lords (1990-98) his maiden speech was in support of what would go on to become the War Crimes Act in 1991. With a keen interest in racing and breeding horses, Lord Swaythling was a founding member of the British Horse Racing Board.
Although he focused mostly on flat racing, perhaps his most famous racehorse – Zongalero – finished second in the 1979 Grand National. Involved in print media and television, he was a founding director of London Weekend Television, now part of ITV London, and held the position of director at The Daily Telegraph (1985-1996).
Charlotte Young, Specialist Head of Sale, Private and Iconic Collections commented: “It is a privilege for Christie’s to be entrusted with the paintings, furniture, and objets d’art which filled David and Ninette Montagu’s striking London residence, almost 100 years after Christie’s sold the 1st Lord Swaythling’s Renowned Collection of Silversmith’s Work in May 1924, previously on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Many of the lots in the collection were inherited from the 1st Lord Swaythling, and the 4th Lord Swaythling’s grandmothers Gladys, Lady Swaythling, and the Hon. Nellie Ionides. This sale provides the opportunity to acquire works of art with a fascinating history, some of which have been in the family for over two hundred years.”